Chiang Mai Locator, Chiang Mai Thailand
CHIANG MAI LOCATOR - Leading you inside Chiang Mai

Publish your own story / article for a great audience

Chiang Mai Stories The future of Chiang Mai: promising or problematic?

Admin Locator
 Story posted by Admin Locator on April 15, 2017 at 06:41:23 :: What's on

Thailand just celebrated Songkran which traditionally marked the beginning of the Thai New Year and the coming of rain as a blessing after the dry season.
Like Westerners do during Western NY, it’s perhaps a good time to pause and reflect on where Chiang Mai is heading to in the near future.
 
An article published a few years ago on this website correctly predicted some of the major developments that subsequently happened in Chiang Mai. Now we ask: what’s next?
 
Here’s our view on Chiang Mai’s possible future in the next 5-10 years and what factors underly it.
 

1. Chiang Mai will become more and more like Bangkok

Like it or not, but Chiang Mai is well on its way to become another Bangkok. Not in terms of its size - Chiang Mai will never become as large as the capital - but in terms of congestion and crowdiness. In some ways, Chiang Mai could become worse than Bangkok, because at least Bangkok has public transport.
 
The construction boom of houses, shopping malls and condominiums over the past few years has attracted more residents in town, but the lack of urban planning and investment in the infrastructure of roads in and around the city has led to more and more traffic jams, that will only get worse in the coming years.
Major intersections and major roads inside the city but also on the Superhighway will become congested during most times of the day, there will hardly be times that you can drive on without a jam.
 
The situation in Chiang Mai will become worse than in Bangkok, because Bangkok was able to redesign it’s road system and widen it at some places, and it has some proper public transport.
For Chiang Mai to widen up its inner roads it’s simply too late, because the government lacks the money and will to buy everyone out along important inner city roads. Imagine the government buying up all the stores and townhouses along Nimmanhaemin, Suthep road and Huaykaew road, it’s simply too late.
 

2. Chiang Mai will be become the Accident Capital City of Thailand

Already, the accident rate in Chiang Mai is one of the highest in Thailand. According to the latest government monitoring action during the so-called 7 Dangerous Days around New Year, the number of accidents in Chiang Mai is the highest within Thailand.
Chiang Mai will continue to ‘excell’ in this regard with an excessive accident rate and death toll.
 
Chiang Mai is like a patient with high blood pressure suffering a cardiac arrest nearly every day. The road system is simply insufficient to facilitate the increased flow of traffic, all major roads get blocked not only during the busy hours but also during other times of the day, in a way you can say the busy hour period has expanded.
 
The risk of having an accident has become higher and higher. You can witness accident marks on the road everywhere, if you’re on the road often enough you can witness ambulance staff clearing up the mess minutes after an accident happened, and sadly now your chances to witness an accident happening live in front of your own eyes are very real.
 
The joy of driving through town has already gone, going from one corner of town to another has become an exhausting exercise that requires all your attention to avoid being hit. As a foreigner new in town and unfamiliar with Thai traffic “rules”, you’re at even more risk and you better get to understand how Thai traffic really works.
 

3. Real public transport in Chiang Mai won’t be coming soon

Despite it’s size, Chiang Mai still does not have a real public transport system. Yes, there are a few very old buses driving to outward places like Lamphun and Lampang, and recently a numbered redcap (songtaew) route map was introduced as an official public transport system, but critics suggest it is a disguised way for the songtaew lobby to stay in control of the transport system and anyway it’s far insufficient for a city like Chiang Mai.
Most of the need for public transport is catered for by songtaews in different colours, which is not really a public transport system but operates in murky ways according to an article in Citylife.
 
Even in the coming 10 years, the government will lack the will and power to step over vested interests to create a real public transport system. Plans to make a Skytrain or tram from the northwest corner of the city to the airport, or even a tunnel from Nimmanhaemin to the Convention Center remain vague and hardly realistic.
 
Private business initiatives, such as Grab Taxi and Uber, although not 100% legal and undesired by the songtaew and tuc tuc lobby are making more of a difference than any government programs.
 
Old trains at Chiang Mai train station only recently some trains have been replaced
Old train at Chiang Mai train station. Some trains were recently replaced
 

4. Major infrastructural projects will only be realized on the very long run

Despite announcing it’s plans to make a high-speed rail line connecting Chiang Mai to Bangkok, to build a new airport and to build a highway to Chiang Rai, such major infrastructural projects won’t be carried out within the next ten years or so simply because the government doesn’t have the money and commitment to carry them out fast and soon.
A high-speed train system would make some difference to Chiang Mai but frankly the airline tickets are so cheap that its effect will be limited. Chiang Mai is in great need of a new airport though, and delaying that decision won’t be benificial for the city.
 
