During our month in Chiang Mai, we stayed at The Bliss, where we rented a “serviced apartment”. (You can read about our stay here.) The hotel is not within walking distance of the old town (the historical centre of Chiang Mai), so we decided to rent a bicycle for the length of our stay. We’ve never ridden a motorbike before, unless you count the green e-bike, and the hectic Chiang Mai traffic didn’t seem like the best place to learn either.
We asked the reception where we could rent some bicycles. Unfortunately most of the receptionists at The Bliss don’t speak English very well. They are not used to people wanting to rent a bicycle instead of a motorbike either. In short, they couldn’t really help us. Fortunately there was a helpful resident in the lobby who gave us some tips. He wasn’t sure if one of them rented out bicycles, but they were all close by, so we walked over there.
We ended up renting two bicycles at Bikky, a shop lending motorbikes as a main business. We paid ฿1000 a bicycle for 25 days, which included a basket on our handlebar, a lock, and pumped up tires. Unfortunately the bicycles had no lights and they couldn’t give us lights either. We had no choice but to buy them ourselves for ฿50 each (including batteries) on the Saturday Walking Market.
We used our bicycles each time we visited the old town, either for dinner, a drink, a market, Loi Krathong, you name it. Guess it is about a 20 to 30 minute trip, depending on which part of the old town you want to go. It probably wouldn’t be faster with a songthaew, as the traffic on Huaykaew Road is always stuck. We did our grocery shopping for the most part at the Rimping Supermarket in Maya Shopping Centre, within walking distance of our hotel. However, from time to time we took our bicycle to shop at the less expensive Tops Market in Kad Suan Kaew, a shopping centre near the old town.
I believe we saved some money compared to taking a songthaew every time we wanted to go to the old town. Moreover, we had some exercise in the process and it’s a green way of transportation! Although there are safer countries to bike through, we managed ourselves quite well among the numerous motorbikes on the Chiang Mai roads.
The main purpose of our little break from traveling was to get some work done, so we spent a lot of time working in our room and not going out very often. If you’re in Chiang Mai for exploring the city and surroundings it might be better to rent a motorbike. But for us, renting a bicycle in Chiang Mai was definitely a good decision.