March 07, 2012 00:00 By Premyuda Boonroj
Take a tour of Chiang Mai with your Personal Transporter
Want to see Chiang Mai’s temples but not too keen on walking and terrified of climbing into a tuk-tuk? Now, you have another option: donning a helmet and gliding along the streets on a Segway Personal Transporter (PT) in single file.
This new take on the Chiang Mai City tour – the Segway Gibbon – is offered by the Flight of the Gibbon zipline canopy adventure company, and combines a taste of the Lanna capital’s rich culture with an opportunity to ride a super-cool electrical self-balancing PT, each of which costs around half a million baht.
The tour kicks off at the Segway Gibbon Office in the Tha Phae area and while it is a little intimidating at first for the non-initiated – which is probably most people – you are shown the basics of riding and given some time to practise controlling the PT. It’s surprisingly easy, involving little more than leaning forward to go forward, leaning back to go backwards, standing upright to stop and turning the handlebar left or right depending on the direction you are going.
It’s also safe, provided that you follow the safety instructions, which include wearing helmets while operating the PT and travelling in single file on the street.
The machines, which normally glide smoothly even on Wat Chiang Man’s rough surface, are set so that they travel at up to 12.5 km per hour but resist any attempts to go any faster.
Navigating your way on Segway PT feels as natural as walking but is faster, much less tiring and way more fun. It’s also pretty cool, as it attracts attention, waves and plenty of smiles.
The two-hour city tour, costing Bt1,999 per person including a t-shirt, snack and drink, takes up to six people at a time with two guides leading the way.
The tour starts from Tha Phae Gate, passes through the Somphet Market and takes in Wat Chiang Man, the Three Kings Monument, Wat Phra Singh, Wat Pan Tao and Wat Chedi Luang. The attentive tour guides are informative about each temple and allow you plenty time to ride around temple and take photos. The tour ends with a coffee at a local café.
A “mini” one-hour city tour is also available at Bt1,399 per person with the t-shirt but without the coffee and takes in Thapae Gate, Wat Prasingh and Wat Chedi Luang.
Irish national, Annette Kunigagan, 45, was impressed. “It’s great to ride a green machine and protect the environment, while enjoying my tour of Chiang Mai.”
American Rich Johnson, 69, echoed her words, adding that he wished more tours were available, as he would like to see more of the old city on a PT.
Fun on two wheels
>> Flight of the Gibbon is currently offering four city tours a day. Advance reservations are recommended. Call (053) 010 660-3, www.SegwayGibbon.com.
>> Segway Safari Chiang Mai offers a one-hour tour around Chiang Mai's Night Safari for Bt1,150 per person. Each session take up to six customers. Call (087) 788 2788 or visit Facebook/ChiangMaiSegwayTour.
>> Segway Tour (Thailand) offers four routes: a three-hour Koh Rattanakosin tour, a nine-hour tour of Ayutthaya's Historic Park, a six-hour tour around Samut Prakan's Ancient City (Muang Boran), and a six-hour tour along Chao Phraya River to Bang Krachao. Prices range from Bt1,500-Bt6,000 per person. Call (02) 221 4525 or (085) 476 7917 or visit www.SegwayTourThailand.com.