Visiting the Sacred Kuang Si Waterfall (Kuang Xi Falls)

ນ້ຳຕົກຕາດ ກວາງຊີ - Kuang Si (Xi) Waterfall, Luang Prabang, Laos

giant waterfall at kuang xi falls, laos
Kuang Si Falls in Luang Prabang, Laos

Everywhere you look in Luang Prabang, you'll see tour agencies, hotels, and drivers advertising a day trip to the Kuang Si Waterfall, which is located just 30 kilos south of Luang Prabang. The falls at Kuang Si are the most highly recommended day trip destination from Luang Prabang, and are heavily steeped in local legend.

the lowest tier of the kuang si falls in Luang Prabang laos
the lowest tier at the Kuang Si Waterfall

When I planned my first day trip to the Falls, I was at first prepared to be underwhelmed. After all, the trip to the Pak Ou Caves was a little less exciting than I had been led to believe. But, in my opinion, the Kuang Si falls are well worth the trip. If you only have the time for one day trip out of Luang Prabang, be sure not to miss a visit to the Kuang Si Forest Park.

Learn more: Is a day trip to the Pak Ou Caves worth it?

a banyon tree with twisted roots in luang prabang laos
a banyon tree inside the forest park
The legend of Kuang Si Waterfall tells of an old wise man who tell of an old man who once dug deep into the side of the nearby mountain. The old man hit a sacred spring, which rushed down the mountain to a series of pools which are nowadays considered blessed and sacred by local people.

the perfect place for a picnic?

Hiking at the Kuang Si Forest Park

The entrance to the park leads visitors first past a calmly-moving river fed by a few low waterfalls. At the bottom, a series of crystal-clear pools is the perfect place for tourists and locals alike to enjoy a brisk dip in the ice cold mountain water. There is also a very nice picnic spot, although if you visit during the rainy season, it could be covered in water! The Kuang Si Forest Park is open year-round, but the waterfall is at its most impressive during the annual rainy season.

Learn more: What is the weather like in Luang Prabang? (When should you visit Laos?)

As you continue trekking further up the falls, the water grows rougher and wilder. Several areas are too rough for swimming, so pay careful attention to the posted signs that designate the permitted swimming areas.

There's a trail that runs from the entrance of the park to the largest waterfall. It's not a very difficult walk, but it can be slippery, so walk carefully! Near the main waterfall there is a small restaurant where you can enjoy a snack, meal, cup of coffee, or cold bottle of Beer Lao.

visiting the largest waterfall at the Kuang Si Falls
It's easy to see how the Kuang Si Falls are considered to be a sacred place. In Laos, a mountainous landlocked nation, the river is the source of life, but it's also the source of great dangers, especially during the rainy season. As we stood on the wooden bridge in front of the waterfalls, millions and millions of wild, turbulent water crashed down onto the boulders below, spraying everyone nearby with a constant icy mist.

Learn more: The Luang Prabang Boat Festival

Kuang Si Waterfall Dress Code

As a sacred place among the local people, there is a fairly dress code at the Kuang Si Forest Park. Signs posted inform visitors of the proper dress code.

The signs tell visitors not to wear bikini swimsuits and even ask men not to swim topless in the pools beneath the falls.

Unfortunately, many tourists choose to ignore these signs. While visiting, we saw many western tourists in swimwear that was considered inappropriate by the Lao people for wearing at a sacred waterfall despite the well-placed signs. This sort of behavior reflects very poorly on western tourists. Not only is it rude and disrespectful to disregard the dress code, it could lead to you being asked to leave the park.

the amazing 200-foot high waterfall

How to get to Kuang Si Waterfall from Luang Prabang

You can book a day trip to Kuang Si Falls from any travel agency in the city. You can even book it from your hotel or guest house. Most tour companies will be willing to pick you up at your hotel or guest house and drive you to and from Kuang Si Forest Park.

The forest park lies just half an hour outside of Luang Prabang. It's not very far, but I highly recommend taking a Dramamine tablet before departing! The mountain road between Luang Prabang and Kuang Si Fores Park is winding and twisting, and I suffered from terrible carsickness on the way. Just a suggestion to those of you with a weak stomach! (I don't normally suffer from motion sickness, so if you aren't exceptionally strong of constitution, you really might want to take an anti-motion sickness tablet).

If you are comfortable with it, you can also rent a motorbike and drive to the forest park by yourself.

Kuang Si Waterfall Tickets

If you sign up for a tour to the waterfall, your driver might ask to collect money for the tickets in advance. This way, you can avoid lines by having the driver of the minibus collect tickets at the tour group entrance. This costs the same amount as purchasing the tickets by yourself, but saves you time and hassle. 

If you are visiting the waterfalls without a tour group, tickets to the forest park cost 20,000 kip.

While you are there, don't miss out on the Kuang Si Bear Rescue Centre (admission FREE). Read this post to learn more about this awesome organization.

Other day trips from Luang Prabang, Laos

Location of Kuang Si Waterfall, Laos