A Secret Kuang Si Falls Tip

Kay and I looked out looked around the parking lot at Kuang Si Falls, at the stalls selling snacks and trinkets to tourists like us. Charcoal smoke wafted through the air from skewer-lined grills and frying pans. After exploring Luang Prabang’s most popular attraction, we had a little time on our hands to seek the “secret” part of the falls.

I say “secret” in parentheses because it isn’t one to the locals, such as our guesthouse owner. According to him, the tourists don’t realise that there’s a restaurant right over the falls. If we found it, we would probably be the only foreigners there.

Where would we find it, though? We didn’t even know the name of the restaurant. It would’ve been embarrassing to ask the stallholders about this place but I surmised that it could only be downstream. We followed the road that led out of the parking lot, leaving the chatter behind us.

See also: Other things to do in Luang Prabang in 4 days

The “Secret” Kuang Si Falls Tip

Within five minutes, we came across a white-walled temple with a gilded roof in the middle of a field. It was like the many others that we saw in Luang Prabang, but someone had trampled a path in the grass that led to someplace behind it. More importantly, the familiar sound of rushing water beckoned us to take a closer look.

Behold, we were back at Kuang Si falls, but it was rather different from what we had seen earlier. Laotian families sat on the bamboo platforms that spanned the rapids, enjoying a late lunch and the company of loved ones, while little children played in the aquamarine water in their birthday suits. There seemed to be no other tourists in sight.

We plonked ourselves on the little stools and proceeded to order a quick lunch of our own. While it was less than S$10 for both of us, there was plenty of MSG in the cucumber-papaya salad. Thankfully, there was nothing else to do but run back to our bus with a throbbing headache.

Kuang Si Falls tip
Oh don’t worry, those families were to the right and out of the frame

Getting to Kuang Si Falls – more tips

  • From the Luang Prabang town centre, you can hire a tuk-tuk that will take up to 6 people to the falls and back from 150,000 kip. Check with the driver how much time you get at the falls; to cover them, the Bear Sanctuary, the “secret” restaurant and the Butterfly Park, you’ll want at least three hours. Don’t be afraid to negotiate for more time. Entry fees for the falls are an additional 20,000 kip per person (it includes the bears), 40,000 kip for the Butterfly Park. No tickets needed for the “secret” place.
  • Shared minibuses will also take you there from your doorstep for 40,000 kip or more per person. There is, of course, little room for extending your stay. If you are confident of riding on mountain roads, however, rent a scooter. Parking at the falls costs 2,000 kip and you’ll have all the time you want to explore.
  • In all three cases, don’t forget to look back on the way to the falls. Halfway through the journey, you’ll be able to see the entire town of Luang Prabang in the distance.
  • TL;DR of getting to the restaurant: The roads to get into and out of the parking lot are separate. Follow the one that leads out until you reach the temple. Walk around it (or take the gravel road if you don’t like grass) until you reach the water, then cross the bridges. Or just ask for directions to Vanvisa lodge.

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