A tour operator in Chiang Mai in your hotel or outside will not offer you a half-day trip to Doi Suthep for anything less than 500 THB, some will even charge more than that. A visit to either Bhuping Palace or Meo Hill Tribe will be included in the tour price. But it is entirely possible to make this trip on your on without paying too much money to a travel agent. I say possible because saving money is never easy because if that were so, all those travel agents would never be in business. Actually, a do-it-yourself visit to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep will be a lot easier if you are in a group because the public transport available for the trip requires a minimum number of persons in a vehicle, otherwise they just won't go. But public transport can still be used if you are alone or a couple because there will be others like you doing the trip on their own. Well, to cut to the chase, you need to take Chiang Mai's unofficial and only public transport that is called "Song Thaew" that means "two benches" and is also called "Red Taxi". Those familiar with "Baht Buses" in Pattaya will know this. Its a high powered SUV like vehicle with two long benches in the back on either side for passengers to sit (picture below). No public bus service is available in Chiang Mai. Keep reading...
|Wat Phra That Doi Suthep Chiang Mai|
Public Transport to Doi Suthep, Bhuping (Phuping) Palace, & Meo Hill Tribe
|Song Thaew Public Transport in Chiang Mai|
To take a Song Thaew to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, Bhuping (Phuping) Palace, & Meo Hill Tribe, you first need to reach Chiang Mai Zoo that will cost something like 40-60 THB by Song Thaew from Thapae Gate / Night Bazaar areas. Take a moving Song Thaew, they charge less. You can't bargain much unless the first asking price is more than 60 THB.
Public Transport from Chiang Mai Zoo to Doi Suthep, Bhuping (Phuping) Palace, & Meo Hill Tribe
|Song Thaew Outside Chiang Mai Zoo|
Outside the Chaing Mai Zoo, the shared Song Thaews are always waiting for passengers. The prices are fixed subject to a minimum of 10 passengers taking the trip. If 10 persons are not there yet, they will wait. Go early in the morning because getting a shared Song Thaew from Chiang Mai Zoo will be easier at that time. Returning from Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is always easy because there will be a plenty of Song Thaews waiting to return to the city. While coming back, you may also try finding a Song Thaew willing to give you a drop to Night Bazaar or Old City.
Song Thaew Ticket Prices from Chiang Mai Zoo
Doi Suthep 40 THB each way
Bhuping Palace 70 THB each way
Meo Hill Tribe 90 THB each way
If you are buying a round trip, just double the price. Temple entry ticket (30 THB) or the cable car price (20 THB) is not included in this whereas a tour operator will include those in the tour cost. A benefit of going through this public transport is that you can take your sweet time at the temple, no rush. Another tip: The Meo Hill Tribe is just a tourist trap, totally avoidable, nothing but shops there.
|Posted by Narinder Singh|