Cycling through the historic centre of Chiang Mai is a good deal easier than trying to get around by car. Compared to nearby neighbourhoods like Tha Phae or Huay Kaew, the streets in the old quarter are usually very quiet and a journey on two wheels within the square-shaped area enclosed by the old city moat rarely takes more than 15 minutes. Riding a bicycle is also more convenient (no need to fight for parking spaces) and much cheaper than taking the local form of public transport, the red song taew with its flat rate of 20 baht per passenger.
Tha Phae Gate is the main entrance to the old moated city and the roads around it are among the busiest in Chiang Mai. That said, cyclists can enjoy a safe ride, except on Sundays when the area is invaded by stall-holders and converted into a bustling open-air market.
While it requires a bit of exertion and you're always exposed to the elements, cycling offers a wonderful degree of flexibility. If I make a wrong turn, it's usually child's play to cross the road and head back in the right direction. I can zoom through stationary traffic and sneak up onto the footpath to avoid obstacles on the road. And if I want to visit some city-centre attraction or stop off somewhere for a coffee, I can always find a spot to leave my bike no matter how congested the location is.
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