Getting around Chiang Mai with various kinds of transportation
Chiang Mai is quite easy to get around, since it’s a tourist town. Note that there are some airport licensed taxis and some non-license taxis. You will find a few men with their cars hanging around outside the hotels offering to take you on tours, etc. Use them at your own risk.
▶ Outside Chiang Mai area
Hiring a car or minibus with professional driver
This is a great option for traveling to places outside Chiang Mai city, and is often the same price as hiring a car and driving yourself. You’ll also be able to relax and enjoy the scenery in air-conditioned comfort. The cost is depends on the type of vehicle and where you are going.
Cars and pick-up trucks can be hired from rental agencies throughout the city, particularly along Th Moon Muang, but stick to companies that offer full insurance (liability) coverage and breakdown cover, and check the terms so you’re clear on what is and isn’t included. Most companies ask for a cash deposit of 5,000B to 10,000B.
Standard rental rates for small 1.5L cars start at 1,000 Baht per day; prices include unlimited kilometers but not petrol.
Local Bus and Train
Visiting close by district such as Chiang Rai, Mea Hongson, and Lampoon can be made by public bus. Meanwhile visiting southern route of Chiang Mai can travel by train as well.
▶ Around Chiang Mai City area
Songthaew(red pickup trucks)
Songthaew is a convertible pickup truck with two rows of seat on the pickup truck with roof cover. It is the standard vehicle for typical Chiang Mai residents. Cheap and readily available, they are perfect travel within the main city. Most Song Thaews drive along standard routes, but are more than happy to take you to a specific destination. Flag the driver down and asks where he’s heading. If your destination lies in the same direction, then hop in and signal him when you want to get off.
The fare for most destinations in the city center is about 30 baht/ride/person. If you want to go to a specific destination then you should negotiate the fare beforehand. In general, expect to pay about 30 baht for a trip within the city center.
Tuk Tuk is a second option for traveling around Chiang Mai. These colorful, three wheeled vehicles are an unofficial symbol of Thailand. If you are traveling somewhere outside the main city area, or are in a hurry, then a Tuk Tuk is a better option than the slower song thaews. Tuk Tuks can be found near all of the major hotels and tourist areas such as the night bazaar and Moon Muang Road. Make sure to negotiate the fare before you climb in. For a ten minute ride a Tuk Tuk should cost about 50 baht per ride.
But unlike in Bangkok it’s very hard to persuade the driver to use the meter. Rates are very reasonable at 30 baht for the first 2 km and 4 baht/km after that, Dial +66 53-279291 states your destination and the call center will give you a quote. Individual drivers can be contacted using their mobile phone numbers which are displayed on the vehicle, again few will use their meters.
It is a good idea to ask your hotel to call taxi for you and ask the driver for his phone number. Get one or two more taxi numbers in case he is not available. Taxi fare is by the meter and it costs around 100 to 200 baht per ride in the city. Most tourists will take a taxi to their hotel on arrival at Chiang Mai airport.
The public bus service is not prevalent in Chiang Mai. There is shuttle bus covering 2 routes connecting the airport to the city. The fare is 40 baht per person.
These buses are spacious with air-conditioning – a welcome comfort in a tropical city. They have priority seats for the elderly, pregnant woman, disable or injured people and people travelling with small children, indicated with signs and pictures.
Passengers can also enjoy free wireless internet with the complimentary Wi-Fi on-board their buses. Open your phone’s Wi-Fi setting and look for CM TRANSIT FREE WIFI. No need registration to use the free Wi-Fi.
Latest 2018: There is a new public bus service launched in Chiang Mai since June 2018. It’s called the RTC Chiang Mai Smart City Bus, and it has become one of the best modes of transportation in Chiang Mai.
Chiang Mai has an abundance of motorcycle rental services, with choices aplenty. Typical Asian motorbikes can be rented, such as Honda and Yamaha 110cc and 125cc models (both step-through and automatic), but off-road bikes and larger street bikes can also be found quite easily. Renting a small bike starts at 200 baht/day with insurance; larger machines can climb to 800 baht/day for a V-twin chopper or large sport-bike, also with insurance. Passports are usually taken as a deposit, although some shops will accept a photocopy with a cash deposit of a few thousand baht. As with any other tourist town in Thailand (except possibly in Bangkok), a valid international permit (IDP) isn’t required by the rental shop.
Chiang Mai Bicycle Within the old city walls, biking is still an easy option to get around. You can get everywhere in town within 10 minutes and it saves the hassle of negotiating with Tuk-Tuk drivers all the time. Bike rentals are offered at every other street corner and for a simple bike start from 30-50 baht/day. You can pick up quality bikes for a comfortable ride at “Crank Tavern” near Chiang Mai Gate. They run well-organized tours in the mountains around Chiang Mai as well.
Three Wheels are used by the local people who normally go to the market to shop. It is going slow. You can save from the Sun light and the rain since it has a roof. Travelling by the tricycle is fun and sees Chiang Mai closely. Check the trip that you can go to travel with the tricycle
As you can see, it’s has many choices of how to getting around Chiang Mai. So find out the best transport while you’re travelling around Chiang Mai to suit your trip.