A few things about the Chiang Mai trip in 2016
In January 2016 I had a two-week trip visiting Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai in northern Thailand. There are something I would like to share during the travel experience.
The art of making a choice | 選擇的藝術
Official prices, or standard prices, or written prices, may not have been prevalent in some places of some countries like Thailand. You have to ask the seller how much and sometimes need to negotiate a deal which is good for both.
Bargaining is more common in Chiang Mai especially when taking public transport like Tuk Tuk and Songthaew. You have to tell the driver where you wanna go and they will tell you the fare… at this moment! According to, say who you are, what time and situation it is, where he is heading to blah blah blah. Sometimes cheap and sometimes overpriced. The driver proposes a deal, and you can try to fight for a cheaper price (under his agreement) or you choose not to accept his offer.
Bargaining or negotiation takes time. If you wanna save time, you mostly have to pay more than usual (e.g. going to the airport to catch a flight). If you have time, you may see more and more better options. You will learn.
I learn that everything doesn’t need to be quick quick quick. Give yourself some time to look for other choices and even ways to the same goal. I am still not good at bargaining, but I can choose to NOT CHOOSE. I tell myself I never miss a great deal that I decline. Be patient and something good (and even better) will come.
I also learn to learn through mistake. I will not accept to take a Songthaew ride from the old town to Chiang Mai Bus Station from 100 to 150 Bahts. I will wait and even fight for a lower price, and even take a bus to get there. I will walk more to see if there are other laundry shops which have much cheaper prices (i.e. 30 Bahts), rather than choosing the 80 Baht which is the nearest to my hostel. I don’t mean to get the cheapest or lowest, but I need to have comparisons first. I lack information at the beginning, and I shouldn’t have to worry I will miss or lose something if I reject some deals.
But those experiences above recall me that THIS IS LIFE. You don’t have to bargain when taking a bus in your hometown, but have to face it in other situations.
我也從錯誤中學習，例如從清邁市區去巴士總站，不會再接受100-150 Bahts的車資，我會等，甚至改乘巴士。我會走遠一點看看有沒有其他洗衣店提供更好價錢，而不是最近我住的80 Bahts那間。我不是指要得到最便宜的，但至少事前有一個比較。起初我有資訊不多，我也不應該擔心拒絕讓我損失機會。
Songthaew is beyond your imagination | 雙條：想像以外
Songtheaw is one of the mode of transport in Chiang Mai and other parts of Thailand. But what is Songtheaw? It can be a bus running a specific route with a timetable. It can be a minibus in Hong Kong with flexible routes, according to where people would like to go. It can be a taxi without meters. It can also be in other forms that you can't imagine. What you have to do first is to talk with the driver and see if the deal (raised by you or the driver) is good for both, say you wish to have a cheaper fare, want the driver to show you around the whole day.
So what is Songtheaw? Flexibility may be the best answer! Think what you want and see if the driver can help. Flexibility rather than rationality and bureaucracy. You will see other ways of getting things done beyond your imagination!
Bike is the best transport here! | 單車是清邁最好的交通工具！
In Chiang Mai, its bus service has room to improve (only 2 routes and have to wait for long) so Songthaew and Tuk Tuk are major modes of transport in the city. As I have said before, the fares need to be negotiated (or you choose whether to accept or not the deal suggested by the drivers). Also, you may not find one easily in countryside. Rental seems to be a better suggestion, but you need to have an international license. If you don’t have one like me, bike is the remaining, only, but indeed the best choice!
The city area of Chiang Mai is not that big. You need to ride from 2 to 10 kilometers to most sightseeing spots from the old town, which takes about 15-60 minutes. Land is always flat and no steep slopes. Be aware that there are not so many bike lanes but don’t worry much about that since vehicles are slow on the road, if compared to Hong Kong and Taiwan. You can go where you want to, and save time and energy negotiating and even bargaining with drivers.
Bike rental is usually 50 Bahts for 24 hours (i.e. get a bike at 12pm and return it before noon the following day so that you can ride at night) with 1,000 Bahts deposit.
Walk and run | 行、跑
At the night before I left Chiang Mai, I ran around the wall of the old city, for 6.2 kilometers in total. Before running I used to think the total length of the wall should be 8 kilometers (with 2km long each side). The old city is not a (prefect) square as I expected, and the footpath is too narrow for people to run.
The small old city in Chiang Mai is walkable. Nimman, one of the popular places to go, needs 30-minute walk only alternative to Songthaew.
Winter in Thailand | 泰國的冬天
In January, both Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai are cold (16-17c) at night while hot (26-35c) during the day. However the severe weather occurred in south Asia like Hong Kong, Vietnam and Thailand. Chiang Mai was no exception in the last three days of my trip: as low as 10c during the day, and many people including tourists wore their own winter clothes.