'Aarghhhh! Are you trying to fricking kill us?' I squealed as our motorcycle skidded and we came to a sideways halt in the middle of a small swamp. I jumped off prodding a patch of skin on my inner thigh where I'd just gotten a friction burn off the leather seat. It was a momentary overreaction. We were going about 2 miles an hour in the car park having just driven for nearly 2 hours without incident. After getting a little lost we were excited to have arrived at Bua Tong Waterfall, or the sticky waterfalls as they have been dubbed.
Pin Me For Later!
Due to seeing so many tourists hobbling around with big grazes and bandaged limbs, it was the first time we'd plucked up the courage to ride a scooter in Asia. We very nearly didn't but we felt like we'd be missing out and we would have been right. We had two days of action packed adventure planned, first up the sticky waterfalls and the next day Thailand's very own Grand Canyon.
Bua tong Waterfalls
I didn't quite understand what the reviews I'd read meant when they described the waterfalls as sticky, exclaiming that you could walk up them. Say what now? How on earth is that possible? Water is inherently slippy by nature. I'd never heard anything like it and we were immediately intrigued. Surely it was pretty dangerous!
But sure enough, the porous limestone that makes up the Bua Tong waterfall does in fact create traction against your skin allowing you to walk up the waterfall against the current. Crazy! It really is a unique and unusual experience. And the landscape around it is stunning. The tiered sticky waterfalls cascading through the lush green jungle makes this place a perfect peaceful and adventurous escape for the day.
You can't take food and drink down to the sticky waterfalls in Chiang Mai but there is plenty of green space at the top that makes a great picnic spot after your climbing. Just watch out for the green parts on the rocks where there is some algae growing as they are very slippery. One of our friends from 'Our Big Fat Travel Adventure' took quite a spectacular tumble, luckily he was only on a flat bit!
Sticky Waterfalls Chiang Mai
- Entrance to the sticky waterfalls is free. Yippee!
- Wear your swimwear because you will get soaked and don't forget a towel.
- Take a picnic, there's not many options around to eat at.
- The best way to get there is by motorcycle, it should take around and hour and a half (if you don't get lost!)
- Signposts are few and far between so be sure you have Maps Me downloaded to direct you - better than Google Maps as you can plan routes offline.
- Take a jumper or jacket as the ride is pretty windy and it can get cold on the bike.
Grand Canyon Chiang Mai
Next up on in our list of adventure was a place that has been dubbed Thailand's Grand Canyon. It's closer to Chiang Mai than the sticky waterfalls and only took us around 40 mins to get there by scooter. Actually an old quarry, the Grand Canyon in Hang Dong has turquoise waters surrounded by huge deep red mud cliffs. The scenery is really different and we were excited to try our hand at the cliff jumping we'd seen on You Tube that goes on here.
Unfortunately the week prior to our visit, the cliff jumping had been suspended due to an accident that had occurred where someone had jumped off onto someone else's head which sadly resulted in their death. So they were in the process of carrying out an investigation and adding additional safety measures. You were still allowed to swim though and so we enjoyed floating around in our compulsory life jackets amongst the stunning landscape.
Even if you don't fancy getting in the water the site is beautiful itself and well worth a visit to have a wander around - I'm not just saying that because we didn't get to cliff jump, ha! The entrance fee is just £1 each and motorcycle parking was free. There's a couple of restaurants dotted around but we found them rather on the expensive side so didn't bother eating around there.
If you're staying in Chiang Mai for a while make sure you branch out from the city centre and check out these two fantastic adventure spots. After our initial trepidation we thoroughly enjoyed the drives out of the city too. The roads were perfectly safe and the sites of the countryside and smaller villages along the way only added to the fabulous experience.