23 May 2017

Baan Sammi by Public Transport

A seasonal public mode of transportation, starting at a fixed departure point,
destination variable, here arrived at Baan Sammi in the early morning

How to Reach Baan Sammi by Public Transport from the Airport, City, Train Station, and Bus Stations

There is a special arrangement for transfers of guests from the airport, city, train or bus station to Baan Sammi, or reverse direction, with taxi driver Mr. Glid (คุณกฤษ) who speaks English well, or with other drivers engaged by Mr. Glid. This arrangement is restricted to one-way trips or transfers for 1–2 passengers, with moderate amount and size of luggage, usually of no more than 2 big suitcases. You may call Mr. Glid on his mobile phone 092-8928996, send him a SMS, or call or write him via Line on his User-ID Glidkharp. The fixed one-way fare is 700 Baht, payable cash in Thai Baht to the driver in person upon your arrival at the destination. A taxi ride arranged by Mr. Glid is the easiest, quickest and a stress-free mode of transport. Moreover, the driver will stop at a market or department store on the way to Baan Sammi in case you need to buy some ready food or groceries, but the time for shopping should not exceed half an hour. Do get in contact with Mr. Glid several days prior to your desired trans­port date to ensure a driver will be available then. If you cannot contact him by phone, e.g. because you are abroad or traveling, but wish to engage him for transport at a certain date and time, please, write him on Line messenger, or contact us at Baan Sammi by email at least 1 week in advance and provide all relevant data: Your name, number of passengers, pick-up location, date and time, number and size of your luggage, and, if you arrive by flight, flight number, arrival time, and whether you shall arrive by domestic or inter­national flight at the airport (CNX). If any possible, please, reconfirm the data (e.g. during a stopover in Bangkok), about 2 hours prior to meeting time, by phone call with Mr. Glid.

Maps for your local orientation, downloading and printing recommended:
  • BS Route Map 1: Chiang Mai and Vicinity – Route to Baan Sammi
  • BS Route Map 2: Area near Doi Saket – Meeting Points 1-5, and Route to Baan Sammi (text Thai + English)
To reach Baan Sammi by public transportation, you may
  • take a taxi (saloon car with taximeter, photo right, top), or,
  • hire a driver with a red song-thaeo (photo right, center) or tuk-tuk (photo right, bottom) for the whole distance, or,
  • choose a combination of bus and song-thaeo (on fixed routes, within Chiang Mai and towards Doi Saket), and a saleng (3-wheel motorbike taxi, in our area including Doi Saket). This is the more adventurous route and preferred by backpackers.
Thai taxi drivers usually do not know much of the surroundings of Chiang Mai, they loose their orientation when driving off main roads, often cannot interpret maps, and a few cannot read (neither Thai nor Roman script), so be prepared to guide your driver with the help of the maps (as listed above), and, most important, let a Thai driver call Khun Sam on his mobile 089-639517 for guidance.

There is also semi-public transport service being offered in Chiang Mai (for both the city and province). It is a mobile application-based taxi service, or ride-sharing service, which charges low fares. New though apparently well established in Chiang Mai is Uber and Grab. Uber has a good website where you can enter your start location, e.g. Chiang Mai Airport, and your destination, e.g. Baan Sammi, and it will show you the fare estimate, e.g. 311–431 Baht (22 May 2017). Grap apparently requires to download its application to your mobile device, for any further action, e.g. to register and for booking.

Several organisations are responsible for public transportation on fixed routes (bus, song-thaeo) in Chiang Mai, and their information on the Internet is, to put it mildly, unhelpful to foreigners. A meritorious attempt was made by Slice-of-Thai.com to present this information (e.g. routes, time tables) understandably, but it might be of practical use only if you undergo a time-consuming reading combined with good local knowledge of a Chiang Mai city dweller.

From the Chiang Mai Airport to Baan Sammi

The Chiang Mai Airport (CNX) serves both international and domestic flights (Chiang Mai Airport Guide). The airport building is long-rectangular with the International Passenger Terminal at its very left end, and the Domestic Passenger Terminal at its very right end. Each Terminal has an arrival lounge on the ground floor (= "first floor" of the Airport Terminal Map). In case you will get picked up at the airport, meeting point can be the international arrival lounge, or the domestic arrival lounge. The international arrival lounge (left), and the domestic arrival lounge (right) are connected by a several hundred meters long corridor hall. In each arrival lounge there are one or two taxi desks (two in each hall by Dec. 2016) where you can hire a taxi, and outside, a few meters beyond the Domestic Passenger Terminal, there is a small building and taxi stand where you can hire a taxi as well.

Domestic Passenger Terminal on the right side,
International Passenger Terminal on the very left end

The taxi fares are fixed (but different at each taxi desk) depending on distance or destination. Each taxi desk has a map or list of destinations with given fares. Usually, their records are incomplete, or, they cannot locate certain destinations, hence the staff at the taxi desk get confused and will tell you a much higher fare to reduce risk and be on the safe side. An example: Baan Sammi is located in Pa Lan subdistrict of Doi Saket district (ตำบลป่าลาน อำเภอดอยสะเก็ด). If this subdistrict is not on their records, they might assume Pa Lan subdistrict of San Sai district to be the correct destination, which is not. The fare to our location is between 450 and 800 Baht (Jan. 2016), depending on which of the taxi desks you are inquiring, or which of their staff you are contacting.
Taxi stand beyond the
Domestic Passenger Terminal

Taxi fares in Chiang Mai are rather high as compared to Bangkok. If you want safe money, you may get a red song-thaeo or a tuk-tuk at a somewhat lower price. Wait on the platform in front of the terminal building for a song-theo or tuk-tuk arriving to get off its passengers. Then immediately deal with the driver (he is not allowed to stay there after his passengers got off), and he certainly appreciates to get you as a new passenger right away. Alternatively, you may leave the airport area on foot (ca. 600 meters) and stop a song-thaeo or tuk-tuk on the nearby Mahidon (Mahidol) Road towards city.

