Bua Tong Waterfall, also known as Sticky waterfall Chiang Mai, is a multi-tiered, limestone waterfall flowing through lush jungle just a short trip from Chiang Mai City in Northern Thailand.
If you’ve visited a few waterfalls before, then you’ll know that climbing them is a slippery game. Usually, you’d have to slide your way up, holding onto vines in hopes your feet suddenly slip underneath you. At Bua Tong Waterfall, however, the dense limestone deposits and relatively tame slope mean you can comfortably climb up and down the multiple levels of the waterfalls without risking a fall.
Although limestone waterfalls are more common in places like the Philippines, Thailand’s northern waterfalls are typically found in areas with more slippery, sedimentary rock. The unique, grippy mineral deposits have given Bua Tong the fitting nickname of Sticky Waterfall Chiang Mai.
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Book Cheap Flights
Still in the planning stage of your trip? Currently, the best and easiest way to find cheap flights are to use Momondo and Skyscanner. Between the two, you’ll be guaranteed to always find the cheapest flight, anywhere in the world.
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You already know that I prefer independent travel. In saying that, sometimes the best and cheapest way to get things done is to just book a tour or package. For Thailand, I always use Klook and Viator. To find cheaper transport in Thailand like buses, trains, and ferries, you can also check 12GoAsia.
Don’t Forget Adventure Travel Insurance
If you’re reading this blog then you’re more likely to be seeking adventures over poolside sips. After having my entire bag stolen in Barcelona (including camera gear) I’ve sworn to always have travel insurance. By far, my favorite company for the most comprehensive adventure travel insurance is World Nomads. If you’re on the fence, you can read my article to see if it’s right for you.
Heading to Chiang Rai? Don’t Miss this epic guide to Chiang Rai’s waterfalls.
Location of Sticky Waterfall
Sticky Waterfall Chiang Mai is located approximately 60 KM north of Chiang Mai Old City. The waterfall is located within a protected natural known as Lanna National Park.
I’ve pinned the exact location on the map below to help you find it.
Sticky Waterfall Directions – How to Get Here
Getting to Sticky Waterfall Chiang Mai is possible in three different methods, rent a motorbike and drive yourself, jump on a waterfall tour from Chiang Mai, or transport options including a local Songthaew or taxi.
Independent Option: Motorbike From Chiang Mai
For independent travelers, the best way to get to Sticky Waterfall Chiang Mai is to rent a motorbike in Chiang Mai and drive yourself.
You can rent a motorbike near the old city for around 150-200 Baht per day. I’d recommend getting at least a Honda Click or 100CC+ motorbike variant, as you’ll be driving on freeways for a long stretch of the trip.
In total, the trip from Chiang Mai to the Sticky Waterfall takes roughly 1 hour and 15 minutes. You will need to follow Route 1001 and turning right towards Sticky Waterfall Chiang Mai as pinned above.
Total Cost: 200 Baht (Motorbike Rental) + 100 Baht (Fuel Cost) = 300 Baht
Sticky Waterfall Chiang Mai Tour
Understandably, driving a motorbike on a Thai Freeway isn’t every traveler’s cup of tea. For those who’d prefer a local guide and tour, there are a few to choose from.
Chiang Mai Bike and Sticky Waterfall Tour
For under 1700 baht, you can book a full day tour from Chiang Mai City which takes you on a long tail boat ride to explore a hidden cave and finishes with a scenic bike ride to explore Sticky Waterfall.
Doi Suthep and Sticky Waterfall Tour
Alternatively, you could also book this personalized, small group tour that stops at Chiang Mai’s most sacred temple and includes a guided trip to Bua Tong Waterfall. This tour is a little more expensive, but has incredible reviews and apparently, the guides know all the good climbing spots.
Songthaew to Sticky Waterfall
Depending on your negotiating skills, it’s also possible to book a Songthaew to Sticky Waterfall from Chiang Mai Old City for a decent price. The Songthaews are larger pick-up truck style taxis that can accommodate larger groups than Tuk Tuks.
Although the driver will almost certainly start higher, you can expect to pay around 1000 Baht for a half-day trip to Sticky Waterfall from the Old City. This should include a return trip, and the driver will wait for you at the waterfall.
Alternatively, you could book a Grab, but I found that Songthaew’s are usually cheaper, and the Grab driver won’t stay with you while you enjoy the waterfall.
Sticky Waterfall Entrance Fee 2020
As of 2020, there is no entrance fee for the Bua Tong Waterfall. This means you can enjoy climbing and swimming at the waterfall without spending a single Baht besides transportation.
Plan on visiting Pai and looking for free things to do? – Read: Top 10 Things to do in Pai for Free
Sticky Waterfall Chiang Mai – Bua Tong Waterfall
Once you arrive at the car park for Sticky Waterfall Chiang Mai, you can follow the paved path through the garden. Almost immediately on your right, you’ll spot the top of the highest level.
In total, there are three main levels to the Bua Tong waterfall. There are fixed ropes on all levels, meaning you can start at the top and descend to the bottom level.
Tip: Visit Sticky Waterfall Chiang Mai early to have the entire area to yourself! Tour groups usually arrive at midday or in the afternoon.
Climbing the Waterfall – What to Expect
As you’d expect, you can climb on the waterfall with just your bare feet. The dense limestone mineral and calcium-rich deposits in the waterfall rock gives it a rough and grippy texture. Furthermore, slippery moss won’t grow on this type of rock, giving it a truly “sticky” feel.
Check Out the Lower Levels
The main waterfall level at Bua Tong is the middle, or second level. You’ll reach this point after climbing down the first level. This section is the steepest, and there are even signs indicating that you shouldn’t climb it up to a certain point.
Although there are no signs or paths, I’d recommend climbing down one more level until you reach the bottom. This section has a waist-deep natural pool that flows onto the banks of the dense Thai jungle. This is a great spot to snap some shots and enjoy a swim.
Visit the Natural Spring – Chet Si
After climbing and swimming at the waterfall for over two hours, we decided to check out the natural spring which feeds the Sticky Waterfall Chiang Mai.
You’ll find the spring directly opposite the top of the first level near the entrance garden. There is a boardwalk and path leading all the way to a cleared area, where you will see the turquoise natural spring. The spring is named “Chet Si”, or the spring of seven colors.
Although you can’t swim here, it’s worth it for the walk and to see the surprisingly calm source of the powerful flow to the waterfalls.
Bua Tong Waterfall History
Bua Tong waterfall and the natural spring is significant in local folklore and history. It’s said that the spring was formed after an escaped Princess had fled from an attack on the Lanna Kingdom and made camp near the spring.
The princess, named Buatong (Golden Flower) prayed for water to sustain their hideout. Her wish was granted when the earth goddess cracked open the earth, revealing the Chet Si Spring and creating the Bua Tong Waterfall.
Waterfall Day Trip From Chiang Mai
For independent travelers up for a full-day waterfall adventure, it’s possible to combine another nearby waterfall to this day-trip.
After visiting Sticky Waterfall Chiang Mai, we decided to drive to Mork Fa Waterfall. There is a little bit of a detour, but it shouldn’t take more than 50 minutes to reach this waterfall, which also cuts the trip back to Chiang Mai short.
Enjoy this Sticky Waterfall Chiang Mai Guide? Have any questions? Feel free to leave a comment or reach me personally by email.