From airport to town - ask the guard to hail a taxi for you - MUCH cheaper than airport taxi (uses the normal car) - it'll cost us THB 100 for 2 pax.
To Doi Suthep - red "mini" buses charge THB 40/pax IF there's 8 people in the bus. We got charged THB 250 for 2 based on 4 people coz we didn't want to wait for the extra 4 pax to come along.
If you have many locations to go in 1 day and require easy transportation, hire a tuk-tuk for the day (contact details below). Our driver Ning was very reliable and friendly. Charges differ on number of locations & distance. Our driver took us to 3 different locations for THB 400 for the day.
Chiangmai International Airport is about 4km southwest of downtown Chiangmai... along the Super-Highway and Chiangmai-Hod Road... You can go to the city by public taxi and limousine... and the public taxi stand is just outside the arrival lounge...
Chiangmai International Airport has a very good and affordable Airport Restaurant... Managed by Thai Airways, it serves very good Lanna food...
Both the domestic and international terminal are located in the same terminal building... The Airport Information Centre is on the first floor Arrival Lounge...
Although this place sounds like it's a pub and is, indeed, located near a few, it's actually a bicycle and bike rental place. I hired a bicycle to get around the sights which cost 50 baht. Here's a list of bike rental prices which I found on a community website (prices as of Aug 2009):
4 x Honda Click Automatic 110 @ 200 baht a day
10 x Honda Wave 100 @ 150 baht a day
6 x Honda Dream 125 @ 180 baht a day
4 x Honda CRB 150 @ 400 baht a day
5 x Honda Phantom 200 @ 500 baht a day
4 x Kawasaki Ninja 250 @ 800 baht a day
3 x Kawasaki D-Tracker@ 250 @ 800 baht a day
3 x KawasakiER6N 650 @ 1,200 baht a day
4 x Yamaha Fino 115 @ 200 baht a day
2 x Yamaha Nuovo 135 @ 350 baht a day
5 x Yamaha Nuovo 125 @ 250 baht a day
There's loads of similar places around the city.
2 Rajawithi Road
I thought I would share these prices with you, so that if you are doing a similar route, you will have an idea of what to pay.
I left from my Accommodation in the centre of the old town using a RED SONGTHAEW to take me to the ZOO, cost was 40tb.
From the ZOO TO DOI SUTHEP TEMPLE was 40t/b. Did have to wait for more people to come.
From DOI SUTHEP TEMPLE to BHUBING PALACE was 100t/b, because I was on my own.
On the return, I paid 40t/b to Doi Suthep Temple, as he had other passengers.
Doi Suthep back to Chiang Mai cost 50t/b.
The whole day of touring using the RED SONGTHAEW COST A TOTAL OF 270T/B.
This price is for 2009.
I wanted to visit some places that weren't on the tourist trail, so my Hotel suggested hiring a Taxi for a day, and he would take where I wanted to go.
I had to tell the receptionist where I wanted to visit, then she rang the Taxi company and told them and they gave her a price.
My price for visiting Queen Sirikit Botanic Gardens, Monkey School, Tiger Kingdom, and the Craft/Umbrella Village was 1000t/b plus admission fees to the sites.
I could have gone to other places as this didn't take up the whole day, but I had nothing else thought out, so finished the day early, happy with what I had been and seen.
This is a modern compact airport situated a couple of km from the city. The airport is easily reached by taxi or public transport. The airport has daily flights to Bangkok & other cities in Thailand. It also has flights to neighbouring countries.
On arrival baggage reclaim & immigration was quick & easy. After customs there is a currency exchange along with cafes & shops.
On departing, once through immigration there are duty free shops, handicraft & souvenir shops, also a couple of places selling food & drink. There is also a chance for a massage before your flight.
Chiang Mai has tuk tuk's, motos, meter taxis and songtaews for getting around and they are all very cheap.
Our meter taxi from the airport to our hotel cost 50baht plus the 50baht you pay at the booking desk.
We never paid anymore than 40baht for short distances in a tuk tuk and the songtaews are 20baht a ride. You can flag them down everywhere.
