Huay Tung Tao — much loved by Chiang Mai locals and expats and regrettably little known by visitors — is a small artificial lake at the foot of Doi Suthep. The shallow lake’s good for swimming and the grassy banks are packed with picnic areas, drink and food stalls plus the views… are awesome. And if relaxing with a cold one and a plate of dancing shrimp while watching the sun sink behind Suthep isn’t enough, you could rent a paddle boat or hire an inner tube.
On choosing your lakeside location, you rent a mat and sit on the grass or set up camp in one of the bamboo sitting areas. You’re welcome to just buy drinks and take your own picnic or buy food and take your own esky. Food’s mostly north Thai and Isaan, so no green curries but plenty of som tam, grilled chicken, laap and so on, while lakeside favourites include hot and sour orange catfish curry and the aforementioned live, freshwater shrimp — ‘dancing shrimp’ since they jump around all over your plate. Snack dishes such as sun-dried pork will set you back 40 baht or so, up to say 150 to 180 baht for a whole fish.
Though at the foot of Doi Suthep, Huay Tung Tao is army land, not national park, so there’s just a 20 baht fee to get in. Easily accessed by motorbike or bicycle — it’s only around five kilometres out of town, past the 700-year old stadium. Expect to pay around 400 baht for a red songthaew to take you out there and pick you up at a pre-arranged time. (May be just a little too far for a tuk tuk?) Open daily from late morning until 18:00ish, and it’s very popular at weekends.
Incidentally there is a trail leading down to the lake from Doi Suthep which sounds fun so we’ll check that out and keep you posted… and since it’s such a scenic spot here’s another pic for good measure.
How to get there
Expect to pay around 400 baht for a red songthaew to take you to here and pick you up at a pre-arranged time.
By Mark Ord.