Only a few road improvements around the city will alleviate the traffic flows, for example the widening of the road to Hang Dong and the underpass of the Maejo - Superhighway intersection.
 
Traffic jams are more and more common in Chiang Mai
A modest day of traffic jams in Chiang Mai according to Google

 

5. Local economy will remains weak

While the current government policies may have some benefits for Thailand on the long run, they do not help the economy much on the short run.
Even when eventually a new elected government comes to power in Thailand in the next few years, it will be bound by the control measures installed in the system now and Thailand may not have the same laissez-fair economy as it used to have in the past.
There is tremendous potential in the Thai economy but with self-interests, corruption and inefficient business practises handicapping the system, it’s not likely to grow vey fast in the coming 5 years or so.
 
Figures suggesting significant growth of the Thai economy and a booming tourism sector are highly suspect.
 
Factories and small businesses have been suffering during the past few years. A local Thai hotel owner at Taphae gate told us he’s been in business for forty years and 2016 was the worst ever.
 
The only highlight is the coming of Chinese tourists and investors into Thailand without which the economy would have been much harder hit.
 

6. Next property boom for Chiang Mai will come when Bangkok is suffering

Bangkok as the capital of Thailand will be suffering more and more from structural problems: parts of the city are sinking with several centimeters per year (!) while sea levels are rising, so it seems a near certainty that at some point in time some areas in and around Bangkok will experience flooding and water drainage problems in the next few years.
Only when the problems are totally undeniable and when it’s actually too late, the authorities will have to come into action and people will realise that Bangkok isn’t so liveable anymore.
The floodings in Bangkok a few years ago led to an investment boom in Chiang Mai and this scenario is likely to happen again.
The next time Bangkok is flooded, again more people from Bangkok will buy up second homes and land in Chiang Mai.
 
The property market in Chiang Mai is still in a total oversupply situation despite what agents or developer want you to believe, but over time this oversupply can be absorbed by the demand from Bangkok and from Chinese investors.
 

7. Diversification will be Chiang Mai’s strength

Chiang Mai was only a small, provincial town a few decades ago, a tourist destination called the ‘Rose of the North’. Nimmanhaemin area was just a plain field with one road. Back then, the city was known for elephant camps and peaceful holidays and attracted backpackers and holiday-goers.
In the meantime, the city has expanded in every direction possible (except for the mountain) and now attracts different groups of visitors and residents: retirees, medical tourists, yoga hippies, digital nomads and Chinese.
To some Chinese residents, Chiang Mai is an accessible alternative to China, with modest pollution levels, good facilities and international schools for their children.
 
Chiang Mai will become a more vibrant, interesting and economically resilient place if there are more diverse reasons to visit it and stay. The government makes modest and uncoordinated efforts to make Chiang Mai into a MICE city, the giant Convention Center along Canal road is probably not always fully booked.
 
A one-sided expansion of the city’s economy and profile with only just ‘more of the same’: more hotels, more malls, more restaurants, more shops, won’t add to Chiang Mai’s strength.
 

8. The next phase for Chiang Mai is in business

One sector that is still small in Chiang Mai and that Chiang Mai would benefit from tremendously is international business.
 
Right now, Chiang Mai has a very modest business sector with some Japanese and Korean-run industries in neigboring Lamphun, a few westerner-run businesses in town and for the rest mainly tourism-oriented businesses and regional and local businesses.
 
The next phase for Chiang Mai will start when it will become home to a substantial amount of international businesses. That could be businesses from Bangkok, but more likely businesses from overseas.
 
Such a Renaissance of Chiang Mai is not likely to happen soon, perhaps within the next 10 years or so, lacking any government priorities and infrastructure, but if it happens it will be driven by the market and by innovations.
 

9. Whatever future lays ahead for Chiang Mai, Government won’t be leading it

Overall, the future of Chiang Mai will be shaped and lead not by the Government’s initiatives, which lack vision, co-ordination, planning, and the will to carry them out properly, while being held back by self-interests and lobby groups.
 
Rather, daily life in Chiang Mai will be shaped by the forces of technological innovation and international business.
 
An example of that is the lack of a proper public transport system which the government never developed. However, technological innovations combined with the drive of private businesses, such as Uber and Grabtaxi, are now side-skipping the monopoly of taxi, tuc tuc and songtaew drivers. Uber is cheaper, its drivers are younger and they use the latest technology so they know how to find places, the old taxi drivers only know the old landmarks. The playing field has changed, the future is to Uber and a younger generation, but the changes are not happening thanks to local or national government, one could even argue it’s despite of them: Uber drivers have been attacked by mobs of songtaew drivers and the government has responded by fining Uber drivers for using a private vehicle as a commercial one.
 
