Luxury Retreats and Treats
While we love Chiang Mai for its casual cheap and cheerful vibe, who doesn’t enjoy a good treat now and then? It could be a luxe spa experience, some Michelin standard bites or an uber cool new bar!
This is the sixth branch in Chiang Mai of this award winning spa and the 14th in Thailand. The Oasis train seems unstoppable! Unlike its previous branches in Chiang Mai, this baby to the Oasis family is designed with a more modern approach, toning down the Lanna theme with strong dark chocolate and scarlet coloured hues, carefully blended in with the contemporary décor, perfect for Instagram moments! Oasis signature massages are available here, such as the King and Queen Massage and the popular two and a half hour Coconut Nourishment which utilises the ubiquitous nut, and its many properties. Here you will start with a coconut scrub followed by a satisfying wash which will leave your skin satin-smooth and super sleek. Then you simply sink into the pampering heaven that is a good hot compress and oil massage, which will leave your body trailing a sweet aromatic scent, as the oil continues to moisturize your body for the rest of the day. Shuttle service is available within town.
One doesn’t really think of sticky rice, fermented fish and som tum when thinking of Michelin stars. (Though one is known to be wrong!) Somtam Der, a genuinely authentic Isaan som tum joint with branches in Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, New York and Tokyo has just opened its first Northern branch here in our fair city. Having grabbed a Michelin star for its New York branch, we were expecting some fancy-schmancy twists to our beloved som tum. But no. There is nothing pretentious about this little restaurant; its décor pays homage to Isaan life, but is presented as modern and welcoming; its menu offers no great surprises, with all the Isaan classics on offer; and its prices — dishes sit around 80 baht — quite a relief on the wallet. The Isaan-trained Chiang Mai-born chef travels the loop between branches at all times, ensuring impeccable standards and flavours. While the som tums were all delicious, the soups had just the right levels of herbs and spices and the grilled pork and sticky rice on point, we simply fell in love with the fried chicken, which is some of the best we have had in a long while.
Right opposite the Phra Singh Post Office is this hard-to-find little wine bar which the few of us who managed to stumble across have fallen in love with. Set on the second floor of a traditional wooden house (there, we just gave its location away), with a small balcony opening to the street below, the owners and staff work from behind a long bar and kitchen to produce delicious tapas and of course wines. The wine is selected by its owner and changes on his whim; when we visited there were some solid labels, though with time we expect the choices to get even better. The tapas includes such fun dishes as the yam cold cuts, terrine, larb tartar which combines Northern Thai larb flavours with classic French beef tartare, the delectable and refreshing duck salad and a wonderful chef’s platter, all of which we really enjoyed. There was a fun mix of Thais, expats and tourists, many ending up mingling and talking, swaying to the live jazz band. A very charming little find.