But there is a unusual waterfall a little over an hour outside of Chang Mai where this simply isn't the case. The Bua Tong waterfall - also known as the Sticky Waterfalls - is perhaps the most unusual waterfall that I've seen. And most people who have been there tend to agree.
It's not all that remarkable in terms of size and water flow, but it's the type of rock over which the waterfall flows that makes it distinctive. The colour of the rock is akin to bleached bone, which, in itself is unusual. Once you touch the rock it is surprisingly rough, very much like coral. The nature of the rocks is likely due to calcium deposits built up over the spot for many many years.
The phenomenon is not so strange. People who have home rock waterfalls often discover a calcium build up on the features. This is commonly called limescale. Normally this is removed with a combination of baking soda and vinegar. But were it to be allowed to built up indefinitely you might expect an effect that resembled what is found here at the Sticky Waterfalls.
It is pretty easy to get to the location, but it's also far enough away from Chiang Mai that you will need to take a motorbike or car. You can even hire a songtaow for a group of you - which is great, because you will want to have friends to photograph you standing in front of this unusual formation.
It takes about an hour and a half and the drive has some pleasantly scenic parts to it.
From the parking lot, walk straight ahead, and you'll find that the area is at the top of a small ledge on the side of the hill. From there, make your way down the wooden steps to the various levels of waterfall - but be aware that it is fairly steep and descent will be difficult for people with mobility issues.
The Bua Tong waterfall - like many waterfalls in the Chang Mai area - is not suitable for swimming. The water is clean but the pools beneath the waterfall levels are particularly shallow and only really good for wading.
Be aware that you are not allowed to to consume food and drink at the waterfalls, but when you're done, you can walk back up to the flat area at the top of the waterfalls where there is some seating for lunch. The benefit of this is that you can enjoy some of the views down into the valley, while helping to keep the main waterfall areas in their pristine condition.