After an eventful Halloween night out Chris and I woke up with some self-inflicted headaches. We had a choice to either stay at home and be lazy, or do something productive. So, we decided to make another day trip from Chiang Mai and visit the San Kamphaeng Hot Springs (because what could be better for a self-inflicted headaches than some fresh air, beautiful views and warm water?).
I didn’t know where the hot springs or San Kamphaeng were exactly. All I knew was that we should drive towards my school and follow the road signs, and that was exactly what we did.
The day was sunny and really warm. We made a turn from the superhighway towards San Kamphaeng. It was the first time for me to see this part of Chiang Mai in the daylight. I was really surprised by how rich the area was. It was clean, green and there were huge villas standing awkwardly among the little local shops and street food bars.
After a bit of a drive we reached a country road surrounded by fields and beautiful mountains. It was a real pleasure to just drive and enjoy the views.
We didn’t actually need a map. We reached San Kamphaeng and then followed the signs to the hot springs. It was really easy. The signs in Thailand for any tourist attractions are bright blue, so you don’t need to worry that you will miss them. It is very easy to spot them from a distance.
It took us about an hour to reach the hot springs.
The parking for a motorbike was 10 Baht and we were charged 100 Baht entrance fee. This is a foreigner price. Thai people pay less, but the prices for the locals are written in Thai, so it is hard to know how much it is. From what I gathered it costs around 20 Baht – that’s the Thai idea of fairness.
But I digress…
One of the things you need to do at the springs is boil some eggs. You can buy a basket of 3-4 eggs for 20 Baht at the gate, or in one of the little stands inside the hot springs area. Remember to take out the soy sauce before you put the basket into the hot water.
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The hot springs are located in a beautiful park, which is really well maintained. There are colourful flowers everywhere and the grass is neatly cut. It shows how skilful Thais are with gardening.
It seemed like it was not only us, who had an idea of making a day trip from Chiang Mai and visit the hot springs. It was Sunday and the site was packed.
The water from the San Kamphaeng Hot Springs flows from the source through the man-made canal, circling the park. You can sit almost anywhere and soak your feet. People bring matts with them and have picnics there, while their kids splash around in the water.
Soaking our feet was nice, but after a little while it became a bit too hot. Plus, I didn’t really like the smell of the sulphur. We decided to walk around and see where we could boil our eggs and see other parts of the park.
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The main attraction is located after you pass the kids pool and the area with the shops. There are two spots, where the water shoots out of the ground, and a small pool with crystal blue, steaming hot water, where you can hang your basket on a hook and boil your eggs. The temperature of the water reaches 100 degrees Celsius. We waited 10 minutes for the eggs, but they were slightly overdone, so a little less than that should be ok. Try them with the soy sauce. It is my favourite thing now.
Except the cooking experience, the park also offers traditional mineral baths and a mineral swimming pool. I think both of these options would be great when the real winter hits Chiang Mai and it is a little bit colder here, but for the time being it is still too hot for an experience like that.
How to get to the San Kamphaeng Hot Springs
The San Kamphaeng Hot Springs is 25 kilometers from San Kamphaeng district and 40 km from Chiang Mai. To get to the springs you first need to go to San Kamphaeng district and then travel another 12 kilometers to the springs. As with many other destinations, a number of tours to the springs are available from the city, but if you can drive a motorbike then don’t even think of paying for a tour. Riding there is a pleasure!
There are a few small shops in the park, selling snacks and some food, such as som tam (papaya salad) and drinks, including water, are widely available at the San Kamphaeng Hot Springs.
If you would like to use the swimming pool, or the thermal baths you can rent a towel at the entrance to the facilities.