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 short 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 most likely have a massage. Chiang Mai is full of restaurants and massage parlours. They cater for both the Thais and the tourists. I’ve seen a lot of Thais having a massage, all the time. Clearly, the massage ritual seems to be an integral part of their culture and the way of living.
WHERE TO STAY IN CHIANG MAI?
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 my breakfasts in the hotel, with a 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.
WHERE TO EAT IN CHIANG MAI?
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 a 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 didn’t have any problems. Just make sure that it’s freshly cooked in front of you.
Of all restaurants that I visited in Chiang Mai, I would select two with excellent food and I went back to both of them several times. In terms of cost, a typical meal was between 50-70 baht. 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 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 want to suggest is on Tha Phae road. When you pass the Tha Phae Gate and you walk all the way towards the Night Market, the restaurant is located on the right hand side, slightly before you turn to Chang Klan road. This restaurant is very distinctive and it’s impossible to miss.
I had an 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 in my 8 days in Chiang Mai. The best massage salon that I visited is Shanta @ The Canal. It’s in Sri Poom Road, in the old town’s north-east corner. You will find this salon on the main road that encircles the old town. It’s almost opposite of 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 upstairs the main massage rooms were all empty and I didn’t have to wait. You can see the price list below, showing all available services in this particular establishment.
EXOTIC FOOD IN THAILAND
More adventurous people can also try other local delicacies to which we are not accustomed – such as the shark fin soup.
Another alternative could be to check fried insects – I tried the grasshopper, more as a curiosity. Despite being an insect, it was perfectly OK to eat, although it was not as good as fried squid, for example.
ENJOYING CHIANG MAI IN THE MARKETS
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, a typical meat stall in the market in Chiang Rai is an attraction for western visitors.
And this is an obvious example of differences that I am talking about – a meat stall in the market in Barcelona selling local products.
In any case, both the concept and the aim are the same – the only difference is the presentation.