Uber in Chiang Mai

Is There Uber In Chiang Mai: A New Guide To Transportation In Chiang Mai [2024]


Ahh Chiang Mai is one of my favourite cities in Thailand! But let me tell you, I went straight to Chiang Mai from Bangkok taking the sleeper train (a story in itself lol) and when I got out I had no idea how to get a taxi. So like any normal westerner, I checked if there was Uber in Chiang Mai. 

The answer… NO, there is no Uber in Chiang Mai.

So I hopped into the back of a private car and got absolutely stung on a ride to my hostel, Stamps. 

At this point, I wished there was Uber in Chiang Mai!

It was here I learned all my knowledge about transportation in Thailand; so here I am to share this knowledge with you, so that you do not make the same mistakes I did and know all the alternatives to Uber in Chiang Mai.


What Are The Ways To Travel Round Chiang Mai

Do not fear!

You are in luck, there are many transportation options in Chiang Mai and I will tell you which ones tend to be the cheapest when getting around Chiang Mai.

1. Bolt

Like Uber, download the Bolt app, enter some details and you’re good to go. Bolt is BY FAR the cheapest mode for getting around in Chiang Mai but also the majority of Thailand! 

Unless you’re willing to rent a scooter (we’ll cover this later). 

For backpackers, most of Chiang Mai is walkable however in situations where you require a short-haul taxi, Bolt is the answer—during my time in Chiang Mai Bolt offered the cheapest premium compared to other apps like Grab. 

For travellers on a budget, this was music to my ears and I continued to use Bolt all over Thailand. 

In addition to being the cheapest, all Bolt drivers have had background checks and the journeys you take have real-time GPS tracking so if you feel in danger simply click the ‘help’ button and follow the process. 

Despite the convenience of Bolt, I did find, when comparing to Grab, that the drivers usually took longer to get to your location than a Grab driver, so if you are not in a rush Bolt is definitely the option. 

2. Grab

The second form of transportation comes in the way of a grab car. Grab is a great alternative to Bolt and very similar to Uber. Grab in Thailand is essentially their version of Uber. 

Similar to Bolt, download the Grab app, fill out some details and you are free to use the Grab app, selecting whether you want to pay in cash or card. 

So why use Grab if it will be more expensive?

If you require a slightly longer-haul journey I always found Grab to be the most cost-effective solution when travelling in Chiang Mai or anywhere in Thailand. When it comes to short journeys there are fixed prices which make it easy for any traveller to budget.

Unlike other taxi brands/apps, Grab has additional services like ordering fast food, your grocery shop, or even getting them to buy items for you like topping up your SIM card!

Like Bolt, they offer a variety of transportation methods (car, motorbike etc) at affordable prices and give you an estimated time of arrival and departure.

I must admit I always felt safest when in a Grab car. I think Grab and Uber are the most similar.

Before you book a ride always check the GRAB OFFERS box as you can get money off!

3. Songthaews (Red Communal Taxi)

Driving near the old city you will always see the red communal taxis. If you don’t mind sharing with some strangers, songthaews can really be the most cost effective solution when moving around Chiang Mai.

Before you get in the taxi make sure you know EXACTLY where you want to go to save confusion and negotiate a fair price with the driver. More often than not a price is per person so make sure to clarify how much you will be charged. For most journeys, the taxi fare will be between 40 and 100 baht and you always pay cash.

We took one of these taxi services all the way to Doi Suthep from the Old City in Chiang Mai for 80 baht each (£2) bargain!

These local taxi drivers offer great knowledge of the city and tend to know where is best to visit. 

4. Rent a Scooter

If your goal is to travel around Chiang Mai’s surrounding areas and fly around the city then you may be better off going to one of the rental shops and renting a scooter. 

Prices are relatively cheap at around 200-250 baht (£5 per day ish) for a 125cc bike. Prices vary based on the cc and age of the bike.

If your negotiation skills are top drawer a little haggling might not go a miss, but be polite in your negotiations and not aggressive!

Some bare essentials you’ll require:

  • Drivers License
  • International Driver’s Permit
  • Experience on a scooter, or else you’ll shut a whole road down like me and Rob lol.
  • A Cash Deposit
  • Travel Insurance – that covers both you and a third party. Trust me we found out the hard way.
  • Thai Phone Number – Sometimes you can leave your WhatsApp number instead.

If you’re looking to travel between cities and get somewhere like Pai, a scooter is definitely a cost-effective way to make the 3-hour journey and acts as a great Uber alternative.

Similarly to the UK, you drive on the left side of the road, unlike other Asian countries. Scooters allow for an easy way to get around when you’re in Thailand. You can also get a rental car but it is far less cost-effective to rent a car than a scooter. 

TOP TIP –  Find a quiet side road and rent from one of these shops, why?

  1. Can get it cheaper
  2. If you’re new to scooters you can practice down the quiet side roads before attempting the manic main street.

Final Thoughts – Is There Uber In Chiang Mai: Best Uber Alternatives

As I said above, no, there is no Uber in Chiang Mai in fact there is no Uber in Thailand at all.

Fortunately, a lot of the key areas you’ll visit are within the Old City which is all within walking distance, however, if you wish to go further afield you may need some form of transportation. Here is my list of top picks when deciding on transportation.

Cheapest (short-haul) – Bolt/Red Communal Taxi

Cheapest (long-haul) – Scooter rental

Most convenient – Grab/Scooter

If you’re not comfortable with renting a scooter however you can get a bus or for a more convenient way, grab is available for your long-haul options. When you’re planning a trip around Thailand it’s important to check all your options before you drive around to ensure you get the most cost-effective option, the convenient app is not always the same one. 

As you can see there are many options in Thailand when deciding on your Uber alternatives allowing you to explore the north of Thailand in the cheapest way possible.