27 January 2017
Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai

Located in the northernmost area of Thailand, Chiang Mai is agreat departure from the hustle and bustle of the nation’s capital.A land of temples, mountains, and food adventures galore, Chiang Mai is a place to recharge the body and soul. The city’s numerous galleries, spas, and night marketsdraw people from all over the world, and its street food has been dubbed by many as the best in the world.

You can get around by tuk-tuks and rótdaang, but walking is the best way to go in old city. During summers, make sure to bring a hat and a bottle of water wherever you go as temperatures tend to soar; during the cold season however, the air gets pleasantly chilly so bring a thin jacket for good measure. Whatever the season, any time is as good as any to explore this ancient city.

Old City

When in Chiang Mai, make it a point to explore the Old City, the seat of the ancient Lanna kingdom that once ruled the area. Today, the city’s moats and walls do not aim to bar outsiders from entering, and instead welcomes locals and tourists alike. The ancient city one of the best places to walk and wander in Chiang Mai as you’re bound to find an interesting gem on one of its streets.

One thing that the Old City is most known for is its Buddhist temples (Wat). There are over 300 temples in Chiang Mai, more than in any other city in Thailand, and a good portion of them reside behind the walls of the Old City. Some of the most recognizable temples in the Old City include WatChediLuang, WatPhra Singh, and Wat Chiang Man. To explore these temples, you can either sign up for a tour with guide, or explore them yourself at your leisure. Either way, make sure you dress modestly, that means wearing bottoms that stop below the knees andtops that cover the shoulders.

Another thing the Old City is known for is its boutique hotels. These hotels are small in comparison to most hotels outside the walls but lack none of the amenities you’d expect to find in larger resorts. If came to Chiang Mai to explore the Old City for a couple days, these hotels will be perfect for you.

The foodie in you will be happy to hear that the Old City has no shortage of restaurants, street food, and coffee shops. Good restaurants serving traditional Thai cooking and Western cuisine sit on the corner of every street and the food stalls that flank the roadssell great snacks such asmango with sticky rice, grilled meats, and variety of other mouthwatering bites.

Coffee shops in the Old City are small and cozy, but certainly don’t lack big flavors and personality. You’ll find that most coffee shops in the area take their coffee and brewing very seriously, and often feature local Thai coffee in their blends. These shops are scattered around town and are the perfect place to unwind, get to some emails while enjoying a quality cup of joe. One such shop I happened across is Pacamara, a warm little nook and the subject of my very first article.

Night Bazaar

One of the most popular places to eat and shop in Chiang Mai is the famous night bazaar. Located east of the Old City and open from dusk until midnight every day of the year, this is the place to go to get clothes, jewelry, bags, and everything in between without breaking the bank.

As the name implies, the best time to visit the bazaar is at night as throngs of people come from all over town and the vendors start calling out for attention. If you’ve always dreaming about going Rebecca Bloomwood (without the mounting debts) this is the time! Make sure you get a nice souvenir for your friends and family back home. A word of advice: although the prices may seem cheap by normal standards, don’t be afraid to bargain. It’s part of the fun!

Say your wife has lost all sense of time and has left you to your own devices, there’s no better way to pass the time than to get a relaxing foot massage. Kick back, and relax! If you don’t want anyone touching your feet, then how about fish instead? This holistic approach of foot and skin health is taking over Southeast Asia and you can easily spot meter long aquariums filled with little fish across the market. Just dip in your feet and voila!Dinner for the fish!

If haggling’s worked up your appetite, the bazaar is full of vendors selling snacks on little metal carts and really good Thai restaurants and street food off to the side. If you want to a break from all the Thai spices, you’ll be happy to hear that the street is also home to Chiang Mai’s first McDonalds, Starbucks,Subway, and many other Western establishments. Either way, it’s all good.


Nimmanhemin or simply Nimman, lies west of the Old City at the base of Chiang Mai’s mountains. The name Nimman actually refers to the name of the street, but people usually refer to the entire area as such. What was once just a dirt track and forgotten backwater has now become the chicest part of town. Chiang Mai’s expat capital, this part of town is littered with modern restaurants, quirky shops, and an outstanding number of great coffee shops.

If plan on exploring Nimman for a couple days, look into renting one of the many apartments in the area. These apartments are within walking distance of plenty of restaurants and shop. However, if you plan just visiting, you can get there easily via tuk-tuk from in or around the Old City.

Restaurants in the area are vibrant and varied. Traditional Thai stalls and restaurants serving cuisines from all over the world line the main streets and the smaller roads (sois). Don’t be afraid of exploring the sois of the area, as some of the best restaurants are tucked away from plain view. Hidden they may be, but you can usually tell which restaurants are worth visiting by the number of diners in the space.

The area is also full of numerous coffee shopsfocusing on only serving only the best coffee Thailand (and the world) had to offer. One such coffee shop whose attention to detail and sense of community was truly noteworthy was Impresso Espresso Bar, a charming shop tucked away in much quieter sois. Another coffee shop in the area that also happened to be one of the most recognizable in Chiang Mai is Ristr8to. Serving their coffee in weird and wonderful ways like in test tubes and giving their beverages risqué names, Ristr8to is one of Nimman’s most popular hang outs.

Ping River

Once forgotten by tourist development, the east bank of the Ping River is now a mecca for the artist. Take a tuk-tuk to the area and explore the shops on foot. This is best done in the later hours of the afternoon as the sun begins to set and the area is illuminated by twinkling lights. Most of the buildings in the area have been forgotten by time and some are even 100 years old.

Today, the buildings house art galleries selling handcrafted pieces of art and antiques. To impress your other half, have dinner in one of the area’s riverside restaurants as the sun sets or spend a day at one of the area’s tranquil spas. Homestays and beds-and-breakfasts are relatively common in the area, but contemporary boutique hotels are also beginning to pop up as well.

The Ping River’s coffee scene is unique and unlike any other in town. The coffee shops in the area reflect the Ping River’s more artsy and eclectic aesthetics. The coffee shop that I had an expansive gallery and carefully curated art space on the second floor and was decorated and designed in way that made it seem alive. One of the best places to get coffee in this part of town in the lush Woo Cafe.