Chiang Mai: A young city more hipster and down to earth than it’s big brother Bangkok filled with beautiful and colourful graffiti that brightens up the sometimes old crumbling buildings. Filled with wandering backpackers and tourists stopping here while traveling further through the North. The city is filled with trendy coffee shops, organic food and stylish clothing. Rest out here for 2-3 days while preparing your next route.
Must Do 1
Midnight Train: We had to travel a bit longer coming from Pak Chong back to Ayutthaya and then towards Chiang Mai, we didn’t mind at all as the route is beautiful and the ride in the night train is something you won’t quickly forget…neither will your back. We checked the train times here and then started calculating the best time to leave and what time we would arrive. Weird thing about this ride it was the first time I slept separate from my boyfriend and I mean separate as we booked the tickets 4 hours in advance the beds below were all taken and we also couldn’t sleep near each other, oh well. The lights stay on the entire night and you can hear people walking in and out of the cabin, bring a good movie (Ted 2) and some earplugs. I had to put my bag up on my bed and ended up using it as a foot rest, next to me you’ll see the white linen sheets that were neatly rapped in plastic to keep them clean. Early in the morning experience the majestic cup of boiled up coffee and stale bread, but part of the ride, it’s a must and the sheets are really clean which is a plus point.
Must Do 2
Cooking Classes: yummy yummster! We’re what you call a classical case of food lovers, we even got picked up on the internet in this story about us on Bored Panda “Couple Eats 540 Meals in Restaurants Around the World” haha! So to add towards our love for food we of course followed a Thai cooking course. In a small group we headed to the best cooking school in Thailand: Thai Farm Cooking School . Before we got to the location we went to a small local market and learned the most important sauces and ingredients that are used. With an organic farm and good equipment we first got a tour around the land and tried the different herbs and vegetables that we’d be using. My boyfriend and I both made different curry’s so we’d learn double and went to work.
Everything was really simple and a lot of the things were already sliced for you, so when you get home prepare yourself for some chopping. My fav was the Tom Kha Gai soup and the Red Curry! In the end you get a cooking book for home to keep your skills on expert level.
Must See 1
Sunday and Saturday Night Market: An endless street filled with hundreds of small tables filled with handmade jewelry, clothing, bags, baskets, tableware and so much more. It was the most prince charming market we’ve seen in a while because it had an easy go feeling to it and no one was pushy or grabby. The stuff also didn’t all come straight out of a plastic wrap factory which made me look a little longer. Although some items had the ‘fixed prices’ sign on them try bargaining and you’ll see if they’re up for it. As we still need to travel for a few months we’re not really the buying types at this moment… more like the window or table shoppers. We did however end up buying a strange handmade cloth elephant with little bells for our Christmas tree next year (every year we each buy a new ball to add to our collection). Also find the best Gyoza and Som Tam here.
Must See 2
Graffiti: Take a look around while you’re walking or biking and you’ll find a lot of arty farty walls and old buildings. They are surprisingly beautiful and funny and make an interesting juxtapose with the old temples nearby.
Shopping: Go through the hipster shopping streets in the old city and find dozens of industrial small coffee bars that are buzzing with backpackers and other people looking to have a good talk. Find trendy second hand thrift shops that offer a collection of hip tank tops and notepads for your journeys and stories. I bought a grey thin tank top from a second hand shop called ‘Norma –Pretty Things’ hidden in a small alley.
Must Eat 1
Salad Concept: For a fresh crispy salad like back home head on over to this place. They have all types of salads to munch on and they’re right next to the old city. My specialty and favourite the Caesar salad with extra avocado nom nom.
Must Eat 2
Khow Mun Gai Restaurant: The best chicken and rice you’ll ever have and for only 25 Baht! This Thai dish is originally from China (Hainanese Chicken and Rice) but is given a certain Thai twist and can be found everywhere. This however is the best in town and also the cheapest. The rice is boiled in water and oil and therefore the name Khao Man Gai is originated from this. When we stepped into this joint the Thai lady held up her 2 fingers and I just found myself nodding before I even knew what I agreed upon. I almost had the feeling that I was walking into my local bar and saying to the lady “I’ll have the usual”. We ended up loving it! Eat the chicken and rice and mix some of the broth together when taking a spoonful. Find extra spices and sauces on a table next to the kitchen and don’t be afraid to drink the water with ice, you won’t get sick as we went happy go marry out of there 2 times.
Must Eat 3
Sirichai Express: The traditional yellow curry soup is a mix of Burmese heritage and a combo with the Thai culture. We searched the whole city to find this bowl of goodness and accidentally walked into the best in town. On the table you’ll find a pitcher with fresh Thai tea and feel free to gulp some down while waiting. The soup reminded me of India’s spices and also had the familiar Thai fish sauce aroma. Sirichai Express is the best in town!
Dada Kafe & Hopf Coffee: Located both not far from each other in the old city, these joints know how to make a healthy smoothie with just the right amount of vitamins and fruits. Hopf Coffee will give you an entire description of each smoothie including the explanation of all the ingredients and why they’re vital for a healthy living.
I ordered the ‘Doctor Detox’: sprouted black rice, Mangostone, Papaya Leaves and Amalaki, which is apparently great for your kidneys, liver, bladder, stomach and colon Dada Kafe screams organic goodness and is located next to a book swap store (for if you need the next Harry Potter). Nice thing about Dada Kafe was that I got a huge glass filled with ingredients like: bee pollen, flax seed oil, chlorella, mango, coconut, avocado and more, plus they gave me an extra glass with excess smoothie as it didn’t all fit in the already huge one. No lunch for me.
HeyHa: A cheap great modern hip hotel filled with jazzy sounds and laughter spilling out onto the street at night. For 21 Euro’s your stay in Chiang Mai is complete with free bikes that can be used, great location near the old city and owners that make you feel at home.
We’ve been traveling for a while now and it felt like coming home, the shared kitchen with large table was welcoming for all guests to eat breakfast at and enjoy swapping stories about the places they’ve been or will go to. We ended our last night with 4 brandy’s and a football match plus the best cookies you’ll find in Chiang Mai on the table for all to enjoy.
Must Find 1
Whitening Lotion: An absolute paradox to the western style of living. Instead of sun tan oil to bake and fry away to then show off to your friends and family back home, here they tend to focus more on whitening not their teeth but their skin. If you look close all the lotions that are sold have some kind of whitening effect in them, bleach perhaps? You’ll notice not only the Japanese tourists to protect their skin with umbrellas, locals too wear hats and protective gear on their face to block out the sun. The way we have lotion to give a ‘natural’ brown hue, here they have the complete opposite beauty status.
Must Find 2
Maroon 5 & Hotel California: It all started in Bangkok and is still happening all over Thailand. Find the songs of Maroon 5 in every café and restaurant. They’re everywhere even find them while watching a movie like x, which created our newest favourite hit: Lost Stars. If you’re in a bus or car, tune in and you’ll find the old school rock hits like Hotel California, that are the perfect combination for warm weather and a cold beer.
That’s all folks, next stop: Pai Thailand
For tips on other places I’ve visited check my older posts such as: Bangkok, Ayuthaya & Khao Yai National Park .
Keep you updated and posted, until then Korp Khun Ka!