|Red Song Taeows|
Having walked many streets of the old city of Chiang Mai I still took public transportation when I got too tired or had to go somewhere quick. In my first 6 visits to the city I always had my own driver, hence I never had to worry about transportation, but rather about parking our vehicle! On my recent trip I had to get acquainted with the local form of transportation besides walking.
|Tuk Tuk's are flexible|
Friends who live in Chiang Mai then asked me why I did not take the "red ones", the pick-ups with two rows of seats in the back. Locally called "Song Taeow" which means two rows, they will drive you anywhere as long as it is on their route or paid for. So, you can hire them or just go along and finally reach your destination. You might be alone for the entire trip or share your journey with several people who hop on and off. The first few times I asked for the price in advance but since the answer was always 20 Baht with a nod or smile, I ended up not even asking anymore and just paid 20 Baht when I got off. This is for short trips in and around old town. Longer journeys will cost you more and again, they vary by driver and destination. Going from the Central Shopping Center to an outlying forest temple, I was quoted 150 Baht from the first Song Taeow driver and ended up paying 80 Baht for the second one. On the way back from the forest temple I only paid 20 Baht for the same distance but had two more people join me along the trip. Though on the way back from an outlying desitination you might have to wait for a while before one arrives. If you are out of luck, it has been hired or is full already. I was offered to just stand on the back of the platform and hold on to the rail.
Going up to the mountain temple of Doi Suthep, I was quoted 40 Baht and was surprised that my journey ended after a few minutes on the foot of the mountain where all tourists are assembled and then driven up the mountain in a fully loaded pick up truck, for another 40 Baht. Coming back from the temple they will drive you right to the city or your hotel for 40 Baht, without a stop at the assembly point.
|Red and yellow song taeows|
Motorcycles can also be rented for transportation, though I never use them. So, I have no experience with their prices at all. They did not seem to wear numbered vests, like in Bangkok, either.
The only other transportation I came across in the old city was the tricycle rickshaws, which are really just for tourists. The are better be used only within the old city, where traffic is limited and relatively safe. Outside the city walls rickshaws are too slow to compete with the other traffic and too unpractical. Short trips did cost me only 20-40 Baht while half day trips were about 100 Baht. Those trips are quite entertaining and a relaxing way to see the city.
All of these vehicle mean that you sit out in the open, without air condition and subject to heat, wind, rain, dust and of course the pollution from cars and trucks. But they are all fun to take.