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3 Must-Visit Waterfalls Near Chiang Rai (+Map)

3 Must-Visit Waterfalls Near Chiang Rai (+Map)

Olly Gaspar

By Olly Gaspar, full-time traveler for 6 years. I visit every place I write about & share real tips, photos, & advice from my trips.

For many backpackers and travelers in Northern Thailand, a stop in Chiang Rai is often a brief one, either just a stop-over through to Chiang Mai or to see the famous White Temple.

My goal is to convince you to skip the typical 1-day city hop and really explore this epic northern gem. A great start is checking out these epic waterfalls near Chaing Rai!

What many people don’t know about Chiang Rai is that it’s a hotspot for jungle trekking and other epic outdoor scenic adventures. In fact, Chiang Rai has some of the best waterfalls in Thailand. You might be as surprised as I was to find a huge, 70 m+ plunging waterfall at the end of epic jungle hiking trails just a short hop from the city.

Map of Waterfalls Near Chiang Rai

To help you find the waterfalls near Chiang Rai listed in my blog, I've pinned a map with their exact locations. It's possible to tackle most of these waterfalls in a single-day trip. However, as you can see, they're a little spaced apart. I'd suggest breaking it up to at least two days.

For detailed waterfall guides, I've also written separate articles for all of these waterfalls in Chiang Rai. You'll find the links to those below each heading.

Map showing the locations of 3 waterfalls near chiang rai

1. Mae Sai Waterfall

Well, let's get into it. Here is the first of these three epic waterfalls near Chiang Rai; Mae Sai Waterfall.

Located at the end of a scenic tea plantation and rice-field-lined road, Mae Sai Waterfall hosts not one, but two waterfalls each with swimming holes and even a sneaky waterfall cliff jump!

Getting here takes about 35 minutes from Chiang Rai by motorbike, and you will likely have this entire two-tiered waterfall to yourself!

Mae sai waterfall cliff jump in chiang rai, thailand, waterfalls near chiang rai
Waterfall Cliff Jump at Mae Sai Waterfall - Be careful and check the conditions first.
Mae sai waterfall level two
Second Level of Mae Sai Waterfall

2. Huay Kaew Waterfall

If you're up for visiting two waterfalls from Chiang Rai in one day, then adding Huay Kaew waterfall to your itinerary works out well for a full-day trip.

This one is much less known than the other options, and only just recently opened up for tourism. Similarly to Mae Sai waterfall, this one is relatively quiet all year round. The only people we met when we visited in peak season was a group who stopped here at the end of a two-day trekking and hill tribe trip.

Similarly again to Mae Sai, Huay Kaew has two primary levels. However, you won't find a plunging waterfall here, more so a larger, cascading flow at both levels.

You can unwind and cool off by swimming at both locations, where a shallow freshwater pool waits at the base of both falls. There are also a few geothermal hot springs in the area, which is a worthwhile addition to your waterfall day trip.

The hike to Huay Kaew waterfall takes roughly 5 minutes for the lower level and 10 minutes to reach the top level. Just follow the path and you won't miss it.

Don't Miss: Hiking to Phu Chi Fa

First level of huay kaew waterfall in chiang rai

3. Khun Korn Waterfall

Some say it's better to save the best 'til last! Visiting Khun Korn waterfall was the highlight of my trip to Chiang Rai, and in fact, was my favorite waterfall in Northern Thailand!

I'll let the photos do the talking, but this one is a seriously impressive plunging waterfall that gushes down from over 70 meters in a beautiful jungle amphitheater oasis.

The short, but rewarding 3-kilometer round-trip hike through banana fields and bamboo forests is also pretty magical in and of itself.

In my opinion, if you were to only visit one waterfall near Chiang Rai, make it Khun Korn Waterfall!

Khun korn waterfall chiang mai

More Waterfalls Near Chaing Rai

Unfortunately, I didn't have the time I wanted to visit all the waterfalls in the region. Below are some more waterfalls that I plan to visit on my next trip.

