Thailand’s Sticky Waterfalls Mean You Can Climb Straight Up
We know all about how we’re not supposed to go chasing waterfalls (thanks for the banger, TLC), but climbing waterfalls is a totally different adventure — and one we can fully get behind. We recently found the best place to scamper up a waterfall: Thailand’s Bua Tong.
The Bua Tong waterfalls are special. They’re prime for climbing because the rocks aren’t slippery. In fact, the rocks are what give the waterfalls their nickname “Sticky Waterfalls.” From far off, the rounded rocks look smooth, but once you step on them (bare feet recommended), you’ll notice a porous texture that helps your feet grip to the stone. That means you can mountain-goat your way right up through the stream.
Located right outside northern Thailand’s Chiang Mai, Bua Tong is a great escape from the city into the dense green mountains. You won’t find hordes of travelers here — just handfuls of other intrepid nature lovers and some waterfall fan locals.
Bua Tong is a multi-tiered waterfall, meaning you can hop on the rocks at any point. But we suggest making your way all the way to the bottom and then climbing back up. And make sure you’re wearing your swimsuit because you won’t be able to resist jumping under the biggest waterfall at the bottom.
On the steeper slopes, you’ll find ropes hung at strategic points. So get ready to feel like a true jungle explorer rappelling up and down the falls. One safety note: Stick to one person on each rope at a time. If all of your weight is depending on this thing, you don’t want someone throwing off your balance. The waterfalls are sticky, but they still hurt if you fall on them.
The best way to get to Bua Tong is by scooter or motorcycle. It’s a 90-minute drive (all depending on how fast you can scoot out of Chiang Mai and around the occasionally winding mountain roads). You can rent a scooter for around 250 Thai baht, which is about $8. However, if you don’t have an international driver’s license and you get pulled over by the Thai police, expect to pay a fine of 500 to 100 Thai baht ($15 to $30) for a permission slip allowing you to drive your bike for the next three days.
Before you leave Bua Tong, stop by one of the snack stands near the parking lot for one of the most refreshing smoothies of your entire life. Mango is our favorite but we wouldn’t say no to watermelon or passion fruit, either. And heads up: It gets dark quickly here, so grab your smoothie and hit the road back to Chiang Mai well before 5 p.m. if you want to catch the sunset on the way.