From the Chiang Mai Airport to the city of Chiang Mai

If you prefer first to go to the city and thereafter to Baan Sammi, you can do so. Just follow the aforementioned guidelines and choose a specific destination in the city. The city is very close to the airport, hence the fare to the city, charged by most regular taxi companies, is relatively low, e.g. 150 Baht to Tha Phae Gate (June 2016). In the arrival hall of the International Passenger Terminal, there is a desk of a new taxi company ("Airport Shuttle Bus", phone 094-8433035), which offers a ride to the city at a fare of 40–60 Baht per person (Dec. 2016). Another option is to take the white bus (bus no. 2, on fixed routes), which can drop you off at the center of the old city (Three Kings' Monument), or at Warorot Market, or at its destination, the Arcade Bus Station. The fare is only 15 Baht (Dec. 2016).

There are two main reasons for going to the city first:
  • Renting a motorbike/scooter in the city. Most rental shops are located in the area of the Tha Phae Gate.
  • Going to Warorot Market, where close nearby, in the Praisani Rd., is the "bus" terminal, or song-thaeo stop, for the fixed-route song-thaeos in direction Doi Saket. From this song-thaeo stop you can get a yellow song-thaeo at the normal fare, 16–20 Baht per person. The Warorot Market is also a good place to buy ready food, fruits etc, so you can get there fully provided with food for your first days at Baan Sammi.

From train station, Arcade Bus Station, or Chang Phueak Bus Station, to Baan Sammi

At the train and bus stations there are many red song-thaeos and tuk-tuks waiting for passengers. Deal with the driver for the fare, which can be between 300 and 500 Baht for the whole vehicle.

From train station to Kaeo Nawarat Road / Arcade Bus Station

Take a red song-thaeo or tuk-tuk from the train station to Kaeo Nawarat Road (= Kaew Nawarat Road, = Chiang Mai – Doi Saket Road, = Chiang Mai – Chiang Rai Road, = National Road or Highway #118), or, to Arcade Bus Station. You will possibly be charged 30-60 Baht.

If you walk off the train station a few hundred meters and try to stop a fixed-route red song-thaeo on the main road (Charoen Mueang Road in direction off city, or, a little farther to Thung Hotel Road, some 20 meters off intersection towards Arcade Bus Station), you might have to pay the regular fare of 15 Baht/person only. Get off in Kaeo Nawarat Road, or, get off at Arcade Bus Station and walk 200–300 meters to Kaeo Nawarat Road.

From Chang Phueak Bus Station to Kaeo Nawarat Road / Arcade Bus Station

Take a red song-thaeo or tuk-tuk from the Chang Phueak Bus Station to Kaeo Nawarat Road (= Kaew Nawarat Road, = Chiang Mai – Doi Saket Road, = Chiang Mai – Chiang Rai Road, = National Road or Highway number 118) next to Arcade Bus Station. Likely, they will charge you 30-90 Baht per person.

If you walk off the Chang Phueak Bus Station less than one hundred meters and try to stop a fixed-route red song-thaeo on the main road (Rattanakosin Road, towards Arcade Bus Station), you might have to pay the regular fare of 15 Baht/person only. Get off in Kaeo Nawarat Road, or, get off at Arcade Bus Station and walk 100-200 meters to Kaeo Nawarat Road.

From Warorot Market towards Doi Saket

Praisani Rd. nr. Warorot Market:
The Praisani Rd. extends on the right bank (downstream) of Ping River.
A yellow song-thaeo is parking, waiting for passengers for direction Doi Saket.
The Warorot Market (ตลาดวโรรส), also called Kat Luang (กาดหลวง), is the biggest market in the city and located in China Town. Nearby the Warorot Market is the "bus" terminal or song-thaeo stop for fixed-route yellow song-thaeos of the route between Chiang Mai and Doi Saket. The exact location of the stop is along the Praisani Road (Praisanee Rd., ถนนไปรษณีย์ = post office road). This is a one-way road parallel and next to the Ping River (แม่น้ำปิง) and easy to find: between Nawarat Bridge and Kaeo Nawarat Bridge, on the side of the old city. This location, part of China Town, is best known by its markets, mainly Warorot Market (ตลาดวโรรส), but also by names like Ton Lam Yai Market (ตลาดต้นลำไย), Nawarat Market (ตลาดนวรัฐ), and Florist Market (กาดดอกไม้), all of which are close to each other.

Fixed-route yellow song-thaeos on Praisani Rd. are waiting for passengers, and depart every 5–10 minutes during rush-hours in the morning and evening, and every 15–30 minutes during the rest of day, until night (about 9–10 p.m.). Ask the driver to stop at the village Ban Rong Khilek (บ้านร้องขี้เหล็ก), or village Ban Nam Phrae (บ้านน้ำแพร่). Ban Rong Khilek is the village on the left side of the highway #118, Ban Nam Phrae is the village just opposite, on the right side of the highway. The driver knows both village names, but he will stop only on the left side of the highway, and you have to cross on foot the highway to enter Ban Nam Phrae.
If you wish to go farther to Doi Saket, ask the driver if he passes the market of Doi Saket (ตลาดดอยสะเก็ด, "talat Doi Saket"). Regular fare is 16 Baht to Ban Rong Khilek (about 12 kilometers), and 20 Baht to the market of Doi Saket (about 16 kilometers).

