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What Adventurous Things to Do in Chiang Mai?

Attention! This blog post is written many years ago when I was not even dreaming about becoming a professional travel blogger. You are warned that the quality of the text and/or pictures might not be the best. 🙂

Chiang Mai is dubbed as the adventure capital of Thailand. That is very true – there so many more things to do and visit beside its (very rich) cultural side and its busy markets.

As I am currently living in Chiang Mai, I have this great opportunity to discover some awesome stuff, activities that usually  tourist don’t do. Today I will tell you about Sticky waterfalls and cliff jumping!

waterfall girl thailand
sticky waterfalls

Sticky waterfalls

Buatong waterfall (the real name) is the thing to be seen!

At first, I couldn’t really get it when people would explain me how it works. They said – “You can actually climb up the waterfall, because it is sticky!”. Wait, what?

It is a bit hard to imagine, but that is true. Due to the formation of calcium in the path of the flowing water, it is very easy and safe to climb it without using your hands. If you are barefoot, your feet actually kind of stick to it, right! Just make sure not to step to grey parts of the stones, those are growing algae and are very slippery. In some really crooked areas there are ropes that can help you climb.

In addition, you can walk around the area, following some trails, it is amazingly beautiful! For instance, we found this beautiful little lake with a liana, which I successfully climbed, imagining myself a Tarzan!

What to bring

Although, it is one of the most obvious things as you are going to a waterfall, many people tend to forget towels. You will get wet, so it is a good idea to dry yourself after it. There are toilets where you can change into your swimming suit, no problems about that.

You also might want to bring a mat and a lunch with you, the scenery is fascinating! But there are small cafes around, so you can grab a bite of something if you wish.

How to get to the Sticky Waterfalls

The easiest way is to rent a motorbike and go there by yourself. The road is pretty simple, you go straight 1001 from to the North for around 20 km and at some point turn on the right. The directions are here. The ride is not more than an hour, depending on your speed.

Sticky waterfalls Chiang mai
liana climbing girl
Lake buaton waterfall

Cliff jumping

One more of the numerous adventures the city has to offer is cliff jumping (called sometimes the Grand Canyon of Thailand). Unlike the Grand Canyon in USA, what you see at the end of the cliffs in Chiang Mai canyon is not a view of valleys, but a body of water.

I went there with a group of friends and it was loads of fun! One of my friends made a great video of our trip, you can see I was actually a bit hesitant to jump! 🙂 But then, I saw some other people doing it, and then I did it too, and again, and again!

Even though it is not dangerous at all, there are “No swimming” signs. Why?!

Well, I’ve heard some people died in Chiang Mai Grand Canyon last year…

But what happened is that they did not know how to swim, it was not because it was too high or too dangerous to jump. I don’t know why would they do that, seriously, don’t ask me. Please do not jump if you cannot swim, but otherwise it is safe.

There are different cliffs you can jump from – around 10 meters and 20 meters, so you can try both, either go for a shorter one (like me! ;))

How to get there

This one is even easier to get – just 20-25 minutes down Hang Dong with your motorbike and you are there!

Where to stay in Chiang Mai

I hope by now I have convinced you that Chiang Mai is definitely a place to stop for a while. Except the abundance of adventurous stuff, Chiang Mai is considered to be the cultural capital of Thailand. There are tons of things to do, tons! That is why you should definitely stay for a while!

But where? Patience, I have some tips for you depending on your budget. Click the links to see the rates for your specific dates:

  • Luxury stay – a 5* hotel named X2 Chiang Mai Nimman Villa has it all – great location, stylish decor and amazing reviews, I suddenly want to stay there too! Baan Saen Fang Chiang Mai can be a great alternative to X2 as it is luxurious as well, and it offers very attractive rates if booked in advance:
  • Medium price range – zzziesta Chiang Mai is located very close to everything, offers free bikes and comfortable rooms with a kitchenette. Alternatively, BED Phrasingh Hotel is located literally in the heart of the old center, offers outdoor swimming pool and daily complimentary local breakfast snacks, great reviews!
  • Budget stay – if you want to stay in the center and on budget, D-Well Hostel  is your ideal place! 9.9 out of 10 is truly something! Book in advance! If you want to stay near the best Chiang Mai’s the night life, you should go for Wow’ House, the vibe there will definitely leave you speechless!

Bonus – where to rent a motorbike in Chiang Mai

I recommend Chiang Mai Scooter Rental – they are the best on the market at the moment!

