A few to choose from
Published: 2nd December, 2018
As a World Heritage town, Luang Prabang conjures up visions of golden temples and Buddhas, French colonial buildings and quaint cafes. Often visitors are surprised to learn the town boasts natural wonders as well, including several waterfalls just outside of town.
In 1994, pop group TLC had a hit song telling everyone not to go chasing waterfalls. Maybe it was a metaphor, or maybe they hadn’t been to Luang Prabang. You should go chasing waterfalls, especially Kuang Si. It’s one of Luang Prabang’s top attractions—and it actually lives up to the hype.
Located 28 kilometres from town and flowing year round, Kuang Si is a sum of beautiful parts: cold spring water, one big cascade, little falls, natural trail, forest and blue turquoise waters. Throw in a picnic, some hiking, swimming, swinging from the Tarzan rope and a moon bear sanctuary and you have a half day trip from town. It can easily be stretched into a full day if stops are added along the way—Kuang Si Butterfly Park and Laos Buffalo Dairy Farm, to name a few—or slow down by getting there by bicycle, boat ride or on an organised trek. Entrance is 20,000 kip. Go early or late to avoid the crowds.
Tad Sae waterfall plays second banana to Kuang Si but has unique characteristics that sets it apart. It’s 16 kilometres from town, with a short boat ride across the Nam Khan river to reach. Cold spring water, also turquoise in colour from the limestone, rushes through the jungle to form a wide set of falls with one large pool ideal for swimming. Tad Sae has more touristy development like walkways and elephant rides. It only flows after the start of the annual rains, good to visit approximately June to November/December and is often an included stop on treks, kayaking or elephant camps that are on the Nam Khan river.
Luang Prabang’s latest nature attraction, Nahm Dong Park is high up in the hills 10 kilometres away. The park offers zip-lining and high canopy bridges, as well as old fashioned walking past farmland, forest and a stream with a waterfall large enough to cool off in. The waterfall runs year round though it is best during rainy season.
Just can’t enough? Only six kilometres from town, Tad Thong is another rainy season only series of small waterfalls that require a short but vigorous hike through the jungle to see. The waterfalls are modest and the real reason to visit should be for the hike and to enjoy nature. Few visit Tad Thong, so it’s also about escaping the crowds.
Cindy Fan is a Canadian writer/photographer and author of So Many Miles, a website that chronicles the love of adventure, food and culture. After falling in love with sticky rice and Mekong sunsets, in 2011 she uprooted her life in Toronto to live la vida Laos. She’s travelled to over 40 countries and harbours a deep affection for Africa and Southeast Asia. In between jaunts around the world, she calls Laos and Vietnam home where you'll find her traipsing through rice paddies, standing beside broken-down buses and in villages laughing with the locals.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
Our top 10 other sights and activities in and around Luang Prabang