living in the ‘Land of Smiles’

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Chiang Mai – toolin’ round town


Anyway, like I was sayin’, you can walk, bike, or take a cab. You can samlor, scoot or tuk. That’s – that’s about it.


Chiang Mai is a compact city, and it’s a joy to walk the narrow sois (streets), past the gazillion wats (Buddhist temples), markets, bookstores, restaurants, coffee shops, etc, etc. The ONLY drawback to walking here is the krappy sidewalks; but hey, it’s a +700 year old city.


I recently read in a Thai (English-language paper), because of the economic conditions, bicycle sales are way up. Bad drivers are a definite minus, but a definite plus is the city is as flat as a board.

Motor scooters:

They are very popular with the Thai people and falangs (foreigners). They of course burn very little gas and are a cinch to park.

And they are dirt cheap – you can rent a Honda or Yamaha scooter for 200baht ($6) per day, which INCLUDES insurance and a helmet. Of course if you rent for a longer period, the price drops dramatically.


A lot of foreigners live out in the country, or up in the hills/mountains, and end up driving. Japanese cars/small trucks are the most popular, and are reasonably priced, especially if a year or two old. Gas is more expensive here than the States, but insurance and repairs are much cheaper.

Metered Taxis:

They are metered, providing you can get the damn drivers to use ’em. They don’t cruise the city, so the only time I take ’em is to and from the airport. But they are very clean and quite inexpensive

Note: Threatening to get out, is ALWAYS successful in getting ’em to meter up.


Samlor: (pedi-cabs) usually to be found near the Thai markets, or the touristy areas.

Tuk-Tuk (see photo):

One person a little pricy; two people perfect; three, not impossible to fit in, but …

Fares are negotiable up front, but you MUST be able to bargain; but man, they are so much fun!!!


Canopied pickup, with two (song) bench (taew) seats.

These are essentially communal taxis.

You hold up a hand to get them to stop, and then you tell the driver where you are going.

If he is going in that general direction, he’ll nod his head and you’ll then jump in the back, and off you go.

When you get to your destination, you’ll pay the driver 20-baht ($.60). The routes vary depending on the destination of the other passengers, and I find it a terrific way to meet Thais and fellow falangs.

Note: They recently increased the fare of the Red songtaews from 15 baht to 20-baht, and this is a REAL HARDSHIP or many of the riders; but on the other hand, the drivers haven’t had an increase in ten-years, so …

Note: The Red songtaews cover the entire central city.

How do I get around? I usually walk; take a songtaew, and an occasion tuk-tuk. I estimate my in-town travel expenses to be less than $50 a month.

I like the costs, but I like even better, MUCH BETTER, being GREEN.


May 6, 2009 - Posted by | cost of living, transportation | , ,


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