~ Chiang Mai! ~

Chiang Mai temple

Second stop, Chiang Mai, Thailand’s second biggest city. A bit hectic in the center with pockets of calm, especially in the northeast corner of the old city, and plenty of places to escape toward the hills. Lots to see and do. Even though it’s touristy and smoggy, Chiang Mai is a very appealing city. Very easy to meet other travelers full of good advice, and the Thai people are incredibly friendly and helpful. Even near collisions tend to end in a beep and a smile, very different from Oakland…

Note that if you come from a place where pedestrians have the right of way, let that go before visiting Thailand. Just be patient, eventually there will be a break. Traffic flows on the opposite side of the street compared to the US, and look both ways several times before crossing, drivers here are very creative and quick.

Be aware that it’s high season plus the flower festival (early Feb 2013), so most places are booked or only have one night available at a time, it’s difficult to find multiple nights by walking around, you’ll see lots of people trying…

Chiang Mai has fantastic yoga and food. See the Yoga and Favorites pages for a few favorites.

Thai Farm Cooking School – 5 stars http://www.thaifarmcooking.net
This was a highlight of my week in Chiang Mai. Very well organized, Sawat was a perfect host and teacher, good value for a full-day experience, 8:30am-4:30pm. We toured the local market and learned about the many types of rice, sugar, spices, etc., then we went out to the farm and got a tour of their integrated gardens where they grow many of the ingredients we used in our meals. We made five dishes, including Thai chili paste (choose red, green or yellow), a soup, a curry dish, chicken with holy basil, pad Thai (to take home since we couldn’t eat another bite), and mango coconut sticky rice (turned out we could eat a bit more.) It was some of the best food I’ve had in Thailand, and I made it…

Chiang Mai market

Market fruit

Thai Farm garden

Thai Farm cooking

Thai Farm dishes

Sawat

Mango sticky rice

Why is the lemongrass tea so good? Because all of these leaves were in that pot…

Lemongrass tea

Brown Rice Organic Bistro
Brown Rice Organic Bistro, https://www.facebook.com/BrownRiceOrganicBistro
85/5 Samlarn Road The food and service at Brown Rice were excellent, I highly recommend the crispy fried minced tofu with spicy green mango salad, fresh juices, and mango sticky rice. Very reasonable prices, especially for the quality. Small, cozy space, easy to find in the southwest corner of the old city, perfect stop after class at nearby yoga tree. So many interesting menu options, wish I’d discovered it earlier in my week, will return when I’m back in Chiang Mai.

Blue Diamond Thai veggie soup
Blue Diamond Breakfast Club TripAdvisor Not exactly a local hangout, but great Thai and western veggie & non-veggie options, smoothies, gluten-free breads & pastries, coffee, tea… Not sure what the negative reviewers ordered, too bad for them. Would be one of my favorites if it were in Oakland.

Libra Guest House room
Libra Guest House http://www.librahousechiangmai.com
I’ve stayed at several places in Chiang Mai, Libra has been my favorite. Perfect location in the calmer northeast corner of the old city. The owners are great, super helpful and very funny. Libra’s less expensive 400-800 baht high season rate rooms were full, but they had a large 1000 baht room available for several nights, it’s just as nice as one that I had paid quite a bit more for in the noisy center of town. Mostly young backpackers but also some families. Nice garden areas and good food. Room 108, so quiet, the only sounds were the birds outside and the refrigerator. I’ll be back in a couple weeks to go on their 3-day trek, Dao showed me some photos from a recent trip, looks better than what’s on the website, and good reviews on TripAdvisor.

More soon…

~ end ~

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