Huay Kaew Waterfall
Late Monday morning, Nik and I set out on foot to have lunch at the Huan Huay Kaew Restaurant at the edge of the Chiang Mai Zoo. We had heard good things about the food and the scenery, which includes Huay Kaew Waterfall. When we arrived, the restaurant was tucked away in the forest so we had to walk along a narrow path to find it completely empty with the exception of three college aged waiters. We picked a table at the edge of the balcony overlooking the falls. The menu was mostly in Thai, with only half of the dishes written in English. We chose a pork curry and cashew chicken. Each dish was 100-120baht (3x-4x normal) and not that good. We were paying for the atmosphere only, not the food. I do not recommend this restaurant.
Instead, stop and order a meal to-go on Huay Kaew Road on your way up to the falls, rent a bamboo mat for 20baht near the entrance, and find a shaded rock right next to the water. A picnic lunch is definitely the way to dine at Huay Kaew Falls. The park does close at 6pm, so you won’t be able to have a picnic dinner.
Huay Kaew Falls is a fairly extensive series of small falls stretching from the northern edge of the Chiang Mai Zoo all the way up to Hwy 1004 that leads to Wat Doi Suthep. Near the entrance, there are several large flat rocks that protrude into the stream and are surrounded by shallow water. These are perfect for larger groups and families with small children that want to play in the water. There is also a large flat grassy area with a few picnic tables and plenty of shade just across a small bridge. For the slightly more adventurous, there is a stepped path that leads through the grass to the top of the falls overlooking the city. I believe that this area can also be reached from a parking area on Highway 1004.
For the more agile picnickers, there are rocky paths on both sides of the cascading waterfalls. The path to the left goes about half way up the falls and has two or three larger areas as well as a few large rocks that perch above the water. The path to the right snakes along the water all the way up to the top. In the late afternoon, this is the perfect spot because it is shaded by the trees and rocks while the water is bathed in sunlight. If you choose this path, be careful because the rocks are very slippery.
We made it home exhausted from an active day right before sunset, and were greeted with this.