Now that we live in Chiang Mai, the way we travel and spend money is much different from when we first honeymooned here in 2012. So where’s a cool place to go when we’re looking for a fun, cheap, and entertaining afternoon? It’s called Huay Tung Tao Lake, and it’s only about a twenty-minute drive northwest of the Old City.
Chiang Mai is awesome, but one of the downsides is that it’s nowhere near a beach. Last year we found out about Huay Tung Tao Lake and have since visited it several times. So when our good friends Rachel and Adam were passing through town on their ’round Southeast Asia trip, we knew we had to take them there.
Hiking, Biking, and Swimming at Huay Tung Tao Lake
The view at Huay Tung Tao Lake is stunning. The still waters are backed by nearby mountains and the lake is lined with picturesque grass huts. There are even some quirky swan-shaped paddle boats for rent if you want to take a tour of the lake.
Kids and college students play in the water fully clothed. Thai families relax in the little picnic huts and enjoy platters of food and cold beverages. The paved road around the lake offers a shady route for people to walk or ride their bikes.
More than likely, you’ll be the only foreign face there.
There are about twenty restaurants surrounding the lake that serve food and drinks in a picnic-like setting. Guests can enjoy food in the little huts made of bamboo and wild grasses, complete with shade and a cool cross breeze over the lake.
We’ve gone to Huay Tung Tao Lake four or five times now and always go to Restaurant #2. Why? It’s always been delicious and the bathrooms are close!
The restaurant’s menus are written in both Thai and English. However, the staff doesn’t speak much English, so pointing and holding up fingers is the way to order if you don’t speak restaurant Thai.
And the food is fairly cheap! We’ve gotten whole fish, steamed and fried, for 180 baht or about 6 USD.
Vendors walk around the lake selling snacks for 20 baht per packet or three packets for 50 baht. They offer fresh cut fruit, boiled peanuts, spicy nuts, squid sticks, and even fried bugs. There are also ice cream carts that slowly make their way around to each table selling cold goodies.
|TIP: Huay Tung Tao Lake is a popular place on weekends, so visiting on weekdays or arriving early is your best bet for securing a table. Groups up to six people can sit comfortably at one table.
Cost of an Afternoon Lounging at Huay Tung Tao Lake
The total damage for an afternoon at Huay Tung Tao Lake was just shy of 2,000 baht or about 330 baht (10 USD) per person for food and drinks.
This included two large bottles of the local rum with accompanying ice and soda water. We ordered two whole fish, two large platters of fried rice, sticky rice, glass noodles, crispy catfish salad, and papaya salad. We also grabbed some snacks from the local vendors.
How to Get to the Lake
Our first trip to Huay Tung Tao Lake was with six people. We shared a songthaew ride from the Old City. Our driver took us there, waited for three or three and a half hours, and then drove us back for 600 baht (18 USD). Split six ways, that was a mere 100 baht per person for a round-trip ride!
Nowadays we use Grab Taxi. It’s been in Chiang Mai for a few years and we love it. Get 100 THB off your first ride when you download the Grab app and use our discount code: GRABTIETOTHAI (or just sign up here).
If you plan on riding a bike or motorcycle or driving a car yourself to the lake, here’s how to get there:
Directions to Huay Tung Tao Lake
- Begin by exiting Chiang Mai Old City via the northwest corner of the Old City Square Moat on Huaykaew Road (Route 1004). Drive 2 km.
- Turn right at the second major intersection onto Canal Road (Route 121). Drive 4 km.
- At the 4 km mark, you will pass the 700 Year Old Stadium Sports Complex, which will be on your left-hand side.
- Drive 2 km more and you will pass the first blue sign that says Huay Tung Tao Lake on the left side of the road.
- Less than a minute later (half a kilometer) you will see a second blue sign for Huay Tung Tao Lake on the left side of the road. Immediately after the second sign, you will approach two white bridges; turn left at the second one.
- Cross over the bridge and follow the road straight and then again as it makes a 90 degree right turn. You will approach a checkpoint, at which you will pay a park entrance fee of 50 baht per person.
- Continue straight and then turn right at the T-intersection.
- Follow perimeter of the lake. Bear left at any forks.
Although we did not see any public signs for the open and closing times for the park, we think we can safely assume that is open by 8 am (9 am at the latest) and it closes around sunset. Enjoy an afternoon here swimming, paddle boating, walking the perimeter, and eating. Let us know how it goes!
There is a park entrance fee: 50 baht per foreigner and 20 baht per Thai person. Sadly, there’s dual pricing here.