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Songthaew
Jirapat Chroenkeskij [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Chiang Mai Songthaews

The songthaews in Chiang Mai are the cheapest and most popular mode of transport in the city. While getting around on foot is perfectly fine, it can be uncomfortable walking around – especially during the warmer months.

Thankfully, these transportation options are efficient and easy to come by.

Chiang Mai Songthaews, Routes, Map, Price To Airport, Zoo & Doi Suthep

As soon as you arrive, you’ll notice the abundance of these red trucks. Songthaew literally translates to ‘two benches’ because passengers are seated on one of two benches that are added into the back of a pickup truck. Around 8 passengers can comfortably fit in one, but during peak hours it’s not uncommon to see locals standing on the platform outside the truck. There’s no safety equipment or seatbelts on board, and riding one can be quite the adventure. However, there is no need to worry since the drivers are already used to serving tourists every day, and they drive carefully.

Songthaews don’t follow specific routes like buses, they simply take you to your desired destination, and unlike taxis, passengers share the ride with others, so it may not go to your destination directly. The driver decides on which route to take and which passengers will be dropped off first. Although predominantly red, the trucks also come in other colours such as blue, white, or yellow. But these trucks are only used to get to areas outside of Chiang Mai, while the red trucks only service locations within the city limits.

Flagging one down is easy; all you need to do is wait on the side of the road, then signal the driver by raising your hand. Sometimes, drivers will honk at people on the sidewalk which is their way of asking: “Do you need a ride?” Once you do manage to flag a red truck down, you’ll need to let the driver know where to go. Sometimes, this can be challenging because not all drivers can understand English but getting to popular spots like the Night Bazaar, Nimmanhaemin Road, and Thapae Gate is fairly easy. What helps is carrying around a specific address or a picture on the map depicting where you want to go.

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