Grand Canyon Chiang Mai
Behold, the Grand Canyon. Nope, we ain’t talking about the deep red valleys of the one in the US, but a quarry-turned-water park in Chiang Mai that’s just a 30 minutes drive from the city.
More humbly known as the Hang Dong Quarry, this spot will unleash the inner child in even the most jaded of adults. Think zip lines, water slides and a full-fledged inflatable playground, all set against stunning cliffs and placid waters. Here’s how to make it a day out:
Getting there and entrance fees
Start bright and early in the morning and make it a half-day trip, at the very least. Hop on a taxi from the city centre for around 200 baht (~S$8.30) and about 30 minutes later, you’ll find yourself at the entrance of the canyon.
The sprawling park might seem confusing upon first glance. That’s because there’re actually two operators, who run different areas of the park.
The one on the right is the original - it’s called Grand Canyon Gamnanboon and boasts activities such as cliff jumping and sunbathing on bamboo rafts. Tickets here are just 100 baht (~S$4.20)!
However, we’d recommend going to the newer development on the left - the Grand Canyon Water Park. Sure, admission is 450 baht for adults and 350 baht for children (~S$18.80, S$14.60), and you’ll pay 50 baht more for locker rentals. But when you consider the number of activities it entitles you to - at least 6 - it’s actually a really sweet deal.
Note: You can’t bring food and water in, so don’t pack lunches. You probably won’t even miss it with the delish food options within the park.
Upon entering, it might dawn upon you that you’ve forgotten to bring your swimsuit. Or sunblock. Or waterproof cam to capture all those glorious memories. Not to fear, the shop here sells all those things so all you need to do is bring ‘yerself.
Rental fee for GoPro, inclusive of free memory card, goes for just 600 baht.
After you’re all set, try out these activities below! P.S. We’ve rated them according to fun factor and difficulty level in case you’re overwhelmed by choice. #firstworldproblems
Whisk over the canyon on a zipline
This sky-high contraption will have you soaring above the quarry waters - even skimming it at some point!
Let the friendly staff here hook you up, and off you go - not once, but twice across the entire horizon of the quarry. Bring a GoPro along if you’d like videos of your screaming face.
Fun factor: 4/5. A “I believe I can fly” dream come true.
Difficulty Level: 1/5. The most difficult part is agreeing to do it in the first place.
Put your ninja warrior skills to the test in a floating obstacle course
Ever said to yourself during an episode of Ninja Warrior - “Hey, I can do that do too!” Well, put your skills to the test and try out the various obstacles at this floating playground.
Climb up “walls”, bounce on a trampoline or run across precariously shaky floats. Fair warning, it isn’t as easy as it looks. The friendly lifeguards pulled me up at least 20 times after I fell into the waters when attempting some feat of bravado.
Tip: Run fast to avoid falling!
It’s a solid workout, so prepare for arm burn after clambering up the floats after falling yet again.
Fun factor: 3/5. Great fun for those who like a challenge. A point was deducted for falling constantly.
Difficulty Level: 4/5. You need to be as fleet-footed as a gazelle and motivated as an auntie at a sale to conquer the whole course flawlessly.
Become a human hamster in a giant zorb ball
Humans are strange. We put ourselves in plastic balls for entertainment. Enter zorbing, where you’ll fumble around in a transparent orb - this time on water. Tip: It’s great fun as a group game. Challenge your friends to see who’ll be the last one standing after all that rollin’ about!
Fun factor: 4/5. We were laughing our guts out as we tumbled around.
Difficulty Level: 3/5. Ok, balancing is tough.
Slide down slides straight into the waters
These babies are not your endlessly curving tunnels of Wild Wild Wet, but they are no less impactful. Why, I landed a little too hard from this one above and couldn’t sit down for a while - nevertheless, the rush was entirely worth it.
Fun factor: 2.5/5. Fun while it lasted, but the ride was a little too short.
Difficulty Level: 1/5. Just climb up, lean back and slide down. Easy-peasy.
Channel your inner surfer and wakeboard
Confession: I didn’t try this one out because I was previously traumatised by multiple failures at ECP’s cable-ski park. Might have regretted it when I saw these pro wakeboarders whizzing up and down the canyon waters.
For those of you serious about learning how to wakeboard, get an all-day pass for 750 baht (~S$31.30) - it’s inclusive of free lessons for beginners!
Fun factor: N.A
Difficulty Level: N.A
“Ride” on a bike on water
When I first saw these oddly shaped bikes perching on the sides of the platform, I couldn’t quite figure out how to use them on water. Till the lifeguard showed off his moves effortlessly like this:
Alas, I went down almost instantly. The shame.
Fun factor: 3.5/5. The lifeguard certainly looked like he was enjoying himself.
Difficulty Level: 4/5. Please watch the “Bad Example” on repeat.
Jump off a 3-storey high cliff
This is definitely not for the faint-hearted. Daredevils, take heart that the cliff jumping platform here is at least 3 storeys high and that you’ll be cushioned by deep quarry waters.
Fun factor: 4/5. This is fun if you love a good adrenaline rush.
Difficulty Level: 2/5. Depends on how easy it is for you to overcome your fear. It’s scarier than ziplines, for sure.
Note: Aim for a safe landing by keeping your body upright as you enter the water. It can be painful should you land on your bum, back or worst of all, face front.
Grand Canyon Water Park - A splashing good time
I admit I had some reservations about the park at first. But with so many qualified lifeguards around, I felt safe during my entire experience here. Compulsory life vests also helped.
As for those who are travelling with kids and prefer not to let them near the waters, set them loose on an on-land inflatable playground of their own!
We also recommend spending at least 3 hours here because there’s just too many activities and FOMO is all too real.
Besides, with the wind whipping in your ears as you zipline, the triumph of conquering the course and pulsating beats in the background - this waterpark experience will leave behind memories that’ll last long after your IG stories have disappeared.
Grand Canyon Water Park
Address: 202 Moo 3 Namprae, Hangdong, Muang, Chiang Mai 50230
Opening hours: Daily 9am - 6.30pm
Telephone: +66 63 672 4007 / +66 71 797 3999
Note: Do call ahead to check for activities as availability is subject to weather.