a guide to tuk-tuk riding in chiang mai

I love tuk-tuks. We take them all the time in Chiang Mai. The Pun Pun guesthouse has a deal with one particularly nice driver named Watchalee, who made our trip loads more pleasant. Riding in one may seem like a bad idea– it’s basically a motorcycle with a roof and a backseat– but once you’re on the street and see a family of four (plus a sack of rice) on the moped next to you, you figure, well, it’s not THAT dangerous.

Here are a few tips to make your tuk-tuk ride as pleasant as possible.

Don’t take taxis in Chiang Mai. They rip you off even more than tuk-tuks. (In Bangkok, though, it’s the opposite.) Tuk-tuks are also more environmentally friendly, believe it or not: They use less gas.

A normal ride ranges from 30-60. They’ll try to up the price if you’re obviously a foreigner, or even multiply it by the number of people getting on. Don’t let them.

Negotiate the fare before getting in, or you may seriously piss off the driver.

Don’t go lower than 30 baht beneath their first price (or below 50 baht total). If you do, expect a shitty ride with a lot of wrong turns.

Renting one for the day can be useful, especially if you visit the jade, silk and umbrella factories about an hour away. It cost us about 500-700 baht for a 5-6 hour day with Watchalee. The price was jacked up (not by her) because we got back to the guesthouse late.

They’re best on the highway, when you get minimal exhaust from the car in front, since they’re open-air vehicles.

Prices skyrocket during Loi Krathong to about 100 baht. Deal with it.

Expect to hunt for a tuk-tuk on Sundays, because it’s a rest day. Go to a well-populated area with lots of traffic.

Don’t get off at places that aren’t your destination. Drivers may get a commission for those places, which is why they often pretend to be lost and confused.

The younger the driver, the more likely they speak English. And if you flirt, you might just get a better discount.


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This is a blog of things place-related, by a cash-strapped Stanford grad who's lived in various places and writes about life. She's currently looking for a job in Manhattan or the Bay Area.

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