Climb Up Thailand's 'Sticky' Waterfall

The Bua Tong Waterfall in Thailand’s Si Lanna National Park is proving popular with tourists thanks to its unique properties. The calcium-rich water keeps algae off the rocks that form the natural feature, meaning that adventurers can climb up as the water cascades down.

The mountainous Chiang Mai region in the north of Thailand was officially founded in the early 13th century and is one of the largest districts in the country. Visitors to the area have been drawn to the wide variety of religious sites and the incredible natural beauty of Chiang Mai, which also includes this spectacular waterfall.

Nam Phu Chet Si (the Thai name for the waterfall) is located a short drive from the centre of the city of Chiang Mai, which in turn is about 700km (435mi) north of Bangkok. The natural limestone deposits give the rocks their ‘sticky’ quality, which allows climbers to directly traverse the waterfall. For those who aren’t entirely convinced, there are also ropes that can be used to haul yourself up if necessary.

Tourists can scale the Bua Tong Waterfall thanks to its unique ‘sticky’ properties © Culture Trip

Even though a number of tourists visit the waterfall every year, it’s not well signposted, so be sure to do plenty of research before heading out to the location. One tip is to hire a local driver for the return trip from the old city of Chiang Mai, as the 60km (37mi) journey can be confusing for first-time visitors.

People have described the rocks of the waterfall as feeling like ‘hardened sponges’, and the limestone also gives the site rare visual qualities, with the sun reflecting off the surface in stark contrast to the surrounding forests.

Bua Tong Waterfall isn’t particularly high, but it’s still worth taking a cautious approach to climbing as there are occasional patches that don’t offer the grip underfoot that the majority of rocks do. Even so, there can’t be many other places that will make you feel like a real-life spider-man (or woman).