Cheap, free, and local-endorsed things to do in beautiful places

Sticky Waterfall


  • Mineral deposits make the rocks in this unique waterfall easy to grab with your hands and feet and climb all over
  • Located in a serene jungle-like forest setting
  • Also known as Buatong Waterfall
  • Pictures don’t do it justice 🙂

When To Visit: November-March if possible

Climate: Hot and mostly sunny year-round, with a wet season July-October and especially hot temperatures April-June

Location: 1.5 hours north of Chiang Mai near Si Lanna National Park

Getting To The Sticky Waterfall

It’s a 48-mile, 1.5 hour drive to the Sticky Waterfall (also known as Buatong Waterfall). You can negotiate with a songthaew driver or taxi from Chiang Mai to take you for a fair price (try asking a few and see what’s the best you can get). Usually the price is the same no matter how many of you go, so it’s most cost-effective to go with friends.

The drive takes you through several surprisingly lively small towns with outdoor markets, agricultural countryside, and green tree-covered hills. When you arrive, there’s a parking area, a donation box (optional), and a restroom with squat toilets (one of the only ones I saw in Thailand). From the parking area, walk a short distance down a set of stairs to the main waterfall.

Enjoying The Sticky Waterfall


Be careful on walking on the rocks in the pond below the waterfall – they are actually slippery. But once you’re actually on the waterfall, your feet will stick very well to the rocks and you’ll able to easily climb up to the top. There are ropes to grasp onto as you climb up, but once you get more comfortable with the climb, there won’t be a need for them. There are several different rope routes you can take to the top and then a few feet below this waterfall is another set of falls which is not as tall but perhaps even more beautiful. That area ends in a beautiful light blue swimming hole surrounded by rock formations – a very tranquil place to relax!

Pictures don’t do it justice!

Why was The Sticky Waterfall so amazing and why is it a MUST if you’re in Chiang Mai?

  • Despite its awesomeness, it’s not a tourist trap! There were less than ten other people at the falls the whole time we were there. I imagine its remote location contributes to this but it’s only 1.5 hours from Chiang Mai so it’s easy to fit into your plans. The other reason it probably isn’t as well-known is because it’s free and tourism companies want you to spend $$$ on more expensive activities elsewhere.
  • It’s the only waterfall I’ve heard of which you can climb up, play around, and chillax in without hurting yourself! I’ve seen countless beautiful waterfalls in my life but usually avoid coming into close contact with them to avoid being swept away and dying. As I got used to climbing on Buatong Waterfall, I started to lose my completely rational fear of waterfalls – hopefully it returns the next time I go to a “real” waterfall.
  • The surrounding area is a peaceful jungle haven and gives you a glimpse of “real Thailand.” The drive takes you through very non-touristy towns and countryside and once you’re there, you’re in a vibrant green forest with huge trees, butterflies, quirky vines, and no noise pollution – and you have it almost to yourself.
  • It’s unique AF – I don’t know of anywhere else on earth like it. It was absolutely my favorite place I went in Thailand and possibly even reigns as my favorite spot on the planet. It’s possible there’s other Sticky Waterfalls hiding elsewhere in the world, but it’s the only one I know of and I love that 🙂

Nearby Side Trips from the Sticky Waterfall

Doi Suthep near Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai: This small peaceful city in Thailand’s northern mountains 1.5 hours south of the Sticky Waterfall has over 300 temples to explore and a remarkable town center surrounded by a moat. Read more.

Bangkok: You can’t visit Thailand without spending time in Bangkok! The country’s dominant city is filled with modern skyscrapers, historic temples, and easily the best street food in the world. From Chiang Mai,  you can take a ~$30 1-hour flight or a 12-15 hour overnight train for $9. Read more.


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