Chiang Mai Thai

Ever wanted to learn Thai, in Chiang Mai? I did just that from November 2010, returning home in October 2011. If you don't want a headache, start HERE, it will explain the preceding posts. I'm Snap, Stray's other half. COOEE is our (other) travel blog.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Getting around Chiang Mai by bus

Not having your own transport in Chiang Mai can be a little frustrating at times, and leave you at the mercy of the tuk tuk and songthaew drivers. Some time back I came across a web article about a public bus system, with a fleet of 26, which was launched in 2006. It sounded very promising. Sadly a different article reported that it was short lived and hence, the air conditioned Eco-friendly buses are now rarely seen....I've only ever seen one and that was two days ago. I'm not sure why the plan failed, perhaps it was, as one friend put it, due to Chiang Mai's 'songthaew mafia'.
Eco-friendly Chiang Mai bus
You can however, spot small blue buses making their rounds from time to time. Without air conditioning, (which isn't a cruncher) but, looking  like they should be put out to pasture, I've never considered them as an option. Even though the fare is only 10 Baht or so, I've not been able to decipher their route or timetable. So unattractive are they, that I don't even have a photo of one.

Recently signs have been appearing around Chiang Mai advertising new bus routes and hopefully, the old newer style buses! The new system, according to the signs, is to start 22nd May (today!) onward and the map indicates that there are three different routes.

If you're interested, here's the link via Google Translator.  Unfortunately Google makes a bit of a mish mash out of the 'Activity' page, so if you can shed some light, please do.

In the mean time, I'll go do some translating of my own, as well as get more details from the local information boards.

Cheers! สเมป See what else we're up to at Cooee!


  1. Snap, it looks to me like your map is mostly pixels not fonts so unless the new pixel software is in action for Thai, Google Translate won't be much help translating.

    As I've never been on a transit bus in BKK (unlike Chiang mai, we have the Skytrain and underground) over a month ago I purchased a bus guide. My BKK bus adventures will be coming to a blog post as soon as the weather cools off. And I seriously need cool. We do have ac busses but just getting out on the street is too hot for me during 'summer' so I've become even more than a hermit than before.

    It's now the 22nd of May so good luck :-)

  2. Cat, it'd be nice to have another transporation option...air conditioned would be great! The recent rain appears to have subsided, giving way to heat, heat, heat :(

  3. Good luck with the new CM bus system. As a frequent and satisfied bus rider in BKK, it gives you a number of options to replace taxis (I never take the overpriced tuk tuks), when the river, BTS and MRT are not nearby. Good luck in mastering the buses, Cat. I've got three maps and there is a web site somewhere that I've looked at occasionally. My goal in learning Thai is to read the destinations on the bus signs.

  4. @Dr. Will focusing on Thai words/phrases that are relevant to your own needs, is a great way to learn. I find they really do stick in my head much better than those parroted in class.

    I dread to think what BKK would be like without it's public transport system. Let's hope they keep on adding to and improving it.

  5. The information on the website seems to be out of date, stating certain services are: ฟรี ตั้งแต่วันที่ 20 พฤศจิกายน 2553 - Free from 20th November 2010. The signs around town are very recent, so I'll take a photo of one so I can translate it at a later date.

  6. Snap, "The recent rain appears to have subsided" That was fast! The week before I arrived Hugh mentioned that it was rain rain rain out there, and then the days I was there I saw a fair bit of rain (maybe it was mostly in Chiang rai?)

    In the hot months I mostly stick inside during midday. I'll go out in the morning early, come home, and not venture out again until 4pm.

    Dr Will, I don't take Tuk Tuk's often either. In my area they are quite reasonable (20 baht as long as you stick within Aree) but the others I've found in BKK charge crazy prices. And the only thing they are good for is comedy relief!

    Learning to read Thai to find out where to get off a BKK bus is a good goal. I have a cacca sense of direction so my new adventure is going to be mighty fun, Because even with being able to make out Thai, if you don't have a sense of direction you can get turned around in a city the size of BKK. I'm looking forward to the adventure though.

    So good luck to us both :-)

  7. @Catherine We really have had quite a bit of rain and early, from what I hear...but what happens next is anyone's guess.

  8. Have you seen these new buses? I haven't! Of course I travel Huey Kaew which is where I think a bus route would be useful!

  9. @Lani I have seen one! It's the only one with closed windows, because it's air conditioned :)

    I have photos of the new route map, except they're stuck on my bloody camera card, which has decided it doesn't want to talk to my computer.

    The route seems to be the only difference, not the *type* of buses. I'm not sure if it's just me noticing them more, but I swear I'm seeing more buses going past, more often.

    When I have a day to spare (waste), I'll give them a test run.

  10. I have never visited this place so I don't have enough knowledge about the buses here.But ya I do visited Miami and truly the bus service their is terrible.


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