One of the most stunning sights in Laos is the Khone falls, a sequence of waterfalls on the Mekong River. These mighty waterfalls in Champasak province, not far from the Cambodian border, are the largest in South East Asia. It extends over a breathtaking section of the Mekong River with numerous waterfalls.
The longest drop is over 20 meters, and the rapids are so powerful that they last almost ten kilometers. Its massive size and the ferocious surge of water are intimidating but also a major tourist attraction. The guide to the Khone Phapheng Falls below may sway you if you’re on the fence about visiting the waterfall.
The Stunning Khone Phapheng Falls
The largest waterfall in Laos is the product of a merger between two smaller ones. Yes, the Khone Phapheng Falls is the combination of two separate waterfalls, the Pha Pheng Falls and the Khone Falls.
Si Phan Don, which translates to “Four thousand islands,” is where you’ll find the waterfalls, also known as Khone Phapheng. The Khone Phapheng Falls is renowned for numerous reasons. Still, the most remarkable is that they are the largest waterfall in Southeast Asia and the widest waterfall in the world (at over 10,700 meters).
During the dry season, the falls truly shine. The river and its cascades are kilometers wide and run over a length of almost 10 kilometers downstream. However, during the rainy season, most rapids and falls disappear due to the increased water level in the river.
The Mekong River’s spectacular waterfalls can be seen in southern Laos, not far from Cambodia’s border. Interestingly, the Mekong River is only partially navigable into China due to the size of the waterfalls, dramatic seasonal fluctuations, and fast-flowing waters.
Khone Phapheng Falls is roughly 21 meters high, and the rapids run nearly 9.7 kilometers down the Mekong.
In the same vein, Khone Phapheng Falls is well recognized as a formidable natural wonder. Compared to the more well-known Niagara Falls, its average flow rate of over 11,500 cubic meters per second is far higher.
Thousands of islands are strewn over the area around the Khone Phapheng Falls, making it a fascinating place to explore in and of itself. Don Khong, Don Khon, and Don Det are the three main islands tourists visit, with Don Khong being the largest.
Interesting fact: Former Laos President Khamtai Siphandon has a private estate on the island of Don Khong.
A small population of endangered Irrawaddy dolphins occupies the area around the Khone falls on Don Khon island, located to the south. It’s 21 meters high at its peak.
There is a pavilion at a lookout point just above the Khone falls, from where you can see the waterfalls and the many islands in the area. Close by, you may find a variety of food stands as well as craft stands.
Khone Phapheng Waterfalls: Some Highlights
The volume of water in many rivers is much larger. There aren’t any waterfalls this size in those rivers, though. These falls are perfect for those who find beauty in untamed landscapes.
The location is not overrun with tourists because it is located in southern Laos, which is known for being tranquil, peaceful, and laid-back. Many tourists come to the islands to unwind in one of the many charming communities.
Thais, Vietnamese, and Westerners make up the bulk of international visitors. Different from the north, there are fewer Chinese and Korean tourists here.
Numerous additional activities are available in the area: Champasak Province is where you’ll find many attractions devoid of crowds. There are some amazing spots to see, such as the waterfall and the four thousand tiny islands. You may go waterfall hopping on the mighty Mekong, dine and rest in sleepy local communities, and even kayak out to view dolphins!
Planning a Trip to Khone Phapheng Falls
The magnificent Khone Phapheng Falls can be seen on a day trip or a longer vacation of up to a week. The province of Champasak, where the falls are located, is a fantastic vacation destination in its own right, with historic temples, stunning landscapes, and tranquil eco-lodges all within easy reach.
Those in the market for a place to stay while visiting the Khone Phapheng Falls will be delighted to learn that the area surrounding the falls is dotted with a wide variety of hotels, resorts, and guesthouses. Khon, Laos is where the falls are located; therefore, that’s where you’ll want to hunt for a place to stay when planning your vacation.
Finding the most favorable time of year to travel is a common concern for travelers.
There are two distinct times of year to see Khone Phapheng Falls. The dry season in Laos runs from November through April and is the perfect time to visit if you want to take advantage of the country’s moderate temperatures and cloudless skies. During the monsoon season, the water is a spectacular display of nature’s raw might.
The Khone Phapheng Falls is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, but you should call ahead to make sure because special events and holidays may cause delays. When visiting the falls, it’s best to go when they open so you may have the place to yourself. Keep in mind that the crowds usually begin to form between 11 a.m. and noon.
A final perk of an early morning visit is the possibility of seeing a rainbow arcing above the waterfalls. Have your camera handy so that you can snap a picture of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
The average visitor spends the entire day here, yet you can see everything in under an hour. Outside of visiting the Khone Phapheng Falls, tourists can partake in activities like kayaking, dolphin-watching tours, and trekking. Those staying for a while can visit one of the several neighboring inhabited islands.
You should not miss the native delicacies along the Mekong. The fishing towns in the vicinity of the waterfalls provide a bounty of fresh seafood for the many restaurants in the region.
Khon Phapheng is the most impressive waterfall on the Mekong, with millions of liters of water crashing uncontrollably over the rocks. Any brave traveler who values nature, stunning scenery, or the opportunity to see more of the world should make a point of visiting these falls in Laos.