Sitting, Driving, Watching Chiang Mai Traffic

Chiang Mai has crazy traffic. Not because it’s congested, but because anything and everything can happen. Rusted cars spewing soot and driving half on the shoulder don’t even get a second glance. Stray dogs run across the street. People stacked two or three to a scooter zip around without helmets. Stubby trucks stacked double high wobble and spill some of their charges. Pickups with entire soccer teams standing in the back pass by and wave like it’s the safest thing in the world. It’s exciting and stressful to ride a scooter through this chaos, but it’s endlessly entertaining to watch.

Yesterday, J. and I scoped out some benches near the moat road in downtown Chiang Mai. Our mission: to watch the traffic. We spent about two hours and a few different spots, taking a break to get out of the rain and buy some pineapple and soda. Today, we went out again for another hour traffic watching on a different side of the moat. Here’s some of what we saw:

On the way to the moat we passed by some urban cows grazing in a meadow left undeveloped between condos. According to a friend, it is owned by “an Old Woman.”

Clockwise: Traffic cop station with roof shaped like an officer’s helmet, pile of bricks, spirit house and plant on roof, moat fountain turned off.

Clockwise: Dead fish in the moat, truck broadcasting ads, monks waiting for the taxi, the SW corner of the moat wall.

Me waiting on the curb for a good photo. To my left is an empty iced coffee.

Tuk tuks.

The scooter family, complete with baby nursery side car. Seems safe.

This town is crawling with beautiful restored Vespas.

Another sidecar family. This time grandma, mom and dad, and two sons.

The coolest minivans. They really are mini, about the size of a VW Bug in van form.

A truck modestly loaded with shelves.

A smoking man driving with the lid of a bun steamer in his sidecar.

This man was standing on the open tailgate of a truck holding onto a pole.

Cabbage truck.

Garbage truck with garbage men riding on top. Speaking of people on top of trucks…

Some more people on top of trucks.

Clockwise: Bug, lady sitting in a plastic chair of a sidecar, pedal cab, girl with toy in tuk tuk.

Thai pigeons at the park.

I don’t know what this large white castle is for. There were no signs. House?

One lane steel bridge.

Panang curry with chicken for lunch. Not pictured: beer and garlic pepper fried shrimp with pickled vegetables, French fries.

Yesterday, J. and I made a video while riding on the motorbike around the moat. It’s a little shaky, but hopefully it gives a decent idea of what driving here is like. Not shown: weaving between stopped cars at the intersections.

We leave for Bangkok on Wednesday. India on Friday. Until then.



oh man that first little brown truck!!!


I know isn’t it rediculously cute?

Awesome Nik. When Arlene and I were there, we were told that the law was ‘no more than six people to a motorcycle.’


You’re gonna love Indian traffic- it’s spectacular.

Wish I was still there to see you guys.

Hey Nik. I’m digging your blog, very cool pictures too. We’ve probably passed on the street, since I recognize those cows and that crazy flood. We should meet up someday. It’d be cool to meet you and Jamie. How long are you in CM? What’s your story? Oh and what did you think of your massage at Wat U Mong? It’s definitely worth the hike out there, no?

Leave a Comment


September 16th, 2008. Categories / Chiang Mai, Thailand

News Menu

About Categories Archives