Chiang Mai is surrounded by places, where nature works its miracles. There are beautiful mountains with breathtaking views, gardens full of exotic flowers, and waterfalls… lots and lots of waterfalls. Maybe not so impressive, but definitely very interesting, are the Bua Tong Sticky Waterfalls.
They are not very popular among tourists, as they are pretty far away from the city, which makes it an ideal relaxing day trip. Until you reach the waterfall that is.
Can you spot a guy sitting at the top of the waterfall?
Thanks to the lime stone, which floats in the water, the rocks are not slippery and you can climb them easily without any equipment. You don’t even need shoes! The rocks are a little prickly, and some feel like pumice stones. The middle level seems to be a little more dangerous and slippery. Also, it is better not to walk around the paddles in your flip flops as you can easily lose them in the mud.
Climbing the Sticky Waterfall is super fun
The waterfall is hidden among a lush forest
I really enjoyed walking around this waterfall. There are 5 levels and each of them is a great place to sit down and enjoy your surroundings. The rocks are creamy, almost white and they are a wonderful contrast to the green trees. The lime also makes the water crystal blue. There are no places to swim, but you can cool off by just sitting in one of the small ‘pools’ at the bottom of the waterfall. It is a good idea to take your swimsuit.
From the top of the waterfall you can admire the mountains and the jungle. You can also do what the locals do and have a picnic. The small pool on the left that you see in the picture below is absolutely safe for the kids to have a splash.
The sticky waterfalls are a popular weekend destination for Thai families
Look for the sign to Nam Phu Chet Si
When you are at the top look for a sign to Nam Phu Chet Si. It is a small shrine and a sacred spring, hidden in the jungle. It is an easy walk from the Bua Tong Sticky Waterfalls. It seemed to me that not many people visit this place, except some religious locals.
The crystal blue water is considered to have healing energy. There are sticks with attached buckets to them, so it is easy to collect water and splash yourself with it. On a hot day it is a good way to cool yourself down, and if the water really does have some healing abilities then that’s even better.
Swimming is not allowed at this sacred spring
The view from the top of the sticky waterfall
Bua Tong Waterfall is located about an hour drive from Chiang Mai. That’s what the Google Maps says, but it took me almost two hours to get there. Mostly, because my scooter is not that fast, but also because the road there is really pleasant and I stopped a couple of times to enjoy the views.
From the Superhighway take road number 1001 towards Phrao. Drive straight, pass the Mae Jo University. From there you won’t see any signs for the waterfall. Just drive straight. After a while the busy road gets a little more quiet. You will pass small towns on the way, where you can stop and eat, or get gas.
Around 18 km before the waterfall you will see a metal sign for the waterfall. Stay on that road until you see another sign telling you to turn right.
The road is very easy and the road leading to the waterfall is hard to miss.
If you don’t fancy driving a scooter you can hire a songthaew. As far as I know it costs around 1000 Baht, so it’s better if you have other people willing to go and you can share the cost.
Another option is going on a tour. I highly recommend Take Me Tour, a website where you can book a trip with a local expert. It’s not an organised tour and you will get a first hand experience from someone who lives and works in Chiang Mai. Also, check their other tours in and around the city.
The roads leading to the Bua Thong sticky waterfalls make for a great road trip