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Chiang Mai Airport Exclusivity Shakes Up Ride-Hailing Scene with Grab Partnership

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Imagine stepping off the plane at Chiang Mai, the mountain-fringed city that whispers tales of Lanna culture and vibrant street markets, only to realize you’ve got a singular choice when it comes to modern-day chariots whisking you away to your hotel. That’s right, folks – Chiang Mai Airport is riding solo with Grab as its choice for a ride-hailing partner, alongside the traditional fanfare of taxis and public transport.

The maestro behind the curtain, Airport General Manager Ronnakorn Chalermsanyakorn, lays out the red carpet exclusively for Grab. It’s an exclusive club where Grab cars, competent taxis from two meticulously chosen companies, and dependable airport vans get the golden ticket to roll up right to the airport’s doorstep.

Don’t get it twisted – this isn’t a free-for-all. These vehicles fall under the carefully curated category of non-regular transport providers that have gotten the airport’s seal of approval. On the flip side, the staple diet of public transport, featuring the hardy city buses and the songthaews, which are more for the farewells than arrivals, play by a slightly different set of rules.

This masterplan, according to Ronnakorn, is not just about keeping the wheels turning. It’s about ensuring that each journey from the airport isn’t just a trip – it’s an experience. Quality control and safety aren’t just fancy words; they are the pillars that uphold the airport’s reputation.

However, not everyone’s ready to join the parade. A driver from Bolt – another ride-hailing contender – recently lit up social media with a video. He shared his slice of frustration over being told that the airport was an exclusive party, and sadly, Bolt didn’t make the guest list. An official, in a moment caught on film, delivered the verdict: “Your app isn’t out of bounds, but it’s not on the list of the chosen ones by AoT (Airports of Thailand Plc) to serve at this dance.”

The timing of this social media snippet dropping into the public eye remains shrouded in mystery. What’s crystal clear, however, is the dominance of Airports of Thailand in operating this gateway to Northern Thailand’s treasure trove of culture, cuisine, and nature.

In the grand tapestry of Chiang Mai’s travel ecosystem, the airport’s policy has been a stitch that’s certainly attracted attention. Whether you’re a digital nomad, a culture seeker, or simply someone trying to catch a ride, the dynamics at Chiang Mai Airport offer a glimpse into the future of travel in Thailand’s rose of the north. So next time you’re there, remember, Grab isn’t just an option; it’s the gateway to beginning your latest adventure in Chiang Mai.


  1. DigitalNomadKaren May 21, 2024

    Can’t believe Chiang Mai Airport is going exclusive with Grab. While it simplifies things, what about competition and fair pricing? Monopolies never benefit consumers in the long run. #disappointed

    • LocalTravelGuru May 21, 2024

      It’s not about monopoly, it’s about safety and service quality. Traditional taxis and unreliable apps make tourist experiences bad. Grab has proven to be reliable, so why not?

      • ConcernedCitizen May 21, 2024

        But doesn’t this limit choices for both local drivers and passengers? It feels like a step back in terms of transport freedom.

    • TechSavvy May 21, 2024

      This might actually improve the overall travel experience. Ever tried haggling with a taxi driver in Chiang Mai? It’s stressful. I welcome this change.

      • MarketWatcher May 21, 2024

        But what about the potential of price surges? With less competition, Grab can basically charge what they want, especially during peak hours or seasons.

    • DigitalNomadKaren May 21, 2024

      True, safety is key. But wasn’t the point of ride-hailing apps to break monopolies like this? Just feels like we’re going in circles.

  2. JonnyExpats May 21, 2024

    Is nobody else seeing the positive side? This could streamline airport pickups and drop-offs massively. Plus, less hassle with drivers who pretend not to know where you’re going.

    • OldSchool May 21, 2024

      Streamlining at the cost of personal choice isn’t a win in my books. What happened to hailing a cab and negotiating a fair price? We’re losing the human element.

      • JonnyExpats May 21, 2024

        Negotiating is fine if you speak the language and know the area. For tourists, it’s just another stress point. I’ll take the ‘loss’ of human element for convenience and safety any day.

  3. EcoWarrior May 21, 2024

    Everyone’s talking about Grab vs taxis, but what about the environmental impact? This could be a chance to enforce stricter eco-friendly policies on airport vehicles. Missed opportunity?

  4. BoltDriver May 21, 2024

    As a driver for a different ride-hailing app, this is a slap in the face. We offer competitive rates and service too. Chiang Mai Airport just set a dangerous precedent for other airports.

    • FreeMarketFan May 21, 2024

      The airport has every right to choose partners that align with their standards. It’s not about excluding others, but ensuring a particular standard. Maybe it’s time for other apps to up their game?

      • BoltDriver May 21, 2024

        Upping our game isn’t the issue. Access is. How can we prove we’re just as good, if not better, if we’re not even given a chance to show up?

  5. ChiangMaiLover May 21, 2024

    This change could be great for tourism. Simplifying transport from the airport makes Chiang Mai more accessible, especially for first-timers. It’s about the bigger picture.

    • CultureVulture May 21, 2024

      But at what cost? Part of travel is experiencing the good, the bad, and the frustrating. Handholding tourists this way dilutes the authenticity of travel.

  6. BudgetBackpacker May 21, 2024

    I’m curious how this will affect budget travelers. Grab isn’t always the cheapest option, especially for solo travelers. The airport should consider affordable alternatives too.

    • GlobeTrotter May 21, 2024

      Exactly my thought! Not everyone wants or can afford a private car pick-up. Public transport and cheaper ride-hailing options are essential for the backpacker community.

  7. SafetyFirst May 21, 2024

    Safety and quality control are crucial, especially in a foreign country. I support the airport’s decision. It’s about ensuring a good experience from the moment you land.

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