The route of the fixed-route yellow song-thaeo is from Praisani Rd., then crossing Nawarat Bridge, and entering into Kaeo Nawarat Road (= Kaew Nawarat Road), which passes the Arcade Bus Station, then extends as the Chiang Mai – Doi Saket Highway (#118). Get off at either Ban Rong Khilek, or market of Doi Saket.

From Kaeo Nawarat Road / Arcade Bus Station towards Doi Saket

Kaeo Nawarat Rd. nr. Arcade Bus Station:
Left towards city of Chiang Mai, right towards Doi Saket.
A yellow song-thaeo (center of image) driving towards Doi Saket.
Wait for a fixed-route yellow song-thaeo on Kaeo Nawarat Road (= Kaew Nawarat Road, = Chiang Mai – Doi Saket Road, = Chiang Mai – Chiang Rai Road, = National Road or Highway number 118) next to Arcade Bus Station, in direction off city. Yellow song-thaeos drive on this road every 5–10 minutes during rush-hours in the morning and evening (often crowded), and every 15–30 minutes during the rest of day, until early night. Ask the driver to stop at the village Ban Rong Khilek (บ้านร้องขี้เหล็ก), or village Ban Nam Phrae (บ้านน้ำแพร่). Ban Rong Khilek is the village on the left side of the highway #118, Ban Nam Phrae is the village just opposite, on the right side of the highway. The driver knows both village names, but he will stop only on the left side of the highway, and you have to cross on foot the highway to enter Ban Nam Phrae.
If you wish to go farther to Doi Saket, ask the driver if he passes the market of Doi Saket (ตลาดดอยสะเก็ด, "talat Doi Saket"). Regular fare is 16 Baht to Ban Rong Khilek (about 12 kilometers), and 20 Baht to the market of Doi Saket (about 16 kilometers).
Get off preferably at Ban Rong Khilek, or at the market of Doi Saket.

From Ban Nam Phrae to Baan Sammi

Having arrived at the song-thaeo stop Ban Rong Khilek (บ้านร้องขี้เหล็ก), you have to cross the highway #118 and enter the village on the opposite side, Ban Nam Phrae (บ้านน้ำแพร่), located along the village road connected to the highway. Just the first house on the left side is a food-stall (open daily 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.), where you may ask the owner, Khun Nga, for a saleng (ซาเล้ง, 3-wheel motorbike taxi) to Baan Sammi. If the shop is closed, you may go to another shop and ask. You can also walk a short distance farther, then you may see, on the right side, the house of ลุงจันทร์ (Lung Chan = Uncle Moon), the owner of the saleng, and usually the vehicle parks in front of his house. If you don't see Lung Chan, you may call him in Thai language on his mobile phone 082-3887351, or you may call คุณฮวั้ (Khun Hua), mobile phone 086-9129466, another owner of a saleng, or you may ask any of the shop owners on the village road for a saleng, and the shop owners will call one. Distance from Ban Nam Phrae to Baan Sammi is 3.8 kilometers, the fare is 40 Baht per person (Sep. 2017).

If you ask a Thai shop owner in English for a saleng, he or she might not understand English sufficiently. You can show him or her the following request in Thai. If you are a male person, this phrase applies: "ช่วยโทรหาซาเล้งให้ผมด้วยครับ" (chuai tho ha saleng hai phom duai khrap). If you are a female person, this phrase applies: "ช่วยโทรหาซาเล้งให้ฉันด้วยค่ะ" (chuai tho ha saleng hai chan duai kha).

Alternatively, and if you don't have heavy luggage to be hand-carried, you may call Khun Sam at Baan Sammi from a nearby telephone box, asking him to pick you up by motorbike in Ban Nam Phrae to give you a lift to Baan Sammi.

From the market of Doi Saket to Baan Sammi

Having arrived at the song-thaeo stop near the only crossing with traffic lights in the center of Doi Saket, you might not see at first sight the market which is somewhat hidden by houses along streets. Go to the main entrance of the market next to the canal, where you can see several telephone boxes near the bridge over this canal. A few meters canal upstream, under tall shady trees, there is the terminal for all local motorbike taxis. The taxi drivers are recognizable by wearing a red or orange waistcoat. They are waiting for passengers, and ready to give you a lift. You need to show the driver the address (in Thai script) of Baan Sammi. Distance from the market of Doi Saket to Baan Sammi is 7–8 kilometers. The drivers may choose one of three routes (gray routes on Google Maps): Ban Ko – Ban Pa Sak Noi – Ban Pa Tio – Ban Pa Yang Poi, or: Ban Ko – Ban Pa Pong – Ban Dok Daeng – Ban Pa Tio – Ban Pa Yang Poi, or: Ban Luang Tai – Ban Pa Sak Noi – Ban Pa Tio – Ban Pa Yang Poi. The fare is about 80 to 140 Baht per person, but some taxi driver might try to overcharge you.

