Simply put, I loved Chiang Mai. It’s laid back but full of life. It has a cool blend of traditional Thai culture and modern day hipster culture. There is everything from the ancient old town scattered with temples to slick coffee shops, trendy restaurants and even jazz bars. Outside the city there is even more to offer with waterfalls, jungle treks and elephant sanctuaries.
On our first morning in Chiang Mai we hired some bicycles from our hostel and rode out to one of the city’s trendiest neighbourhoods: Nimman. We’d heard this was the place to go for a good cup of coffee. Of the numerous coffee shops, our hostel recommended Ristr8to.
Ristr8to is a true celebration of coffee culture and describe themselves as a “unique cult concept cafe”. It is one of the most distinctive coffee shops I have been to. They have a strong and unique identity having developed their own range of “signature”, “cult”, “classic” and “spirit” coffees. They have competed in and won numerous latte art championships. They take coffee very seriously!
All their coffees are artistically presented. This is the Ficardie, their first signature coffee, served in a quirky skull-shaped glass.
The Satan latte is their international award winning latte art cup of coffee. It is both beautiful and delicious!
After coffee we wandered further around Nimman discovering more of what the area had to offer. It was brimming with trendy coffee shops, quirky boutiques and cool art galleries.
We then jumped back on our bikes and made our towards the old town. We managed to get horrendously lost under the sweltering midday sun.
Slightly traumatised, we dropped the bikes off at our hostel and ventured to the old town by foot!
Famished after that palaver, our main priority was lunch. We stopped off at a street side food stall.
A delicious bowl of spicy chicken noodle soup later, I was ready to explore Chiang Mai‘s old town.
We walked to Wat Phra Singh, the most revered Buddhist temple in Chiang Mai. The Phra Singh image is that of the Lion Buddha.
The temple is covered in incredibly intricate mosaic designs.
The grounds contain a monastery and a school. The atmosphere is peaceful and still. It really is a lovely place for an afternoon stroll.
My favourite part was definitely the dazzling golden elephant!
One temple down, it was time for a refreshment break at Clay Studio Coffee.
Its a green sanctuary hidden within Chiang Mai’s old town.
The garden is serene. It’s filled with terracotta statues dotted amongst the greenery.
I treated myself to a Thai iced tea and toast with avocado and egg.
We then walked to see another of Chiang Mai‘s temples.
Unfortunately it was closing when we arrived so we only had time for a quick peek!
It’s fair to say it had been a pretty active day so my next stop was a massage at the Women’s Massage Center. These massage centres were opened to support the former inmates of women’s prisons. The centres give them a vocation and allow them to support themselves without reverting to crime.
I’ve read pretty mixed reviews about the massages. Some people have had incredible massages and other people not so much. Unfortunately I didn’t have the best experience but I was glad to have supported a noble cause.
Finally the day was rounded off by a delicious dinner at Dash, an incredible Thai restaurant. This place has everything: mouthwatering food, atmospheric outdoor seating and an amazing live band. We started our meal with some vegetable samosas. This was followed up by aubergine and tamarind chicken with rice.
The tamarind chicken was one of the best dishes I had in Thailand. The chicken was covered in a crispy batter then doused in a sweet, tangy tamarind sauce. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!
Stay tuned for more Chiang Mai adventures and, most importantly, more of Chiang Mai‘s food!
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