Retire at Chiang Mai on 550 USD per month only

After I arrived in Chiang Mai and lived here for several months I never even considered driving here and never had any thoughts of buying a motor vehicle.

Why? Because the traffic seemed just too busy with vendors with carts, bicycles, mortorbikes weaving in and out, drivers of cars and trucks not adhering to the rules of the road and with dogs laying out in the streets reluctant to move.

And this is from a person who has driven a car since he was 18 years of age.

My means of transportation when I first arrived was the tuk tuk (or touk touk) which is three wheeled motorcycle with a small bench seat at back covered by a canopy. Either that or a red taxi which is pick up truck with two bench seats placed in back and also a canopy. It was red taxi or tuk tuk at first and then on the back of my girlfriends motorbike. It may look at bit odd but it isn't uncommon here. A lady weighing 40 kilos driving the honda motorbike powered by a 100 cc engine with a big farang "foreigner" sitting on the back of the motorbike.

But then the time came where we needed to rent a car. We wanted to go to Myanmar and this gave me a chance to get my retirement visa stamped close to the one year period of it's issue date. As the drive would commence at about 4 a.m. in the morning and be primarily highway driving I agreed to rent a car. The car was remted from North Wheels.

As usual in my meticulous ways I checked every rental place I could here in Chiang Mai. Prices were close and North Wheels won it. They had the largest fleet, the best insurance, free pick up, and 24 hr. service in case of trouble. Some of their competitors had marginally lower prices but I think it is because there cars are older.
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Photo's of cars and pickup trucks and motorbikes common in Chiang Mai

For the benefit of our clients we are offering used cars, used pick up trucks and used motorbikes for sale. Why buy USED??

Reason 1.

I bought a 1 year old pickup with only 9k km on the clock and saved 120,000 baht and the vehicle was detailed, engine shampooed and even the interior seats were wrapped in plastic.

Reason 2.

You may not be the only driver.. My Thai g/f did not know how to drive a car or truck and I did not expect her to pick it up quickly because the truck was a standard and required changing gears and using clutch. To my surprise she learned very quickly and it is to your benefit to have your Thai g/f know how to drive as she can go shopping or even drive you to the hospital if required. 

And when I thought of my Thai g/f driving I thought to myself.. she may get some dings, scratches while improving here driving skills. With a new vehicle I would be more concerned seeing a bump or minor damage as opposed to a used vehicle.

And we are INCLUDING motorbikes because just about everyone living here long term has a motorbike/scooter. Easy to drive, especially the automatics, cheap on fuel and you can park them just about anywhere.

We recommend renting a motorbike as soon as possible to our Retire clients who will be living here long term and who do not have any physical problems which would prevent them from doing so.

Well it took a little getting used to. First of all where I am from the steering wheel is on the left side of the car and not the right side and the shifter on my right hand side and not on my left as is common here. Also I have to drive on the left side of the road. But off we went and we made it there and returned in once piece.

It was about a 4 1/2 drive there and same coming back. Not that much traffic but what you will find is that for half the trip there is nowhere to pass. You will witness reckless drivers passing on turns and up and down hills where they shouldn't because they cannot see far enough ahead. The trip is up and some hilly terrain- very hilly.

Will you need to rent a car?

The climate here in Chiang Mai is either warm or hot during the day and warm or cool at night. I arrived on November 23 and during the first 3 months I did not see a drop of rain. It was sunny every day, warm during the day and pleasantly cool in the evenings and at night. If you were sleeping with the window open you would require a blanket.

My girlfriend told me that the time would come where we would get rain every day. Hmmm. She must be exaggerating I thought to myself. Perhaps rain every 2 or 3 days but not "every" day. Well I was proven wrong.

Starting in May we got rain every day. At times a quick shower during what seemed like the same time each day and ocassionaly a continuous rainfall. It was at this time that I realized that we should buy a motor vehicle.

The drive on the motorbike at the time to here beauty salon was just too far and with rainfall it took even longer. The other consideration was that when we went shopping for groceries we were buying for 4 of us. Her mother, her daughter, her and me. A fair bit of groceries to carry by a big farang on a motorbike.

