There are two lakes and a reservoir within two hours’ driving distance of Chiang Mai which provide relaxing venues to enjoy a few hours eating and drinking in a relaxing spot. Two of the lakes are gaining popularity as places to spend a night swaying gently on a raft-houseboat. Mae Ngat Reservoir comes with the added bonus of being able to enjoy activities such as kayaking.
None of the lakes are on public transport routes. People wishing to visit them can do as part of a tour, by hire car or motorcycle, or agreeing a fare with a songthaew or taxi-driver. Receptionists and tour desks at Chiang Mai hotels and guesthouses have long experience in arranging bespoke tours and trips and will sort out an excursion to one of the lakes if asked.
HUAY TUNG TAO LAKE
Just 20 minutes’ drive from the Old City, Huay Tung Tao Lake is the nearest thing to a day at the seaside in Chiang Mai. Parts of the lakeside are ringed by grass-roofed huts. With forests and mountains as a backdrop, the setting is rural and relaxing. The lake is shallow and reasonably clean and suitable for swimming or floating around in one of the old inner-tubes available for rent.
The open-sided huts all belong to lakeside cafés. The cafés serve up a full range of soft drinks, Thai beers and spirits as well as local food. Menus vary but are likely to include deep-fried shrimps, dried pork, fried frog, tabtim ruby fish and somtam spicy salad. The turn-off for Huay Tung Tao Lake about three kilometres past the 700-Year Anniversary Stadium.
Huay Tung Tao: – T. Don Kaew, A. Mae Rim, Chiang Mai 50180 | Open: 07:00-18:00 (Daily) | Entrance Fee: 20 B | Tel: +66 53 121 119 | Website | Map
DOI TAO LAKE
Although classed as a lake, Doi Tao is actually a reservoir created after the construction of Bhumibol Dam in the adjoining province of Tak. The lake is a popular destination during and after the rainy season for Thais, but numbers tend to tail off when the water levels fall at the end of the dry season. There are lots of rafts on Doi Tao which offer dining and accommodation.
Cruise options are day cruises around the lake and longer ones down the Ping River in the direction of Bhumibol Reservoir. Doi Tao Lake is 130kms south of Chiang Mai. It is not on public transport routes so the only way of getting to it is on a tour or by renting a car or motorcycle. Awanahouse in Chiang Mai is one of the operators providing trekking and sightseeing tours which include overnight stays on rafthouses at Doi Tao Lake.
Doi Tao Lake: – A. Doi Tao, Chiang Mai 50260 | Open: 09:00-17:00 (Daily) | Entrance Fee: Free |Map
MAE NGAT RESERVOIR
Mae Ngat Reservoir is located in Sri Lanna National Park and a part of the northern Mae Taeng District. This huge expanse of water lies between verdant forest and mountains. Like Doi Tao, Mae Ngat offers houseboat accommodation but has far more choices. Most of these are accessed by longtail ferries from close to the long earth dam. There are some shops and stalls near to where the boats leave from which provide takeaway food and drinks. Read more about Sri Lanna National Park.
Mae Ngat Reservoir attracts with its chilled atmosphere and as a location at which to relax for a few days on the houseboat rafts. Those looking to enjoy activities have a choice of swimming, fishing and kayaking. Active Thailand runs two-day kayaking excursions from Chiang Mai to Mae Ngat which include overnight stays on rafts. Ekachai Houseboat is a favourite with tourists and Chiang Mai residents and has its own inflatable slides and pontoons for the young, and young-at-heart, to bounce around on.
#1 Mae Ngat Dam and Reservoir: #3038, Inthakhin, A. Mae Taeng, Chiang Mai 50150 | Open: 08:00-18:00 (Daily) | Entrance Fee: Free | Map
#2 Ekachai Houseboat: #3038, T. Ban Pao, A. Mae Taeng, Chiang Mai 50150 | Open: 09:00-18:00 (Daily) | Tel: +66 83 480 5679, +66 81 950 9420 | Facebook | Map