Chiang Mai, how to cross the moat

The old town of Chiang Mai is bordered by a charming double traffic artery with 3 lanes. If you walk on foot then you have to cross 6 lanes to enter or leave the old town. If the old city lends itself to being surveyed on foot, the rest of the city is dangerous for pedestrians. For long stays, the safest way is to drive in SUV or pickup. Chiang Mai is a city car. For example, you can park anywhere: in double file, on one of the few pedestrian crossings or on a sidewalk. Although far from desirable, you can hit pedestrians or two-wheelers without hurting yourself.

The old town has many temples to visit, a wide choice of restaurants, massage parlors, guest-houses for all budgets … For a short stay it is better to rent your accommodation in the old town. You go there with a taxi and then spend your holidays in this secure perimeter. It would be sad to be hit by a 10-year-old boy on a big engine or a smiling Thai woman writing a text message or watching a video on his smartphone.

If, however, you plan to settle in the capital of northern Thailand for a long or medium stay, or if you still have the spirit of adventure and decide to cross this highway to paradise, here are some tips that can help you to do it in the best conditions:

Arm yourself with patience

Better to lose a few minutes, than an arm, a leg or life. It is also an opportunity to adopt the local debonair rhythm, or nothing presses (as long as one is not behind a steering wheel). To wait in good conditions equip you with a bottle of water, an umbrella and possibly a book for rush hours. You got a smartphone? Remember to take a backup battery.

Tips: Always carry an anti-pollution mask. It weighs nothing, folds in a pocket and can serve you well. It would be a shame to find you in the emergency room, spitting blood, simply because you spent too much time waiting on the side of the road.

Opt for a suitable outfit

Priority to shoes. Of course never wear flip flops or other shoes that now hurt your foot or with slippery sole. One wrong step and it could be the last. Focus on grip and stability with tailored sports shoes, not too heavy to avoid being slowed down, remember that every tenth of a second counts.

Avoid neutral or dark tones, choose bright colors like yellow or fuchsia. You wonder why Thais love these colors, you now have the answer. Do you mind wearing an LED cap? Remember that if ridicule does not kill, road accidents are the number one killer in Thailand. For a question of decency and e-reputation you can limit its port to low light hours. At nightfall the light is often too weak for risking to be identified on an Instagram post for example.

Dog driving a scooter

Risky driving

Be well insured

It is not a matter of getting roped, which would represent a much greater risk than the safety benefit, even though you will occasionally meet tourists with hiking poles (yes there are mountains a few kilometers away from the city). Ensure your health by taking out travel insurance covering hospitalization, surgery and repatriation expenses. Find the contact of a specialized lawyer, the latter will allow you, if necessary, to get what you paid for, when the insurance will refuse to concede anything to you. For more information on the issue, you can check the Facebook group “Expats in Chiang Mai”, 90% of the posts concern either insurance or visas.

Tips: We do not choose the time of his death but we can always organize after. Do you think you are too young to write a will? Think about your loved ones, your family and tell yourself that if this step is useless it is good and if it is useful, it will relieve the pain of those who love you (especially if you thought about their bequeath a little something).

Look, listen …

If 95% of the vehicles drive on the left in Thailand, do not forget that a scooter or a car can come frome another direction at any moment. Here hearing can effectively complete the visual checks that should be doubled or tripled before any crossing attempt.

Tips: It is often said that fear is bad counselor. If it’s true in general, let’s not forget that this feeling is also a reflex of survival. The flow of adrenaline sharpens your senses and excites your alertness. A simple intuition can sometimes save you the worst.

Opt for optimal protection

For some, amulets are part of local folklore. The question is not whether “it works or not” or to discuss the efficiency of religion. The fact is that one can get amulets from 20 baths. The more Cartesian will understand the interest of being equipped with 5 or 6. The effects of some can thus cumulate and that smooth also the probability of having invested in one or two defective models or simply ineffective. 100% of certain professional bodies, drivers or electricians for example, are equipped. It’s not for nothing.

Tips: Embrace your amulets before attempting a crossing. Even if you do not believe it, tell yourself that this simple gesture does not cost anything and that it is better in any case to put all the chances on your side.

Specificities of the city and tips in bulk

  • Look closely at the condition of the roadway (the holes) before surveying it. It is better to twist an ankle once dead than just before
  • Want a fruit-shake right on the other side of the road? Grab is cheap, cheaper than an accident
  • The rain extends the braking distance of 450 meters
  • To brake is not manly
  • A car that rolls at a pace is likely to accelerate

7 people on a scooter

  • With more than 5 passengers a scooter loses maneuverability
  • Alcohol is on sale from 17h
  • Traffic is less between 2am and 5am (ideal for training)
  • Wait until an old woman, a monk or a mother and her children decides to cross. Cross, taking care to place yourself about ten meters from this providential protection. This so-called “human shield” technique is among the most effective

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