Logistics of Chiang Mai Canyon
Time: at least half a day
Cost: 50 baht + songteaw
I didn’t hear about Chiang Mai canyon until about two months ago, which is six months after I moved here, so I think it’s pretty safe to say that the best time of year to head down is during peak season, when the weather is best, and there are more people.
It’s located to the south west of the old city, about 30 minutes from Thapae gate. If you have a moped it’s an easy drive, but all songteaw drivers will know where it is, and as ever it’s best to find a group of people to go with to keep taxi costs down.
When you arrive, you will have to pay a 50 baht entry fee, and they will give you a ticket that is worth keeping as it gets you a free herbal drink in the overpriced café afterwards – your options are roselle or butterfly pea, and I personally think that roselle tastes like the soul of a dying flower so avoid that one.
What is Chiang Mai Canyon?
Chiang Mai canyon is a disused quarry, full of water. I have no idea how deep it is, but I think it’s safe to say that the chances of you ever reaching the bottom are fairly minimal. They say that if you were to take scuba gear and go down, you would find hundreds of GoPros, lost to people who didn’t invest in the float attachment.
There isn’t anywhere to leave your bags in a ‘safe’ way, so don’t take anything hugely valuable with you. We just left our bags in a pile and it was fine, although one of our party had an ear problem, so he stayed with them.
The canyon is full of clear, fairly clean water, and is scattered with bamboo rafts that you can swim out to and sunbathe on, which is super refreshing in the hot Thai weather! These rafts are not the main attraction, however. Due to the nature of the quarry, the sheer sides provide entertainment for the adrenaline-fuelled among us. The biggest jump is between 10 and 12 meters tall, and if you’re brave enough to do it, good for you (I couldn’t do it). If you are going to do it, make sure that you plan your landing. Whilst we were there, we saw too many people come up from the water yelling because it felt like they had been penetrated in the butt: go feet first for the love of all things holy!
For the less brave (or more sensible), there are smaller jumps that you can mess around with a little bit more, as well as there being a 8 to 9 meter one that is far less intimidating.
The canyon is most definitely worth a visit, I had so much fun, even though I did get an ear infection from jumping in and going too deep (make sure you breath out through your nose!