Chiang Mai has its own level of hustle and bustle, but with a stay at the relaxing Aleenta Retreat adding a necessary dose of mindfulness and calmness to your life, you may feel inclined to explore the more natural, serene environment away from the main drag and tourist attractions.
The Doi Suthep-Pui National Park lies just a stone’s throw from the wellness retreat and is ideally located for visitors to spread their wings and discover its unspoilt beauty entrenched in the lush surroundings. Not only will you marvel at the historic temples and geographical features of the area, but you may also stumble across one of the lesser-known natural highlights of the national park: the Wang Bua Ban Pha Ngoep waterfall.
The mountainous landscape of the Chiang Mai region means that waterfalls are relatively frequent, however, some are more seasonal than others. While Wang Bua Ban Pha Ngoep may not be the largest or most visited of the falls in the national park or indeed the area, water generally flows throughout the year feeding other waterfalls further downstream.
Wang Bua Ban Pha Ngoep waterfall is a fair size and the rock formations split the falls into several smaller sections. Several rock pools offer respite from the heat and humidity, although the water may be a bit cold for those used to the warmer, welcoming water of the beaches in southern Thailand. That said, you can’t deny the uplifting power of fresh, cool mountain water in as natural a setting as you are ever likely to find.
Energetic visitors can tackle the short hiking trail looping around the waterfall. While the trail isn’t particularly difficult, the ground is undulating and rocky underfoot, with some uneven sections requiring vigilance. Measuring just more than one kilometre, this trail is the perfect opportunity to try and spot some of the birds and other wildlife that abound in the area.
A break in the vegetation around Wang Bua Ban Pha Ngoep creates a natural viewpoint over Chiang Mai and the surrounding countryside. Looking at the scene before you, you can’t help but be amazed at how a vibrant city like Chiang Mai exists in such harmony with the natural landscape.
Water flowing through Wang Bua Ban Pha Ngoep reaches another, perhaps better-known, downstream, the Huay Keaw waterfall. Although Huay Keaw is slightly more accessible than Wang Bua Ban Pha Ngoep from the retreat, it lies lower on the mountainous landscape than Wang Bua Ban Pha Ngoep, so it lacks the strategic viewpoint with breathtaking views. A hiking trail links these two waterfalls, so you need not miss out on viewing the surrounding landscape from a higher vantage point.
The Wang Bua Ban Pha Ngoep is just short of 6km from the Aleenta Retreat Chiang Mai, and an easy 15-minute drive away. It’s also possible to walk from the wellness retreat to both the Wang Bua Ban Pha Ngoep waterfall and Huay Keaw but will take you about an hour to an hour and a half to get there, depending on which one you opt to see first.
Whether you walk or drive from the retreat to the waterfalls, plenty of interesting sights are along the way. One that stands out is the Kruba Svirichai Monument, which you’ll find just short of 5km into your journey once you pass the Chiang Mai Zoo.
This monument was built to commemorate Buddhist monk Kruba Svirichai, who was given the moniker “monk engineer” because of his integral involvement in hundreds of construction projects around Chiang Mai. These included the restoration of several Buddhist temples in Northern Thailand and, most significantly, the construction of the road leading up to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep at the top of the Doi Suthep mountain.
The monument is a landmark for locals and tourists who wish to worship this kind and peaceful monk who lived a simple, frugal life but greatly impacted everyone he integrated with. The site in Chiang Mai is not confused with the large golden monument to Kruba Svirichai in Lamphun that stands 21 metres high.
While driving the route will undoubtedly get you to the falls faster, a walk provides better opportunities to explore the sights. The thought of tackling this sightseeing trek to the waterfalls in the northern Thailand heat may be enough to put you off, but if you do choose to undertake this journey, the refreshing water in the rockpools will make it all worthwhile when you get there!
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189 Soi Ban Mai Lang Mo 18,
Suthep, Muang Chiang Mai District,
Chiang Mai 50200
T: +66 (0)52 090 333