The Sticky Waterfalls – A day trip to the Bua Tong Waterfalls
The Sticky Waterfalls have been on my Bucket List since I visited Chiang Mai for the first time. Their real name is Bua Tong, which means “golden flower”.
What are the Sticky Waterfalls?
While waterfalls normally are slippery, these ones are not. Instead of gushing waters and slick surfaces you have grippy rocks that allow you to actually climb the waterfall. How is that possible? Thanks to a mineral deposit, the rocks from limestone are hard and grippy and nothing adheres to them – no algae, no slime. There are ropes everywhere to help people going up and down the waterfall.
When you get to the Sticky Waterfalls you’re on top of the mountain in the middle of the forest. You will have an amazing view over the jungle.
There are three levels. The first one has a picknick area and some small pools. They aren’t big enough to swim but you can cool down a bit or simply take some photos.
From there, there are wooden stairs that lead you to the next level if you don’t want to climb the waterfall.
You can only reach the lowest level by climbing which I didn’t do. I only sat on a tree enjoying the sunset.
Some basic information
- Opening hours: 8am to 5pm
- Time to get there from Chiang Mai: approx. 1 hour
- Location: North of Chiang Mai in Si Lanna National Park
The waterfalls are located in the north of Chiang Mai about an hour ride by scooter or car. They are part of Si Lanna National Park, which is covering 1.5 hectares. The park was established in 1994 but it’s still a bit of a hidden gem.
What to bring
- Bathing suit
- Towel and some clothes to change
- Water shoes
- Tissues/toilet paper
I don’t enjoy cold water, which is why I didn’t climb the waterfalls. But everybody else did. So be prepared and bring your bathing suit and in the best case also shoes that you can wear in the water. You don’t need them to get a grip but it’s definitely more comfortable and you will for sure reduce the risk to get scratches. There are toilets right next to the waterfalls but they are those typical Thai toilets and there is no toilet paper. You can also bring snacks to have a picknick. That’s what the locals do… There are table and lots of space to sit on a blanket. Also, there are some huts where you can buy Thai food (I had a delicious Pad Thai), smoothies, or souvenirs. Next to the picknick ground, there are small pools with crystal clear waters where children can have a splash.
How to get to the Sticky Waterfalls?
The easiest way to get to the Bua Tong waterfalls is to take your own rental scooter. Per day, you will pay between 200 and 350 Baht depending on the scooter you choose. For a monthly rent, you pay between 2,000 and 3,000 Baht. Bear in mind though that there are many police controls and you will get fined if you don’t have an international driver’s license that allows you to drive motorbikes. The fine is usually 500 Baht. You can negotiate it down to 200 Baht, which is the price you would pay right at the police station. With the fine, you won’t be fined again for three days. If this is not an option, you have three possibilities:
#1 Go on a tour. You can book a tour to the Sticky Waterfalls when you’re in Chiang Mai and enjoy the ride with a van and having fun with a group. #2 Get a private driver. You can ask around in Chiang Mai or talk to the driver when you get a Grab. Most of the drivers are open if you tell them that you want to hire them for a private tour. A whole day costs usually around 3,000 Baht and, if you have the whole day, you can easily combine your trip to the waterfalls with a visit to Doi Suthep. #3 Rent a Songthaew. The pick-up like cars that are also called Red Cars take up to 10 people. Just ask a driver if you can rent it for a trip. Four hours should be sufficient. Prices vary and also depend on how many people join. You will probably end up paying around 200 to 300 Baht per person if you have at least five people.
The Sticky Waterfalls are absolutely worth a trip. Even if you can spare a few hours only, I recommend you go there to disconnect and immerse yourself in this unique nature experience. And as the last tip: I was there in the late afternoon. Since most people want to climb the waterfall and have a splash, it got a bit too chilly for that when the sun was about to set. If you want to be there almost on your own, like me, do the same and plan to be there around 4 pm. Enjoy the climb!
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