Chiang Mai Living – Samlor Tours

If you have been in the North of Thailand you have probably seen them. For a lot of visitors riding on a samlor is something to try as part of the cultural experience.

Samlor tricycles were once the only way to get from one place to another within a short distance. A samlor is a three wheeled bicycle with a seat behind the driver which can carry a maximum of 2 passengers. It was one of the early forms of public taxi service in Thailand. The first samlors were built in the northeast of Thailand in Nakhon Ratchasima around 1930, and became a very popular mode of transportation.

Today they are banned from the streets in many cities because they slow down the busy city traffic. In Chiang Mai they still ply the streets mainly carrying tourist and elderly locals to and from the markets.  A new tour has started up to promote these samlor business and provide work for the older drivers.  We had the opportunity to check them out and as it turned out we were the first paying customers for this new attraction.

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According to their website http://www.chiangmaionthreewheels.com offers tours by samlor which is a bicycle taxi and in Thai language samlor literally means three wheels. Chiang Mai on Three Wheels supports the drivers of samlors in Chiang Mai. We also want to preserve the samlor as a cultural heritage of Chiang Mai. Before the age of the automobile there used to be hundreds of samlors on the roads of Chiang Mai. Now there are less than 70. Chiang Mai on Three Wheels considers the samlor a Chiang Mai heritage. We want to preserve the samlor as a means of transportation in the future. At the same time we want to improve the livelihood of the drivers by offering some great samlor tours. There is no nicer way to explore the back streets of Chiang Mai than by samlor. Chiang Mai on Three Wheels is a project of Green Trails. We experienced a quieter and relaxed tour of some temples and markets of Chiang Mai.

It was October 28th and it was a fun morning with some sights and experiences of the city – a nice way to explore some of the older areas of Chiang Mai. Check out our pictures of some of the experiences.

During this tour we visited the historic Wat Ket area. This is the neighborhood where foreigners were allowed to settle in the early days. It’s east of the Ping River. You will visit the San Pakoy, Warorot and Ton Lamyai markets.  You will cross the iconic Iron Bridge and the recently re-opened Chansom Memorial footbridge. The Wat Ket Museum offers an eclectic mix of exhibits as well as many old pictures of Chiang Mai. We visited the first Christian School, Finally, we will stop at the Buparam and Mahawan temples before we finish the tour at Thapae Gate. Our morning tour started at Thapae Gate at 0830 and ended there at 1230.

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