An alternative to hiring a motorbike taxi is to choose a yellow song-thaeo from nearby the market of Doi Saket towards Chiang Mai, leave the song-thaeo after about 7 km at Ban Nam Phrae (บ้านน้ำแพร่), and continue your ride with a saleng (three-wheel motorbike taxi) to Baan Sammi (blue route on Google Maps). The advantages: Firstly, it's cheaper, you pay about 10 Baht per person to the song-thaeo driver, and 40 Baht to the saleng driver. Secondly, you can carry much more belongings (e.g. if you shop at the Doi Saket market) than on a ride with a (two-wheel) motorbike taxi.

From Baan Sammi to the market of Doi Saket

For big shopping, shops in the city of Chiang Mai might be favored, but a good alternative is shopping at the market of Doi Saket, the district village, where you can find also many shops, restaurants, banks etc. Using public transportation from Baan Sammi to the market of Doi Saket (blue route on Google Maps) is best by calling a saleng (three-wheel motorbike taxi) for a ride to the village บ้านน้ำแพร่ (Ban Nam Phrae), then continue your ride with a yellow song-thaeo. Having arrived at Ban Nam Phrae, you need to cross on foot the main road #118. Then wait there, at the song-thaeo stop of บ้านร้องขี้เหล็ก (Ban Rong Khilek) towards Doi Saket, for a yellow song-thaeo to pick you up. In Doi Saket, the song-theo will stop near the only crossing with traffic lights, very close to the market. The fare for the saleng is 40 Baht per person, and about 10 Baht for the song-thaeo.

21 May 2017

Vehicles for Public Transport

Bus (white), for route B2: Airport – Three Kings Monument – Arcade Bus Station (left) —
Red song-thaeo, waiting for passengers, hence not serving a fixed route (right)

There are two types of public transportation for local traffic in Chiang Mai and surroundings (adjacent districts):
  • Shared passenger-transport on regular routes (with regular or irregular stops) with a fixed fare depending on distance or distance range, and
  • Individual passenger-transport on prior-agreed starting point and destination, with prior-negotiated fare for hiring vehicle with driver.

These two modes of transport are provided with the following vehicles:
  • Shared mode of transport for the general public is by (white) bus, and by song-thaeo (red in the city, other colors for distant routes). The bus is accessible at regular, signed bus stops. The song-thaeos are accessible from any point they pass by, you need to give the driver a sign to stop (to get in, or to get out of the vehicle). There is neither tram nor subway in Chiang Mai.
  • Individual mode of transport is by taxicab (with taximeter), taxi van (usually without taximeter), red-colored song-thaeo, tuk-tuk, saleng, tricycle, and motorbike taxi.

The names of the vehicles in English, Thai (with transcription *), and German are as follows:
  • Bus, city bus — รถบัส (rot bat), รถประจำทาง (rot pracham thang), รถโดยสารประจำทาง (rot doi san pracham thang) — Bus, Stadtbus, Linienbus
  • Song-thaeo, songthaew, share taxi — สองแถว (song thaeo), รถสองแถว (rot song thaeo) — Sammeltaxi
  • Taxicab, taxi — รถแท็กซี่ (rot taeksi) — Taxi
  • Taxi van, van, minivan — รถตู้ (rot tu) — Taxi-Van, Taxi-Minibus
  • Tuk-tuk — ตุ๊ก ๆ (tuk-tuk), สามล้อเครื่อง (sam lo khrueang), สามล้อ (sam lo) — Tuk-Tuk, Motor-Rikscha
  • Saleng, three-wheel motorbike taxi — ซาเล้ง (saleng), รถพ่วงรับจ้าง (rot phuang rap chang) — Motorrad-Taxi mit Beiwagen
  • Tricycle, rickshaw, cycle rickshaw, samlor — สามล้อ (sam lo) — Velotaxi, Fahrrad-Rikscha
  • Motorbike taxi, motorcycle taxi — รถมอเตอร์ไซค์รับจ้าง (rot motoesai rap chang) — Motorrad-Taxi
    * Transcriptions follow the rules of the Royal Thai General System of Transcription

Availability and transport capacity of the vehicles
  • Bus: There is a bus in white color operating on several routes daily from the morning to the evening. Passenger with much luggage can be transported. The fare is low. One of the main routes, which might be helpful to guests of Baan Sammi, is B2: Airport – City – Arcade Bus Station, and back.
  • Song-thaeo:
    (1) There are 11 fixed routes for red song-thaeos in the city, and they operate daily from 5 a.m. to 8 (9) p.m. The destinations are NOT written on the body of the vehicle, and the routes are no longer that fixed as they were in the past, the driver may deviate from a certain route. Passenger with much luggage should preferably use this transport service out of rush traffic hours, best between about 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. The fare is low, between 5 and 30 Baht. On the body of some red song-thaeos is written in big Thai letters: "อัตราค่าโดยสารไม่เกิน 30 บาท/คน" (atra raka doi san mai koen 30 bat to kon), this is translated "The fare is not more than (is up to) 30 Baht per person". Because a foreigner is usually able to read the English text only, "30 Baht/Person", thus he will be misguided to pay 30 Baht independent of distance.

