A Little Beauty… Visiting the Stunning Turquoise Waters at Laos’ Kuang Si Falls

Last updated on August 15, 2023

Visiting the Tat Kuang Si Waterfalls outside of Luang Prabang, Laos
Visiting the Tat Kuang Si Waterfalls outside of Luang Prabang, Laos with my friend Laura.

After traveling from Thailand into Laos, and then taking part in a few adventures around Vang Vieng, I settled in the ever-so-charming Luang Prabang. The city has wowed me with it’s quiet pace of life, delicious and affordable eats, and countless new activities teaching about Laos’ history, culture, and people. I am quite taken with the Laotian culture and the sheer beauty of each new spot I’ve visited.

Luang Prabang is a city that encourages travelers to slip off their shoes and take a break. With two weeks at my leisure, I have ample time to see the best of nature and culture on the daytrips from the city. The local Laotians have insisted the the Tat Kuang Si Waterfalls are spectacular. They’re proud of the clear waterfalls and ice-blue lagoons.

The backpacking trail through Southeast Asia is strong, and Laura and I ran into friends from Vang Vieng. The group of us shared a tuk tuk in search of the turquoise pools and an afternoon in nature.

Getting to Kuang Si Waterfalls

work elephant laos
A work elephant walking the roads in rural Laos as we road out to the Tat Kuang Si Waterfalls in Laos.

Getting to the Tat Kuang Si Waterfalls is half of the fun. Our tuk tuk wove through the Laotian countryside, over bridges, through rice paddies, and past work elephants. Vendors line the waterfall entrance and the first pools of beautiful turquoise water are just a five minute walk into the National Park.

The water color is unreal. These photos are straight from my camera, and even in retrospect I wonder if they’re doctored someone. We all had to reach out and touch the pools of water to even believe they were real, let alone a naturally-formed gift from nature.

What is Tat Kuang Si Like?

Luang Prabang sits directly along the shores of the mighty Mekong River. But even the importance of the Mekong cannot overcome the fact that the river’s placid waters glisten an unattractive shade of muddy brown under the high sun. But just an hour from those dull waters, the icy-blue pools seem like a color best fit for a child’s box of crayons.

There are marked swimming areas at the Kuang Si Waterfalls.
laos waterfalls
Boardwalks and viewpoints offer pretty lookouts over the waterfalls.
kuang si
Kuang Si waterfalls in Laos.
blue lagoon
The Blue Lagoon was a pretty stop on our wanders.

Our group left for the waterfalls early in the day, so we had hours to spend at the park. The first lagoon we found was gorgeous and a designated swimming spot. We all were sure we had just found paradise and we stopped for a while to wade into the frigid waters. Little did we realize that the path continued for another kilometer path even more grottos, pools, and gorgeous tiny falls.

We had spent about 40 minutes in the tuk tuk, which isn’t too far, but we were all feeling antsy and the water was too inviting to pass up. That said, it was freezing cold. Not just a tad chilly, but the lagoons are covered with forest and only dappling light filters through to warm the water.

The group wasn’t daunted, however, and we all stripped down to our bathing suits and splashed around a bit. Then we dared each other to brave the cold water for long enough to hit the pocket of sunlight in the middle of the pool—Laura and I were game. And we even tried to make it look like our lips weren’t turning blue.

visiting kuang si and blue lagoon
Laura and I posed for a photo opp in the sparkling sunshine and blue waters.
luang prabang daytrip
Seconds after the first photo we are freezing cold and trying to conserve body heat—it’s chilly in late January!

There’s no reason to rush, there’s not too much land to cover, so we meandered past the pools of water. We also hunted for the perfect spot to do an impromptu photoshoot. The spot had to have the perfect combination of waterfalls, lush tropical vegetation, and captivatingly blue water. My friend Shimi noted that the place oozed so much beauty that she thought it would be the perfect spot for a couple to propose marriage—I have to agree, it’s stunning.

Once we found a gorgeous spot, we decided to reenact the Sports Illustrated swimsuit shoot that was here months earlier. Well, we kind of reenacted it. No one wanted to brave the chilly waters again so we all took turns rolling up our pant legs and voguing for the camera.

The results were both hilarious and completely unattractive, and also exactly what we had hoped to create. :)

posing at Kuang Si waterfalls
posing at Kuang Si waterfalls
daytrip out to see the Kuang Si waterfalls.
review of kuang si waterfalls

Should You Visit the Kuang Si Waterfalls?

should you visit the kuang si falls in laos?
Should you visit the Kuang Si falls in Laos? Look at that water. The short answer is: yes.

The waterfalls made a perfect day trip from Luang Prabang, and they were even more fun because we had friends in tow with whom we could chat and play with in the forest. It’s one of the better day trips from the city. Several days ago, Laura and I made the boat ride out to the Pac Ou Caves, which is another interesting day trip in the area.

