Southeast Asia’s city streets are packed to the brim with honking, quick moving motor scooters. They’re a blast to ride, especially when you’re cursing around the more rural, mountainous terrain this region has to offer. Albeit fun, they’re also quite dangerous. Thailand has one of the highest rates of traffic deaths in the world, mostly due to the fact that so many people are riding helmet-less on motor bikes. So, if you’re going to rent a bike in Chiang Mai, proceed with the utmost caution— especially if you don’t have travelers insurance.
If you’re not interested in hopping on a motorbike, there are a two easy and cheap alternatives that provide you the option to snap photos of the fantastic scenery around you, and take in the culture that sits on every street in the city!
Known as rod daeng (red car) in Thai, songthaew’s are a staple of Northern Thailand. They are all over the city, and, like taxi’s have drivers who know how to get anywhere within the city limits. The upside to these trucks are the price: it should be no more than 40-60THB* per person for a ride in a songthaew. Trips to the airport can be pricier, so expect to pay more depending on how far you are from the airport. The downfall of songthaews is that they fit up to 10 people in them. So, while it can result in happy meetings between strangers, it also means that if you’re the last person in the truck, you more than likely have to wait some time before getting to your destination. If you’re in a hurry, take an empty one, or check the next option on our list!
Tuk Tuks are synonymous with Thailand. They are the motorized versions of rickshaws that you’ll see in a lot of major Southeast Asian cities. This will most likely be the way you get around if you’re not riding a scooter in Chiang Mai. Tuk Tuks aren’t so great for large groups of friends, since they generally only seat 3 people (comfortably), but they’re fun to ride because you can see everything from the backseat of one. They’re usually 20-40THB more than songthaews, so expect to pay upwards of 60-80THB per person for a tuk tuk ride.
*Price Conversion: 35THB = 1USD