We hired a Toyota Vios while we were in Chiang Mai from Journey rent a Car.
We paid 1000baht per day for the car which includes first class insurance and there are quite a few different cars to choose from.
Their address is 283 Thapae Rd.
Driving in and around Chiang Mai was easy and it is so much better having your own car to get around.
In 3 days we traveled about 400 kilometers, the traffic is not that bad and the roads are well signposted and in good condition.
The red pickup passenger transport is a cheaper choice against the more costly Tuk-Tuk.
Songthaew (literally 2 rows in Thai) is actually a pick-up fixed with 2 rows of benches and a roof over it becoming a shared taxi. Am not really sure if it has a fixed route, but the norm is wave your hand if you see them along the road, it will stop and you have to ask the driver if it will pass along your destination. In my case I tried it 3 times and I say "Duangtawan Hotel" and it drops me off right in front of the hotel which is the nearest landmark to my guesthouse.
Sit amongst rows of young students coming home from school. There's a buzzer button, press it if you want to get-off.
Fare would be 20baht for locals, tourists normally pay from 30 to 40baht.
Forget the busloads of people, just grab a taxi and see places off the beaten path. We just got back from a trip to Chiang Mai for the weekend and came across this great taxi driver, DJ. DJ speaks good english and is courteous. Great safe Toyota Camry, leather seats w/seatbelts. DJ took us the great elephant sanctuary and village of the long necks (for lack of a better description).
Mobile (089) 9975127
Home (053) 847364
DJ gave us the price for the elephant santuary and car for a day, which is the same as just buying an admission ticket to the elephant park. Not sure how it works out, but it is a great deal for us and you wont regret using DJ to see Chiang Mai! We went to Maetamann Elephant santuary and it was a great place and the elphants seemed very happy and good natured.
Dont worry about airport transfers they are only a few bucks from the airport taxi's or you can pre-arrange a taxi pickup.
We just got back from a trip to Chiang Mai for the weekend and came across this great taxi driver, DJ. DJ speaks good english and is courteous. Great safe Toyota Camry, leather seats, and safe. DJ took us the great elephant sanctuary and village of the long necks.
Taxi's can setup the price for the elephant santuary and car for a day, which is the same as just buying an admission ticket to the elephant park. Not sure how it works out, but it is a great deal for us and you wont regret using DJ to see Chiang Mai!
Chiang Mai is actually very interesting for its surrounding, mountains and the nature around, so if you don't mind do drive on your own you can rent a car.
If you do not wish to drive yourself it is also possible to higher a driver.
The best way to get around Chiang Mai, indeed around many areas of Thailand, is by scooter. They are inexpensive to rent, reliable, and since so many people ride them, scooters are relatively safe. Check them out (Mr. Mechanic on Moon Muang Rd. is great, very reliable and friendly), and take off to adventure.
WOW. Sounds like you are trying to pack a lot into just a few days. Probably doable, but not very practicle. Mostly because of the time it takes to get from A to B then to C and back to A. From BKK to Chiang Mai is OK, or BKK to Laos probably. May also depend on where in Laos you are planning to go, if just to Vientienne then it shouldn't be too big of a problem but you wont have long to see much.
Because of the time factor I assume you are planning on air as transpo. You could do Air Asia from BKK to Chiang Mai then I think from Chiang Mai to Laos you'll have to go Thai airways, but not 100% sure about Chiang Mai to Laos. In the event there is no air then the chances that you are going to have enough time to see all the places is pretty slim.
Essentially the key is transportation, when you need it where you need it.
Were you to have more time then bus and train transpo are all available.
Wish I could be more help.
Good luck and have fun
I am usually quite apprehensive when approached by a driver offering services. While I visited a temple, I was approached by a local driver with his own vehicle. We planned a trip, decided on a price, and off we went.
It was an air conditioned car, and the driver at the same time acted as a guide. He spoke English very well, and was never pushy as to visit certain shops where he could get commission.
Another advantage is that you can stop long the road if you want, not being dependent on a group of fellow-tourists.
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