Cycling in Chiang Mai: A great way to get around

in #life2 months ago

Once you understand the way traffic works that is. The roads in Thailand can and should be considered exceptionally dangerous because they are. It is basically the wild wild west and a free-for-all on the streets but while it looks hectic from a western standpoint, there is a very real system here and once you understand it, it works pretty well.

Chiang Mai in particular is great for getting around on a bicycle because unlike other bigger cities in this country it appears as though there was some forward planning involved and most of the roads have the ability to accommodate bicycles and there are even some roads that have bike paths that only bicycles are allowed on.


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This is still Thailand though so you need to be prepared for the inevitable motorbikes that make their way onto the bike paths even though a lot of measures were put in place to prevent them from doing so. I don't really understand why the motorbikes come on the cycling path because most of them are literally right next to a street, but I think it is just motorbike protocol that you have to be as big of an asshole as possible.


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Most of the larger roads here have a lane on the far left that is meant for motorbikes and bicycles only and believe it or not, this rule is actually observed by most of the users on the road - which is kind of shocking. Remember to keep your head on a swivel though because bikes that are entering the larger roads tend to get to the junction and just merge without even looking. This is not so much of a danger on a bicycle since I never achieve super high speeds anyway, but it could be very dangerous on a scooter.

I live around 12km outside of the city center by choice. For the most part I have all that I need right in my little sub district neighborhood but if I do need to hit the city center, there are multiple ways that I can get there very quickly on my bicycle. I have a scooter but will usually prefer to ride the bicycle anyway. I get a bit of exercise, I can park the thing anywhere I want once I arrive at my destination and the only real problem is that I am going to work up a sweat by the time I get where I am going. This is easily circumvented though because I just bring another shirt with me in my bag and carry some body-spray.


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Another thing that I will do is that I will just choose a random direction and simply head that way on my bicycle with no real objective in mind. This has gotten me in trouble a few times because on the return trip I ended up on a 20km straighaway on a highway with no shade and it was a million degrees outside, but for the most part you end up on these winding roads on the outskirts that major traffic avoids because it isn't direct enough for cars. This is where this city truly shines. There's plenty of shade, very little traffic, and as long as you brought enough water with you, no reason to really hurry.

For me, I think this is one of the better cities in the world that I have ever been to as far as cycling is concerned. I really don't even need my scooter and rarely use it. For the most part it just sits in my driveway slowly losing air from the tires.

Of course a lot of this has to do with the fact that at the moment I am not working so I don't really have to be anywhere at any particular time and I also don't have to be presentable once I get there. If I had a proper job, this probably wouldn't be an option.

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