Cascading Waterfall - Mae Sa Waterfall, Chiang Mai
Updated: Sep 1, 2020
We went to this waterfall in June, 10th 2019, which is the rainy season and low season for tourists. I have not been to EVERY waterfall in Thailand, but for the ones I have been to, this is my favorite.
Southeast Asia is a host of many different waterfalls, ranging in size, beauty and swimming opportunities. Ones with swimming areas take priority for me. A traveler we chatted with had a cynical but kind of realistic take, “I have seen so many waterfalls, temples, and lookouts that I am not sure I could possibly remember them all.” This is a somewhat sad comment but also realistic if you have been traveling a lot, or packing it all into a small time frame.
“I have seen so many waterfalls, temples, and lookouts that I am not sure I could possibly remember them all.”
That is why I am going to tell you about my favorite waterfall in Southeast Asia. We actually went here after we visited the Elephant Sanctuary, if you like elephants read Kate's piece on our amazing experience with the Elephants. This waterfall is nestled just outside of Chiang Mai, Thailand. This small but bustling town/city is no secret to travelers and tourists. From my experience, it also boasts a solid ex-pat community, for good reason too. Things are fairly inexpensive, the people are wonderful (pretty standard in Thailand and Southeast Asia) and there is a ton to do.
Mae Sa Waterfall (Cascading Waterfalls as I like to call it) is a majestic place that has the same aura of a secret garden with waterfalls and small swimming pools (we went in the middle of the week on “rainy season”.) It is tucked away in a beautiful national park. The cost to get in is 100 bht pax (approx. $3.16 per person) for tourists and 20 baht per bike (approx. $.63). I have heard and read about tourists/travelers complaining about costs like this. I find this very disappointing and ignorant. Read my honest opinion about tipping and cost is Southeast Asia here. You will then drive through and come to an open area where there are a handful of different shops and food stalls. If you haven't gotten your elephant pants or Same Same But Different shirt or eaten your daily ration of Pad Thai, you are in luck.
From here you can have a short or long hike. There are different waterfalls, each numbered 1 - 10. As you hike higher up, there are fewer people and the waterfall areas get more beautiful. Bring good hiking footwear, my reef flip flops were not quite up to the task. You are free to hike down from the walkway and get as close as you want to the waterfall and swim in the pools. It is not very deep, waist deep is probably the deepest. It is a calming feeling to be able to get under the waterfall, lounge in the pool or hang out and enjoy the soothing sounds of nature. Kate and I decided to have a meditation session which proved to be a good call.
You can somewhat climb on the rocks, though there are random signs, saying “Don't Climb”. One of these signs was lying on its side, giving me a reason to believe that someone rather large had actually climbed on the “Don't Climb” sign and it subsequently buckled.
It is a great place to explore and just wander around. You can work up a sweat and hop into one of the nearby pools. At one point, close to the base of the waterfall, around the earlier numbers, you can cross the waterfall to the other side. We did not have an opportunity to do this as we maximized our time at the top of the waterfall and left right around dusk. Google maps does not specify opening hours but there’s a sign at the entrance saying 5pm the park closes.
When we go back, and we are definitely going back, we plan to spend the better half of a day there. We had a couple of hours this first round, and it honestly was not enough for us. With that being said, we are the couple that likes to explore, take our time, and generally not be rushed when taking in Asia’s beauty and good vibes.
Thanks for making it this far, we hope you enjoyed the article and can visit this amazing place one day. Scooters & Noodles OUT! ✌🏼🛵💚🍜