Along with the Kuang Si Falls, the Tad Sae Waterfall is one of Luang Prabang’s best-known falls and a popular attraction to visit during the wet season. A series of jade-bright travertine pools and shallow cascades, Tad Sae sits close to the Nam Khan River outside Luang Prabang. Other attractions include ziplines and an elephant camp.
The Tad Sae Waterfall is around 10 miles (16 kilometers) from Luang Prabang, accessed by a short boat ride across the Nam Khan River. There are small fees for the waterfall itself and for the boat ride, as well as charges for the ziplines and elephant activities.
Driving in Laos is a risky business, so most visitors opt for the ease of an organized door-to-door tour, arranged either in town or online. Some Tad Sae Waterfall tours include kayaking trips on the Nam Khan River; like the falls themselves, kayaking is much more rewarding in the wet season.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Tad Sae Waterfall, with colors that can be quite startling, is a must for photographers.
- When swimming, dress modestly: Shorts and a T-shirt are more appropriate than a bikini.
- Many people ride the ziplines without incident each year, but be aware that safety standards are far below what you would expect in the west.
- The boats you ride to the Tad Sae falls are narrow and require balance and mobility to negotiate.
How to Get There
The Tad Sae Waterfall sits about 10 miles (16 kilometers) from Luang Prabang. There’s no public transport, so the easiest way to get there is to join a tour or arrange to share transport. You can also charter tuk-tuks in town and pay them to wait. On arrival, you’ll need to board a boat to cross the Nam Khan River.
When to Get There
The Tad Sae Waterfall is best visited at the end of the rainy season and beginning of the dry, roughly between August and November. Come February, there’s often barely a trickle, and it’s been known to go completely dry. The ziplines and elephant attraction operate year-round, while the falls are busiest on weekends.
Elephants at Tad Sae
Laos’ old name, Lan Xang, means “a million elephants,” and elephants have long been central to Lao culture. While hundreds still work in the logging industry, only a small population remains in the wild. One of the tourist attractions at Tad Sae is an elephant camp. If you’d like to interact with elephants in Laos, look for a responsible conservation facility like this one, not a spot that keeps these intelligent animals chained.