Chiang Mai on Three Wheels
Chiang Mai on Three Wheels is our project to support the samlor drivers of Chiang Mai and to preserve the samlor as a means of transportation in the city.
The samlor is a three-wheel passenger bicycle taxi. Samlor means “three wheels” in Thai. These kind of bicycle taxis were prevalent in Southeast Asia. The spread of motorised vehicles has made them redundant, unfortunately. Bicycle taxis are slow and obstruct traffic. Fewer and fewer people were willing to power them, as well. Riding a bicycle taxi is not a popular profession anymore.
Samlors, trishaws and cyclos
In Singapore, Hanoi and Hoi An bicycle taxis are now a tourist attraction. They exclusively drive tourists around, which is the only way the samlor will survive. In Chiang Mai, we are not that far. There are approximately 70 samlors left in Chiang Mai. You can find most of them at the Warorot Market. There are some samlors at the San Pakoi and Nong Hoi markets.
In 2016 we made this website to feature samlor tours. The proceeds from these tours we reinvest in the project. Although numbers are not available, the drivers have made more tours than before the launch of our website. Many tour companies and guides approach the drivers directly. There has been a growing awareness of the importance of the preservation of the samlor as a means of transportation. There is a long way to go before younger people will take over the torch.