Driving a motorbike in Chiang Mai, Thailand is like a cross between a Star Wars video game and Death Race 2000. From endless, winding mountain roads to the wide open plains, and from the controlled mayhem of rush hour traffic to the ever-twisting labyrinth of the Old City, Chiang Mai is an incredibly exciting place to explore by motorbike.
It’s also a place jam-packed with moving and stationary hazards unique to the local elements in play. There are a million hidden intersections, pushy Songthaew drivers, smoke-belching tuk-tuks, Toyota 10-seaters, intersection creepers, 8-ball specials, potholes, speed bumps, sandy corners, two-way one-ways, and crazy crosswalks to name but a few.
On the plus side, being a motorbike culture, you won’t find a speck of broken glass anywhere on the streets of Chiang Mai, and strangely enough, the only time you’ll hear anyone honk is when they are genuinely concerned about ending your life (or simply visiting from Bangkok).
Reality is, though, when one becomes a student of the mayhem, there is a totally predictable order to the ebbs and flows of navigating and surviving the daily traffic hustle in Chiang Mai City.