Another example is the massive influx of so-called Digital Nomads in Chiang Mai, which makes it the no. 1 hotspot of remote workers in the world. This was not some kind of government priority plan, nothing was done to improve the infrastructure or to attract these people, rather the visa policies have become tighter and tigher over the years, making it less easy to stay in Thailand longer term.
This was a development that came from the market and technological changes which enables more and more people to carry out their job remotely.
 
Finally, the flooding of Chiang Mai and Bangkok several years ago was totally foreseeable, but the government only took some actions after the damage was done. At some places along the river Meiping, now finally measures have been taken against a new flooding, but it’s not sure if they are sufficient and basically the government is lagging behind facts and events that already happened.
 
The lack of road infrastructure for the current size of Chiang Mai is another example of how the government failed to provide the right conditions for the growth of the city and now ordinary people have to pay the price in terms of waiting times in queues and accidents.
 
So a lot of the potential of Chiang Mai is not being realized because of an incapable government. For example, Chiang Mai could be a world example of a green, eco-city with sustainable energy sectors such as the creative sector and IT with a lot of spill-over to the local population, but the government does not see that potential.
 

10. Uncertainties remain, but Thai-ness prevails

 
When making predictions about the possible futures of Chiang Mai, there are many uncertain factors that could drive the direction the city is going, but there is also a near-certainty that we can work with: whatever opportunities and possibilities there are, Thai people will do it their way and that’s probably how it should be: the Thai way.
You can bring democracy to Thailand, but Thai will have their own version of it. You can import best practises in business, but you still have to adapt them to Thai culture. Thai traffic doesn’t work exactly the same as it is supposed to be internationally. Organic food in Chiang Mai isn’t always really organic, there are various degrees of it.
 
So, whatever future we wish for Chiang Mai, chances are that it’s not going to happen, or not in the way we deem best.


Comments for The future of Chiang Mai: promising or problematic?
Your Name or Pseudo
Your Email (not displayed)

Dr Bob Posted on June 05, 2017 at 12:10:34
There are two bus companies trying hard to break through with routes from Arcade to airport and CMU. There are ample bus waiting shelters with seats..The trouble is no one knows when the next bus is coming.. If only a digital forecaster were put up at each stop . this occurs world wide and would not cost a fortune to install.
lordkoos Posted on June 05, 2017 at 07:21:08
Depending on how you look at it, is it an infrastructure problem, or an over-population problem? Everything you suggest will simply make it easier for more people to move to Chiang Mai. Whether or not that is a good thing I'll leave to you, but I hope the small-city charm of the place is not ruined by growth..





