The Bua Tong waterfall, more commonly known to tourists as the “Sticky Waterfall”, is located about 21 miles northeast of Chiang Mai, about an hour red truck drive from downtown. It got its nickname from the non-slick surface of the falls, which aren’t actually viscous in nature. It has become very popular as an attraction due to its long climbable slopes with crystal clear water and breathtaking limestone rock formations.
Water gently rushes over long stretches of rock rather than cascading off of a single point, making it remarkably distinct from any other fall in the region. There is a lengthy section to be scaled, which can take up to half an hour if started from the bottom, with ropes jerry rigged on branches and small trees to aid the apprehensive adventurer. There are also stairs which lead down almost to the bottom of the falls for those who don’t want to try their hand at descent. The entirety of the waterfall is three tiered, over 100 meters long, and has an average slope of 50 degrees. It is located in Mae Taeng Forest Reserve enveloped by forests of evergreen and mixed deciduous plants, without any surrounding tourists attractions to detract from the landscape or serene atmosphere. The remoteness, likely due to a lack of heavy commercial proliferation along the route, added to a perception of stumbling upon immaculately pristine uncharted territory.
Visiting on an early weekday morning opens the potential of having the whole falls to yourself for a decent span of time, otherwise you should expect it to be relatively busy.
The best way to travel is with a large group on a red truck if possible, which can make the round trip expenses around 100 baht per person if properly negotiated. Either way, the trip to these falls is more than worth the expenditures and time allotment, and will not disappoint if you want a nature getaway, some intrepid exploration, or simply a getaway from the busy city lifestyle.
Written by: Grace Van Kirk