Unlike the capitol of Thailand–Bangkok–the city of Chiang Mai is much easier to get around. When you arrive to Chiang Mai, you will be pleasantly surprised by the few simple ways to explore and enjoy this charming city of culture.
Way number 1: Song Taeo or the Red Bus is one of the primary ways one can get around as a tourist. Many locals use the Song Taeo as well. The usual cost is around 20B (yee sip) per person and 30B (sum sip) for two. If you are going further to places like Wat Phrathat atop Doi Suthep or Chiang Mai Zoo the driver may ask for more. These are all over the city so you won’t have any problem finding them. It is helpful to have a business card for your guesthouse or have someone write the name of your geusthouse for you in Thai so you’ll have the name and the location handy.
Way number 2: Mortorbike rental. Getting around by motorbike is probably the most common mode of transportation for the locals. It is also common for many visitors to use a rental motorbike as a mode of transportation during their stay. Motorbike rentals are available in the Old City. Rentals can run from 150 (loi haa sip) – 200B (song loi) per day. Most places will ask for your passport, but the best thing to do is to provide a copy of it. You will likely be required to pay a deposit also. With a motorbike you could venture out to Wat U Mong, Doi Suthep, Chiang Mai Zoo or to Doi Inthanon to see the highest peak in Thailand.
Way number 3: Bicycle rental is another great way to see the old city. You may even want to venture out to Huay Kaew and or Nimmenhamenda area on your bicycle. Rental is usually around 50B (haaa sip) per day and most guesthouses have them available for rental. If not renting from your guesthouse or hotel, you’ll likely be asked for a deposit in the neighborhood of 2000B from some places, but this varies from owner to owner. You will also be asked for your passport as a deposit. Again, it’s useful to have copies of your passport to give instead.
Way number 4: Bus #11. This simply is using your very own legs thus using bus #11= walking! Good exercise and great way to see the city slowly for FREE!
Way number 5: Tuk Tuk. As you can see this is listed toward the bottom of the list and that is because this is probably one of the more expensive (yet signature) ways to get around. Always negotiable, never take a tuk tuk after the first quote. Try to haggle a bit. Tuk Tuk drivers tend to charge more so be prepared to haggle. Besides, it’s a lot of fun to haggle and getting on a tuk tuk won’t be the same without a tiny bit of haggling. You should ride the Tuk Tuk at least once while in Thailand, and Chiang Mai is THE perfect city for a Tuk Tuk ride (not that I am biased!)
Way number 6: Taxis are not as common in Chinag Mai as they are in Bangkok. I hardly see them although they can be found at the airport, Airport plaza, Kad Suan Kaew, Doi Suthep, the Night Bazaar and other touristy areas. Some tourists may simply enjoy the luxury of traveling in an air-conditioned vehicle. Unless you are in dire need of a metered taxi and feeling like splurging, you can get to the same destination for a lot less on a song taeo.