When you ask anyone what they love about Chiang Mai, they almost universally mention how they really like getting outside the city and exploring the "real" Thailand. So this weekend we headed to the Mae Rim area, only about 25 minutes outside of Chiang Mai, and we had our first taste of the natural beauty of northern Thailand.
We spent a wonderful afternoon at Mae Sa Waterfall Park, hiking through the lush green jungles to see each of the 10 levels of waterfalls. It was breathtaking!
We swam in the water at level 5, which a woman recommended to us because it's not so deep (and therefore is better for children). It was cool and refreshing, and it was exhilarating to make our way back to the actual waterfall and stand behind the thundering cascade of water.
We also swam at level 9, which is both shallow water and has a small climb to make it up on top of the waterfall. Sitting on top of a waterfall was another really special moment!
The hike itself isn't strenuous - our girls made it across mossy stones, up uneven staircases, and over fallen trees with little help from us. And while I would recommend having sturdy shoes with some traction to help you on the mossy, slippery areas, I did make it the entire way up barefoot, so it's not crucial. :)
When you arrive at the park, there is 100 baht fee for adults and 50 baht for children. Then you can drive up to the 3rd parking area, where there are small food stalls and shops.
We waited out a rainy season downpour by having a delicious pad Thai lunch at one of the stalls before beginning our trek to the waterfall. If you're there on a drier day, there are picnic tables along the trail, and we also saw a group carry their food out to a sandbar in the middle of the water and set up a picnic there.
Mae Sa Waterfall Park is a great place for the whole family to spend an afternoon outside in nature!