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Life in Chiang Mai


Transport options in Chiang Mai

By Heather Allen
A friend of mine has recently moved to Chiang Mai, perhaps permanently, at least for a year or so. He wants to give it a try at first. Whilst he is not new to Chiang Mai he has always been a tourist here and so is now viewing Chiang Mai through new eyes; those of a resident.
He is looking for a place to live and although the condos along the river have wonderful views and many of them are very, very nice he does not want to drive, most certainly not a motorbike and he feels he is not ready for a car. The areas along the river are not necessarily the easiest to get out of without one’s own transportation, it is true. Other areas that have some great places to stay are a bit far out of the songthaew’s reach and whilst getting home may not be too much of a problem, getting out certainly could be.
So I suggested the Huay Kaew corridor, including Nimmanhaemin. The traffic is certainly nothing to brag about but songthaews in this area are ubiquitous. As are tuk tuks. There are markets, food, restaurants, shops, the supermarket and entertainment all in an easily reachable area from Suthep near the University down to Kad Suan Kaew.
Getting into the old part of town is not too difficult and getting back may cost you a tiny bit extra but again, certainly easily done. The Santitham area is certainly on the rise and the area near Wat Jet Yod is lovely. But Santitham is a warren of little streets that don’t actually see that many songthaews and Wat Jet Yod is too far out without your own transport.
Wouldn’t it be lovely if there were some kind of bus that ran along the Superhighway on a regular basis, perhaps from Big C (the old Carrefour) along to Tesco, Nimmanhaemin and down to Kad Suan Kaew and back? If only the authorities asked me where I would like to see a bus, I am sure I could give them several great options! I recall some story a while back about regular red songthaews running routes to Central Airport but have not yet figured out which ones they are. If anyone has spotted one, please feel free to send me a photo so I, too, know what to look for since I really have no idea at all.
That said, the transport system in Chiang Mai, while flawed, certainly beats many other places in Thailand where the options are limited and the costs high. So, whilst we all complain about the ubiquitous red trucks, let us not forget that without them Chiang Mai would not be nearly so easy to get around.

The Chiang Mai Mail is publishing a series of articles on residents’ experiences of life in Chiang Mai. If you would like to contribute please email [email protected]


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Transport options in Chiang Mai