Kuang Si Falls in Luang Prabang: The Most Beautiful Waterfall You’ve Ever Seen

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Kuang Si Falls in Luang Prabang: The Most Beautiful Waterfall You’ve Ever Seen

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I had just arrived in Luang Prabang and, by some luck of the universe, I was staying at the same guesthouse as a group of travelers I had previously met in Thailand. Their group had started as only two, but over the course of a couple of weeks, they continued to pick up other travelers until they became a group of 17.

Yes, in Luang Prabang, I was lucky number 18.

This was the last stop for many of the group, as some would be heading back to the Netherlands and others would be taking off to other destinations around Asia. We had two days together and we planned to make the most of it.

As one might imagine, traveling as a group of 18 is a nearly impossible task (especially a group of happy-go-lucky travelers), so we split into smaller groups and took off for our first day.

Even as a group of six, though, making breakfast happen on a timely schedule was an impractical task, but when all was said and done, we piled into our tuk-tuk and, for the next 45 minutes, we bumped steadily south some 20 or so miles, armed with flip flops and swim gear, knowing nothing beyond the fact that we were going swimming in a beautiful waterfall.

What we found when we arrived, though, was magical and magnificent.

Kuang Si Waterfall
Kuang Si Waterfall

The Most Beautiful Waterfall I’ve Ever Seen

The Kuang Si Waterfall consists of a tiered group of turquoise pools set amongst the dense Laotian jungle. The bottom of the falls are made up of an array of shallow pools, each one overflowing into the one below it.

Tree branches jut out over the pools, and we found that previous travelers had created a rope swing from a high branch of one of the trees. Individually, each one of us scaled the rugged tree and sidled our way out over the emerald bath below. We swung from the branches like monkeys and, like dolphins, dove from atop other small waterfalls, from one beryl basin into the next.

Jumping Point
Deep blue water basins at Kuang Si Falls. Perfect for swimming!

Walking further up the falls, we found smaller, more isolated pools. Exploring every nook and cranny, we made our way to the main attraction, the 200-foot cascade that seemingly swallowed the earth that it surged through. It was awesome, in every sense of the word.

Kuang Si Falls
The Beautiful Kuang Si Waterfall

We stood in awe, with smiles on our faces, knowing that these types of experiences are the best parts of traveling. Our group, now down to five, had connected on a level beyond just friendship. We connected through joy. We connected through discovery of the world around us, and the communal discovery of the adventure junkies inside ourselves. I knew at that moment that it would be a memory none of us would soon forget.

Sometimes the connections you make with others, even if they only span a day, can last a lifetime.

Kuang Si Falls, Luang Prabang, Laos
Group photo at the falls!

Climbing to the Top of Kuang Si Falls

One member of our group spotted a trail leading to the top. Like children, we ran towards it. Half of us in our flip flops and half in bare feet, we bounded towards the top, jumping over rocks and thick tree roots. We were heading towards the source of this magnificent waterfall. And the chaos that gushed over the ledge was a bizarre juxtaposition next to the uncanny calm that awaited us at the top.

Monks at the Top of the Waterfall
Monks at the top of the waterfall

The roar of the rapids became a faint murmur in the background and, suddenly, a flock of orange robes surrounded us. A group of young monks had been exploring the falls that day and our groups began to merge together. We all waded through the large pool at the top, our toes sinking deep into the mud beneath us.

Honestly, I can’t believe my camera survived the trip.

Wading with Monks
Wading along the edge of the waterfall

There was no solid ground to stand on, here. There were only shallow pools of water. The basin we plodded through seemed to span for miles in every direction, before finally brimming over the edge and pouring itself 200 feet below us. It was like a thick, jungle swamp set atop a thrashing waterfall.

Standing in this remarkably unique place, we all smiled at each other. We had found one of the treasures of the world and we knew that, by some fate of the world, or lives had intersected for a reason that day.

Kuang Si Falls, Luang Prabang, Laos
Swimming at the base of the falls!

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Jeremy Scott Foster
Jeremy Scott Foster
Jeremy Scott Foster is an adventure-junkie, gear expert and travel photographer based in Southern California. Previously nomadic, he’s been to ~50 countries and loves spending time outdoors. You can usually find him on the trail, on the road, jumping from bridges or hustling on his laptop working to produce the best travel and outdoors content today. You can read more about Jeremy at his bio.

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29 Responses

  1. I’ll be going to Luang Prabang in January and was contemplating on doing a half-day or day trip to Kuang Si Falls but your experience pretty much has convinced me to rope this in to my itinerary.

    How was the weather and the temperature of the water while you were there?

    1. You’ll definitely want a full day! There’s so much to explore. The water was perfect for swimming, and the temperature was spot on 🙂

  2. Amazing post! Thanks for your sharing. I just want to know when you travelled to Laos, especially the Kuang Si Waterfall because I think that the water colour is not crystal blue all year round.

  3. Kuang Si was definitely the highlight of the trip. I just wish I had someone to go with me so I could’ve left my stuff at a dry spot to go swimming a little bit.

  4. What time of year did you go? When I went it was November and not quite a beautiful (although still worth the trip!)

  5. Amazing pictures!
    I decided to take a month off of work and head to Thailand this January with just a backpack. Your posts are getting me more excited by the minute.

  6. Laos is my country and my home, Every day we did the tourist trip, Luangprabang is the best place to see and learn about Laos culture.

  7. I was in Luang Prabang last month…and unfortunately missed this beautiful spot! (Just an excuse to go back someday) Tad Sae waterfalls in the area look very similar, but smaller…worth visiting in addition to Kuang Si.

  8. Yeah, you’re right the waterfalls are beautiful. I like the blue hues and the soft green. Looks almost majestic.

  9. Well, I have to say this is REALLY beautiful! I especially like the turquoise color of the water which is probably created by limestone. You don’t have that very often, especially in waterfalls. I guess Laos must be very beautiful, but I haven’t visited any country in Asia yet. Great pictures.

  10. For whatever reason whilst we were in Luang Prabang we didn’t have the time to see the waterfalls, perhaps because by the time we got there we were exhausted and spent the entire few days there trying all of the food.

    They certainly are outstanding areas of natural beauty though.

  11. Nice post! It is definitely one of the best waterfalls we have ever seen as well – up there with Semuc Champey in Guatemala. Such a stunning place.

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