If like most folk up north residing betwixt this wall of mountains you occasionally pine for the beach, you’ll be happy to know you no longer have to waste cash flying to over-priced islands: there’s now a ‘perfect’ beach in Chiang Mai, where even the most intrepid pseudo-hippy has not yet juggled with fire. When sitting at Hua Had at night it’s not so far from the real thing at all. With its palm trees, ocean breezes (replicated), beach (of course), and folky live (English and Thai) music, you feel like whipping off yer clobber and running into the sea. Unfortunately the water is the only thing lacking, but the rest is strangely realistic – maybe because the whole ‘beach’ is surrounded by pretty much darkness. From the beach shacks you can get your fix of beers and cocktails at prices ten times less than in Phuket and there is also a full Thai menu and meats and seafood from the grill. Who said Chiang Mai didn’t have everything?
Open: 5 p.m. – 2 a.m.
Almost opposite Center Park Hotel on the (Rimping) First Ring Road, behind Harley shop
Tel: 053 115 284
Formerly nestled at the entrance to Nimmanhaemin Soi 1, Heartmade Patisserie has moved to a new location a little further up the soi. Heartmade is pure heaven for anyone with a sweet tooth, offering a select range of confectionery, desserts and coffees, made with love by the owner herself. “Usually people would use the words ‘homemade’ or ‘handmade’, but I say heartmade because I only make what I really love to eat,” she explains. Customers can choose from chocolate brownies, soft cookies, bananas fried with orange juice and served with vanilla ice-cream, blueberry cheese pie, and ‘Banareo’ – layers of Oreo cookies, banana, cream cheese and whipped cream. There’s also a range of hot and cold beverages, including Heartmade’s sublime iced chocolate – a sinfully rich and delicious blend of cocoa, milk and cream, poured over ice blocks made from the same decadent concoction. They also make large orders for parties or functions, but these must be requested in advance.
Open 12 p.m. – 8 p.m. daily except Tuesdays
2 Nimmanhaemin Soi 1
Tel: 083 154 3113
Joining the ranks of Chiang Mai’s boutique lodges is De Lanna Hotel, set between Three Kings Monument and Wat Phra Singh, and in easy walking distance from Tha Pae Gate and the Sunday walking street market. Like many new hotels, it has a ‘contemporary Lanna’ look and feel, with dark-stained teakwood accents and traditional motifs, but is set apart from more generic establishments by captivating design elements: stained glass panels in blue, green and amber, eye-catching ‘bird-cage’ lanterns and rectangular koi ponds bordering every ground floor room. The rooms – standard, superior, deluxe and honeymoon suite – are equipped with flat screen TVs, hairdryers, mini-bars and safe deposit boxes (with spa baths in some). The hotel also has a salt-water swimming pool in the tranquil garden courtyard, and an excellent restaurant serving Asian and international dishes as well as a wide range of fusion cuisine.
44 Intawarorot Road
Tel: 053 326 266 / 278 / 279
From prehistoric times we have been obsessed by beads. We make them from nature, we craft our own, we string them together and we hang them around, through and on parts of our bodies. Here in Chiang Mai nobody knows more about this than Nok ‘Em Ded where exquisite beads made from stone, silver, glass and just about anything you can imagine are strung together in creative, imaginative and perfectly executed ways. Browse their brand new showroom, click on their online catalogue or simply talk to the friendly owners and tell them what you want and voila! Necklaces, bracelets, earrings, anklets, bangles, rings, pendants and more, all available in an extraordinary number of styles, designs, materials and, of course, price ranges. Recently, their new store added clothing, accessory and giftware lines to their stylish jewellery range. A great variety of products for men and women. Adorn yourself with Nok ‘Em Ded’s wonderful creations.
Open: Mon noon till 8 p.m., Tues – Sat 10 a.m. till 8 p.m., Sun 10 a.m. till 11 p.m.
162/5 Phrapokklao Road (opposite Wat Chedi Luang)
Tel: 087 034 4067
Set incongruously between the gaudy façades of Curry Pot Indian Cuisine and the German Bistro in Central is Vanilla Café – a place that, miraculously, manages to inject a measure of tranquillity into the neon-lit bowels of Kad Suan Kaew. This coffee shop and bakery, with its tinkling water feature, birds of paradise and mellow music, is a great place to take a break from shopping, sink into one of the cushioned rattan armchairs and indulge in a delicious brew and something sinfully sweet. Vanilla Café’s range of coffees are all made from Doi Chang coffee beans, a Chiang Rai brand that promotes hill tribe sustainability, and artfully decorated with the barista’s steamed milk designs. Other beverages on offer are juices, teas, cocoa and ‘freppes’ – presumably a Tinglish take on the Italian frappe – while the bakery beckons with its luscious range of cakes and desserts: brownies, apple pie, lemon meringue pie, cream cakes and an array of baked cheesecakes, even one imported all the way from Taiwan.
Open: 10.30 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Lower Ground Floor, Kad Suan Kaew
Tel: 086 086 6889
Chiang Mai’s fastest growing Mexican restaurant has branched out with an ‘express’ location on Nimmanhaemin Road. In these hot months, you have to try the passion fruit margarita – a dream to sip on a scorching day – and if you’re in the mood for summer food they recommend the taco salad or the apple pie burrito, which may sound a tad strange, but trust us, it’s well worth the calories. Their cute little joint on Nimmanhaemin is not only a great lunch place but the atmosphere at night in that area is always pleasant, especially with a glass of something in one hand, a huge stuffed burrito in the other and an eye on your free wi-fi internet. You can choose to sit outside and watch the night crowds stroll by or opt for the air-con interior if the day is too hot to handle. Miguel’s don’t just do all the Mexican favourites – they also cook up delicious burgers and hot subs. They are affiliated with the Meals on Wheels 4U delivery service, but you can also call them to order and go to pick up the meal yourself.
Open: 11 a.m. – midnight
Tall Teak Plaza, 43 Nimmanhaemin Road
Tel: 053 217 472