Nomad Guides Chiang Mai
Get a 1-year Thai visa from overseas
Tulou Chinese Restaurant
Save up to 89% on banking fees wiring money internationally
Rent an apartment in Chiang Mai
Latest members (All our Members)
Chiang Mai Communities
Russell Strand
Alumlight
שלום אני ראסל Strand לעבוד כבלוגר בא…
Mama Shamie
Lost love spells caster / psychic healer +27737053600
World’s no.1 female lost love spells caster Mama Shamie +2…
Mama Shamie
African traditional healer with black magic +27737053600 lost love spells caster
Lost Love Spells Caster /Spells Caster In Johannesburg,Canad…
Admin Locator
Chiang Mai Toastmasters Club
Speak English, Build confidence, Conquer your fear, Master t…
James Graneria
Chiang Mai Social Group Of Friends
Do you want to meet up with fellow peers in Chiang Mai? Are …
Peter Cook
Mahasiddha
Mahasiddha Yoga (tantrayogathailand.com) - Just north of the…
Simon Laroche
Language Exchange
Free of costs language exchange between farang and Thai…
Admin Locator
Couchsurfing Chiang Mai
Weekly meet up with local Thai and Couchsurfers, long stayer…
Steve Kramer
Chiang Mai Fencing Club
Dedicated to the sport of Fencing, playing Foil, Epee, and S…
Admin Locator
Latin Tunes @Meridien
Salsa lovers gather at the Meridien, salsa in style, every l…
Admin Locator
Salsa @Sahara
Salsa dance lovers swing it out on Thursday at Sahara, Nimma…
Admin Locator
Bird Watchers
Regular outings for bird lovers…
Admin Locator
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transsexual group (LGBT)
Our LGBT group aims to allow friendships between both Thai a…
Admin Locator
Monday Jam night @ Boy Blues Bar
Every Monday night is Jam night at Boy Blues Bar Bar. Many f…
Admin Locator
First Northern Thailand Toastmasters Club The Confidence Builders
Meets the 2nd and 4th Saturday of every month at 6pm. 053-21…
Admin Locator
MahJong group
Saturday mornings 10 am. Contact Ruth at 085-615-1413…
Admin Locator
Hash House Harriers: CSH3 (Saturday mixed Hash)
Mixed family hash runs every Saturday. Pick up point is The …
Admin Locator
Al-anon
Support group open to those affected by alcoholism in a rela…
Admin Locator
OA (Overeaters Anonymous)
Every Saturday from 4-5 p.m. Please ask the guards or nurses…
Admin Locator
Film Space
Every Saturday night screening at 07.00 pm (Free Admission!)…
Admin Locator
Expat Club
General Meetings on the 4th Saturday of the month, except De…
Admin Locator
Open night @ Sangdee
All are welcome to perform. Sirimangkalajarn Soi 5 from 8 PM…
Admin Locator
Meditate with the Green Papaya Sangha
In the tradition of Vietnamese Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh. T…
Admin Locator
Pool League
Every Friday at 9pm at participating bars in a home and away…
Admin Locator
Chiang Mai Expats Club Coffee Morning
Coffee meetings are on 1st and 3rd Friday of each month Frid…
Admin Locator
Alliance Francaise Films
Alliance Francaise Films: Every Friday at 8 PM…
Admin Locator
Trinity Baptist Church
Meeting for old-time worship and fellowship with Dr. Jack L.…
Admin Locator
Traditional 2nd hand market
A Traditional 2nd hand market - Every Saturday morning from …
Admin Locator
Big Day Out
1st Sunday of every month. Live music and BBQ, 080 1222561…
Admin Locator
New Beginnings group of Alcoholics Anonymous
Open meetings at 10:00am on Sundays.…
Admin Locator
International Group of Alcoholics Anonymous
Chiang Mai International Group of AA meets every morning at …
Admin Locator
Classic Cars of Lanna
Meets the last Sunday of every month…
Admin Locator
Softball
Every Sunday 1:30 pm - 4:00 pm We have bats and gloves… ju…
Admin Locator
Alcoholics Anonymous
Every Tuesday and Thursday at 6 p.m. Info: 084-485-0100, chi…
Admin Locator
Salsa dancers
Salsa dance lovers swing it out on Tuesday at Coffee Monster…
Admin Locator
“Informal” Expats Ladies Lunch
“Informal” Expats Ladies Lunch: The lunch buffet at the …
Admin Locator
“Formal” Expats Ladies Lunch
“Formal” Expats Ladies Lunch: First Thursday of every mo…
Admin Locator
Nicotine Anonymous
Nicotine Anonymous: Wednesdays and Saturdays, 1 p.m., 086-19…
Admin Locator
Quiz Night @ Garden Bar Lotus Hotel
Quiz Night at the Garden Bar Lotus Hotel Chang Puak. Teams o…
Admin Locator
Chiang Mai Photographic Group
Chiang Mai Photographic Group: meets every other Wednesday a…
Admin Locator
Open Microphone Night
Open Mike Night at the UN Irish Pub every Wednesday, from 8.…
Admin Locator
Co-dependants Anonymous
Co-dependants Anonymous: Support group for those having prob…
Admin Locator
Friends of Bill
Friends of Bill meeting (General 12 Step meeting, all addict…
Admin Locator
Swiss Lanna Society
Swiss Lanna Society weekly informal gatherings, 6:30 p.m. ev…
Admin Locator
Royal British Legion
Royal British Legion meeting has moved to Basic Line Hotel S…
