In Thailand – and specifically in Chiang Mai – there are lots of ways to get around….
Not a ton of people have cars in Chiang Mai, but some do. Mostly they’re trucks or SUVs, because there are lots of very steep hills outside of the city, and you need a hefty vehicle to get up and down them safely.
In Chiang Mai, taxis are called Songtaew (pronounced: song-tow (tow, like towel)), and they’re actually pickup tricks with benches in the back and a cover over the bed. I take them when I’m going somewhere at night because I don’t know where everything is quite yet. Sometimes the driver lets you ride up front and then you can ask him questions about growing up in Thailand WHICH IS THE BEST.
It costs me about $3 to get anywhere in the city. Total bargain, man.
By Tuk Tuk
A Tuk Tuk (pronounced: took-took) is another type of taxi, but it’s sort of a cross between a car and a motorbike. They’re adorable and the horn makes the funniest little sound. (I think that’s actually how they got the name.)
This is how most people get around. There are scooters EVERYWHERE. Two people can fit on one scooter safely, but I’ve seen some crazy stuff – the other day I saw an entire family of FIVE PEOPLE on one scooter. Three little kids, but still. Sometimes people even carry their dogs around on scooters! They just sit between their person’s feet, chillin’ like it’s completely normal.
This is my bike!!! Well, it’s my bike for the month. I rented it. 🙂 Having a bike is the best. It’s great exercise, AND it gets you where you need to go way quicker than walking. I thought it might be scary, but the people driving cars and scooters are always really careful not to get in your way or hit you. Also you feel like a superhero zipping around with your dress blowing around behind you. Some days I spend all day just riding around the city with no plan, just looking at stuff.
The only problem is that sometimes little bugs fly into your mouth. That’s pretty horrible, but if you keep your mouth closed, you’re alright. 😉
Of course you can walk, anywhere. It definitely takes longer, but sometimes I like it because you can take in the things you see a little easier. You can stop and look at something or take a picture or talk to someone or notice all the different smells of the city, all of which are hard to do when you’re moving fast.
One of the things I love about traveling is that getting around is always something you have to figure out when you get to a new place. It’s never just “get in the car” blah blah blah. You’re always learning that there are lots of ways to do something – not just the way you do it back home. It’s an adventure, almost every time you go somewhere!
– Aunt Kelly