    (2) In addition, there are red song-thaeos that can be hired with driver to reach a certain destination during day and night, commonly their drivers wait for tourists at the train station, and the Arcade and Chang Phueak Bus Stations. The fare is negotiable.
    (3) Song-thaeos in other colors than red operate on fixed routes to suburban areas from the early morning to the evening. The destinations are written on the body of the vehicle, and the driver will not deviate from a certain route. Two examples: Chiang Mai – San Sai Noi – Doi Saket, and back, by yellow song-thaeos; Chiang Mai – Bo Sang – Doi Saket, and back, by white song-thaeos. Out of rush traffic hours, their drivers allow much luggage to be transported, even a bicycle. The fare is fixed and low, e.g. 20 Baht for a single passenger from Chiang Mai via San Sai Noi to Ban Choeng Doi, the center of Doi Saket district, and 16 Baht from Chiang Mai to Ban Nam Phrae of the same district.
    (4) A few exceptions exist: There are red song-thaeos on fixed routes to distant areas, e.g. to Doi Suthep – Ban Doi Pui (to the highest mountains near Chiang Mai), at fares markedly higher than 30 Baht. The destinations are written on the body of the vehicle.

  • Taxicab: Several taxi companies offer passenger transport service in Chiang Mai, and their fares are different. Taxis with taximeter are obliged to use them and base their fare on the taximeter within the city area of Chiang Mai. Some companies have a fixed fare for any destination within the old city. Taxicabs can transport 1–3 (4) passengers.
  • Taxi van: Transport for a group of more than 3(4) passengers, or a few passengers with much luggage, can best be done by a van.
  • Tuk-tuk: Usually, tuk-tuks are roaming around the city or waiting at train and bus stations or other places of touristic importance, and their drivers look out for tourists. They operate during day and night, and usually accept to drive to suburban areas and farther. The fare is negotiable. There is space for 1 passenger with much luggage, or 2 passengers with little or moderate luggage.
  • Saleng: These three-wheel motorbike taxis are usually roofed and can transport 1–2 (3) passengers, or 1 passenger with much luggage. Drivers of salengs offer their service at important song-thaeo stops, mainly in suburban areas, and drive within local distances, usually not farther than 10 km. They operate from the morning to the evening and can be ordered by phone to a certain location to pick up passengers. Fare is about 10 Baht per kilometer, and the drivers often have fixed fares to certain destinations.
  • Tricycle: Rarely to observe in traffic are tricycles, which are occasionally seen in China town of Chiang Mai, in markets, at train and bus stations. They can carry 1–2 passengers for short distances. Often, hotels do organize city tours by a throng of tricycles for their guests.
  • Motorbike taxi: Drivers of motorbikes offering transport service are rarely seen, too. They usually wait at suburban stops and terminals of song-thaeos for passengers, who need a ride to more or less remote destinations. Motorbike taxis are waiting at the song-thaeo terminal in Ban Choeng Doi, the center of Doi Saket district during daytime, usually afternoon to evening. Fares are negotiable. Capacity is 1 passenger with little luggage.

20 May 2017

Your Own Transportation in Chiang Mai

Thai boys sharing a motorbike, photo source: flickr: foutriqu1's photostream
Courtesy by Romain

Suggestion for Your Own Transportation in Chiang Mai

Public transportation (bus, taxi, song-thaeo, tuk-tuk) in Chiang Mai has been, and still is in an awful state. Whether you are resident, expat or tourist, you might wish to have your own car or motorbike/scooter, or hire a car or motorbike/scooter to reach destinations in the vicinity off main roads, or to get around. Briefly described below are your options to hire a car, motorbike/scooter, or bicycle by day, week or longer. A car can be hired with or without a driver.

Hire a car through an international car rental company

Many international operating and well-known car rental companies offer service in/for Chiang Mai: Argus, Avis, Budget, Hertz, Holiday Cars, National, Sixt. They offer a variety of car types, car availability at Chiang Mai International Airport, full insurance and many other services, sometimes also a driver. Usually, you could get a better car rental rate if you book the car online, and several months in advance, or before your arrival in Thailand.

Hire a car through a local/nationwide car rental company

There are many locally operating car rental companies in town with their offices and agents (travel shops) in the city, e.g. asap, North Wheels, The Best Travel, Chiang Mai Car Rent, Bee Rent a Car, Master Car RentalMr. Mechanic. Some offer services similar as the international car rental companies. Carefully read their terms for insurance. Some require deposit of your passport!

When and how to hire a car?

If your stay falls into the high season period (November to April), it is strongly recommended to book a car online prior to that season, or several weeks in advance within this season, otherwise there is high risk not to get a car at all, or not at the wanted dates, or not a certain type of car. Most often, all small cars, hence cars lower in the rental price, are already booked out during high season, and only the bigger and more expensive cars will be available.

You can hire or reserve a car online, in person at, or by phone call with the Chiang Mai office of the car rental company, and you can decide if you want get access to the car at the company's location, at the Chiang Mai airport, or if the car should be transferred to Baan Sammi. For car transfer to a destination in or out of the city, the companies usually charge an extra fee, e.g. Budget charges 321 Baht within the city, and 535 Bath in the vicinity of the city (prices of Sep. 2017).

We can also arrange a reservation for a car rental on your behalf (currently only with Budget). For a reservation, we need precise data that are required by the car rental company, e.g. pick-up location (Chiang Mai Airport, or Baan Sammi), return location (e.g. Chiang Mai Airport), pick-up date and time, return date and time, and car type, and your personal data: full name, email address and phone number. Booking needs to be done by yourself upon handing over the car and signing the contract at the pick-up location. Payment cash or by credit card. For security, you need to leave your credit card details with the car rental company. Further, you need to show your passport and international driving license.