Admin Locator
Badminton
Badminton group meets every Tuesday from 2-4 PM at the Munic…
Admin Locator
Judo
Judo group meets at the MMA club near the Railways station o…
Admin Locator
Money Club
CM Money Club meets last Thursday of every month. Info: Don …
Admin Locator
CM Geeks
The Chiang Mai Computer Club meets every Tuesday. It is open…
Admin Locator
Chiang Mai International Rotary Club
The Chiang Mai International Rotary Club meets on Tuesdays a…
Admin Locator
On-location Sketching Group
On-location sketching group: Monday mornings from 8:00-10:30…
Admin Locator
Karate Practise
Karatedo Federation Wado-kaj organises free Karate practise …
Admin Locator
Tai Chi - Chi Kung
Every Monday and Wednesday 8am at Suan Buak Hat Public Park …
Admin Locator
Women's Book Club
CM's International Women's Book Club meets every last Monday…
Admin Locator
Gentleman's Club
The Gentleman's Club for real gentlemen and males approachin…
Admin Locator
Back to Basics Group of AA
Back to Basics Group of Alcoholics Anonymous meets Monday to…
Admin Locator
Hash House Harriers CH3 (male only)
Male runs every alternate week on Mon/Tue. Pick up from The …
Admin Locator
Jam night @ Boy Blues Bar
Swinging music with live jam, every Monday from 9pm…
Admin Locator
Ball hockey by CM Highlanders
CM Highlanders plays ball hockey every Monday.…
Admin Locator
CM Travel Club
Chiang Mai Travel Club gathers at Sangdee every 2nd Monday o…
Admin Locator
Upstairs at Sangdee
Performing artists every Monday at Sangdee. For those intere…
Admin Locator
Hash House Harriers CSH3
Mixed family hash runs every Saturday. Pick up point is the …
Admin Locator
Sri Sathya Sai Baba Group
Study and discussion group for CM devotees of spiritual mast…
Admin Locator
Gay and Lesbian Club
Regular meetings…
Admin Locator
Readers & Book discussion group
Monthly over lunch to discuss a previously agreed book, cmre…
Admin Locator
Dining Out Group
Once a fortnight, alternating between Asian and Western food…
Warren Lee
Racquet Ball
Though there isn't a proper racquet ball court in Chiang Mai…
Alan and Melanie Kornfield
Circle of Light
The Circle of Light Group is a reading & discussion group fo…
Roland Mogg
Chiang Mai Beach Volleyball Club
Welcome to CMBVC! We are one of Chiang Mai's most active spo…
Amy Dapice
Urban Sketchers Chiang Mai
Urban Sketchers is a nonprofit organization dedicated to rai…
Jenny Jung
Maum meditation
Maum meditation is throwing away the false mind,and is Chan…
Skylar Santian
New Life Foundation Thailand
New Life Thai Foundation is a unique international, mindfuln…
Cinlada Srisuparat
WED ZOUK BAREFOOT at Birds Nest Cafe
We would like to invite you all for our regular zouk meet up…
Ken Lang
Tons of Time!
Weight being a problem for us all these days, but truly bein…
Rod Savvides
Tai Chi Chuan
Tai Chi Chuan step by step.. Daily weekday classes every …
Claudio Caselli
Yin Yoga with Claudio
Price: 200B - Contact Claudio: 0847 744705…
The Yoga Tree Chiang Mai
DANCEmandala
This movement meditation practice is for anyone that is insp…
Natha Yoga
Esoteric Integral Yoga
The Esoteric Integral Yoga course is an in-depth course prov…
Soragarn Sangsai
Football Club
Football Chiang Mai - Football fan in Chiang Mai…
Ratthawisutth Klomchitt
Chiangmai AutoCAD Training
AutoCAD for Engineering and Architecture drawing training…
Documentary Arts Asia
Documentary Arts Asia Monday & Thursday Showings
The Documentary Arts Asia Theater has regular screenings of …
JAY LEE
Income Tax discussion
How to legally claim tax rebate as a foreigner working in Th…
Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai Backgammon
Anyone interested in forming a group?…
Elf B
Tantra Yoga Community
A unique course about the extraordinary spiritual adventure …
Chiang Mai Improv Theatre
We are all about PLAY! Come and regress to being 5 years old…
Laughter Yoga
A laughter yoga class and circle at the Yoga Tree Chiang Mai…
TEFL 360
TEFL
TEFL Courses…
Bambi Rabid
Comedy Workshop
Think you're funny? We're looking for people who'd like to…
Jessie Q
Chiang Mai Jugglers and Prop Enthusiasts
Wanna meet and play with other Prop Manipulation geeks? Lear…
John Bales
Chiang Mai Chess Club
Welcome to Chiang Mai Chess Club…
Warren Lee
Squash Players Chiang Mai
There are 2 main groups of squash players in Chiang Mai. …
Warren Lee
Salsa
There are a few groups in Chiang Mai that gather for salsa, …
Writers without Borders
If you're an expat in Chiang Mai, Thailand, or, more specifi…
The Yoga Tree Chiang Mai
livingBIODANZA
An exploration of dance and movment, the BIODANZA way, of ho…
Steve XiengMieng
Green Papaya Sangha
Meditation in the tradition of Vietnamese Zen Monk Thich Nha…
Simon Laroche
Bridge Chiang Mai
Welcome to Bridge Club of Chiang Mai…