It ‘s actually quite easy getting around Chiang Mai and although there are no public buses or metro, there are several other transportation options such as the Tuk Tuk, the Songthaew, the traditional taxis, or alternatively, the rental of bicycles or motorcycles through one of the countless rental shops scattered throughout the city.
Below you’ll find a list of the main public transports that will help you getting around Chiang Mai, including the approximate prices.
Getting around Chiang Mai
This is one of the most traditional transports in Asia which consists of a small motor vehicle with 2 to 4 seats. As in Bangkok, any trip in a tuk tuk should be negotiated in advance, so you really should work on those negotiation skills. Tuk-tuks are best suited for shorter journeys, since comfort is not one of their main features.
Price: It’s not exactly the cheapest transport in Chiang Mai. A trip within the city, regardless of the destination, will hardly be less than 50 bahts.
This is one of the most popular transports in Chiang Mai. It’s quite normal to see dozens and dozens of these red vans all over town. You can get off at any location on the street, and it carries a maximum of about 8 to 9 people. The prices are also negotiated at departure, and always depend on the destination. There are no predefined routes, they always depend on the destination of the first passenger. Along the way the songthaew stops to pick up more passengers that will only get in if their destination is somewhere on the way of the first passenger’s destination.
Price: From 20 baht (within the city center) up to 30 or 40 baht to destinations a little farther apart. The price also depends on the number of passengers who are already inside the van.
It’s not very common to see taxis in the streets of Chiang Mai. As Chiang Mai is a relatively small city, taxi drivers find it more profitable to pick up passengers in areas farther away from the city, as the airport for example. It’s common for the taximeters to be off, so it is advisable to always check when entering the taxi and if it is off, you should ask for it to be switched on so that the final price is as fair as possible.
Price: The taxi fare starts at 35 bahts.
If you’re used to driving motorcycles or bicycles in the center of the city, then this may be a good option for getting around Chiang Mai. It offers you more freedom and allows you to discover places you probably wouldn’t if you only depended on public transport.
Price: Some hotels already offer bikes for free to their guests and some even motorcycles, but there are plenty of rental shops all over the city. The rental of a bicycle is around 50 baht per day and the rental of a motorbike is around 150 to 200 baht per day.
Recommended Rental Shop: Nat Motor (in the Nimman zone). An extremely efficient and professional service, quality motorcycles and very affordable prices. I’ve been a customer and recommend it.
Some important notes to drive in Thailand:
They drive on the left side of the road
The international driving licence is required. If the police stops you, you risk a fine of 1000 bahts
Use your helmet! (for security and to save some money, since you can get a fine for not using one)
Don’t honk unless it’s strictly necessary
There’s no room for road rage in Thailand. Here everything is done calmly and (in spite of the apparent chaotic traffic) in a quite civilized way