Tat Kuang Si Waterfall - Luang Prabang

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Long exposure of Tat Kuang Si waterfall in Luang Prabang.

Whether unique experiences, ancient traditions or breathtaking natural spectacles, there are things that every traveler should have experienced. Our next destination definitely belongs to this category, because Tat Kuang Si Waterfall is the most famous and impressive in all of Northern Laos!

A woman stands between trees and looks into the camera.

And you don't even know the best part, because the waterfall is easily accessible and only 30 kilometers from the city of Luang Prabang, which has a number of other attractions in store. There are several ways to get to Tat Kuang Si. Either you book a private tour with a minivan, get a comfortable ride with a tuktuk or rent a scooter and go on your own. No matter which option you choose, try to be at the entrance as early as possible. Because of its fame and uniqueness, the waterfall is of course a popular destination.

Close up of green plant at Tat Kuang Si waterfall.
Close-up of a red flower at Tat Kuang Si waterfall.

We choose the scooter, shoulder our backpack and drive towards the sunrise. Shortly after 7 o'clock we reach the entrance, a friendly employee welcomes us as the first visitors and collects the entrance fee of 25,000 Kip (~ 1.30 $) per person. Basically, the facility is open between 8 and 17:30. However, we are lucky and may enter the park already at our arrival. Through a small board we learn that there are two ways to the waterfall. Either you turn right, then the path winds past the pools and the bear enclosure, yes there are bears here, or you follow the paved road straight to the main attraction.

A man stands on a red bridge looking at Tat Kuang Si waterfall.
A man walks on a red bridge and looks at Tat Kuang Si waterfall.

After only a few minutes of walking, we decide to take the direct route, we stand at the 60 meter high waterfall. The pools shine at us in their striking blue color and a small turtle swims calmly past us. Far and wide there is no human to be seen and we can enjoy the sight and the silence. If you hope to swim in the waterfall, we have to disappoint you, because it is forbidden in this area. But there are plenty of other pools further down.

Green plant leaves hang in the turquoise shining water of Tat Kuang Si waterfall.

By the way, according to a legend, the waterfall was created when a wise old man brought back the water of Nam Si, a dried up river, by digging deeply. After the water reached Tat Kuang Si, a beautiful golden deer settled under a large rock that protruded from the waterfall. The sound of water falling on this rock created an enchanting echo that attracted people from all over the country to the waterfall. Tat means waterfall, Kuang deer and Si dig. Unfortunately, the large rock is no longer visible because it broke off during an earthquake in 2001.

A man is cleaning the pools of Tat Kuang Si waterfall in the morning.
Close up of Tat Kuang Si waterfall.
A man at the foot of Tat Kuang Si waterfall with a broom.

If you have enough time, you should follow the trails to the left and right of the waterfall. At the top you'll find the spring and you'll also have a magnificent view of the surrounding area. Small bridges and steps lead over the crystal clear water and there is also a small picnic area. We climb down the slope again and this time choose the other way. Past more pools with the incredible color and a restaurant. We finally stop, because jumping into the water is of course an absolute must when visiting Tat Kuang Si. After a last stop at the bear enclosure, we make our way back. By the way, the animals are Asiatic Moon Bears, which were freed from captivity by the organization. More and more people crowd through the entrance of the park. The road is full of minibuses and scooters, because from 10 o'clock there is a rush at the waterfall. 

Long exposure of the different pools at Kuang Si waterfall.
A man is making his way into the water at Kuang Si waterfall.
A black bear in the enclosure at Tat Kuang Si waterfall.

Even if the temperatures in the morning prevent an extensive bath in these breathtaking pools, we are glad to have visited the Tat Kuang Si waterfall so early. We could marvel at the impressive natural spectacle in peace and did not have to share the paths with numerous other tourists. The most famous waterfall of northern Laos is without question one of the country's must-see sights! We strode out of the sprawling complex and, still impressed, drew comparisons to the Plitvice Lakes in Croatia. In a way, the two bodies of water are already very similar. We start the scooter and head back towards Luang Prabang. The day is still young. Our next destination, the weaving village Ban Xang Hai!

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