I was in Thailand for two weeks, back at the end of November and the beginning of December 2017. In my previous posts, I wrote about changes in my original plan because of bad weather in the south of Thailand. Thus, I remained in the north, where the weather was absolutely superb. I was enjoying Chiang Mai, while at the same time, there was a torrential downpour in Krabi. I spent 8 days in Chiang Mai and had a bit more time to better explore the old town.
Surely, a short 2 or 3 days stay in a completely new place allows us to get just a superficial impression of that place. But frankly speaking, even 8 days is not enough for Chiang Mai. The slightly longer time that I spent there enabled me to discover things that I consider worth writing about. I hope that my suggestions may be useful for people who intend to stay in Chiang Mai for a shorter period of time.
Apart from experiencing Chiang Mai’s uniquely charming atmosphere, which made me feel well and relaxed, other things that everyone will inevitably do is to eat and to most likely have a massage. Chiang Mai is full of restaurants and massage parlours. They cater for both Thais and tourists. I have seen a lot of Thais having a massage, all the time. Clearly, the massage ritual seems to be the integral part of their culture and the way of living.
I stayed in a very nice and comfortable Pingviman Hotel, on Samlan Road. Surely, being in a beautifully designed hotel, with a heated swimming pool, considerably contributed to my overall enjoyable stay in Chiang Mai. I had breakfast in the hotel, with the choice of both European and Thai food. It is probably needless to say that I only had Thai food. It brought excitement every morning when I went for breakfast, because of novelty and unusual flavours.
Certainly, there are many Thai restaurants in London, but the food is simply not the same. This is also why I never consider eating European food in such destinations. I would never want to miss the unique opportunity of eating exotic and authentic food.
Every day, I went out for lunch and dinner. What I’ve learnt from my numerous visits to China is that people coming from western countries label all food as Chinese or Thai. However, subtleties and differences between regional cuisines are very significant and noticeable once you become aware of that fact and once you pay attention. It is still very difficult to fully identify what is what, unless you are with the local person. They can explain to you what exactly you are eating and the region it comes from. Otherwise, because of completely incomprehensible languages, it is mostly impossible to understand the menu. I also had a lot of very delicious street food and did not have any problems. Just make sure that it is freshly cooked in front of you.
Of all restaurants that I visited in Chiang Mai, I would select two, where I think that the food was excellent and I went back to both of them several times. In terms of the cost, a typical meal was between 50-70 baht and with a drink, the bill would almost never be more than 100 baht.
One restaurant that I strongly suggest is called Krua Dabb Lob. You will find it almost in the centre of the Rachadamneon Road, which is the Chiang Mai’s main road.
I had excellent Pad Thai and spring rolls in this restaurant.
I also tried the egg noodle soup.
The other restaurant that I suggest is on Tha Phae Road. When you pass the Tha Phae Gate, if you walk all the way towards the Night Market, the restaurant is located on the right hand side, before you turn into Chang Klan road. The restaurant is very distinctive and it is impossible to miss it.
I had excellent egg noodle soup with squid in this restaurant. The soup comes in many different varieties and you can choose whatever you fancy at the time. Prices are also either 50 or 60 baht per portion.
I had a massage 6 times during my 8 days in Chiang Mai. The best massage salon that I visited is Shanta @ The Canal. It is in Sri Poom Road, in the north-east corner of the old town. You will find this salon on the main road that encircles the old town. It is almost opposite the food market on the other side of the canal.
I had the Neck & Shoulder and the Full Body Oil massage in this place and both were very good. Ladies that massaged me were very experienced and very friendly. I went there around 7pm and at that time there were not many patients. Some people were having a foot massage, but main rooms upstairs were all empty and I didn’t have to wait at all. You can see the price list below, showing all available services in this particular establishment.
More adventurous people can also try other local delicacies to which we are not accustomed to – such as the shark fin soup.
Another alternative could be to check a stall with assorted fried edible insects – I tried a grasshopper, more as a curiosity. Despite being an insect, it was perfectly OK to eat, although it was not as good as fried skid, for example.
Visiting countries like Thailand reminds us that people live different life styles around the planet. Things not customary to us are perfectly normal to other people. It is equally impossible to say which one is better. It also reminds us of different levels of economic progress, in different parts of the world. As an example, the typical meat stall in a market in Chiang Rai is an attraction for western visitors.
And this is an obvious example of differences that I am talking about – the meat stall in a market in Barcelona that sells local products:
In any case, both the concept and the aim are the same – the only difference is the presentation.