Quintessential Chiang Mai

The rose of Thailand, the old capital city, Chiang Mai is a tucked away city between mountains. Known for its abundant nature (even in the city), small buildings, and temples, Chiang Mai is now going through a boom of industrialization. I myself don’t know how to feel about this change, having grown up here and slowly seeing the essence of Chiang Mai torn down for mall after mall. So in celebration and nostalgia of what Chiang Mai is now, which may be lost in the next decade, here are a few places to go if you come visit (alongside the usual walking market and the many temples of course):

Coffee Villa:

For some reason, there is very little internet presence of this cafe. It is located in Soi 5. Once you find Marble Arch, which is another more famous coffeeshop located in an interseciton, you know you’re in the right Soi. Then simply walk straight until you see a  place with c near where the soi merges with the main Nimamanhaemin Road (on the right).

The coffeeshop has one of the coziest, homeliest interior decorations around. During Christmas, they had  reindeer motifs all over the cafe, from plush toys on the table to artistic murals of reindeers and reindeers marking the different places Coffee  Villa is set up on a map in the far wall (and chandeliers made of fake antlers!), and it is safe to say that their iced chocolate is one of the best as well.

The End-of-the-month market at Suan Dok Hospital:

Now this is a little secret of mine. Every month, there is a flea market consisting of shops from all over the Chiang Mai region that sets up right in the Suan Dok Hospital. Many of those shops are manufacturers for international brands, and sell what they produce here for greatly, greatly reduced prices! For example, the other day, I got a Zara-esque shirt for a little more than $1. Just be warned, it does get crowded with the many nurses, medical students, and doctors who snatch up the deals.

Mae Pan Din Pho Tum Suan:

This place is a small, tucked away out of the city, and is a must-see for pottery or garden lovers. They offer a bed and breakfast service, and during your stay, you get to sleep in a beautiful traditional wooden house, cook Thai food, and polish up on your pottery skills!

Chiang Mai Art museum:

This is one of my favorite places. On Nimmanhaemin road, it is a quiet museum with two floors of artwork, and a cafe. It’s airy, cave-like architecture and abundant nature makes it a peaceful, almost meditative spot to work and enjoy nature and beauty.


So there you have it! The quintessential guide to Chiang Mai, from the eyes of a local. Happy holidays, and see you in 2014!


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