Bua Tong Waterfalls ( น้ำตกบัวทอง ) in Chiang Mai is a super unique natural phenomenon. Also known as ‘Sticky Waterfalls’, you can literally walk up and down the waterfall slope with full grip and water gushing through your feet. Located at the fringe of Sri Lanna National Park and set amid lush green forest, Bua Tong Waterfalls offers an awesomely beautiful landscape and incredible fun-filled experience. Almost an hour drive from Chiang Mai, this is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Thailand that you could visit.
On our way for a back-packing trip across Mae Hong Son Loop, we reached Bua Tong Waterfalls around noon. Entrance to the Waterfall has beautiful settings. There is no entrance fee and we directly walked to the waterfall after parking our scooter in the parking area. There were very few people around and we could hear the sound of water even from a distance. As we reached closer, we saw some people climbing up and walking down the waterfall holding ropes.
At first glimpse, it looks surprising as you see everyone walking up and down through gushing water but as you try it yourself for some time, you too get your confidence with strong grip that limestone mineral deposits provide. These deposits do not let Algae deposit on the rocks (unlike other waterfalls which get too slippery), making it rough with extreme grip and you can easily walk all across the waterfall both ways and it is really fun !!
Stages of Bua Tong Sticky Waterfalls
From the top, you can only have a view of first stage of waterfall but as you walk down (either through side stair-case or walking on waterfall itself), more stages reveal them leaving you surprised. Overall, there are 3 stages of this waterfall as water cascades down the bubbly limestone rocks up to the bottom into a small gorge, ideal for swimming.
First stage of the waterfall is a slow descent or a simple walk down big bubbly mineral rocks. It is easiest of all stages and gives you confidence as you walk down the next stages.
After first stage, we thought that it is just this much – such a small waterfall !! But as we walked a bit into water, it revealed Second stage of Bua Tong Sticky waterfall – With higher gradient and more adventure. And soon, we were holding ropes climbing up and down this second stage with water jetting through our feet and body. A pure fun and safe adventure.
You can sit on the slope of waterfall here and can enjoy its lush green surroundings amid beautiful landscape and soundscape. This is the perfect spot to pose for a picture as you can capture a large portion of waterfall in a single click.
After second stage descent, water flows down to a small gorge through third stage. You can walk down through the side stream. And as you get down, water flows on top of you from the big rock. This is the place where you can stand right under waterfall and be completely drenched.
After third stage, water falls into an amazing small gorge, good for swimming (but not deep enough for diving). Only very few people go down but it is worth a bit more efforts to go to the bottom and take a dip. Some portions of the gorge are a bit deep, so please be careful in case you do not swimming.
It is at this point that we met Rik from Holland, an amazing guy. We discussed a lot about our travels and places visited as we kept floating and chilling (check main picture of this blog). Rik also tried some adventure swinging on tree branches and got hurt at his ribs but still smiling 🙂 Here is the video of his adventure.
Surroundings of Bua Tong Waterfall
Surrounding of the waterfall is equally mesmerizing with dense lush green forest. All across the waterfall, you have amazing views combined with waterfall sound. In case you want a solitude, you can sit in a corner far from the sound of visitors and would love being there watching at trees and butterflies.
There is also a parallel stair-case in case you do not walk on the waterfall (though we recommend you should). You can walk down all the way to the bottom of waterfall using these stairs.
As mentioned by fellow bloggers, there is also a short hike for Nam Phu Chet Si. It is a small shrine and a sacred spring, hidden in the jungle. It is an easy walk from the Bua Tong Sticky Waterfalls. We missed it during our visit but would recommend you to visit it.
Video of Bua Tong Sticky Waterfalls
Here is the video that captures all stages of the waterfall. Click here to watch at youtube.
Tips for your visit to Bua Tong Waterfalls
- Go early – Though it was not so crowded even during the day, still go early if you want to enjoy without many tourists around.
- Carry your swimwear – You will be tempted to take bath and you need it to walk up and down the waterfall
- Be cautious for not getting hurt – Though rough surface gives you strong grip, still be cautious. If you fall, rough surface will also hurt your more. Hold rope all the time.
- Avoid Algae areas – Those are slippery. Very few patches still avoid them always always!!
- Carry a plastic pouch – There is no cloak room. We put our backpacks on the side hoping no one would take them away 🙂 Will recommend to carry a waterproof pouch to keep your valuables close to you as you walk up and down.
- Change of cloth for sure -There are bathrooms where you can change. So carry extra pair to change after your adventure at sticky waterfalls.
- You will get hungry – There are only very few shops around. Though restaurants are few kilometers away but still recommend to keep something to eat.
How to reach Bua Tong Sticky Waterfalls
Best way to reach Bua Tong Waterfalls is to ride a scooter from Chiang Mai and even with a safe optimum speed, you will reach in 60 to 90 minutes. Else you can also book a Songthaew (red truck) or Taxi for a return trip to the Waterfalls. Please note that these waterfalls are slightly off-route inside forest and chances of getting a bus are minimal. So in case you are stuck, please do not shy from hitch-hiking or asking for a lift.
These waterfalls are situated at the center point of Chiang Mai, Chiang Dao and Pai (refer map below), almost 25 kilometers detour from 1001 Highway. In case, you are planning a trip between any of these cities, you can take a quick detour and stop over. We exactly did the same as we visited waterfall while going from Chiang Dao to Pai.
Bua Tong Waterfall Entry Fee: Free. Yes, there is no entry fee for these beautiful waterfalls. Also, no Tour guide is required to visit these waterfalls. You can easily visit and explore on your own.
Opening Hours: No time was mentioned at the waterfalls. Considering that there is no entry gate or fee, you can visit these between sunrise and sunset.
Time Required for visit: We were there for 3 hours but you can spend as much as you can walking up and down and exploring these amazing waterfalls.
It was an amazing experience for us – A true offbeat experience !! If you are around Chiang Mai, Ban Tong Sticky Waterfalls must be on your itinerary. Please drop us a comment in case you want us to add more in our blog or require any additional details.