This is one of those hidden spots in Chiang Mai mostly used by locals rather than tourists. It is a man-made lake at the base of Doi Suthep, the large hill overlooking Chiang Mai on which you’ll find three places I have visited including Phuping Palace – blog post HERE, Wat Phra That – story HERE and Wat Phalat – story HERE.
The entrance to the lake is off the 121 just after its intersection with the 107. A Google Maps search for once actually brings up the lake where it truly is. I have marked the exit off the 121 on the map below.
However before going to the lake turn immediately to your right parallel to the 121 and visit this temple complex, which is immaculately maintained and worth seeing.
OK. You’ve done the temple. Now back to the main feature programme. The lake is owned by the Thai army for whatever reason – you’d think the navy would have grabbed it wouldn’t you – and entry will cost you 20 THB or A$0.65 per person. The same price for Thais which is nice to see as often farang are charged more than locals. One of the benefits of having a Thai driving licence is that I usually get local entry fees – not always. The price discrimination is more aimed at the tourist not farang in general. Come after 5.00 pm and it’s free.
The place shuts up for cooking at 6.00 pm although if you have ordered you can stay after that time. There’s no electricity so bring a torch! The other slightly Thai quirky thing is that you buy your ticket at one booth and then have the ticket checked at a second booth a hundred yards down the same road. Suspend your questioning mind here.
The main feature of the lake is that there are heaps of little salas or bamboo huts next to or over the water where you can relax and have a beer or a meal while enjoying the peace and quiet.
The cooking facilities are set well back from the salas. Staff will seat you and then take orders which are then delivered when ready. The menu is all Thai but does have pictures, which really doesn’t help too much! Better to bring your Thai wife :-). However beer is easier to order and comes in a little basket with glasses, ice and a bottle opener. Large size only for 60 THB or $2.00.
The best meal I have had here is a whole fish baked which comes out with a lovely crispy skin and moist flesh. The whole fish does two people and costs $6.00. So a fish and a couple of large beers for $10.00 doesn’t strain the budget too much.
I wouldn’t recommend swimming. When we went there last the restaurant people were sweeping up little dead fish in front of the salas, which wasn’t a great invitation to jumping in to cool off. Didn’t seem to stop the Thais but maybe they are made of hardier stuff than us farang.
We tried to take Richard and Sam, my brother and sister-in-law to the lake when they stayed with us in February but unfortunately it didn’t work out. Next time guys. My friends Gaz and Saskia are visiting us in a couple of weeks and we have this on our to do list for them. Well worth a trip if you want to spend a quiet afternoon by the water with refreshments. Bring a good book.
Thanks for reading.