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  1. #1
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    Chiang Mai sees influx of visitors amid political unrest in Bangkok

    Chiang Mai sees influx of visitors amid political unrest in Bangkok
    Pichayada Promchertchoo
    27 Jan 2014

    As the Thai capital continues to experience gridlock from political protests, the northern province of Chiang Mai is entertaining an influx of visitors who prefer to stay away from all the roadblocks and possible dangers the protests might bring.

    Thai anti-government protesters carry a large national flag as they parade during a rally in Bangkok on January 25, 2014.
    (AFP/Pornchai Kittiwongsakul)

    CHIANG MAI: As the Thai capital continues to experience gridlock from political protests, the northern province of Chiang Mai is entertaining an influx of visitors who prefer to stay away from all the roadblocks and possible dangers the protests might bring.

    Many of Bangkok’s streets are blocked by anti-government protesters, who have long been calling for the government's resignation and a postponement of the upcoming polls.

    Their blockades of advance polling stations on Sunday led to a fatal clash with pro government activists, resulting in one death and several injuries.

    Amid growing concerns that violence may escalate even further, many tourists have chosen to stay away from the capital city as far as they can.

    One of the popular destinations is in northern Thailand, where peace and security remains undisturbed.

    Located some 700km north of Bangkok, the province of Chiang Mai is enjoying a huge influx of visitors from around the world. Many of them have diverted their route from the capital city for fear of its volatile situation.

    While businesses in Bangkok are feeling the pinch of the social unrest, entrepreneurs in Chiang Mai are benefiting from the very same cause.

    After 11 years of selling scarves at the weekend night market, Jitraporn Watcharasurang is enjoying an unusually high volume of sales, thanks to the many tourists who have fled the capital.

    The 58-year-old shop owner said: "I've noticed more tourists in Chiang Mai. We usually see a lot of tourists during this time of the year because it's a high season but we are now seeing a lot more. My sale has nearly doubled."

    Besides local stores, hotel rooms in the northern province are also selling out fast.

    And entrepreneurs are quite confident the tourism businesses will continue this way as long as Bangkok remains under the siege of the political impasse.

    channelnewsasia.com

  2. #2
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    Traffic is getting bad up here, it already was. In the 5 years I've been up here, there's been noticeable growth. A lot more people are driving cars, condos are springing up all over the place, but they haven't done anything to imrove the roads or infrastructure. The place is becoming a big cluster fuck.

    I'm down in Lamphun, it's usually a 25 - 30 minute trip up the superhighway into the city. At peak hour this can be an hour or so.

    Around new years in the holidays, it's the busiest I've ever seen Chiang Mai. Driving from Lamphun took over 2 hours, with cars flocking in from BKK.

    They have just built two big new shopping malls opening around the same time, The second has just opened. The other one a few months ago. It has a massive car park that was jam packed early January when we went to have a look. Every eatery had a waiting list. A total nightmare.

    I haven't been to the rimcome intersection where they built the newer one since it's opened. It's massive though, right on the busiest intersection in the city. This intersection was already a cluster fuck so it's going to be tragic now.

    I've been avoiding going into 'the city' more and more lately. It's impossible to get a park in the city, and just getting worse and worse. The few parks that are available are hogged by the red song-theaws. They seem to never be full, and either taking up every square inch of street parking, or driving around at snail pace with no punters, clogging up the traffic. No signs of improving the roads either.

    We usually make a weekly overnight trip where I go and get shit faced and the Mrs goes to the markets and does her shopping. Even that is becoming more of a chore. On top of the congestion, prices are going up, tourists are getting squeezed more and more, and it's starting to feel (and cost) more like another suburb of BKK. For me the city has lost its charm.

    Think I'll be camping down in Lamphun for good and only visiting CM when necessary. I've noticed a lot more falangs getting about Lamphun in the last year or so too. Not sure if this is flow on from the general growth, or if more people share my feelings and are getting out of town.

    Happy where I am now though, it's the right balance, not way out in the sticks, but enough out that you can park easily wherever you go and never sit in grid lock. The night life is vibrant, the only downer is no one speaks english, but my Thai has come along nicely since the 2.5 years I been here.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by 9999 View Post
    Traffic is getting bad up here, it already was. In the 5 years I've been up here, there's been noticeable growth. A lot more people are driving cars, condos are springing up all over the place, but they haven't done anything to imrove the roads or infrastructure. The place is becoming a big cluster fuck.

    I'm down in Lamphun, it's usually a 25 - 30 minute trip up the superhighway into the city. At peak hour this can be an hour or so.

    Around new years in the holidays, it's the busiest I've ever seen Chiang Mai. Driving from Lamphun took over 2 hours, with cars flocking in from BKK.

    They have just built two big new shopping malls opening around the same time, The second has just opened. The other one a few months ago. It has a massive car park that was jam packed early January when we went to have a look. Every eatery had a waiting list. A total nightmare.

