The following emails are reprinted with permission. They contain information helpful to those visiting Chiang Mai. More than this, the professionalism and obvious joie de vivre of Olga's emails make them casual,little masterpieces of written communication.
Olga's stunning photographs of vanishing cultures can be seen at Any Way in a Way.
Enjoy Chiang Mai, I like this place. It’s touristy but special. The more I stayed, the more I liked.
We are now on Koh Phangan. It’s a beautiful island, rather quiet despite its reputation for Full Moon parties. It becomes very busy for 3 days for the party before becoming again a sleepy island. Sapphire-blue sea and white sandy beaches, exactly what I was looking for. The only downside is food – the food is almost twice expensive compared to the rest of Thailand, and local food stalls are not everywhere. We drive for 10 min to eat locally (but expensive compared to the prices we used to pay). But well, we have sea in return.
Sure, you can post my recommendations. I have a few more 🙂
Another specialty of Chiang Mai is Chiang Mai sausage. It’s unbelievably tasty, spicy, with a lot of ingredients inside such as lemon grass etc. One of the best is at Isan stall I recommended yesterday. The best sausages are in the places where are not many tourists. Otherwise, they don’t make it spicy as it should be.
· Hideya Ramen: surprisingly great Ramen. It’s a tiny place operated by one passionate man.
· Rosy Cheeks: tasty and very photogenic. A little Asian fusion restaurant.
· If you want to try Thai Chili Frog or other quite rare dishes - Loong Thai Khao Gaeng.
· Kanomjeen Khunnai Mae: very special rice noodle place.
· Rustic and Blue: delicious and beautifully presented western type dishes. All coming from their farm. But expensive.
But what I really miss is the quality coffee of Chiang Mai. There are many barista style coffee places, with the quality comparable to the coffee in Sydney, the best place for coffee in the world
My favourites are:
· Akha Ama: great coffee, and the prices are very reasonable. They have 2 locations. One is near the Old City.
· Ristr8 is absolutely the must. In Nimman.
· Ristr8to Lab: same owner as above but different in style. They are located close to each other. In Nimman.
· Cotton Tree: great coffee and great place to relax. Quiet compared to other busy places like Ristr8. Try their affogato – coffee with ice-cream, very special. In Nimman.
· Omnia: quality, great coffee with some unusual creations of the month. In a residential area of CM.
· Graph Cafe: stylish tiny place in the Old City with great coffee. Their speciality is Nitro and Cold Brew.
· Ponganes: long-established place in CM, great coffee. In the Old City.
· Pacamara: same as above, long-established place in CM, great coffee. In the Old City.
· Asama Cafe: outside Chiang Mai in a beautiful garden near the lake. Really great coffee in a peaceful setting.
There are also 2 places I find special:
· Begin Again: coffee is not the barista level coffee but the setting in amazing. If you feel like you are in the middle of a jungle. You can find photos on our website https://anywayinaway.com/coworking-spaces-cafes-chiang-mai/
Penguin Ghetto: nice place, quite special, odd I would say, and coffee is very good.
How do you find Chiang Mai? Have you been to Chiang Rai all this time? Was it good? We didn’t stay long time in Chiang Rai, just enough to explore the town and a couple of temples outside.
As for Chiang Mai, renting an apartment is much cheaper than staying in a guesthouse, however, they require at least 1 month stay.
If you want to stay in Old Town of Chiang Mai, we stayed in a few places. We like Nocky House, located very close to a local market with food and vegetables, in a very old traditional house, very charming.
Otherwise, just nearby, there is 9 Hostel – a very different style – very modern, cement walls etc. Quiet and clean. I liked, Errol found it impersonal.
There is also SK 1 – very good price for what they offer (swimming pool), near Somphat market.
If you like a modern area in Chiang Mai, it’s Nimman. We also stayed there but we rented an apartment on a few occasions.
· Chang Phuak Gate (North Gate) – local food market. You should try the “must” there – Cowboy Lady stall aselling Khao Kha Moo (pork legs that melt in you mouth). My mouth is watering just when I am typing…
· You should try a special chicken at SP Chicken.
South Gate Night Market: the most known market among farang. But the food is good, the prices are low, and the variety is unbeatable.
· Warorot Market: Chinatown of Chiang Mai. Interesting food that you won’t find everywhere.
· There is one local place called something Vegetable Organic. They have amazing food (non-vegetarian, their vegetables are supposed to be organic, hence, the name). The specialty of the house is different types of friend rice. I don’t like saying that but this is the best fried rice I have eaten. They are near Burmese Restaurant and Library (you can google to find). There is another restaurant a few step away – a small stall selling Isan food. Great food!
(SB: You can read about Olga and Errol here.)