If you type “Chiang Mai adventures” into Google or look for them on Trip Advisor, you’ll certainly see Flight of the Gibbons zip lining at the top of the list. It’s popular for a reason- because it’s a genuinely great day! Reviews also state that it’s expensive but worth it- and that’s also true, though not expensive compared to zip lining in the United States (only compared to other activities in Chiang Mai). However, my friend and I booked the “sunrise adventure,” which I found on their Facebook page for a discounted price, which includes lunch and a waterfall hike- a total of 6 hours or so. SCORE! Yes, they pick you up at 6:30am and it feels eeeeaaaaaarly for non-morning people such as myself… but it was actually a great time to see the jungle and for the value it couldn’t be beat. So check their Facebook page for a while before you make the trip, and you could get lucky too. They also had a deal on Groupon.
Everyone in the van was a little nervous… and we were all adults too J But, we figured that since the “important tips” video shown in the van included smiling children, if they could do it, so could we! Once we were fitted with all of our gear (helmets, safety straps) we were good to enter the jungle. You take a short and slightly steep (but doable) hike through the jungle, so wear appropriate shoes- my Keene’s were perfect, waterproof in case it rained and adequate for hiking. We lucked out as the rain finished early as it often does in monsoon season- the sun was out, even early in the morning- and the heat of the day was still yet to come.
Our hearts and stomach knots recovered after a couple of tame rounds- the guides gave great guidance and were highly trained and fun. These guys work hard and zip line every day- be sure to tip them! They are willing to take great photos of you with your own camera, so don’t feel pressured to buy their photo package at the end, though the cameras set up along the way capture some cool shots. The jungle backdrop is gorgeous and green with winding rivers, and Gibbon sightings are common! We saw two swinging from the trees and one in a cage (I wondered why he was kept in that cage- doesn’t it seem kind of sad to be trapped in a cage in the middle of the jungle, while the natural habitat is all around?) But the nature lover in me was satisfied. From there on out, each jump felt free and exhilarating! IMPORTANT TIP: Listen to every bit of advice they give you about where to place hands and lifting your feet until they catch you. My friend accidentally dropped her foot and bashed it on the platform and it bruised a large area.
After the obstacle zip lining and a picturesque hike up to the top of a beautiful waterfall (Yes, it’s steep! And you’ll be tired by now!) we had a perfectly charming lunch in a rural, open restaurant with our new partners in adventure, and live Thai music, complete with instruments and singing. We enjoyed ourselves very much.
Why am I rating it a four rather than a five? For one reason only: Once was enough for us. If we went back to Chiang Mai I’d book more authentic local experiences; our favorite activities were more laid back with time to soak in the culture, cuisine and meet new people. However, I wouldn’t hesitate to book if you’d like to zip line –the setting can’t be beat, it’s well organized and safe, and you’ll have a guaranteed great day.