The Mon Thaa Than Falls Nature trail near Chiang Mai is an easy-to-moderate hike of two to three hours that you can do on your own, though it does get trickier during the rainy season. The entire route is in the forest, with the first half or so being flat and the second downhill. It’s good for spotting bird life and a pleasant waterfall lies at the end.
You’ll need to get a lift (songthaew hire should be around 600 baht return) to the National Park HQ buildings on Doi Suthep, where the walk begins. Ask your driver to pick you up at the falls in around two hours. (A right turn off the main road just after Wat Doi Suthep takes you to HQ.) There is sometimes a park warden at the entrance, so you may have to pay a 200 baht entrance fee. There is also a small shop and café, so you can stock up on water and snacks — there’s a great viewpoint overlooking Chiang Mai city below.
Walk past the park chalets on your right and before the road bears left, take the small path at the side of the last chalet. If you see a sign saying ‘path closed for maintenance’, ignore it (they’ve forgotten to take it down), but you’ll know you’re on the right path. The narrow, shaded path winds around two sides of a small, forested valley for about a kilometre. Look out for the huge strangler fig tree and if you’re lucky Sapria flowers – a relative of Rafflesia. Birdlife is abundant, including; greater racket-tailed drongos, white-crested laughing thrushes, black-crested bulbuls and scarlet minivets.
The path emerges onto a wider dirt track. Turn right for 200m or so, looking out for a small sign on the right to the waterfall. The path leads downhill following a stream. It’s a bit more overgrown and can get steep in places, so it may be a bit challenging right after rains. After a while, the path crosses the stream by some stepping stones and continues along the left bank with good views over cascades and pools. Some two kilometres later you’ll be at the top of Mon Thaa Than Falls.
Follow the track to the left, cross the stream at the foot of the falls, and you’ll find yourself in the car park. The falls are good for bathing, though do take care in the wet season. If your lift is not waiting there, you’ll have to walk the additional two kilometres or so along a sealed road to reach the main road going down Suthep, and then thumb a lift.
How to get there
The easiest way to get here is to hire a songthaew (600 baht for a return trip), asking to be dropped at the Doi Suthep National Park headquarters and picked up at Mon Thaa Than Falls parking lot. If your ride isn't waiting at the parking lot (or you just took a one-way trip), you can walk two kilometres on the sealed road from the falls' parking lot and thumb a ride from a passing songthaew on the main road.
By Mark Ord
Last updated on 24th September, 2013.