San Kamphaeng Hot Springs in Chiang Mai is a nice half-day trip from the city. I was expecting to go, soak myself in hot water and catch a few rays – I wasn’t expecting to find an unexpected eggy theme park in the middle of Thailand. But I was very happy when I did.
I’ll admit that when I first arrived in Chiang Mai, hot springs were not on my agenda. I didn’t even know there were hot springs in Chiang Mai, but after a few days lying by the pool and wandering around town viewing temples, I was going slightly stir crazy and a day trip was in order.
Admittedly, even when we got on our little scooter to head out for the day (not a choice I’d recommend to everyone in Thailand, but my partner has a motorbike license and so is used to riding) and headed out for the day, the Chiang Mai hot springs were not firmly on it
Our original plan was to travel a short 10km away to see a village called Bo Sang which made umbrellas, quite pretty I thought.
Unfortunately, He Who Was Driving had other ideas, up and down Bo Sang High Street we went. ‘Meh’…..he went. Next thing I know we’re back on the road travelling another 30km into the countryside to San Kamphaeng. We were spa bound.
What is at San Kamphaeng Hot Springs?
Good question as I had no real idea…somewhat unlike my normal approach to an outing, I’d done barely any research on the springs before I arrived and, frankly, I was expecting something like Kerosene Creek in New Zealand basically a hot river that you can swim in – and maybe one other couple there when you get there.
What we actually got was ‘where you go on Sunday with your family in Chiang Mai.’ It was huge – car parks, at least 100 other scooters, lots of gorgeous green parklands and hundreds of Thai families having picnics, large amounts of them eating boiled eggs while dangling their feet in a hot stream.
We wandered about and found a hot swimming pool – it had an extra 50 baht fee on top of the entrance fee we paid to get in (which is now 100 baht) but I didn’t mind as I wished to soak more than my feet. We went in and found only one other couple on there soaking – it seems most people who come here stick with the foot soak.
To be honest, I don’t blame them – the pool was nicely warm and loosened up all the bits of me that had stiffened up sitting on the scooter for an hour. However, I’m still not trying to think too hard as to what all the stuff floating in it was. I’m hoping it was flakes of minerals and not flakes of skin.
I admit, this wasn’t the best part of the experience and, if you’re going to go to San Kamphaeng Hot Springs, I probably wouldn’t recommend forking out the extra for the pool. We sat in the water for about 30 minutes then got showered and went for an explore the rest of the park. This is where the fun really started…
Did I mention the eggs?
Right at the entrance to the hot springs I had seen a sign that said ‘hot springs, boil egg’ and thought ‘oh, maybe they sell eggs as their foodie thing, that’s why so many people were eating them.’ I was half right – they do sell eggs, in pretty baskets three for 20 baht. But they aren’t boiled eggs – yet.
These eggs are raw. However at the end of the Springs is a geyser and a few tubs of scalding hot water. Inside these were basket after basket of eggs. You buy the eggs, then pop the whole basked in the water to boil. There’s even a handy sign telling you how long it’ll take for your preferred softness. Brilliant.
Sadly I actually hate boiled eggs – the idea of eating one not mashed up in mayonnaise makes me want to gag, so I didn’t actually partake in the cooking myself but judging by the number of people boiling and eating they seem to come out pretty well.
Overall the hot springs of Chiang Mai didn’t turn out to be the most glamorous hot springs I’ve been to and so, I wouldn’t trek there if you’re expecting a long relaxing soak, but for the money, the egg-related surprise and experience it was definitely worth the entrance fee.
We did, however, go in December and so it wasn’t super hot outside – I have read reviews of people saying that in the height of summer, the combination of external heat and the heat from the steaming water – some of the pools are over 100C – it can get a bit uncomfortable.
How to get to San Kamphaeng Hot Springs
The easiest way to get there is by scooter (only recommended if you actually know how to ride one at home – Thai roads are not a place to practice) it takes about an hour of riding to reach the hot springs making a good half day trip from Chiang Mai.
Because we went via Bo Sang we actually took a different route than Google Maps recommends (down a road called the1066) which was relatively quiet – just the odd thundering truck. On the way back google sent on us on a route using the motorway and at one part, as we approached Chiang Mai and ended up on a flyover that did get very hairy.
If you want to turn your trip into more of a day trip from Chiang Mai, then stop at Bo Sang and look at the umbrellas – going this way also takes you fairly near a new attraction called the Dutch Farm which wasn’t there on our trip or I’d have been all over it. It has windmills, tulips and miniature horses in the middle of the Thai countryside. You’ll also go past the Muang On cave and its Buddha statues.
The opening hours for the hot springs are 7am to 7pm – with last entry at 6pm.
To find the hot springs on google maps type in San Kamphaeng Hot Springs and it appears – sometimes with an exciting flamey symbol.
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