Chiang Mai Retrospective

Chiang Mai Yellow Bus

Nowaday - 2010

The iconic four-wheel, open back, red car or ‘Rod Dang’ is the closest thing that Chiang Mai has to public transport. It has also become one of the city’s unique characters. Although Rod Dang do not operate on predictable timetables, routes and fares, they are a great means of transportation within the downtown area of Chiang Mai, and compete with Tuk-Tuks in terms of price.

In the past the public transportation system of Chiang Mai was made up of yellow bused, which had one door in the front and another one in the back on the left side of the bus. They had windows, but no air-conditioning. The fare was tow baht per ride. The original yellow bus was replaced by the air-conditioned one, with one door at the front, and then the price doubled. The new yellow bus ran three routes, including Buakkrok-Suandok, Nonghoy-Po Pan 7, and Train Station Huay Kaew.

Chiang Mai Retrospective


This photo you see is of a non-air-conditioned yellow bus as it passed by Waroroj Market. The photographer is unknown, but it was likely to have been taken before 1992. As you can see, there was much less traffic then. However, due to social and economic changes more and more people preferred to travel with the more convenient and faster private cars, eventually leading to yellow bused becoming unwelcome on the road, and in 1996 all 40 of them were put away and left to decay.

Today, traffic in Chiang Mai is not dissimilar to Bangkok traffic and with Chiang Mai’s aim to be one of the top tourist cities in the country this situation is going to get worse. As prosperity continues and Chiang Mai grows ever more in population the impact on the already weak infrastructure is going to be massive. The growing problem of excessive traffic, energy consumption and the inevitable environmental impact cannot be overlooked. So, if there is to be a real and working public transport system in Chiang Mai it can no longer be a dream and must be made into a reality – otherwise the welcome growth in prosperity will be held back. The whole city needs to support the need for a fully functioning and user-friendly public transport service and bused will once again be seen on the streets of Chiang Mai.

Leave a Comment