Red Trucks in Chiang Mai – The nod means 20 Baht!

Red Trucks in Chiang Mai

Red Trucks in Chiang Mai – The nod means 20 Baht!

Category : LiveInCM , Tips/Tricks , Travel

Red Trucks in Chiang Mai

Travelling in Thailand can be a daunting experience.   Different language, different modes of transport, and for most of us, they drive on the wrong side of the road.  To add another twist, Chiang Mai does not use metered taxis.

For local travel, your choices are either the Tuk-Tuk or Red Trucks.  The locals will generally advise you to use the Red Trucks [AKA Rot Daeng(Red Truck), Songthaew(2 Aisles/Benches),  or See-lor/(4 Wheels)] for price and safety.   Operating much like a taxi/bus hybrid, Red Trucks in Chiang Mai will take you pretty much anywhere you like, but may also pick up and drop off other people on the way to your stop.

Red Trucks inside the Old City.

     As most people realize during their planning stages, Chiang Mai’s Old City is a small 1 mile square(~1.5km), edged by a protective moat.  The moat also defines the going price for those in the know.  Anything starting and ending within the outer edges of the moat is an assumed price of….20 Baht 30THB(2018)!  But there is a trick to it.
You have to be a local or act the part.   

Using a Red Trucks like a local in 4 simple steps.

  1. Wave for the red truck to stop. (Underhand, almost like you’re pointing where you want them to stop.)
  2. When stopped, look into the front window and tell them where you are going (Within the Old City)
  3. Wait for the nod.  If they nod yes, just jump in the back and wait for your stop.
  4. When stopped, walk around to the front and hand the driver a 20 Baht bill. (have 20B ready)

Sounds simple enough, but pay attention to these specifics…    

  1. Inside the moat, don’t ask “how much?”    The answer will almost always be more than 20 Baht30THB(2018)!
  2. If the driver quotes a price instead of nodding, let him pass and get the next red truck.
  3. Do not use large bills to pay.   Always have a 20 Baht bill ready.   They may decide they don’t have change.

Red Trucks outside the Old City.

     While some of the steps for traveling within the Old City can still apply, they are not as hard and fast.    The hailing procedure does not change, nor does letting them know where you are going.   Generally, the prices for non-Thais will be greater than 20 Baht 30THB(2018) if traveling further outside of the moat.   In this case, you should ask the price and agree before getting in the back. Also. you need to be willing to negotiate.   

So, the 4 easy steps to traveling past the Old City:

  1. Wave for the Red Trucks to stop.
  2. When stopped, look into the front window and tell them where you are going.
  3. Ask them how much. (Use common sense on pricing and expect to pay more for night travel or if you want to go without stopping)
  4. When stopped, walk around to the front and hand the driver the exact change.

A couple of considerations for traveling outside.

  1. Plan your return trip.  The further out you go, the less likely to find a red truck to get back.
  2. Go with a group and split the costs.
  3. Consider paying for the Red Truck driver to wait for you and drive you back as well. This is for Red Trucks without any other riders)
  4. Negotiate. This applies any time you get on a Red Truck, but especially here.
– Some places and estimated prices for hiring a driver for a return trip:
                Doi Suthep – 400B,  Tiger Kingdom – 500B,  Hot Springs – 500B,  Baan Tawai – 400B,

                Zoo/Aquarium – 300B, Sticky Waterfalls – 600B

 – Special note about leaving town: Airport, Bus Station, Train Station.

One thing about these three places, they may be just around the corner but drivers know you are worried about being late and obviously you’re not going to walk with all your luggage.  Drivers are going to charge like these places are way out of the way. Expect the quoted prices to be more in the 100B to 250B range.  Actual prices will range from 50B to 150B depending not on your negotiating skills. 








*** Check out the next installment,  When Red Trucks aren’t red?*** 


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