These are just some of the perks you will get by renting from them:

  • free motorbike delivery to the airport, railway station or your accommodation in Chiang Mai etc.;
  • free bike pick up as well – if, say, you leave at 5 a.m. you can still use the bike  to drive to the airport and just leave it there locking the keys;
  • if something breaks you will only have to cover the dealer price of the broken part, not more;
  • more then 60 bikes in perfect condition to choose from (including special ones for tall people)
  • an anti-theft device;
  • first-aid kit with everything you might need in case of emergency and a health insurance;

UPDATE: Find the best multi trip travel insurance in this article!

One other thing that I would definitely recommend you doing while in Chiang Mai is visiting night markets! And, if you happen to be there during a magical Yi Peng lantern festival, don’t miss your chance!!

Thanks for reading my post!

Share it if you liked it!

Would you go? 

Leave the comment below, I LOVE hearing from my readers!



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Pin it for later!

chiang mai thailand

By |2020-02-20T19:09:16+04:00December 6th, 2014|Chiang Mai, Asia, Thailand|26 Comments
About the Author:
Yulia is originally Russian but truly is a world citizen in the heart. She was traveling around the world for over 4 years now. Her blog is created with the purpose to inspire people to travel more and to share her advice on how to travel "smart".


  1. Annie Tong 06.02.2015 at 13:34 - Reply

    Hey Yulia,
    Beautiful pictures!
    Thanks for sharing
    Annie ox

    • Yulia 08.02.2015 at 20:18 - Reply

      hey Annie!
      i am glad it was helpful! both places are absolutely magnificent!
      You should visit if you haven’t yet the next time you are in CM! 🙂

  2. Nicole 26.09.2015 at 16:36 - Reply

    I just went to the sticky falls today it was probably one of the coolest things I’ve done! I’m wondering though.. where did you find the little lake with tarzan swing? I know you mentioned trails around the area but I can’t imagine which one that might be. Thanks!

    • Yulia 29.09.2015 at 12:42 - Reply

      Hey, Nicole, glad you liked it! try the cliffs too! 🙂 The trails are right after the waterfall, you have to go down the waterfall, then a bit on the right, in 3 minues you will see a lake, that is where you will find the tarzan swing!:)

  3. Nicole 07.10.2015 at 09:51 - Reply

    The sticky waterfall sounds fun! Do you think a kid can climb it up?

    • Yulia 07.10.2015 at 12:18 - Reply

      yes, it is so easy a kid can do it! 🙂

  4. Birthe 04.12.2015 at 11:18 - Reply

    Nice! We’ve heard about the Chiang Mai Grand Canyon and planning to go there, but the Sticky Waterfall is new. Just put it on our to do list. 😉 We’re currently in Chiang Mai, for another 2 weeks, so plenty of time to check it out. Thanks for the tip!

    • Birthe 23.12.2015 at 07:22 - Reply

      Hi Yulia,

      Unfortunately we didn’t make it to the Sticky Waterfall, but we wanted to share your tip with our readers, so we’ve put a link to your blogpost in our blogpost about Chiang Mai. Hope to help share this great tip. 🙂

  5. elizabeth travels 14.03.2016 at 12:03 - Reply

    I’ve visited the Chiang Mai Grand Canyon recently and it was great! Time to go to the Waterfalls now 🙂

    If you’re interested, you can check out the video I made of my experience on my website!

  6. Pepe Samson 16.01.2017 at 18:49 - Reply

    Hi Yulia! Great post! Is there another way to the Grand Canyon other than motorbike? There are 3 of us and we were thinking of hiring a vehicle of some kind or whatever. Would you know if there’s anything like that?

    • Yulia 21.01.2017 at 07:08 - Reply

      Yes, I believe you could hire one of the songthaew drivers to take you there. Songthaew is some kind of minivan that locals use as a public transport inside the city.
      Have fun, it is a great place! 🙂

  7. Ashley 05.04.2017 at 13:14 - Reply


    Is the Grand Canyon Better at Sunset or in the day time? Also how long is a good amount of time to spend there?

    Love the blog! Thanks!

    • Yulia 08.04.2017 at 10:42 - Reply

      Hi Ashley!
      I think it is indifferent what time of the day you would visit, maybe the sun is stronger during the day, but other than that i see no difference.
      I think we went in the morning (around 10) and have spent a couple of hours there

  8. Charlie cameron 19.04.2017 at 01:14 - Reply

    Hey! Currently doing my research on Chiang mai (as I have book to come in July!) your blog has been by far the most helpful and interesting! I was wondering what else you recommend doing! We are there for 6 nights! We want to do different things that aren’t the classic touristy attractions – for example we love the ideas of the waterfall and Grand Canyon. So anything else super fun you would recommend?? Also do you recommend motorbikes over getting say tok toks or hiring a driver for the day??

