Riding a moped to the Kuang Si Waterfalls is probably the best way to end up in the hospital, but it’s also the way I recommend going. No risk, no reward.
Riding a Moped to the Kuang Si Waterfalls
The Kuang Si Waterfalls are absolutely majestic, and a highlight of any trip to Laos. You have some options to consider on how to get there from Luang Prabang. Sure, you could join one of the many group tours, but there is a much better option!
Rent a Moped
Renting a moped will only cost you about $10, and will give you the freedom to customize your day. You and your friends will also look super cool riding them, and who wouldn’t want that?
Learn to Ride Said Moped
If you don’t know how to ride a moped, this would be a good time to learn. Make sure you practice. This skill will come in handy on other adventures in Asia too. Don’t go out on a busy road until you feel very comfortable riding it. I’ve read some people say that it’s a difficult ride from Luang Prabang to the Kuang Si Falls, but I really don’t think it was. The road was in good shape, and the directions are simple. You basically head straight out of town, and then make one left turn up to the falls. Just make sure you have a working smartphone, so you know when to turn. I recommend the maps.me app for offline maps. Very useful for when you don’t have cell reception.
Stop Along the Way
As amazing as the Kuang Si Waterfalls are, one of my favorite moments of the day came before we even arrived. We stopped along the way to the falls, and came across a bunch of school kids playing soccer. They were more than happy to have us join them. This turned into some sort of “Simon Says” game with the entire school. This is the reason to rent a moped. When you do, random awesome things can happen. It’s an incredible memory, and it wouldn’t have happened if we were on a group tour. Riding a moped to the Kuang Si Waterfalls is the only way to go, in my opinion.
“Life is a journey, not a destination. –Ralph Waldo Emerson” -David Sweeney
Eat Along the Way
Beating up on little kids in soccer makes you work up an appetite. Luckily, there was a food stand right outside the school that was selling amazing noodle soup for about $1. Those red chunks in the soup are made of pig blood. Mmmm, pig blood. Tastes much better than it sounds, and it’s high in vitamin P… vitamin pig.
Arrive at the Falls
Arrive at the falls, and prepare for the splendor. Park your moped and begin walking slightly uphill through the trees. Don’t forget your bathing suit. You’ll soon catch a glimpse of the beautiful blue cascading water, and probably a bunch of smelly backpackers getting their first bath in weeks. Hey, you gotta take the good with the bad. If you haven’t heard, Laos can get kinda hot, so what better way to cool off than jumping in for a swim.
Keep Walking Towards the Main Falls
The falls are such an awesome sight. The water is impossibly blue. You can hang out and swim all day, or keep walking up towards the main falls.
Not on drugs, you hippie. It’s time to hike up to the very top of the falls. It’s a steep and slippery slope at times, so it would be advised to wear some heavier-duty sandals. I was wearing basic flip-flops, and it was not a great idea. I lost my footing several times. It’s worth the climb though, as there’s a really cool swimming area at the top, with tree swings and places to just chill out. I’ll admit, it seems like an ideal place to get attacked by a 30 foot python, but we managed to survive.
Hike Back Down for a Private Photo Shoot
Start your hike back down to the main area. You might find that all the tour groups have left by this point, so it’s a great time to get some pictures for your Instagram without a bunch of bozos in the background.
Final Words of Advice
Riding a moped to the Kuang Si Waterfalls is relatively easy, but make sure to leave the falls early enough to get back to Luang Prabang before dark. We didn’t do this, and it was a mistake. Darkness obviously makes riding a moped more dangerous, but the biggest negative for us was the bugs! At dusk, all these little gnats will be smacking your face as your ride, getting in your eyes and your mouth. I ended up wearing my sunglasses in the dark, because it was the only way to avoid bugs in my eyes. Not ideal, but I had to do it. So don’t make that mistake, and you should be fine. Rent a moped and have a day full of unexpected adventures. Just make sure to ride during daylight hours, and don’t crash. You might want to get some travel insurance, just in case.