This waterfall is looking very tempting and mystical with its tiered basin pools made of sculpted limestones. Alternatively known as Tad Kuang Xi Waterfalls, this famous spot in northern Laos has luckily not been commercialized and has preserved its natural jungle beauty despite its popularity. Photos of this waterfall are all over the internet, as well as blogs on how to reach it. Images found in google are mostly covered with lush green forests. However, I found a few deceiving pictures that show autumn and spring-like colored trees, which is obviously photoshopped. Sometimes you really don’t know which photo is for real. Therefore, expectations should be managed at a minimum to avoid disappointment in the end.
Situated inside a jungle, 23km south of Luang Prabang, a tuk-tuk ride will take you 45 minutes from the town center. There are a lot of options to reach the place. However, it depends if you are torn between two lovers, time and money. Saving money means sacrificing time and vice versa, so I always consider priorities first when planning.
According to blogs, roundtrip tuk-tuk ride will cost around 200,000 kips (1100php); therefore, the cost for a shared trip will depend on the number of passengers. Alternatively, hiring a private, air-conditioned mini-van cost a flat rate of 250,000 kips. Therefore, having 3 or more friends or travelers beforehand is the best way to save time and money. Moreover, you can negotiate the time of pick up and length of stay with the driver.
Moneywise, the cheapest way is via a shared mini-van, which costs around 60,000 kips per person. The cons of this option are that the mini-van will pick up each passenger in their hotels (which can literally eat more time), and the return trip is scheduled and non-negotiable. This option might lead to a lesser time to explore and enjoy the waterfalls. Maybe not a good idea for me.
Here are a few more details I took note of. The entrance fee at the waterfalls is 20,000 kip (around 110php), and it’s open daily from 8:30am – 5:30pm. One would take about 15-20 mins of walking to reach the top through unpaved trails, which can be slippery when wet. Huts to change clothes and snack vendors are available within the vicinity. Some pools are considered sacred hence there are off-limit sections. I also learned that it is highly recommended to visit during the dry season but preferably from December to April to see the stunning turquoise water. Rainy seasons, which is from May to September, will turn it into milk chocolate falls instead.
This has been long in my bucket list, but Laos has been elusive due to its geographical location. I keep attempting to plan for this trip but I only see expensive direct flights from Manila to Vientiane/Luang Prabang. Alternately, entering Luang Prabang (Laos) from Hanoi (Vietnam), by flight is too costly, while coming by bus will take full 24 hours (still assessing my capacity). The route via Thailand’s border is somehow friendly but will need numerous transfers to reach the border.
“So near, yet so far.” This is what I always end up saying whenever I try to knock it off my bucket list. A recent attempt to reach Laos failed due to this pandemic. On the bright side, this is creating more opportunities for cheaper flights in 2021. This must be a sign. Tad Kuang See you soon.
Featured image is downloaded free from this website