Highway Route from Chiang Mai airport to Baan Sammi

There are many routes possible to drive by car, but the easiest and less stressful highway route is #1141 – #1317 – #121 – #118, then continue on country roads as described and mapped in "How to find Baan Sammi".

You leave the Chiang Mai airport area on a broad busy main road by turning right. At the next intersection with traffic lights go straight on, and, in about 100 m distance, at the next intersection with traffic lights, go straight on again, then you are on highway #1141. Stay on this highway and take all overpasses straight on, then you reach the next intersection with traffic lights, where you have to continue straight on, and then you are on highway #1317. Stay on this highway until the next intersection with traffic lights, where you have to turn left. You are now on highway #121. Stay on this highway. On the next two intersections, both with traffic lights (intersection with #1006, then with #3013) continue straight on. On the next intersection with traffic lights turn right. Then you are on highway #118. Go straight on, follow the descriptions and map in the aforementioned link.

Hire a car with English speaking driver from small Chiang Mai based enterprises

A few advertisements for this type of service can be found in Chiang Mai magazines, which are in English and available free-of-charge through the premises of the magazines' advertising clientele (e.g. hotels, guesthouses, tourist inns, restaurants, travel shops). Here a selection:
Mr. Mike, Taxi Service and Tour Guide, crocodilemike8@yahoo.com, 087-1802455, cars: Volvo 940 and van.
Mr. Lee, Car and Taxi Service, manu2493@hotmail.com, 081-7246093, cars: Van and 2 saloon cars.
WowEasy Taxi Service, woweasy@hotmail.com, 089-8519697.
Mr. Dani, Taxi Service, indydear@hotmail.com, 081-3221303.

Hire a song-thaeo or tuk-tuk short-term (with a driver)

Many drivers of a red coloured song-thaeo in the city, or a tuk-tuk, won't mind to be hired right away and for a while if destination area and distance are within their expectations, as the rental price (always subject of negotiation) has to be.

Tuk-tuk (left), red song-thaeo (right)

Call a taxi

Taximeter taxis can be called under the numbers 053-279291, 019-520900, 019-616006 (Source: Citylife Chiang Mai).

For trips to and from Baan Sammi, we recommend that you consider Grab and Uber

Hire a motorbike/scooter in the city

There are many motorbike rental shops near Tha Phae Gate of the old city, mainly on the roads along the moat north and south of Tha Phae Gate, and within the easternmost area of the old city. Rental rates start from 99 Baht per day (price offered for a 105 ccm scooter in July 2016), and possibly all shops offer special prices for a week or month hire. You can rent nearly every type of motorbike. Most often offered, and most suitable for the city as well as countryside, even for dirt roads, is a 100-125 ccm motorbike like Honda Dream or Honda Wave, or a scooter with automatic gears. Riding a scooter is as easy as riding a bicycle without pedal and without gear shift. Helmets should be provided for driver and passenger. Carefully read their terms for insurance. If insurance is offered through a registered insurance company, the driver needs to show his national or international driving license when signing the rental contract at the shop. Most shops require deposit of your passport, or both, cash deposit and deposit of your passport! You should have two or more sets of photocopies of every page of your passport before you leave your passport with a rental company. Some companies have a website in English (e.g. North Wheels, Mr. Mechanic). You may contact these companies prior to your arrival in Thailand, so you may direct inquiries, ask for discounts and reservation for a certain type of motorbike. Especially during high season, it is recommended to book a motorbike in advance. At Baan Sammi, a motorbike is usually not available for long-term or short-term rent. For more detailed information on hiring a motorbike, please, read the information from Chiang Mai Buddy.

Motorbikes offered for rent
You should have a driving license explicitly for motorbikes. An International Driving License is required. It can be applied and issued in your home country only, and is valid for 3 months. Alternatively, you can have your national driving license with an authorized Thai translation. If you stay long in Thailand, you can apply for a Thai driving license. The easiest way to get a Thai driving license is if you already have a valid International Driving License. There are often police checks, especially regarding driving licenses and motorbike helmets.

Hire a motorbike/scooter online, with delivery of the vehicle to a location in the city

A few motorbike rental shops, with Internet presence, do offer a delivery service within the city, e.g. to the Chiang Mai Airport upon your arrival by flight, to the Chiang Mai Arcade Bus Terminal upon your arrival by bus from Bangkok, to the Chiang Mai train station upon your arrival by train from Bangkok, or to a hotel or guesthouse in Chiang Mai. Such a delivery service can save you some money and time. You need to order in advance by email or phone call, at least one day in advance by phone call. This delivery service is suitable if you have luggage in a size and quantity that can be easily loaded and fastened on your rented vehicle. When ordering the vehicle, ask also for supplying some tension straps to fix your luggage, and during rainy season ask for a rain coat. One of these bike rental companies is Chiang Mai Scooter Rental, but there are other reliable companies, too.

Hire a motorbike/scooter by phone call, with delivery of the vehicle to Baan Sammi

If you want rent a motorbike or scooter with delivery of the vehicle to Baan Sammi, then this is currently possible on a rental contract with Bikky. Terms are as follows: Motorbike or scooter, 125 ccm³ or bigger, minimum rental period 1 month with minimum rental price 5,000 Baht, plus delivery charge 500 Baht. Contact Ms. Tonson (ต้นสน), phone 084-1773577, or voice call and messenger via LINE ID: @bikkychiangmai . Upon delivery and signing the contract, you need to hand over a photocopy of your passport (picture page), show your passport and driving license, pay cash the full rental amount and the security deposit.

