Cool off but take care
Published/Last edited or updated: 31st July, 2017
A series of flooded quarries in Hang Dong district is the setting of one of Chiang Mai’s newer and more unusual attractions.
Calling this a “canyon” is rather misleading. Don’t expect the picturesque landscapes of Pai Canyon or even Chiang Mai’s Ob Khan or Ob Luang National Parks; these are sheer-sided, water-filled, laterite pits divided into concessions and offering a variety of water-based activities. (They were originally quarries for the raw material needed to extend the runway of nearby Chiang Mai airport.)
The largest quarry is home to the Grand Canyon Water Park, an elaborate complex with coffee shop, restaurant and snack stalls surrounding a rectangular pit filled with what we can best describe as an inflatable obstacle course. We confess it was pouring down when we visited so we didn’t see it in its full glory but we imagine you leap from platform to platform, slide down slides, jump on a giant plastic duck or huge floating polar bear before ending up falling head first into the water as per one of those TV game shows. There’s also a miniature shallow version for kids and an even shallower one for toddlers. Plastic kayaks and boats are also on hand (for hire) for the more sedate.
Yes it is super tacky, but it is quite well organised with free lifejackets, lockers available, swimming costumes for rent and lifeguards on duty.
Next door, in a connected quarry, you’ll find the Hang Dong Grand Canyon. This is a smaller operation, lacking the inflatable obstacle course but specialising in cliff-jumping along with a zip-line. Cliffs are around 8 to 10 metres high depending on jumping point and water levels, if that takes your fancy. People have died jumping these cliffs, so know your limits and do take care.
It’s hardly scenic but on a hot day in April with bored kids to keep happy it could be a crowd pleaser and as tickets allow unlimited time ,a not too pricey one at that.
Unfortunately even if you’re just passing by you still have to pay an entrance fee (though not as high) even if you just want a peek and a coffee. It's worth noting though that by heading north a couple of hundred metres and turning right onto the lane that leads back to the Hang Dong highway, you’ll pass by the delightful Madam Lynn’s coffee shop serving up excellent and inexpensive local food, coffees and juices in a lam yai orchard setting. (Open daily 07:30-17:00.)
Do use the lifejackets provided and take care. To be fair, most accidents have occurred in adjacent, unsupervised sections of the quarry and indeed it is much safer now that the waterparks have been established.
Grand Canyon Waterpark: Moo 3 Nam Prae, Hang Dong; T: (063) 672 4007, (061) 796 3999; http://www.grandcanyonwaterpark.com; open Mo–Su: 10:00–19:00, 350 baht adults, 300 baht for under 1.20m and 90 baht for under 90 cms.
Hang Dong Grand Canyon: Nam Prae, Hang Dong; T: (097) 929 8559; https://www.facebook.com/Grandcanyonchiangmai-632463043626278/ ; open Mo–Su: 08:30–18:00; 50 baht, zip-line 199 baht.
TaxiTawai: T: (093) 130 1991, (095) 452 1229.
If you’re travelling under your own steam then it’s a straightforward drive along the canal road from the junction with Suthep Rd until you see the signs on your right after 12 km or so. The entrance is another kilometre off the main road.
If you’re travelling by public transport then TaxiTawai, who organise minibuses to Hang Dong and Ban Tawai, also stop here on their way to and from Tha Pae Gate. Times vary according to how busy it is but either water park ticket office will let you know and sell you a 150 baht each way ticket. Private songthaew hire would be around 700 baht return.
Based in Chiang Mai, Mark Ord has been travelling Southeast Asia for over two decades and first crossed paths with Travelfish on Ko Lipe in the early 1990s.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
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