Huay Tung Tao lake, Chiang Mai is a reservoir just 20 minutes north of Chiang Mai city. It’s not well known to visitors to the city, which means even on a busy day you’ll be able to find a quiet, shady spot to relax in. Take a swim, go fishing or just have lunch and admire the view – a perfect day out in Chiang Mai!
Living in the mountains is really beautiful. We used to live by the sea and on summer days we would pop down to the beach, thinking about a refreshing swim in the sea. In reality the water was nearly always too cold for me to take the plunge. I would tentatively dip a toe in (that was enough to cool me down) then retreat to laze in the shade for a while. Even in rainy season in Chiang Mai, temperatures of 34 C are common and there is often no wind whatsoever! On days like this we could really do with a beach!
Chiang Mai doesn’t have a beach (er obviously), but what it does have is this peaceful reservoir at the foot of the mountains. It’s the ideal place to head on a hot day, with cool water and amazing views. Bamboo huts line the shore, some on stilts above the water and some floating on rafts. Both ideal for a relaxing day out of the baking sun. Each hut belongs to a restaurant, however in true Thai style you only have to order drinks, you are free to bring your own food if you like. Or you can order typical northern Thai dishes such as sticky rice, som tam (papaya salad), grilled or fried pork and chicken (about 40 baht). They also serve whole fish by weight (about 180 baht).
Local ladies with colourful baskets wander around selling snacks such as fresh fruit, pickles and insects (yes, insects are snack in these parts)! Ice cream motorcycles announce their arrival with disco-versions of the ice-cream truck song, I’m so far surprised not to have seen one with disco lights to match…. If you want to get in the water you can also hire a tube to float around on the water for 20 baht.
As the lake is at the foot of the mountain it’s actually army land rather than a national park. So the entrance fee is only 20 baht per person, Thai nationals as well. It’s open times are 8:30 until 18:30 daily. Dogs are allowed in, but not to swim in the lake. Harro happily lay in our hut, hanging his head over and watching the little fish below.
To get here drive north on the canal road (121), past the 700 year sports stadium and the hospital shaped like a giant grand piano (no clue as to why)…There is one blue sign on the road before the turning, but otherwise look out for a golden temple on the left of the main road, the little road to the left is where you want to go. I’ve pinned the location on the map as the entrance to the road, rather than the lake itself, as once you find the road, you can’t miss the lake!