Don’t worry, that goes down very very deep, my friend nonchalantly told me as we saw some guy jump from a cliff at Chiang Mai’s so called Grand Canyon. He made a big splash at the emerald waters below and we all went, awwww! The dude landed badly on his side, making his buddies all laugh. Not the best cliff dive of the day, but that guy definitely has guts.
|THE MAN-MADE CANYON IN HANG DONG DISTRICT|
This was my second time in Chiang Mai, and I thought it was all about temples and Lanna culture before our friends, who were semi-permanently staying in the city, told us of a canyon where we can jump and swim.
And of course, we cannot but go.
After almost an hour of driving and getting lost, we finally arrived at our destination. It wasn’t quite the grand canyon that we pictured it to be, but more of an old quarry resembling a canyon of sorts at Chiang Mai’s Hang Dong District.
|BOATING ON THE LAKE|
But indeed, the place was quite picturesque. Looming tangerine vertical cliffs, remnants of soil quarrying to provide land fill for the booming developments in Chiang Mai, stood like canyon walls topped with lush trees overlooking an emerald lake.
That lake, which some estimate to go to a depth of 40 meters, is mostly made up of rainwater that got stuck in the pit after a few years of being derelict. And how deep is 40 meters? You can actually almost submerge the whole Statue of Liberty on it.
|NO TIME FOR FOOD AT TUANG TONG CANYON VIEW RESTAURANT|
At the entrance, an open-aired cozy diner, the Tuang Thong Canyon View Restaurant, provides a cool respite for the summer heat. There is an entrance fee to the Chiang Mai Grand Canyon, but it does comes with a complimentary refreshment from the restaurant.
|THE SAFEST PLACE TO TAKE A DIP ON THE CANYON|
Well, what are we waiting for? I guzzled down my drink in one go and hurried to the far end of the canyon where some semblance of a bank was located. It’s more like a ramp really, probably used by trucks that hauled clay from the area before it was abandoned.
|SWIM AT YOUR OWN RISK|
Cliff jumping is the main draw of the Hang Dong Grand Canyon, and most tourists that were there were doing just that. It is immediately apparent that the place is more popular with the backpacker crowd than with locals. I didn’t see a single Thai visitor that time. It might be that it was a weekday, but it’s probably more to the fact that locals aren’t particularly endeared with the place.
|VERY PICTURESQUE, BUT CAN BE VERY DANGEROUS IF YOU’RE NOT CAREFUL|
There have been documented cases of drowning in the canyon, both for tourists (a Korean national) and locals. And apparently, Thai people believe that the place is haunted by ghosts.
|A BOAT FULL OF BACKPACKERS CROSSING ONE OF THE RIDGES|
A word of caution for those who’re really not good swimmers; remember, this is rainwater we’re talking about, it’s not as buoyant as seawater. So take heed, the water is very deep and clarity is not that great. If you get in trouble and sink down, knock on wood, finding you would be a very tough job. Swim at your own risk, there’s no lifeguard on duty. Or better yet, take a few of the available life-vest from the restaurant.
|CLIFF JUMPING AT CHIANG MAI’S GRAND CANYON|
It is a sobering thought, but still, that didn’t stop the visitors who drove all the way from the city center to Hang Dong for a daredevil of a good time; cliff jumpers crash into the waters one right after another. And who could blame them, that deep emerald water was just so enticing!
So, did we dare jump? Indeed, we dared jump!
Chiang Mai Grand Canyon /
Tuang Thong Canyon View Restaurant
Address: Canal Rd., Hang Dong, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Contact Number: (081) 960-4087 | (081) 0202-167
Open Hours: 8:30 AM to 10:00 PM Daily
Entrance Fee: 50.00 Baht
GPS Coordinates Map: 18.697129, 98.893064