Hey friends! I’m back today with another recap of our amazing honeymoon in Thailand. If you missed any of my earlier posts, you can find those here:
- Part 1: One Night in Bangkok
- Part 2: Exploring Wats in Chaing Mai
- Part 3: Elephant Nature Park
- Part 4: A Quick Trip to Pai
I already told you about the main things we did in Chiang Mai, namely visiting wats and walking with elephants, so today I thought I would tell you about some of the other fun things we did in the city.
1. Drink pandan leaf (bai toey) tea. Fabio and I were greeted with this refreshing welcome drink at almost every nice establishment we visited (hotels, spas, etc.), and it was always served icy cold in cute little tin cups.
It’s hard to explain what this tea tasted like, but it was sweet, lemony, and so refreshing after being out in the hot and humid Thai climate.
Fabio and I actually found some of these tin cups at a local market in Chiang Mai and wound up buying them as souvenirs! We’re going to try to recreate this drink at home the next time we have guests over — it was such a nice way to be welcomed to a new place!
2. Get a massage. Massage places can be found all over Thailand and compared to massage places in the U.S., they are incredibly affordable. Fabio and I each got one-hour aromatherapy massages at Phurin Thai Spa in Chiang Mai for about $20!
There are also plenty of places that are cheaper than this one, but we wanted to pay a little more for an upscale spa experience. Plus, it was still just $20!! Take me back!
Note: When selecting a massage place, make sure the women out front look like real masseuses and aren’t wearing clothes that are too skimpy, or you might wind up in the wrong kind of establishment. 😉
3. Go to a fish spa. Being the tourists that we were, Fabio and I had to try out a fish spa, which is one of those places where you drop your feet into the water and little fish eat your dead skin.
Thank you to the nice lady from Chicago who offered to take this picture for us!
Fish spas are everywhere in Chiang Mai, and when selecting one, you’ll want to make sure it looks clean and is registered with the Thai government or else you could be at risk for a nasty infection. Yikes! The spa we picked looked clean and had official-looking signage on the door (it was in Thai so we couldn’t read it, but it looked ok), so we gave it a shot. It cost about 200 baht ($6) for a 20-minute session, so Fabio and I paid the fee and dunked our feet in the tank.
It was SUCH a weird experience and tickled like crazy. It was really hard not to pull my feet out and squirm away from the fish!
Even though it was a really weird feeling, I would definitely recommend this as something you must try when in Thailand.
4. Eat khao soi, preferably with a view of the river. Khao soi is a traditional northern Thai noodle soup that’s made with a coconut/curry broth. It is incredibly delicious and comes with crunchy noodles on top.
We first tried khao soi at the Riverside Bar & Restaurant outside the Old City in Chiang Mai, and we were treated to lovely views of the water in addition to our tasty soup.
Side note: Why do the Thai people like spicy soup when the climate is so hot??
I was lucky enough to have khao soi again at a no-frills, more traditional (read: less touristy) restaurant called Aroon Rai that I had read about online.
I really liked both versions of khao soi, and I am now on the hunt to find a place in the U.S. that serves it!
Note: iced coffee is also a huge thing in Thailand and is available everywhere, so we had a lot of iced coffee with our meals.
5. Check out the night bazaar. Fabio and I had read a lot about the night bazaar in Chiang Mai, and it did not disappoint! The streets are full of vendors selling everything under the sun, and the shops are open super late. We wound up buying some cool souvenirs for our family and friends, including some one-of-a-kind art!
Tip: If you see a painting you like at the bazaar but it’s too big or not the right size, you can ask the artist to make you a different size painting and pick it up a day or two later.
There’s also a really cool open area near the night bazaar with live music where you can grab a beer or a cocktail bucket and enjoy the evening outside.
Or if you’re not feeling a cocktail, you can get some rolled ice cream! I got a Kit-Kat, banana, and vanilla ice cream mixture, and it was as fun to watch them make it as it was to eat.
6. Check out the bars. The night life in Chiang Mai is pretty great, and there’s something for everyone!
If you want a rowdy, college-type of bar scene, check out Zoe in Yellow. There you’ll find blasting music, strobe lights, cheap cocktail buckets, and lots of drunk, young people. We went with two of our good friends who happened to be in Chiang Mai at the same time as us, Brian and Daria, so we had a good time, but I don’t think we would have enjoyed ourselves that much if it was just the two of us. We were feeling a little old for this crowd!
One place we did really enjoy going to though was the Jazz Bar by the North Gate of the Old City. We watched a couple of different bands play and had a good time sitting around and enjoying the live music.
7. Go to a cooking class. This was something that lots of people recommended that we do, and I’m so glad we did! After reading lots of reviews on Trip Advisor, I made a reservation with Asia Scenic Cooking School before we arrived in Thailand, and Fabio and I had a ton of fun cooking Thai dishes one night.
We got to make a stir fry, spring rolls, soup, and a curry dish, and each of us got to choose which ones we wanted to make.
We also got to put on silly hats and take a trip to the local Thai market (this is where we found our tin cups!).
I could have easily bought more at the market, and am now regretting that I didn’t purchase these soup packets. We had so much good Thai soup on our trip!
The market was really cool because there weren’t a lot of tourists there even though it was in the heart of the Old City. It was down a small road that wouldn’t have been easy to stumble upon, so I’m so glad we went with the cooking class!
Then it was cooking time!
Making the curries took a lot of work – we had to chop all the ingredients really finely and then pound them for while using a mortar and pistil.
Eventually it was time to eat!
All in all, we had a really fantastic time in Chiang Mai, and it was probably my favorite city that we visited during our trip. There’s just so much to do and see, but it still doesn’t feel like a crazy busy city. We loved it!
Question(s) of the day: What’s your favorite Thai food? Would you let fish eat dead skin off your feet?