In October, 2015 I visited Chiang Mai, Thailand with small group of friends. Our itinerary included some intriguing day trips to the countryside. From the beginning, I was very excited to see that we were headed to the Bua Tong waterfall, also known as the “Sticky Waterfalls.” The trip makes a wonderful day, or even just half day, excursion outside of the city. These very unique falls are a “must see” stop that I definitely recommend visiting.
We were picked up in the morning by our Thai hosts and made a quick stop at the Rimping supermarket to load up on snacks for our picnic lunch. We hit the road in a 10 passenger van for what was a pretty 90 minute highway drive up to the falls. We parked, walked a few hundred yards and set up our picnic at the top of the falls. My first impression was that these were definitely not your average rocks under the water.
The limestone rocks are covered in mineral deposits which look slippery or even muddy, but are rough to the touch making them perfect for climbing. They are sort of a putty color with crystal clear, warm water flowing over them. We visited at the tail end of the rainy season, so the water gushed quickly, but climbing the rocks was remarkably easy. We hiked down the uneven steps to the bottom of the first, top fall and started the climb back up the actual falls. I was tentative at first, being 56 and not much of an athlete. I didn’t want to get stuck halfway up, so I took it slow. Whenever I needed a rest or wasn’t sure of the best route up I took a break and just relaxed, enjoying the experience. The falls are steep but truly “sticky” with rough, porous hand and foot holds. By avoiding any green, mossy patches and going slowing I got a feel for it. In some of the steepest areas there are guide ropes but I was careful to plan the best route from the bottom up first.
Eventually, I gained enough confidence to walk all the way to the bottom of the five waterfalls and slowly make my way climbing through them back to the top. It was a workout and so much fun! The green forest, clear warm water and strange, sticky rocks make amazing scenery.
We enjoyed our picnic at the top of the falls where there were just a dozen or so other visitors. We relaxed, changed into dry clothes and then headed back to town for a stop at Love at First Bite Bakery to share stories of our adventure.
Songthaew drivers can be hired for the half day to drive you to the falls and wait for you for a very reasonable fee. Your hotel or hostel can be helpful setting this up for you.
Bring a change of clothes, snacks and a Zip lock bag for your phone to take pictures.
This is a much loved place for Thai people to relax and picnic. It is prudent to dress modestly. Shorts and t-shirts are more appropriate than bikinis.
We saw a tiny water snake in the falls. It was probably harmless, but like anywhere in nature, it is wise to be aware of your surroundings!
I would wear flip flops or water shoes for the steps to the bottom and then remove them for the actual climb through the waterfall. You will want to feel the rocks beneath your feet.
I hope you have a chance to visit this special and unique spot.