Tad Thong Waterfalls: the abandoned waterfalls hidden in Luang Prabang, Laos

Tad Thong Waterfalls is likely a place you’ve never heard of, and don’t feel bad about that! Most people come to Luang Prabang with a short bucket list that includes the stunning {albeit crowded} Kuang Si Waterfalls. Laos has no shortage of waterfalls to explore and visitors shouldn’t limit themselves to only the most visually appealing and well-known. Those looking for a crowd-less cascade of water off-the-beaten-path should head to Tad Thong Waterfalls for a jungle trek and fresh water to cool-off in. It’s also a great place to play “Jane looking for Tarzan” in.


here’s YOUR GUIDE TO THE ABANDONED WATERFALLS IN LUANG PRABANG


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ABOUT TAD THONG

Tad Thong was once a group of waterfalls frequently visited by tourists, to the point that many people thought Tad Thong was overcrowded. Today, however, the waterfalls are completely empty and sit abandoned. Signs indicating where to park motorbikes sit on the ground, dilapidated. The trail that loops around the waterfalls is missing in parts and overgrown in others.

SPOILER ALERT: Tad Thong is not as visualizing magnificent as Kuang Si and the falls aren’t as massive as Tad Sae, but there are no crowds {or people at all} at Tad Thong. This probably has something to do with the fact that the largest waterfall at Tad Thong actually isn’t accessible {as of date of publishing}. Where the trail branches off, a rock slide’s debris has accumulated and, since the waterfall is abandoned, there is quite literally no way to shimmy across the side of the cliff {trust me, I attempted}. You can walk the trail loop, minus the branch-off track to the main “attraction”, but be prepared to get a bit creative. I hopped over gaps where bridges had clearly existed. Other times, I held onto tree roots where the track got narrow.

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where to find the falls

From Luang Prabang center, it took me and my travel partner 20-25 minutes by motorbike. However, a majority of that time was spent trying to be as cautious as possible on narrow, steep, and uneven dirt roads. If either of us were more skilled, had a manual motorbike, or I wasn’t riding along {I’ve had a few vehicle accidents here in Asia and I’m becoming a bit of a wimp} the ride would have been closer to 20 minutes.

You can park your motorbike or bicycle near what was a restaurant at the head of what was the trail to the waterfall. Walking up the trail, follow the concrete block stairs. As the stairs become overrun with foliage, continue on. There are gaps where bridges used to be, but you can “Mowgli” your way across tree limbs.

To ensure you don’t get lost, I suggest using the free Maps.Me app! Save the map while you’re in WiFi and it will still work when you’re out in the jungle.

Need help navigating? Don’t worry! I’ve marked the entrance for you on the map below

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how to get there

MOTORBIKE - Renting a motorbike in Laos is not something I recommend for rookies due to the lack of health services, absence of enforced road rules, and general state of the country’s traffic. However, if you know your way around a manual motorcycle and you have experience on Asia’s wild roads, then getting to Tad Thong by motorbike is the easiest and quickest option. The roads are as unkept as the waterfalls, so be prepared for {at the very least} some uneven gravel and potholes. It’s not a smooth ride, but it’s an adventure for those willing to take it on!

BICYCLE - Those interested in working up a sweat to wash off under the cooling waters of the falls should rent a bicycle and pedal their way to Tad Thong. Many people cycle to Kuang Si, which is three times the distance that Tad Thong is from the Luang Prabang city center. You will want to have a good level of physical fitness, but I reckon biking is highly doable and you won’t have to worry about off-roading with an automatic motorbike.

TUK-TUK + WALK - The “roads” {read: dirt trails} to Tad Thong are entirely unkept. You can, however, hire a tuk-tuk to get you as far as possible and then walk the remainder of the way. If you choose to do this, you will need to prepare yourself for quite the dusty trek.

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what to bring

  • shoes- good for un-sturdy terrains! I would not advise walking this trail in sandals.

  • sunscreen

  • sunglasses

  • baseball cap- protection from the sun

  • snacks + a filled reusable water bottle - there isn’t anywhere nearby to grab snacks or water, but there are abandoned picnic tables you can stop and picnic at

  • swim suit

  • towel

  • camera - the views are stunning

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Fun’s not over yet! People who don’t already know seem to be shocked that Luke has a YouTube following…but they probably shouldn’t be. Years ago, he put up a video on Reddit that went viral of a girl and Megatron— it went viral. Then, years later, when we were traveling through Myanmar and Indonesia, he made a video of him annoying me— it went micro-viral. He hasn’t been active on YouTube in ages, but he rebranded it a while ago and recently decided to put the rebranding to use with video footage he had collected over time, and these videos from our Sundays together.

Want more video content? No worries!


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tad thong waterfalls: the abandoned waterfalls in luang prabang, laos
a guide to the abandoned waterfalls in Luang Prabang, and why you should go