So I went to look at cars or should I say trucks. Motorbikes outnumber cars here about 3-4 to 1 and trucks outnumber cars here by about 7-8 to 1 reason being is that they are taxed less than cars and therefore more affordable.

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Short and Long term accommodation in Chiang Mai 32in lcd tv, dvd player, kitchen, bathtub, balcony, wifi, great location, and reasonable priced ___>> Click on any photo to learn more

Now keep in mind that the most popular vehicles makes here are Nissan, Toyota, Isuzu, Mitsubishi, and then Ford way down the list.

We decided to look at used vehicles probably because I thought either I or Wan who had yet to learn to drive and would be driving the vehicle may bang up the truck.

At one of the dealerships they did an impeccable job of preparing the vehicles. They were cleaned inside and out and including the engine and engine compartment.

The color was good as was the mileage which was only 17,000 km. at a price of 400,000 baht. We added the front and rear bumpers for about 4,000 baht and we were ready to cruise.
The truck is mainly used to drive Mommie to school and for grocery shopping. On ocassion we make a trip to the hot springs or reservoir.

So what have I learned that I can pass on:

1/ If you come here on vacation you will probably not need a rented car unless you plan on seeing the sights out of town. If you come here to live long term you may want to buy a vehicle and probably a pick up because of the price. But chances are you will need it that often and you can get by on a motorbike and renting a car on ocassion. That is the case if you live here alone. Should you meet a lady then things change and you may want to buy a vehicle.

2/ Buy a used pick up as the driving will take getting used to and it may get banged up by you or by your girlfriend who may want to learn to drive it.

3/ Buy a popular make as it is easier getting service. So a Isuzu, Mitsubishi, or Toyota pick up or a Honda car. The driving is alot easier for you and the girlfriend or wife if you have an automatic. Hard to find but keep it in mind.

4/ Stay with a small engine as most of the driving will be city driving and you do not need the horsepower. Keep the money in your pocket as the oil Sheiks have enough of our money.

5/ I decided on getting auto insurance and it cost me about 19,000 baht or about $500 U.S. for a year. After one year the insurance contacted me and said if I wanted to renew the rate would be 30% less as I did not have any claims. What? Are they nuts? Don't they know that in North America if you do not have any claims and have an impeccable driving record for SIX YEARS that the insurance companies will still increase your rates. So this is your call.

If you do not feel that comfortable with the traffic then get the insurance and especially if the girlfriend or wife will also be a driver. After a year you can decide to renew or drop. There is a mandatory insurance here for motor vehicles. If I remember correctly it costs about 1-2,000 baht or $30-$55 U.S. and doesn't cover much but it is mandatory. And should you decide to sell your vehicle and if you have insurance remaining you will not get a refund from the insurance company but rather the insurance is carried forward to the new owner. So that being the case you can ask more for vehicle.

6/ I have written an article about driving here in Chiang Mai. If you want to rent a car or thinking about buying a vehicle I suggest you read the article over.

7/ The driving here some getting used to. But once you do it is reasonably easy. You have to watch for vehicles running red lights VERY COMMON here. You have to watch for vehicles passing where they shouldn't and expecting you to move out of your lane- VERY COMMON here. You have to watch for vendor, dogs, motorbikes, and more but I have faith in you. If I can do it anybody can do it.

8/ I used to recommend North Wheels Rent A Car. Largest fleet, best insurance, newer vehicles and they know how to treat their customers. But recently I have found that service is not up to par and recomend other car and van dealers to rent from.

I you are a visitor you can spend half of your time checking out hotels, car rentals, restaurants, and the like. Best to spend it on having a good time and take my recommendations in good faith. My goal is to see that you have a good time here. Good enough to decide to return here in your retirement.

related pages...

Click Here for for Driving a Car in Chiang Mai

Click Here for Getting Around Chiang Mai

Click Here for Auto Insurance in Chiang Mai

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