    • Yulia 19.04.2017 at 12:35 - Reply

      hey Charlie,
      thanks so much for your feedback!
      it has been a while I visited Chiang Mai, I used to remember many places, but not anymore. I remember there was some cafe where you have the tables right in the river and you sit there with a view to the waterfall. Nothing fancy, but still a pretty cool idea! You should ask around because i really dont know the name.
      As for the transport – it depends how adventurous you are. You are definitely more free with a motorbike and it gives a local flavor to it somehow, but you should drive carefully. There are not crazy drivers on the north, but paying attention to everything never hurts! 🙂

  9. Charlie cameron 19.04.2017 at 12:56 - Reply

    Thank you so much I will do some more reasearchbin to the little cafe!

  10. Hedda 21.04.2017 at 18:48 - Reply

    Hi Yulia! Your blog is lovely and helps a lot with my upcoming Chiang Mai trip. I plan on going to the grand canyon, however I’m not too fond of too strenuous hiking/trekking. Is it difficult to get there? Or basically the driver can just drop us off by the area and we just have to walk a bit to see? Thank you!

    • Yulia 24.04.2017 at 16:56 - Reply

      yes, no need to do any hiking (except maybe climbing up the sticky waterfall 🙂 ), you can park your bike/ask your driver to drop you off right in fron of the place.

  11. Delphino 04.06.2017 at 16:01 - Reply

    Ola Yulia,

    I’ll be in Chiang Mai for about 5 days in late July. Firstly, thanks for the post, loads of useful intel. I plan to hit up the waterfall and Grand Canyon-like jumping spot. As a side question, how is the nightlife there. I’m a chill single male, and I’m not looking for the madness of the islands, but are there late night bars/clubs to go out dancing throughout the week? I imagine I’ll be doing adventure stuff all day and then return home for a lovely siesta, but after dinner time I’ll need to entertain myself at night.



    • Yulia 06.06.2017 at 11:36 - Reply

      Hi Delphino, thanks for the comment!
      There are many places (mostly in the Old Town) to hang out, I particularly remember all my expat friends were hanging out at Zoe’s. There are tons of cool places at Nimman road too.
      I have been there 2 years ago, so the popular places might have changed, but the areas are still the same – Old Town and Nimman Road.

  12. Jan 28.07.2017 at 09:30 - Reply

    Hello, what do you think about driving bike in Ching Mai? I have almost no experience (only on island near Bali with very low traffic and bikes only) and my girlfriend non recently. So it might be to crazy for us? Its because this way is mostly promoted as the most time-saving to visit various things outside of the city, sticiky waterfalls, lake and such….i was thinking printing big sign BEWARE, NOOB on my backpack 😀

    • Yulia 02.08.2017 at 13:56 - Reply

      Hi Jan!
      I found Chiang Mai and generally the North of Thailnad to be quite ok in terms of driving. That s where i learnt to drive actually!
      I think it makes little difference for locals if you put a sign in english, many people will not understand what does it even mean. 🙂
      I recommend driving carefully within speed limits and you should be just fine! 🙂

  13. d 03.07.2019 at 15:57 - Reply

    Great Article!
    Your article is really useful for me As I am planing the holidays in my budget and I could not find the places to visit during my holidays all by myself. I like all the point of the article, this tips you have giving is here that will be more beneficial for me. Thanks for sharing this. Keep posting

    • Yulia 03.07.2019 at 16:14 - Reply

      Thank you, I’m glad I could help! 🙂

  14. Brandie 01.10.2019 at 14:12 - Reply

    Hi there! Thanks for all the great tips. Just got back from sticky falls and it was great. We rented w the scooter place you mentioned. I just wanted to make sure I let you and other folks know, they do not honor your free tank of gas. It’s not a huge deal; they just wanted 100 baht per bike for gas (obvi not much lol) I told the guy it was just the principle. Anywho, cheers!

    • Yulia 02.10.2019 at 16:00 - Reply

      Hey Brandie,

      Thank you for the info! I’ve updated the post and I’m sorry that was what I negociated initially for my readers, but maybe the owner changed his mind (or maybe it’s a different one now).

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