After several weeks touring temples, citing out cities and packing our bags every other day; we were ready to take a breather in the great outdoors. Chiang Mai, being surrounded by luscious, green mountains, seemed like a great base for seeking adventures. In total we spent 3 weeks in North Thailand, these were some of our favourite spots in Chiang Mai.
In order to get the best out of Chiang Mai, I would recommend hiring a scooter. We figured that a scooter was the cheaper option as at 200 baht a day it gave us the freedom to visit places both inside and outside the city, without having to pay a fortune on tuk-tuks or songathews.
With bike keys at the ready, and after a few practice laps, we were ready to take the bike out for a ride. We had heard about the Buatong Waterfalls, also known as the Sticky Waterfalls. Hearing about them we were intrigued as to why they were called the Sticky Waterfalls, we headed out to explore for ourselves.
How to get there
Situated an hour and a half away from Chiang Mai Gate, they are definitely worth the journey. It is a very easy flat drive that provides amazing 360 views of the mountains, and rice fields. Once through the main traffic, other than the odd passer by, you find yourself alone on the road. Follow Route 1001 until you see a massive hand painted sign which points you to turn right to the waterfalls. The best thing to do is get the route up on Google Maps before you set off, then you can just keep stopping to check your phone to make sure you are going the right way.
There are a few shops, and petrol stations along the route where you can refuel your bike and body; but I definitely would recommend waiting till you arrive at the waterfalls to get something eat.
What to do there
On arriving at the waterfalls, we found them to be as they are described, ‘sticky’. Being made from limestone, when visiting you are able to walk up and down them without slipping, as you ‘stick’ to the waterfalls surface. With ropes put in place to give you a helping hand, you can spend hours playing around walking up and down pretty much unaided. They were really fun to visit and provided a new experience for us.
There is no entry cost to visit the waterfalls making it a cheap day out, although there is a donation box if you wish to make a contribution. Around the site there are a couple of make-shift restaurants, which I would recommend eating in, as the food was so delicious, with good portion sizes and only cost around 100 baht for two meals. If you fancy a walk, there are also a few trails which you can follow. We followed one and came across some shrines. You will certainly want to spend a couple of hours here!
When going remember that you are visiting a waterfall so take a swimming costume, towel, and a change of clothes for the drive back.
Run around the Old City Walls
During our travels one of our bucket list items is to run in every country we visit. Wanting to explore Chiang Mai’s old city a bit more, we ticked this off for Thailand in Chiang Mai by going for a run around the Old City Walls. It is a 4 mile circuit, following the river around the Old City, you get to see the happenings of daily life. If you want to add any extra or don’t want to do the whole circuit; there is a small park which you can run around just past Chiang Mai gate.
Doi Suthep Temple
In need of more scooter adventures after day at the waterfalls, we headed to the Doi Suthep temple. It is a massive white temple located within the Chiang Mai mountains. The story behind the temple is that a White Elephant built it, making it a special temple which Thai people try to visit at least once in their lifetime. Reaching the temple takes around 30 minutes up a bendy road, depending on how long you wish to stop to admire the view of Chiang Mai offered on the way.
When we arrived we parked our bikes in the designated parking spaces near the shops before the entrance. The entrance is beautiful, follow the snake up the steps to reach the top. The temple has an entry fee of 30 baht for foreigners. We spent around an hour walking around, taking pictures and having a go at ringing the big bells. Please remember that you are visiting a temple so dress appropriately.
In need of a little extra adventure?
If you are ‘templed-out’ or fancy adding something extra to your day, then you can take a hike up to Doi Pui. To get there if you carry on up the hill past the temple, and keep going until you see an archway straight on and a right hand turning. Take the right-hand turn and keep going. Be aware that this road is particularly bendy and is not in great condition. Once you reach a small village, you can park your bike here and then head back up the road, to the track. It is a straight, steep track that takes you up, and down. The hike up is worth the views!
After our run, hike, and two days on the bike we were ready to be clicked back into place. With a Thai massage parlour on every corner, you are spoilt for choice. The noticeboards we saw indicated that they were all the same price, between 200-250 baht. We visited Green Bamboo where the staff were really friendly and welcoming. The massage was fantastic and my back was grateful for the twists and turns!
We really enjoyed our time in Chiang Mai, if you are looking to have a breath of fresh air, get outdoors and seek out adventures then Chiang Mai is definitely the place to visit!