The “Sticky” Waterfall.
The cascade of Bua Tong is known locally as the ‘Sticky Waterfall’ – because it’s a waterfall where you can actually walk up and down the stream….or well, climb, as it is. The water runs down a formation of rocks that has a lot of bumps in different sizes, making it look like a sort of bubbly rug under the water. Though it is called ‘Sticky’ it is still a stream of water, and you still have to proceed with caution, but it is truly only slippery at certain places, mainly on the top (as my bum discovered) which I suspect is because that part is in the shade, so maybe more algae? The rest of it is indeed quite easy to stand and get a grip on. The descent (or ascension depending on which way you’re going) is rather steep all over, but particularly towards the end when you coming from above. Luckily there are ropes hanging along the path, to help you complete the journey in one piece!
The ‘stickiness’ is caused by a mineral deposit that sits on the rocks, and prevents the formation of algae (but possible less efficiently on the shady top then) which is why you can catch on. The place is amazingly beautiful and climbing, even running up and down the stream was a very WET but awesome experience, really unique.
There is a nice viewpoint at the top, and in the shady part a small pool of water which allows you to feel like your sitting in a sort of natural tub 🙂
We did see a sign ‘BEWARE OF SNAKES’ that made some of us need to breathe in deeply before continuing (I will not mention any names) – but the only wildlife we actually saw was a fresh water crab that popped out of the bushes all of a sudden. Some of us are completely happy with that. There’s is a nature trail too, which presumably would have changed the status quo, since it runs into the forest behind the waterfall. I saw the sign from afar, but we didn’t do the hike, as the kids were way too busy playing in the waters. Some of us are also happy with that. Just for the record, it’s not me.
The trip is about an hour from Chiang Mai by red truck, the local equivalent to a big taxi. We went with a large group of other families from the Worldschooling Summit, so common transportation had been arranged beforehand, and made the round trip cost us 140THB/person (4EUR). I’m not sure what the rate would be if you took the truck as a smaller group, maybe slightly more. The site is in the Si Lanna National Park and is free to enter, but you have to sign in at the entrance, all individuals including children. The kids had a blast sitting on the roof of the trucks, on the small bit of road separating the entrance of the park from the waterfall parking lot – and the drivers were being really careful and going very slow, so the parents didn’t fall out of the open-ended trucks from sheer fear either 😀
The Practical Side of Things.
There are restrooms, tables and benches and plenty of space to shed a picnic blanket. However, if you don’t want to bring your lunch along, you can buy it on site. Next to the waterfall is a little restaurant where you can get the traditional Pad Thai or fried rice, as well as a few other choices of local dishes, at reasonable prices (40-60THB, which is pretty much the average price in town too). The parking lot is spacious, so if you come in your own car, you should be able to park easily. If you take a red truck, they will usually hang around and wait for you at a slight extra cost (if you make the agreement from start) rather than go back, as they will make more money waiting and have another trip guaranteed. Win-win for both sides.
All in all we had an amazing day there, so much that I’d gladly consider going back, if we can squeeze it in before we move on south. We still havn’t decided if and when we do that. The views were lovely, the area super relaxing, the food options and the infrastructure good (toilets and washing possibility). I highly recommend you make your way out there if you’re in the area. If you have kids they will have the time of their life climbing up and down the stream, playing the jungle explorer…and hey, you might also why not? Just be sure to bring your swimsuit or a change of clothes, because you are guaranteed to get soaked 🙂