Top Tips for Visiting Chiang Mai 2017
1) Use Uber (sorry, no Lyft in Chiang Mai yet).
We recommend visitors use the new Uber service for trips within the city limits, available only since November. It is so much more reasonable than negotiating with tuk tuk, taxi and songtao drivers. Outside the city limits, hire a car and driver if possible. Our driver Jeff’s number is on the map - see Private Cars in D3.
New Chiang Mai Map coming soon! 21st Edition.
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3) Our favorite new eatery: Chez Khao Soy on Patan Road (C1), just north of Wat Muang Rang on the other side off the road.
Chez Khao Soi, Patan (C1) 080-847-9964 Simple but superlative! Creative award-winning khao soi dishes by personable chef Sumalaa in simple riverside pad. Fri-Wed 10am-5pm. (Note: Her friendly dogs add to the experience.)
This could be combined with a wander through the Monfai Cultural Center if you like old houses and textiles. You would go here enroute to Chez Khao Soy. Entry is free for those who just want to walk through (go down the tiny corridor that looks like it leads to a bathroom to find an amazing open air terrace):
Monfai Cultural Center, Sukasem Soi 9 (C1) 'Living museum' of reclaimed homes representing 5 regions of Thailand with textiles and lifestyle displays throughout the large rambling old communal hall of old teak wood. Entry without guide free. Daily 8am-5pm. Lanna Cultural Experience programs include options to take photos in Lanna dress, learn bamboo weaving, Thai music and dance, paper lantern crafts, umbrella painting, banana leaf sculptures, and fruit carving. Daytime program is B 1,500 including two activities and lunch. Evening program is B 1,800 including dress up, Lanna culture talk, khantoke dinner and dance/music show.
Afterwards, a wander through Kamthieng Market could be fun!
Note: Just Khao Soy, which used to be the go-to for visitors who wanted to test this Thai dish, has closed.
Chez Khao Soi Photo Gallery
4) Among new city center sights is the House of Photography, in the same compound as the Lanna Folklife Museum on Phra Pokklao (K1 on the map). Just south of it, a couple of doors below Wat Duang Dee is Intaku, a traditional mask shop, where you can book a workshop and make your own masks (B 1,500-2,500 for 3-6 hours session). Just a bit further south are the Supachet Studio, I’m Fine Art and Things Called Art in the Phra Pokklao/Ratchadamnern area (on the map already in K1).
5) Feeling like doing a bit of art yourselves? Try Elephant Parade. This foundation has roped in artists, celebrities, and others to create signature designs for their elephant statues which go on parades and up for auction around the world, raising money for the Asian Elephants Foundation. Nancy’s elephant Sanuk celebrates Bangkok, replicas on sale in its shops. But you too can create your own at any of their outlets, or just pick up one of their take home Art Boxes to work on or give away (something Nancy used to do every holiday in Chiang Mai).
- Elephant Parade Land in Lang Ka (north of C1) which houses a small museum and gift shop and tours of the factory. Daily 9am-5pm.
- Elephant Parade House on Charoen Rat where Colour Factory used to be (see M1 on the map).
- Elephant Parade House in N Parc, a new mini mall on Nimmanhaemin Soi 11.
- Note: The original branch in Chiang Mai Land (C4) has closed.
6) For those in the Nimmanhaemin area, here are a few of the new highlights:
7) We still recommend a stroll down Charoen Rat from the Nakorn Ping Bridge to The Riverside (M1) in the late afternoon to do some shopping. Though some shops have changed, the area still has some neat finds. These include new boutiques such as the Vila Cini Village in the Healing Family Foundation compound - ask to see the fabulous antique section, which is museum worthy. Stop for coffee at the Cafe Des Artists in the Ping Silhouette to admire the interior decor of the ‘modern Chinoise’ design hotel. Woo Cafe is the perfect stop for dinner with an amazing sculpture outlet in the back, the ‘rice salad’ experience recommended for fun. There is also an Elephant Parade outlet in the area. See notes above.
8) Craft beer lovers might want to try Chiang Mai Beer, now available at The Riverside on Charoen Rat (M1) which has a new Craft Beer Factory section open nightly, and the young Namton’s House Bar a short drive south, just below Somnuk Thanaphan Phirom’s old wood furniture shop on Chiang Mai-Lamphun Road (M2) - drive past the big tree and look for the second lane to the left to spot it on the corner. It is open daily except Wed.
9) If going to the Night Safari or Ratchapruek Park, plan a stop on the way back in the Wat Rampoeng area to check out the Baan Kang Wat Design Craft Studio (A3-4). It is a neat collection of small studios (art, ceramics, crafts), cafes and an amphitheater for special events. Open Tue-Sat 11am-6pm, with organic market Sun mornings.
10) Vegetarians should check on HappyCow.net for the latest listings. Many vegetarian cafes have moved recently. Among the newest most recommended is the riverside Happy Green in the Padad area (C4). Tel: 083-774-1743 Highly rated vegan & vegetarian buffet B150 in open air cafe with wonderful riverside view. Shop too. Daily 8am-5pm.
11) Other interesting new restaurants of note:
12) New in the Night Bazaar Area
13) All kinds of activities entice visitors to Chiang Mai including cooking classes and massage courses, lots of them to be found in your map directory. The latest trend is boxing classes, available at a host of new gyms throughout the city - check online for one close to your hotel for something different to do.
14) Animal Tourism is a big issue in Chiang Mai now. The result is a number of new ‘elephant sanctuaries’ that allow you to wash and feed elephants in a ‘natural’ environment. There are those who criticize these businesses for capitalizing on elephants in captivity, arguing that elephants should not be a tourism attraction. We agree, however, that is not a realistic situation in Thailand due to deforestation over the years. We encourage those concerned to read up about this issue at the Naka Elephant Foundation website. What the NAKA Elephant Foundation is attempting to do is to educate all elephant "sanctuaries" and camps on how to ensure quality of life for their elephants. The experts behind the movement believe tourism is vital to improved quality of life for elephants as it provides funds to feed and raise the standards of elephant care in Thailand as well as motivation for all those involved. In summary, please don’t feel guilty about visiting elephants while in northern Thailand.
Naka Elephant Foundation Facebook Page