Jumping off the 10-15 meter high cliff into a water-filled quarry was one of the most adventurous activities I’ve engaged upon this year. It’s not for the faint of heart, but is something everyone should try at least once.
Update: This point was written after my first visit in 2015. The information has been updated in 2017, and I’ve crossed out the points which no longer apply, but left them in so you can read what it used to be like. Also read my blog post on the Chiang Mai Water Park next door (publishing soon).
Location of the Chiang Mai Grand Canyon
The Chaing Mai Grand canyon, also known as the Chiang Mai Quarry, is located about 30 km southeast of Old Town. There are two ways of getting there: the 121 highway or the 108 highway. Many songthaews and tuk-tuks don’t know where it is, and they would charge quite a bit for a trip that far if they did. Some guesthouses offer tours there for cheap, but the cheapest way is to rent a motorcycle from Old Town for 24 hours. There is a motorcycle rental shop on Sri Prom Road just west of the Chang Phueak Gate with 24-hour bike rentals for 99 baht.
Admission to the Grand Canyon
The entrance fee to the quarry is 50 baht, which
includes no longer includes an herbal juice drink valued at 25 baht. Average price of the meals is about 100 baht. The menu depends on what they have in stock. The entrance fee is good for the entire day. The cafe has toilet and shower facilities to use, but no soap, towels or tissue paper.
Jumping Into the Chiang Mai Grand Canyon
There is a ramp leading from the cafe down to the water, if you want to start by getting your feet wet. Or you can simply go for the adrenaline rush and jump off the cliffs of the promontory leading out from the cafe. There’s no accurate measurement of how high the jumps are, but the lower spot at the beginning is about 5-10 meters and the raised portion at the end of the path is close to 15 meters. My first trip there I jumped off the lower platform five times, and my second trip I mustered the courage to do the higher jump twice. Update: The high jump was shut down at the end of 2016 following an accident.
The feeling of the impact is very minor if you land feet first with your feet pointed and your hands up or clasped against your legs. There is a sign with pictures on how to jump safely. If your feet or hands hit the water flat, they will sting for a few moments. Landing in a belly flop or on your back is liable to give you some bruising, but nothing major. Certainly not like the bone-breaking impact jumping off the 22-meter Stari Most Bridge in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
There was a Chinese girl who landed on her butt. She was also wearing a life vest. The back of her thighs were bruised and she was in pain, but she was fine and walking. I certainly wouldn’t recommend jumping in a life vest. If you can’t swim, perhaps this isn’t the sport for you. Update: Life vests are now mandatory for anyone entering the water. You don’t have to wear it when you jump; the lifeguard will throw it in before you, and another lifeguard will be waiting in the water for you.
Luckily there is a lifeguard on duty who will quickly jump into the water with a life vest after anyone who falls…I mean jumps…incorrectly. As far as I can find, there haven’t been any serious injuries or deaths from landing on rocks or jumping incorrectly. There were three accidents within 2014, which is minor compared to how many people jump on a daily basis.
There isn’t a lot of shade at the quarry. By the ramp down to the water there might be some shade on the south side next to the cliff depending on the time of day and year. Otherwise consider bringing sunscreen. Palm trees and small shelters have been built to offer shade near the cafe and down on the ramp. A new zip line has also been installed, which is advertised at 200 baht per ride.
Rafts in the water are available to rest on after a jump or swimming from the ramp. There are also inner tubes for rent to get around the lake. The quarry is not really an all-day activity, but the time spent there is exceedingly fun! Take the plunge and…well… plunge!