Thailand | Fantastic Flight of the Gibbon Zipline Experience

There are a few experiences that come up again and again when planning a trip to Chiang Mai, Thailand. Top of the list is visiting an elephant sanctuary, but another popular one - surprisingly - is ziplining! Flight of the Gibbon is one of the most established companies in the area offering the chance to swing through the Thai rainforest, where you might even spot an actual gibbon if you're lucky - we did!

Flight of the Gibbon Chiang Mai

Gordon turned 33 during our time in Chiang Mai and we celebrated the day at Elephant Jungle Sanctuary. However, we would have been doing this no matter what so, as it wasn't specifically a birthday treat, I decided to book the Flight of the Gibbon experience as a surprise! He had no idea until the minibus rocked up outside our hotel to pick us up. 

Flight of the Gibbon Chiang Mai

Booking

There are a few pick up times to choose from starting from 6.30am (which is the most likely time to see the gibbons) but I opted for 9am. Pick up and drop off is included in the cost as the location is about an hour's drive from Chiang Mai itself. I booked online about a week before we headed to Thailand and paid 8399THB which was roughly £200 total for the two of us.

Flight of the Gibbon Chiang Mai
Flight of the Gibbon Chiang Mai

Mae Kampong 

Located in the mountains is a small village known as Mae Kampong, where you'll find the Flight of the Gibbon headquarters. We arrived with our group of 8, met our "Sky Rangers" and were each fitted with a harness and safety helmet, which even came with GoPro attachments - handy!

Flight of the Gibbon Chiang Mai

Feel the fear and do it anyway!

I've done Go Ape at home in Scotland and whilst I did enjoy it, I was a nervous wreck the whole time. The course at Flight of the Gibbon is over 2 hours long so I really wasn't sure I'd cope. I even considered just booking it for Gordon and letting him do it himself! 

However, with the course being set up to 50 metres high in the rainforest there's no way to spectate from the ground and I don't imagine he would have appreciated "Surprise! See you in two hours..." as a birthday present. In the end I just had to bite the bullet and book it for both of us - convinced by some friends who said it was the best thing they did in Chiang Mai!

Flight of the Gibbon Chiang Mai

Safety

Naturally safety was one of the main concerns I had when deciding whether or not to go ahead and book the ziplining experience. Flight of the Gibbon's website states they have the highest safety standards in Asia for ziplining, but I couldn't help but still be worried - I shouldn't have!

A full safety briefing is given at the beginning, there are Sky Rangers with you along the entire course and they do all the clipping and unclipping, making sure your harness is attached at each part so there's no need for you to touch it at all.

Flight of the Gibbon Chiang Mai
Flight of the Gibbon Chiang Mai

Sky Rangers

Our guides - the "Sky Rangers" - really made the experience for us. They were friendly and fun, keeping everyone upbeat despite the nerves, and absolute professionals. Whilst they liked to have a laugh and wind us up a bit, safety was their first priority and they recognised when you were out of your comfort zone, encouraging you to try things without being too pushy. I chickened out of the Superman zipline but they let me take the normal one instead!

Flight of the Gibbon Chiang Mai

Eco-Tourism

We started with a short walk up to the first platform, where a local guide talked to us about the rainforest and conservation efforts being made by Flight of the Gibbon and the people of Mae Kampong. She showed us various tea and coffee plants and we even learned how they make one of the most expensive coffee bean products in the world - Kopi Luwak, also known as cat poop coffee!

Flight of the Gibbon supports the community and environment by employing local people from the village, planting trees and rehabilitating wildlife. You can read more about these projects here

Flight of the Gibbon Chiang Mai

The Flight of the Gibbon Course

I have to admit, the first zipline was the worst - just for the initial fear factor! A sky ranger will always go first so you know he's got to the other side safely but can't help but feel nervous. Once you get used to the feeling though you just sit into the harness and trust it! We crossed sky bridges, and swung through the trees on some of the longest and highest ziplines in Asia, some of which you could do two at a time!


Flight of the Gibbon Chiang Mai
Flight of the Gibbon Chiang Mai lunch

A Birthday Lunch

Once the zipline was complete we were taken back to the headquarters where a table was ready for us in the "restaurant" overlooking the river. Lunch is included in the cost of the experience and we were more than ready for it after our treetop adventure!

It was such a lovely setting, and we ate a delicious homecooked Thai meal with our fellow zipliners to the sound of traditional instruments being played nearby. They even played Happy Birthday and brought out cake complete with candles for Gordon to blow out at the end!

Flight of the Gibbon Chiang Mai birthday cake
Flight of the Gibbon Chiang Mai lunch

Back down to earth...

After all the safety briefings and making it around the entire course in one piece, I only went and fell back at the village! I completely missed a step and fell flat on my back leaving the toilets, cracking my head off the concrete ground. The locals rushed to help me but I was so embarrassed I rushed onto the bus and burst into tears. I felt so bloody stupid - Gordon hadn't even noticed me fall! 

Our bus driver came to check on me and even gave me some pain relief balm to put on my bruises. It almost put a dampener on my spirits but everyone was so kind and luckily we had another treat in store...

Flight of the Gibbon Chiang Mai

Mae Kampong Waterfall

We were whisked off to the final stop of the day, the picturesque waterfall. A short hike up some steps alongside it took us to an idyllic viewpoint. where we watched people splash around in the water below. Eventually it was time to head off and I slept the whole way through the mountains back to Chiang Mai!

Flight of the Gibbon Chiang Mai waterfall

All in all it was a wonderful experience from start to finish, the only negative being my fall back down on earth, which is of course down to my own stupidity! And that was sober... The course itself is spectacular, as were the people, and you will absolutely have that "pinch me" feeling as you fly through the trees!

Visit Flight of the Gibbon's website to book or find out more.

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