Highway Route from the city of Chiang Mai to Baan Sammi

The easiest, fastest and less stressful highway route is as follows. Having rented a motorbike or car in the city, leave the city and eastern downtown by trying to reach at any point on the ถนนแก้วนวรัฐ (Kaeo Nawarat Road = Kaew Nawarat Road), which extends into highway #118, and is also called Chiang Mai – Doi Saket Road, or Chiang Mai – Chiang Rai Road. Then, after some 10 km, continue on country roads as described and mapped in "How to find Baan Sammi".

Hire a 3-wheel motorbike taxi (with driver) for the vicinity of Baan Sammi

You, or Khun Sam on your behalf, can call for a 3-wheel motorbike taxi. The next taxi terminal is located in บ้านน้ำแพร่ (Ban Nam Phrae), which is the village on the highway (#118, Chiang Mai – Doi Saket), 3.7 km distant from Baan Sammi. There, two taxi enterprises are located: (1) ลุงจันทร์ (Lung Chan = Uncle Moon), mobile phone 082-3887351, and (2) คุณฮวั้ (Khun Hua), mobile phone 086-9129466. The driver of the motorbike taxi will pick you up at Baan Sammi, and take you to any destination located within a reasonable distance, perhaps some 15 kilometers, or to farther destinations known by the driver, but this can become expensive. The motorbike taxi is good for 2 passengers with luggage. The fare is low for short distances, e.g. 40 Baht/person from Baan Sammi to the highway (#118) at Ban Nam Phrae. This is the only route that is recommended, and the service can be used during daytime, from morning to early evening. You may use this service as a shuttle to the highway (to continue your ride with a regular song-thaeo towards Chiang Mai, or, if you come from Chiang Mai). If you want visit one of the nearby markets, you should continue your trip by regular song-thaeo, e.g. from Ban Nam Phrae to the Doi Saket, 5 km distance, or, in opposite direction, from Ban Nam Phrae to markets beyond Bo Hin, 7–8 km distance.

Hire a bicycle from a shop in the City

There are quite a lot of bicycle rental shops near Tha Phae Gate, mainly within the easternmost area of the old city. Commonly offered are city bicycles or utility bicycles, usually for 50 Baht per day (July 2016). Hard to find are touring bicycles and mountain bicycles.

In order to get you with the bicycle to Baan Sammi, you may choose from the following three options:
  • You can bike along the Highway (#118) to บ้านน้ำแพร่ (Ban Nam Phrae), then continue on country roads to Baan Sammi (follow the route in our route description and map) — not really recommended as of much traffic on the Highway, especially during rush hours.
  • From the Super Highway (#11) you can bike along a net of country roads to Baan Sammi — recommended only if you are traffic-averse and if you are experienced using continuously Google Maps during the ride (we will supply a route recommendation on Google Maps).
  • From late morning to early afternoon, you can get your bike carried on the roof of a regular yellow song-thaeo from the city. Departure is on the street between ตลาดต้นลำใย (Talat Ton Lamyai = Ton Lamyai Market), next to better known ตลาดวโรรส (Talat Warorot = Warorot Market), and the Ping River. Destination is บ้านน้ำแพร่ (Ban Nam Phrae), where you get off with your bicycle. From there, you can bike 3.8 km on country roads to Baan Sammi.

Get a bicycle from Baan Sammi

Currently, two bicycles are available at Baan Sammi to ride. These bicycles might be sufficient for shopping in nearby villages, but hardly for long bicycle trips. The bicycles are not offered for rent by day, week, or month, but you can take them for your whole stay at Baan Sammi at a pre-agreed amount for expense allowance and a contribution to the purchase price. Care and maintenance of the bicycle is your sole responsibility. If repairs are needed, bring the vehicle to a repair shop for bicycles and motorbikes which is located within walking distance.

E-bikes are not available

Electric bicycles (e-bikes) are in Chiang Mai not (yet) offered for rent (a Google search by Sep. 2017 remained without success). So far, only organized e-bike trips with a tour guide are offered for one or a few days by a company in Mae Rim.

Gasoline prices

Caltex: Gasoline 91 octane costs 23.4 Baht per liter, 95 octane 23.9 Baht, E20 21.5 Baht, and diesel 20.4 Baht (as of 30 Jan. 2016).
Shell: Gasoline 91 octane costs 24.7 Baht per liter, 95 octane 29.0 Baht, E20 22.6 Baht, and diesel 25.3 Baht (for Chiang Mai, as of 20 June 2016).

In December 2017, prices of gasoline 91 octane ("Gasohol 91") are nearly the same as for those of 95 octane ("Gasohol 95"), and it was announced that "Gasohol 91" will soon be taken off the market throughout Thailand.

The fuel consumption for a 100 cm³ scooter is about 3–4 liters per 100 km.

Some driving recommendations

Although traffic seems to be free-style and not controlled by any rules in Thailand, drivers follow most often informal rules that should be attentively perceived and adopted to a certain degree by the inexperienced foreign driver. Don't stick to rules you learned in the West. Do expect unexpected driving behaviour all times, and drive slowly and smoothly and never jerky. The following is just to mention some informal rules that most likely could bring you in dangerous situations if unaware by the inexperienced or if being ignored. Do not expect your blinker signal will paid attention to (e.g. when turning right), do not expect drivers will pay attention to lane markings, red traffic lights, and traffic behind them. Watch carefully vehicles that might enter from the left into the (main) road, do not expect their drivers will notice you. Do expect drivers will cut blind corners and curves, warning you or not by a horn signal. At intersections with red traffic light, don't hinder traffic behind you from turning left.

