Top 5 Waterfalls Perfect for Cooling Off in You Won’t Find in a Tour Guide

Mae Ping National Park

It’s the summer in northern Thailand which means relentless heat and stifling conditions between the months of March and April. Your first impressions may make you want to hide away in your hotel room with the air con turned down as cold as possible, however it’s a great time to get out and explore and cool off in one of the many rivers and waterfalls around the region.

Whilst many tour guides and blogs repeat the same information for well known waterfalls such as Mae Sai and Huai Kaeo (which are certainly very nice) instead we’ll be looking at our favourite 5 waterfalls in Chiang Mai that you won’t find in a tour guide and chances are if you make the effort to visit, you’ll have them all to yourself! Just a word of caution, as these are off the beaten track please prepare accordingly if you intend to visit and check the weather forecast as well as local restrictions.

Sri San Wan
Located several km past the village of Baan Hmong in Doi Suthep-Pui national park, this hidden gem has several waterfall tiers, fantastic pools for swimming in and views looking down the valley. It requires a keen sense of adventure to reach the waterfall as much of the road past the village is dirt road and steep in places but makes for a fun time just reaching it!

The water is nice and clear in the dry season with several pools ideal for hanging out and cooling off, in the wet season the water turns to a more muddy brown color and less appealing. Be aware of the largest waterfall as the trail emerges at the top with a steep drop below and at the time of writing, access to the base of the highest waterfall was very difficult through thick undergrowth.

Hidden Waterfall in Chiang Mai

Dtaat Mork
OK so our next waterfall is not quite hidden from guide books, but it’s rarely mentioned and Dtaat Mork is a lovely waterfall close to Chiang Mai city center and amazingly, only recently becoming discovered, mainly by local trail runners. Dtaat Mork is located 2km behind Huay Tung Tao lake and can be reached on foot via a steep but relatively easy hiking trail. This is perfect to visit in half a day and worth it for the hike alone as you duck and weave under bamboo and through the jungle to reach the waterfall.

The water is not deep enough for swimming but you can cool off under the cascading water which drops 30m down the rockface. Bring a picnic as the valley is nice and cool and the spray from the waterfall keeps the vegetation a vibrant green all year round. There are a number of different trails you can take on the way down so we recommend downloading on your phone before you depart. You’ll find various pools for cooling off in along the way making this a great trip for half a day and lunch at a lakeside hut will top things off.

Dtaat Mork

Ob Mae Pan
This beautiful waterfall and canyon isn’t marked on any map at all but is well worth the effort to visit. Located on the west side of Doi Suthep Pui national park, the canyon is reached via a seldom used trail with plenty of bamboo and fallen branches. Once in the canyon you can walk a few hundred metres upstream to a beautiful swimming pool and waterfall surrounded by tall cliffs on all sides. This area will be unreachable during the wet season so we only recommend visiting in the dry season. The nearby Tad Krok waterfall which is lower down towards the road is worth a visit too, however locals tend to dump their garbage making it a bit unsightly.

Ob Mae Pan

Baan Pong
Not far from Ob Mae Pan is Baan Pong waterfall, however this waterfall is much easier to reach. Despite the easy to follow trail, few people have heard of this waterfall let along visited, however the unique overhang which makes it possible to walk behind the waterfall makes for a worthwhile visit. The pool is deep enough for swimming however there are lots of leaves in the pool making it look a bit uninviting, the water is clean however. The hike to the waterfall is very pleasant as is the temple at the start/end of the hike, Wat Pa Thammachat.

Baan Pong

Gon Oi Waterfall
Ok, now we’re travelling to Lamphun province and to Mae Ping National Park for the final entry in this list. Mae Ping National park is seldom visited hidden treasure and we highly recommend a visit here, not just to see waterfalls but to visit other attractions such as Keang Ko and Thung Kik. We stumbled upon Gon Oi waterfall whilst out on a mountain bike ride through the fireroads at Thung Kik campsite and it was purely by chance we happened upon perhaps the most beautiful waterfall in Northern Thailand.

The water is bright turquoise and cascades down a sheer limestone wall into an amazing deep pool. The surrounding area resembles the famous Sticky Waterfall but the main waterfall was cut off despite signs that at one time it was a park attraction with old handrails and a crumbling trail to the waterfall. A lone ranger was stationed in the vicinity but we were the only people around. Goi On or น้ำตกก้อน้อย is certainly a challenge to reach but Koh Luang waterfall is a famous attraction in Mae Ping national park and highly recommended for its crystal clear water and lovely swimming pools. The park often closes it’s main attractions so best to call ahead to avoid a long journey for nothing.

Mae Ping Waterfall

Are you interested in visiting any of these waterfalls? Leave a comment below with any questions!

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