Things to do in Chiang Mai: Cliff Jump at Huay Kaew Waterfall

By David

Looking for a free activity in Chiang Mai? Head to Huay Kaew Waterfall.

You’ve no doubt heard about it if you’ve spent any time at all in Chiang Mai. But here’s a tip: skip the main entrance which is always crowded and head to a more local section of the river just a bit up the road. To avoid crowds and swim where the locals swim, head here, not here.

This is what you’ll find:

ponds above huay kaew waterfall

Park your bike and walk down the steps to see the river engulfed in big boulders and towering trees. Side note: This looks exactly like Hilo, Hawaii where I went to college.


Venture past the main lookout spots where the covered pavilions are. They make for a nice picnic area, but we’ve got cliff jumping and rock sliding to do.


While I was hangout out by that mini waterfall in the previous picture, I watched these Thai kids jumping off the rocks into the pond below. The bravest one in the front kept climbing up that tree before jumping to add some height. His friends would not follow.

I watched until they invited me over. No pics here ’cause I was busy jumping off the rock with them. If you’re too scared to jump, just before the pond the rocks form a natural slide you can go down. The slide was more fun than jumping anyway, I thought.

There’s a river just like this in Hilo that my college buddies and I would go to every week so I really enjoyed doing this kind of stuff again.


After I was done hanging out with them for a while, I hiked down to the main Huay Kaew waterfall. It takes about 15 minutes but the terrain is pretty steep.

view of chiang mai from doi suthep

On my way back down Doi Suthep I stopped to take in the city below. It was a much needed break from the noise and smell and exhaust of the Old City.

Make a day out of this. Pack a lunch and eat in on the rocks by the river or in one of the shaded pavilions. It’s so relaxing up there with the trees and sound of the water.

I was the only farang which is much different than the main entrance to the waterfall. It’s a really cool local spot. The kids who were jumping couldn’t be older than 16 but they were all smoking cigs. There was another small group of kids, maybe even a little younger who were drinking big bottles of Chang too.

It was all too perfect. If only Thais found it necessary to clean up after themselves instead of leaving cigarette butts and empty bottles all over the place. Oh well, take the good with the bad. This is Thailand.


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