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.
- Location of Sticky Waterfall
- How to get to the Sticky Waterfall
- Sticky Waterfall Entrance Fee
- Sticky Waterfall Chiang Mai – Visiting Bua Tong Waterfall
- Where to Stay in Chiang Mai
- DIY Waterfall Day Trip From Chiang Mai
- More Northern Thailand Travel Guides
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. Read on for the best transport options from Chiang Mai.
Heading to Chiang Rai? Don't miss this epic guide to Chiang Rai's waterfalls.
How to get to the Sticky Waterfall
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.
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.
- Best of Chiang Mai Day Trip - temple viewpoints, giant Buddha, and waterfall chasing- one epic day tour of all the top Chiang Mai highlights!
- 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.
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 turn right towards Sticky Waterfall Chiang Mai as pinned above.
Total Cost: 200 Baht (Motorbike Rental) + 100 Baht (Fuel Cost) = 300 Baht
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 songthaews are usually cheaper, and the Grab driver won't stay with you while you enjoy the waterfall.
Sticky Waterfall Entrance Fee
This waterfall has always been free! 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.
Sticky Waterfall Chiang Mai - Visiting 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 give 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 decided to climb down one more level until I reached the bottom. This section has a waist-deep natural pool similar to the Krabi hot springs in the south. These flow onto the banks of the dense Thai jungle and are great for swimming and snapping some photos.
Related:Hike the Monk's Trail in Chiang Mai
Visit the Natural Spring Near the Sticky Falls - 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.
Where to Stay in Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai is the capital of the Northern Thailand tourist trail, and also a huge Digital Nomad hub. As you might expect, there are some excellent accommodation picks in and around the city. Below are three of the top places to stay in 2023 for various budgets.
- POR Thapae Gate - With over 700 reviews this is the ultimate luxury hotel located 200m from Tha Pae Gate. The hotel provides an outdoor swimming pool, free bike rental, and an exceptional breakfast.
- Rimping Village- Just a 10-minute walk from the Night Bazaar this hotel offers a large outdoor swimming pool, an on-site restaurant, and spectacular outdoor seating areas. Away from the crowds, this is a perfect place to unwind and relax.
- Green Sleep Hostel - Situated in the heart of Chang Mai this hostel boasts a fully equipped kitchen, co-working space, communal area, and comfortable beds. A top pick for backpackers wanting a cheap and comfortable stay.
DIY 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.
Plan on visiting Pai and looking for free things to do? - Read: Top 10 Things to do in Pai for Free
More Northern Thailand Travel Guides
Enjoy this travel guide to visiting Sticky Waterfall ear Chiang Mai? Feel free to leave a comment or check out some of my other guides below!