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This is Thailand

For those of you with questions regarding Thailand, Thai culture, history, tourism, laws, rules, food, nightlife, subculture, dating, or generally anything as long as it is relevant, we have a panel of experts ready to respond to your enquiries. Email: [email protected]

Is there anywhere I can eat Vietnamese sandwiches (banh mi) in Chiang Mai?


Sophie (intern): There are plenty of great Vietnamese restaurants in Chiang Mai, like VT Nam Nueng on Lamphun Road, Le Gong Kum on Huay Kaew Road and My Vietnamese Food also on Huay Kaew Road. One of the best places to find banh mi, however, is Sai Gon Oi, right next door to Kelly’s Bistro at Mee Chok Plaza in Fa Ham. The banh mi with grilled pork and pate paste is particularly yummy and is priced at only 40 baht. Their main entrees are priced between 60-75 baht. Their food does not use MSG or food-flavouring enhancers like the ones used in many other restaurants.

I want to get in shape but can’t afford a gym membership and need some help getting motivated. Any ideas? 

Hilary: Sure, there are tonnes of local endorphin-fuelled groups of people doing a variety of different fitness activities in Chiang Mai. If you love to run long distance, check out the Chiang Mai Ultrarunners Group on Facebook. For something a bit more varied, the Chiang Mai Fitness group meets up three to four times a week at 8 a.m. to partake in “a mix of crossfit, strength training, cardio and high intensity interval training” (www.facebook.com/groups/chiangmaifitness). For cycling enthusiasts, there are plenty of likeminded individuals and events to be found at www.bicyclethailand.com. Interested in dancing yourself fit? Check out Salsa Club Chiang Mai (www.facebook.com/groups/ salsaclubchiangmai). For yogis in search of buddies, join the Chiang Mai Yoga group on Facebook. There are also a variety of expat sports teams in Chiang Mai that meet up for games and tournaments regularly, including football, ball hockey, ultimate frisbee and softball; check out the story we wrote about them in Citylife (They Got Game, March 2013, www.chiangmainews.com). Finally, for those who like to combine their fitness with a bit of booze, check out the fun-loving Chiang Mai Hash House Harriers (a.k.a. “drinkers with a running problem”) at www.chiangmaihhh.com.

Where are some good ladyboy shows in Chiang Mai?

Sophie (intern): Unfortunately, the most popular ladyboy show in Chiang Mai, Simon Cabaret, has closed down. There is, however, a ladyboy cabaret every night at 9:00 p.m. at Anusarn Market at the Night Bazaar. You either have to buy a drink or pay 200 baht in admission to watch the show.

I want to go to Burma from Chiang Mai. What is the best way to get there? Can I cross over by land at Mae Sai or do I have to fly in? 

Sophie (intern): The border to Burma is about 4-5 hours from Chiang Mai. The main ways of getting there overland are by local bus (210 baht each way), direct van catering to visa runs (approx. 600 baht), tour van that stops at sights along the way (approx. 900 baht), or private taxi/van (approx. 2000 baht). If travelling by land, the authorities will keep your passport at the border and you will get a pass to use in the local area. However, you are not allowed to leave the border region (only a few square kilometres, and not exactly the best Burma has to offer). When you return to Thailand, you will exchange the pass for your passport at the border. Nok Air offers cheap flights from Chiang Mai to Mae Sot, a town in western Thailand that shares a border with Burma. From Mae Sot it is possible to cross the Moei River for a day trip into the Burmese town of Myawaddy. Here, you will also have to turn in your passport and given a pass to spend the day in the border region. You will be ordered to return back to Mae Sot before 5 p.m. otherwise you will not get your passport back. As such, if you’re looking to actually explore the country, the best way to get to Burma is to enter Rangoon (Yangon) Mandalay, or Nay Pyi Taw by plane. Air Asia, Bangkok Airways and Nok Air offer two-ticket flights – one from Chiang Mai to Bangkok, then another from Bangkok to Burma. There are some direct flights from Chiang Mai through Burmese airlines such as Air Bagan. Whether you cross over land or fly in, your trip will involve a stop and formal check-in. Just note that you’ll need a visa before arriving in Burma, which you can get at the embassy in Bangkok, or though a Thai travel agent or visa service like www.myanmarvisa.com. Also, you should bring crisp, unfolded US dollars to Burma in order to receive the best exchange rates. Don’t expect widespread access to ATMs.