One of the best day-trips from Luang Prabang is Kouang Si waterfall, a picturesque, multi-level affair that tumbles 60m before spilling through a series of crystal-blue pools. The spray from the falls keeps the surrounding grounds cool even at midday. It’s a great spot for a picnic and a refreshing swim – there are picnic tables and changing rooms at the site. The upper pool has a nice view of the falls, though swimming is only allowed at the lower pool, which lacks a direct view. If you didn’t pack lunch, pay a visit to the vendors nearby selling tam màk hung, fruit and drinks.
If you’re up for some exercise, the steep path on the opposite side of the falls leads to the top and a grassy meadow filled with brilliantly coloured butterflies. Tread carefully though, as the path can get quite slippery; more than a few barefoot trampers have slipped and broken a leg here.
There are several options for getting to the waterfall, which is situated 35km southwest of Luang Prabang. The most scenic approach is by boat down the Mekong River; the same boatmen who run the trips to the Pak Ou Caves will take you to the falls, the final portion of the journey is by tuk-tuk, which is usually worked into the fee by the boatman – check when negotiating. Alternatively, it’s possible to get there by road – tuk-tuk drivers in town will usually approach you about this, or head to the “Tuk-tuk Station Travel Service” in Luang Prabang.