The Buddhas at the Pak Ou Caves
The Buddhas at the Pak Ou Caves

The Pak Ou Caves are located upriver from Luang Prabang and it’s a very different experience than visiting the waterfalls. As I wrote about years later, however, the caves were memorable for their cultural importance, even if parts of the tour are lackluster. That post shares a bit more on the significance of the caves, as well as how to get there.

Laos has quickly become one of my favorite countries on the planet. There is no single part of traveling here that I can point to as “the reason” I love it, but it’s rather the collective whole of the people, cultures, and stories I’ve found while here. This is one of those spots I know I will return to again.

Quick Tips to Visit the Kuang Si Waterfalls in Laos

Kuang Si Waterfalls in Laos

How to Get to the Kuang Si Waterfalls

From Luang Prabang, hire a tuk-tuk. You can find these all over town, and many wait for tourists on the night market street. They leave when they have either a full group, or when the occupants agree to pay about 180,000 – 200,000 kip round trip. If you’re solo, start the day early as you can wait for the tuk-tuk to fill and score a shared ride for around 40,000 kip per person. The driver will wait for you at the falls and drive you back to town—pay the driver once you are back in Luang Prabang. I’ve done the falls twice, and I rented a motorbike the second time, which is a good way to give flexibility and freedom to your schedule. Day tours and minibuses run out to the falls, but it’s probably easiest to just do it as an independent journey—the whole process is pretty straight forward. More options for getting there are covered in depth here.

How Long to Spend at the Kuang Si Waterfalls

It takes roughly 45 minutes to make the 23 kilometer journey out to the falls. Once there, you’ll want four-to-five hours at the falls so you have time to see the bears, swim in the lagoons, and even grab a snack. The entrance fee is 20,000 kip (about $2.50) and includes visiting the bear sanctuary. Only swim in the marked pools as others are either unsafe or considered sacred by the locals.

Things to Brings

The temperature fluctuates a lot, so even a warm day might be cool in the shady forest. Wear your swimsuit under your clothes and bring a light jacket, that should cover you for anything you need. The pathways are cleared, tightly packed earth and there are no big hikes. You can definitely navigate in sandals.


I used the Lonely Planet guides during my time in Southeast Asia and they are my go-to. While the guesthouses they recommend are usually overrun, the Laos guide offers a good bit of history, as well as the nitty-gritties on transport around the region.

Onward travel: I’ve spent a lot of time in Laos, check out my favorite things to do in Luang Prabang, how to enjoy Vang Vieng, and more.

Essential Route Planning Resources:

Yes, you need travel insurance.
IMG Global is the travel insurance I’ve used for well over a decade of traveling solo, and with kids. Here’s why.

🛏️ Find great accommodation.

Agoda is essentially the only hotel booking site that I use in the region as it has the widest and most affordable selection in Southeast Asia. (And for those unfamiliar, it’s part of the Booking.com family). It has a wide and affordable selection of traditional hotels, but also hostels and vacation rentals, too. Use these pro tips to find the best travel accommodation.

Get Your Guide: Find a collection of the best locally run tours in one spot—you can assess the options, read reviews, and book directly through this trusted platform.

📍Navigate more effectively.
Rome2Rio is super handy to assess the full range of transport options between two cities—it shows everything from flights to trains, buses, minibuses, and more. If you’re booking a rental car, I’ve always found the best deals on RentalCars.com.

✈️ Book affordable flights.
Expedia and Skyscanner are the first places I look for low-cost flights.

🧳 Smart packing can save your trip.
Shop my favorite travel gear, including all of the packing essentials for traveling, gear to keep you safe in Southeast Asia, my favorite travel books, and more.

📖 Read up on any off-the-path activities.
Travelfish is among my go-to resources for anything in Southeast Asia. It’s updated far more often than print guidebooks and has extensive local insight and a fairly active forum, too. If you head off-the-path, this should be the first place you check for tips, transport advice, etc.

Peruse all of my tips for round the world travel, or learn how to move and live abroad.

Laos Travel Guide

A guide to everything I learned while backpacking Laos. From Luang Prabang to Vientiane—and a lot in between—here’s where to go, my favorite places, and everything you should know before you go.

2 thoughts on “A Little Beauty… Visiting the Stunning Turquoise Waters at Laos’ Kuang Si Falls”

  1. Wow, those pictures are beautiful!!!! And I am sure the pictures don’t even do the real thing justice. Man…ok now I’m jealous lol. Happy Valentine’s Day my chica!

  2. I got your post card! Aww it made me very happy to hear from you. Umm, I had to stop the video within the first two seconds due to jealousy overload. :) Really sorry to hear about your days of sickness, but that’s why you brought all that medicine for. I am going to be receiving my new passport soon so I may just take you up on that offer if I book a sweet gig sometime soon.

    p.s. I am guilty of spending money on ‘pity’ purchases. But, usually it makes for a good story. Miss you!!


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