A very detailed account on Traffic Rules in Thailand and How to Avoid Traffic Accidents was published by Kenny Wong in Chiang Mai Locator, 25 July 2016. It is a must read, even if you spend your time in traffic merely as a pedestrian and use public transport.

Some recommendations for geographic orientation

If you are not map-averse, you should get a city or regional map that meets your specific requirements for easier orientation in Chiang Mai and around (at Baan Sammi, there are different maps at your disposal). Orientation within the wall and moat of the square-shaped old city is quite easy, however in downtown, beyond and on the countryside might become troublesome. Asking locals for help to find an address, can easily lead to confusion, as many Thais have little sense for geographic orientation, are not familiar with maps, do not know their farther surroundings well, and a few even cannot read (Thai script) at all. This also applies to drivers. Destinations can easiest be identified and found if you have an address, or better a route description, but must be in Thai script. On many advertisements in printed magazines, and on business cards, these information is given, hidden most often in the text that follows the phrase "for taxi".

Remarks for using Google Maps

If you have a smart phone or similar device and wish to use Google Maps, be aware of some deficiencies that still persist (March 2016), mainly the following:
(1) Find provinces of Thailand by searching like "Chiang Mai Province".
(2) Find cities by searching like "Mueang Chiang Mai".
(3) Find districts by searching like "Doi Saket District" or "Amphoe Doi Saket".
(4) Find subdistricts by searching like "Tambon Pa Lan".
(5) Village names are usually not recorded and cannot be found. Sometimes, you can indirectly locate a village by searching for the school or the temple (wat) of the village, like "Ban Choeng Doi School" (instead of Ban Choeng Doi), "Wat Pa Lan" (instead of Ban Pa Lan).
(6) Private streets, e.g. streets in a gated residential compound, are not recognizable as private, hence indistinguishable from public streets.
(7) Directions, shown from a starting point to a destination, are often not the best routes for driving or walking. Streets may be unsealed and impassable during rainy season, or the road width may be too narrow for cars thus not pleasing the driver.

19 May 2017

Department Stores and Supermarkets in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Selective List of Department Stores and Supermarkets in Chiang Mai / Kaufhäuser und Supermärkte in Chiang Mai

Tesco Lotus Department Stores and Supermarkets:
6 supermarkets in town: Click on Chiang Mai in the map: https://www.tescolotus.com/en/location

Central Department Stores, with Tops Supermarkets:
Central Kat Suan Kaeo, Central Festival.

Robinson Department Stores, with Tops Supermarkets:
Central Airport Plaza.

Baan & Beyond Chiang Mai (บ้านแอนด์บียอนด์ เชียงใหม่), with Power Buy and Office Mate:
behind Central Airport Plaza.

BigC Department Stores and Supermarkets:
BigC Extra on Super Highway, BigC at Tha Sala, BigC at Mae Hia ("Hang Dong").

Makro Department Stores and Supermarkets:
Super Highway, Hang Dong Rd.

Promenada shopping mall, with Rimping Supermarket:
Promenada Resort Mall.

Rimping Supermarkets:
9 supermarkets in town.

Kasem Stores:
Warorot Market, Nimmanhemin Rd.

18 May 2017

International Schools in Chiang Mai, Thailand

List of International Schools in Chiang Mai

General information on schools / Allgemeine Informationen:
The Education Project Asia, Shambles: http://www.shambles.net/thailand/index.htm

Chiang Mai International School (CMIS)

Prem Tinsulanonda International School

Nakorn Payap International School

American Pacific International School

Lanna International School

Christian German School Chiang Mai / Christliche Deutsche Schule Chiang Mai

Grace International School

17 May 2017

Heat and Pollution

Average temperatures and rainfall over the year in Doi Saket: See Doi Saket Monthly Climate Average by WorldWeatherOnline.com

For more climate data of Chiang Mai region please see: weather-and-climate.com.

The hottest month are from March to May, the months with the heaviest rainfall are August and September.

Air pollution: Throughout the Chiang Mai intermountain plain, and possibly beyond, the air pollution is heavy for many weeks during hot season, mainly from April (March) to May. The pollution is chiefly caused by burning harvested rice fields, forests and cleared areas in the mountains, vegetation along roadsides, and garbage mainly in remote villages, and, in addition in the city, by the exhaust of motorized traffic. The main source of pollution might be Borneo and Sumatra where large areas are burnt down, and the regional sources add to this.

The Thai Pollution Control Department provides accurate data throughout Thailand. Overall, there are only a few more than 50 measuring stations, all of which are located in urban areas, which are usually more polluted than the countryside. The closest stations to our site are Si Phum, Mueang, Chiang Mai (ID 36r), Chang Phueak, Mueang, Chiang Mai (ID 35t), and Nai Mueang, Mueang, Lamphun (ID 68t), all in dense urban areas.

Nowadays, in the Doi Saket area and elsewhere in Chiang Mai province, burn down of rice fields or roadsides have markedly decreased as compared to several years ago, and, due to much pressure from the public, it can be assumed that pollution will continue decreasing for the next years. Since in our area vehicles regularly collect garbage once every week, burning of garbage by villagers has become rather rare, but some of them still burn down heaps of wood and leaf litter occasionally. At Baan Sammi, all such litter will be processed into compost on our compost heaps.