    I haven't been to the rimcome intersection where they built the newer one since it's opened. It's massive though, right on the busiest intersection in the city. This intersection was already a cluster fuck so it's going to be tragic now.

    I've been avoiding going into 'the city' more and more lately. It's impossible to get a park in the city, and just getting worse and worse. The few parks that are available are hogged by the red song-theaws. They seem to never be full, and either taking up every square inch of street parking, or driving around at snail pace with no punters, clogging up the traffic. No signs of improving the roads either.

    We usually make a weekly overnight trip where I go and get shit faced and the Mrs goes to the markets and does her shopping. Even that is becoming more of a chore. On top of the congestion, prices are going up, tourists are getting squeezed more and more, and it's starting to feel (and cost) more like another suburb of BKK. For me the city has lost its charm.

    Think I'll be camping down in Lamphun for good and only visiting CM when necessary. I've noticed a lot more falangs getting about Lamphun in the last year or so too. Not sure if this is flow on from the general growth, or if more people share my feelings and are getting out of town.

    Happy where I am now though, it's the right balance, not way out in the sticks, but enough out that you can park easily wherever you go and never sit in grid lock. The night life is vibrant, the only downer is no one speaks english, but my Thai has come along nicely since the 2.5 years I been here.
    Very much sounds like you are on the path that I also think is a good one. Live close enough to Chiang Mai to enjoy it for what it is becoming, and far enough away to enjoy a more natural environment.

    I do love the mountains (hills) though, and if they have hills where you are then I will go take a look. What are you doing to further your Thai language acquisition?

    The roads here are really packed with cars, especially the main routes that go by the moat area North-South. What they really need is a beltway road which will let all cars skirt the city if they are just traveling by.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SonOfGod
    I do love the mountains (hills) though, and if they have hills where you are then I will go take a look. What are you doing to further your Thai language acquisition?
    Yeah I'm also a fan of mountains. Thai beaches don't do it for me after being around Aussie beaches my whole life. Lamphun has some nice mountains, lots of longan and vegetable farms. Route 106 (chiang Mai / Lamphun road) goes all the way from lamphun and up through the Mae Ping national park, which has caves, waterfalls, nill tribe villages, etc. I reckon it's a good day road trip, see thread in my sig.

    Thai language I just pick up from being around. It comes a lot faster when no one is speaking english and you get sick of making silly hand / body gestures to get your message across.

    Quote Originally Posted by SonOfGod
    The roads here are really packed with cars, especially the main routes that go by the moat area North-South. What they really need is a beltway road which will let all cars skirt the city if they are just traveling by.
    Yeah, I can't see it happening though. They could probably improve public transport with buses doing set routes around the city and main roads, replacing the red cars. It won't happen any time soon though, the red song theaws are like an institution in CM, and they would probably start a war if they threatened to pull them.

    I can only see it degenerate even further before it gets any better, unfortunately. Good thing is that there are so many places within a 50km radius so if you don't need to always be in the city there are plenty of options.

  5. #5
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    Chiang Mai has three ring roads. Not really room for any more. It's the roads inside town and the main highway to Lamphun that have become a jam.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Begbie
    Chiang Mai has three ring roads. Not really room for any more. It's the roads inside town and the main highway to Lamphun that have become a jam.
    Also all the intersections on the inner ring road leading to the outer ring roads, and those roads coming in, Chang Puak, bus station, road to Phrao, etc, and the Hang Dong road gets insanely busy at peak hour. But yeah, along the outer ring roads is not too bad, but all inroads to the city get jammed right up.

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    A 100% increase in the price of petrol would fix all that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Begbie
    A 100% increase in the price of petrol would fix all that.
    Sure would. The 100K THB bonus for first car buyers didn't do any favours. Notice all the new small shit boxes getting around with young people with no driving skills doing stupid random shit?

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    9999 has done all my complaining for me. Same gripes.

    Wish Chiang Mai would get a real public transportation system to get in and out of town on. I often leave my car at home and jump on one of the songthows because finding parking is so bad.

    Using pick up trucks for public transportation in the year 2014 is ridiculous!

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Begbie View Post
    Chiang Mai has three ring roads. Not really room for any more. It's the roads inside town and the main highway to Lamphun that have become a jam.

    There is already a fourth outer ring road planned. Won't be long before they start building it. I think the widening of the 1317 road is part of it.

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    That's a bit sad as the town is well on the way to becoming one huge suburb without a real centre.

    When I was a lad the inner ring road was in the countryside.

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    ...the province of Chiang Mai is enjoying a huge influx of visitors from around the world. Many of them have diverted their route from the capital city for fear of its volatile situation.
    And the people of the provincial home of the Shinawatra family have Mr Suthep to thank for the extra trade. Oh, the irony. Perhaps they'll name a mountain after him. How does Doi Suthep sound?

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