The complex maze of transport in Thailand isn’t a maze, it’s an expedition and a minefield. After the hum of Bangkok the transport situation gets calmer but the modes more varied. Gone are the simple taxis and tuk tuks, now things appear to take you around in different shapes. There’s the basic tuk tuk, slightly larger than its southern brother, and the four person tuk tuk. Then there’s the songathew, not quite a bus but not quite a tuk tuk. It acts like a taxi in that you can flag it down and request a location, but people can jump in on your journey, edit it, redirect it, share it etc. There are buses but they run sporadically and are drowned out by all the songathews. These nifty little things are cheap and easy, although not as mobile as the little tuk tuk.
The local way to go is the one and only moped. Capacity is one to as many as you dare. Just like Bangkok, they dominate the roads and everyone rides them. James and I wanted to visit a waterfall not to far from Chaing Mai and were told that moped was the only way to go. We thought why not? Can’t be too hard, everyone’s doing it. We were wrong. It was terrifying and nerve-wracking but at the same time an adrenaline rush. It’s exhilarating tearing along the roads among all the other bikers, and for once we felt like we were finally part of Thailand – cheesy I know.
For the long distance, there’s the bus or the train. A train line runs from Chiang Mai to Bangkok right down to the southern border. They can be a bit dotty on punctuality but they work, getting you from A to B and thankfully not anywhere else. They also provide complimentary food, hot and cold drinks and little treats, everybody loves a freebie.
Little warning: tuk tuks are not always trustworthy, and can drive off with your luggage as you climb out. Equally with trains and coaches, keep your valuables close, sleep on them if you need to, and have three eyes on your wallet. Thailand is well equipt for all kinds of journey, just be ready yourself.