Bua Tong is exceptionally easy to get there by both car and scooter.
I try and get out of town every weekend; this usually fails due to a culmination of over excited Friday/Saturday beer consumption, or the lack of a partner in crime to accompany me. This weekend, I had neither problem, and managed to get a group together to go exploring. We decided that we would spend the day at Bua Tong Waterfall and the Rainbow Spring Park.
The Bua Tong Waterfalls are found about an hour outside of Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand, and the drive to the falls winds through green paddy fields, lily farms, and the odd water buffalo. It is exceptionally easy to get there by both car and scooter; just follow the 1001 until you come to the signs pointing towards a small dusty track off the side of the road. When I say small, I mean small! The surrounding forest is beautiful, but keep an eye on the road for dogs, bikes, cars and who knows… probably elephants too.
The Bua Tong Falls are not your usual jungle falls, and they are probably not the most beautiful ones that you will find in Thailand. However, there is something special about them, something that keeps people coming back day after day. This is because the rocks that form the waterfalls are made out of porous limestone, and this makes the rock face rough, allowing you to climb almost vertically up the waterfall itself. Because of this traction, the locals have aptly nicknamed them the ‘Sticky Falls’.
The waterfalls consist of about 3 tiers, each separated by flat ground and small, crystal clear pools. Not many people bother to make it all the way to the bottom of the falls, probably due to the daunting climb back up, which is a pity, because it is here that the falls taper off at their steepest and fall into a beautiful forest stream below. Hours can be spent climbing up and down the “Sticky Falls,” but just remember to wear shorts over your costume, as there are parts that you have to slide over on your butt, and without ample cover- not only will your posterior be grazed but it is very likely your costume will split (don’t ask how I know).
Above the falls you will find a shady, moss covered picnic spot, with small natural springs for the little ones to safely swim in, and if you care to venture a little off the beaten path, then you will come across the holy pool. The pool is breathtakingly blue, and while you can’t swim in it, you can collect water to bless the near by shrines.
Entrance to the park is absolutely free and there is one small shop at the top of the falls where you can buy chips and ice cream, or a few local beers. Don’t expect anything glamorous about the bathrooms, they are simple long drops, but they are clean and well looked after.
The Bua Tong Falls are some of my favorite in Northern Thailand, and they make for an incredible adventure. If swimming and climbing a waterfall in the jungle sounds like your ideal day out, then I would definitely recommend spending a couple of hours at this treasure of a place.