  • Pam Bok Waterfall: A small but beautiful waterfall surrounded by high cliffs near Pai, located about 8 km south of Pai. The hike to the falls is short and easy.
  • Phu Kaeng Waterfall: Found within Doi Luang National Park, about 70 km from Chiang Rai, this waterfall offers a serene and less crowded experience.
  • Namtok Pha Soet: Approximately 30 km north of Chiang Rai, this beautiful waterfall is accessible via a short trek and is great for swimming.
  • Nang Lae Nai Waterfall: Located about 20 km from Chiang Rai, this lesser-known waterfall features a series of cascading pools and a peaceful setting.
  • Mong Kok Waterfall: Found 35 km from Chiang Rai, this secluded waterfall is perfect for those seeking solitude and pristine nature.

FAQs About Chiang Rai Waterfalls

When is the best Time to Visit Waterfalls Near Chiang Rai

It's no secret that Chiang Rai can get seriously hot! However, if you visit in the right season, you'll find refreshing weather and flowing waterfalls.
The best time to visit Chiang Rai to chase waterfalls is between October to February. This season is known as the cool season, with clear skies, occasional evening showers, and much more tolerable temperatures.
Although it's considered the cool season, you can still expect temperatures in the low 30s!
August and September are considered the wettest months in Northern Thailand, so if you're visiting the waterfalls near Chiang Rai during this time, be mindful of torrential flows!

How to Get to Chiang Rai

The easiest way to get to Chiang Rai is to go by bus. If you're coming from Chiang Mai, then you'll need to head to the Arcade Bus station. Getting here shouldn't cost more than 50 baht for a local songthaew.
The entire journey takes about four hours, which is fairly comfortable and usually involves a quick stop or two.
There are several buses running daily, but buses do book out in busier periods. The cheapest and best buses are Green Buses.

How to Visit the Waterfalls Around Chiang Rai Independently

Before you race off for your waterfall-chasing trips, you might be wondering "how am I going to get there?" As I briefly touched on above, the best way to get to all of these waterfalls in the area is to rent a motorbike and drive to them yourself.

While you can take organized tours and pay private drivers, here are a few reasons why I think you should do it independently;

  • The Chiang Rai mountain roads are beautiful and seriously underrated
  • You'll have more time to explore yourself, without feeling rushed
  • Chiang Rai is much less busy than Chiang Mai; these roads are great for building up your confidence on Thai roads
  • Renting a motorbike yourself is often much cheaper than paying for a tour or a driver!

If you're looking for a motorbike to rent, then I'd suggest either staying at or contacting the owner of Grace Hostel. She is super friendly and offers great, competitive rates on Chiang Rai motorbike rentals.

Expect to pay around 200-300 baht per day depending on the season and type of bike.

Pai rice fields driving from pai to chiang mai

Where to Stay in Chiang Rai

Looking for a great accommodation pick near Chiang Rai? Here are three options for every budget.

Aerial views over the riverie by katathani

1. The Riverie Luxury

Nestled on the island in the middle of the Kok River, The Riverie by Katathani offers luxurious rooms surrounded by lush gardens and amazing views.

Bedroom layout at suantung coffee & guesthouse

2. SuanTung Guest House Top-Reviews

This is one of the highest-rated budget guest houses in Chiang Rai. It’s super central, only a few minutes walk to the night market and the clocktower and the bus station.

Baan mai kradan hostel located in chiang rai

3. Baan Mai Kradan Budget

With a 9.2/10 rating with hundreds of reviews, this might be the top-rated hostel in Thailand. Get Hi is a great social hostel in Chiang Rai for young adult travelers who want to meet people and have fun.

Thanks for reading! If you have any questions about the trip, don't hesitate to drop a comment below or send me an email personally! For now, why not check out some more guides I've written to plan your trip to Thailand!

Hidden beach, railay beach

Plan Your Thailand Accommodation

Still in the planning stages of your trip? Perhaps you're booking on the fly. The below accommodation guides will help you plan where to stay in Thailand.

Thanks for Reading

I'm Olly Gaspar, adventure traveler from Australia. I’ve spent the last six years traveling the world full-time, sharing my first-hand experiences & photography in over 700 travel guides on We Seek Travel. I visit every destination I write about to bring you unique travel itineraries, epic hiking routes, fun tour ideas, travel & photography gear ideas, & interesting places to stay.

I only make genuine, worthwhile recommendations based on my experience, expertise, & research. If you buy through my links, I may get a commission, supporting this website at no extra cost to you. Read my Publishing Ethics Statement.