A little-known wonder on the edge of the city: The Grand Canyon of Chiang Mai

Nature and adrenaline in one great day out. A hidden gem that will get your pulse racing! 

Bored of the usual sightseeing? Fancy a break from temples and the tourist trail? Chiang Mai is home to a little-known wonder that will wow and excite in equal measure.

Just 18 km from the heart of the Old City, the Nam Phrae canyon was formed when a local farmer sold the soil from his field and then flooded the resulting hole. These days it boasts a ton of recreation and water sports activities and is a great escape from the heat and bustle of the city.

A line of green trees appear in the distance as you approach. As you get closer you get the first glimpse of turquoise water sparkling between red earth walls. Stand on the edge of the canyon and look down the steep sides at the water. Are you brave enough to take the plunge and jump into the cool, refreshing depths? Easily the most epic day trip from Chiang Mai.

Activities in Nam Phrae Canyon

Nam Phrae canyon offers a range of activities from low-adrenaline to high-octane. Sun-worshipers can spread out a towel and soak up some rays, while those of a more active nature can get their buzz from running, jumping and splashing their way around the site.

One of the highlights is a trip on the canyon’s very own zip line. This allows you to fly across the canyon above the water like a superhero, kitted out with safety gear of course. If that sounds a bit tame then the cliff jumping might be for you. Choose between the lower warm up jumps or the more challenging higher platforms- see how brave you feel on the day!

In the past you could launch yourself off 20 metre high sections of the canyon wall, but recent rumours of military restrictions mean those days may be over. Never mind, there’s plenty else to do!

If heights aren’t your thing then how about testing yourself on the inflatable floating obstacle course? Slip, slide, duck and dive your way around the course, swinging on ropes, climbing up walls and jumping from podiums. Challenge your fellow athletes to a race which finishes with a jump onto a huge inflatable cushion. If you time it right it will send your pals skyrocketing into the air.

Grand Canyon Chiang Mai waterpark

What to Bring to the Canyon

Your swimming costume is a must to enjoy all the canyon has to offer. There is limited shade at the canyon’s edge so it’s a good idea to bring plenty of sun cream and a sarong to cover up in the heat of the day. A dry bag is useful to store your camera and phone while you’re enjoying the activities, or better yet bring a friend who can take pictures of you in action!

Where to Eat

There is a good restaurant at the canyon waterpark and a shop for any essentials that you need during your trip. This is pretty useful as you are not allowed to bring in your own food and drink. No, not even water! Stay for lunch and make a day of it.

How to Get to the Canyon

The canyon is a 30 minute drive to the south of the Old City. It’s easy to hire a scooter and ride there yourself (as long as you have a licence and experience), or use a Grab Taxi or Red Songthaew truck. Heading south past the airport, turn off the main 108 road onto minor road 3035. Turn right at the PT petrol station just past Hang Dong Golf Club and the canyon is straight ahead.

Grand Canyon Chiang Mai Insider Tip

Head to the rim of the canyon to find the Tuang Thong Restaurant. From here you’ll get the best views of the water, and the outdoor seating deck is an excellent place for a sundowner after the excitement of the day. They serve local and western food as well as beer and wine and it’s the best place to finish an awesome day out.