Photo: Water falling.

Bua Tong Waterfall and Forest Park

Our rating:

Bua Tong Waterfall is fed by a small stream which ripples its way down a hundred metre slope covered in limestone accretions and makes for a good spot to break the ride or drive from Chiang Rai to Phrao.

Situated relatively close to Chiang Mai’s northern suburbs this scenic waterfall and surrounding park are maybe best avoided at weekends and public holidays when hordes of picnicking families and teenagers plus a generous smattering of unimaginative Chiang Mai day tour operators quickly fill up the small falls and park area.

Jungle setting. Photo taken in or around Bua Tong Waterfall and Forest Park, Phrao, Thailand by Mark Ord.

Jungle setting. Photo: Mark Ord

Pretty rather than spectacular there are also bathing pools at the foot of the steep hill. A short distance further on along a trail you’ll see the Rainbow Spring where, as long as the sun is shining the spray creates a natural rainbow effect above the pond.

The trail continues from there, leading round through forest and back up the hill to the picnicking area. At around 1.5 kilometres in total, the walk is pleasant and scenic if there are not too many other visitors about. Most visitors don’t stray far from the car-park anyway so if the park is busy this is a good way to avoid the crowds.

Also of note—and which you’ll pass on the way in—is the small cave temple of the same name, Wat Tham Bua Tong. An impressive green painted naga-lined staircase leads up to a cave temple halfway up the limestone cliff. According to legend a Lanna princess named Bua Tong lived in the cave and the pool was created for her and her sister to bathe in. Sadly she died in the cave and so the pool and cave temple have retained her name ever since.

There is a temple as well. Photo taken in or around Bua Tong Waterfall and Forest Park, Phrao, Thailand by Mark Ord.

There is a temple as well. Photo: Mark Ord

Back in the main park area you’ll find a small visitors’ centre, coffee shop, cafe and inevitable snack bars. The entire forest park covers an area of only 15-square kilometres but possesses a surprising variety of flora and good birdlife.

Admission is free and English language pamphlets were available when we visited. Given the park lies just three kilometres off the main road down a sealed side-track, it is probably worth a look if you have your own transport—just not ... please log in to read the rest of this story.

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Bua Tong Waterfall and Forest Park
A bit over 40km to the southwest of Phrao.
Admission: Free

Location map for Bua Tong Waterfall and Forest Park

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