A few days in Chiang Mai

Thapae square in Chiang Mai, North Thailand

While living in a small village in a far away province you are sometimes missing a good restaurant, a nice pub, a good hospital or whatever is a good reason to travel to Chiang Mai. So we left in the early morning and did ride to Chiang Mai. We are never in a hurry so we always stop near Phrae for an breakfast and stopped near Lamphun for an early lunch. The latter was a bit of a disappointment and I would not come back there anymore. Already a few times we had been driving to Chiang Mai and passed this European looking restaurant with the name Delizia Garden. So this time we stopped and we both had an spaghetti for lunch and it was both not good. I could make it a long story but the bottom line is that I will not come back and I would not recommend this place based on our experience. But next to the restaurant is a wonderful local jungle market that is worth stopping and have a look what the locals buy as food. As we have been so many times in Chiang Mai already going there is for us not about sightseeing but about meeting friends, have a good dinner, shopping and just enjoy life. So following are a few reviews of places where we did go.

Staying at Gategaa Village

Gategaa Village in Chiang Mai, North Thailand
Via Agoda I had booked Gategaa Village Hotel, located in a small soi near the Ping River in Chiang Mai downtown. The hotel did open end last year (2017) so it is more or less brand new. I assume it are 2 renovated apartment buildings in a small garden. They have 4 types of rooms and 3 different style of rooms. On top of the main building is a small roof-top swimming pool. Unfortunately as most times with rooftop swimming pools you are fully in the hot sun. As we were traveling by car we need a hotel with parking. Well the hotel has parking but it is more or less in the small garden and it is actually limited to max. 4 cars. Our room was a Studio Deluxe on the first floor and is situated on the corner with 2 small balconies. The room was spacious & comfortable and include an small kitchen, full sized fridge, air-conditioning, TV, ceiling fan, personal safe and a bathroom with shower. The staff is friendly and service minded. We had a great stay .... only the breakfast was a little bit of an disappointment for me. I like to eat an continental breakfast with bread. And in Chiang Mai it is very easy to buy good bread but unfortunately the hotel serves tasteless, soft 7-11 bread and baguettes that were old & hard. I assume that the staff never eats bread and do not know that this is really not done anymore. Also the breakfast starts at 7:30am what I think is a bit late. But you can get a kind of breakfast set (1 sandwich and 2 drinks) if you order that the evening before. All together I still recommend this place, sure within the current promotion. But I would book it without breakfast and have breakfast somewhere else.

Dinner at David's Kitchen

David's Kitchen in Chiang Mai, North Thailand
As we do not have many international restaurants where we are living we always enjoy a good dinner in Chiang Mai. But where to go for a place we have not been yet? So I asked at a Facebook page Chiang Mai Eats. With some good recommendations we did choose to go to David's Kitchen, because we could walk there from our hotel. And it was a splendid choice. The restaurant is an old villa with a garden and a big parking space in front. Most of the restaurant is indoor with a very limited space outside. Let's start to say this is not a cheap restaurant but it is what we were looking for. Friendly, attentive staff and a menu with an extensive choice of international food and drinks. We love a good wine so we had each a glass of wine. You can taste a wine before ordering and most wines are also served by the glass. I love that! To begin with we were serve a glass of water, a bread basket with delicious bread and a small starter snack. We did not have a real starter but both of us just a main course of meat. My wife had an Australian beefsteak and I had Lamb Shank. Both our main dishes were delicious and outstanding served. Loved it! As dessert I had an Crepe Suzette with fried banana and ice-cream. I am a dessert lover and I love the Crepe Suzette. Total costs were 2.600 Thai baht incl. service charge and 10% discount. If you can afford the price and if you appreciate the food and service quality then I think it is good value for money.  Highly recommended! But make a reservation as fore sure on Friday and Saturday they are full. Open at 17:00 and closed on Sundays.

A drink at Piccolo Wine & Tapas

Piccolo Wine & Tapas in Chiang Mai, North Thailand
Piccolo Wine & Tapas is a stylish bar at David's Kitchen and after dinner there we were smartly given an 20% discount coupon. So of course we went to Piccolo Wine & Tapas. Actually we went twice as we also went the next day. Starting from 20:00 there is live music and this was really fantastic. Spanish style music with acoustic guitar, violin, a lady singer and clarinet. So we had a seat along the bar, but you can also sit outside or at a table. The bar boosts also an wine room where you can choose & taste your wine. And besides wine the bar itself has an extensive choice of drinks from a sweet Amaretto or Jaegermeister to and smooth Irish whiskey or a strong Vodka. And a bartender who knows how to make the best cocktails. So the first evening my wife had 3 glasses of wine that were filled up good. And I had 2 strong cocktails. It was good we did not took the car to go for dinner! Total price tag the first evening was 1.400 Thai baht incl. service charge and 20% discount. The second evening my wife had an nice Belgium beer (although not on the menu) and I had an Sangria. Highly recommended, but check the price of your drinks before you order.

Dinner at Huan Muan Jai Restaurant

Huan Muan Jai Restaurant in Chiang Mai, North Thailand
Huan Muan Jai Restaurant is located in a soi opposite the Central Kad Suan Kaew (the old shopping mall). The restaurant is open from 10:00 - 22:00 and serving Northern style food like Khao Soi. The restaurant is in a setting of a traditional Thai wooden house with both indoor & outdoor seating. You might be surprised but it is a famous and busy restaurant. We arrived at early lunch-time and it was almost full already. If you come by car you will be happy to know they have private parking space. My wife had Keang Head Top and Kaeng Pak Jaida. I had Kai Nung Samoenrai with Khao Phad Mou. All the food was delicious and served quick. So if you like Northern style Thai food this is the best place to go in Chiang Mai. Highly recommended.

Lunch at Vartika Cafe

Vartika Cafe in Chiang Mai, North Thailand
On invitation of our friends we had a small lunch and drink at this coffee shop along the Ping River. Vartika Cafe is a small Thai style wooden house with a small garden along the Ping River where you can sit and relax. Amazingly so close to busy Chiang Mai you sit here like you are in the jungle of North Thailand. We all had simple Thai dishes like Khao Phad or Phad Sieuw. Prices are a bit higher as eating along the street but that is very well compensated by the good service and wonderful location. But must be said that the food was average of taste. Not something to rave about. A good place if you are happen to be in the area or living / staying on the south side of Chiang Mai town. Varika Cafe is open everyday from 9:00 to 18:00. Be aware that Vartika Cafe is best reached with your own transport.

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