This issue of
Citylife

This is Thailand

For those of you with questions regarding Thailand, Thai culture, history, tourism,

laws, rules, food, nightlife, subcultures, dating; generally anything as long as it is relevant,

we have a panel of experts ready to respond to all your enquiries.

Email: [email protected]

1. I’m kind of broke this month, but I can’t think of a weekend without going out. Where can I have a good time without breaking the bank?

Lancelot (intern): Student bars are the place you’re looking for. Last time I went to one, I had the joyful surprise of paying only 129 baht for three large Changs. Special promotions happen on certain nights and at certain times, but you’re guaranteed to pay less at these places than tourist or hi-so geared bars. Check out places near Chiang Mai University – there are tonnes, and lots of them offer up live music and cheap booze every night. The Santitham area is probably the cheapest high-energy area for CMU students, with a Zoe in Yellow-style soi lined with bars and carnival games for far cheaper than its Old City lookalike. Other great options are Lism Cafe or Blar Blar Bar on Nimmanhaemin Soi 7 and Vision Nightclub on Canal Road. The north part of town is also packed with good deals – check out the area around JJ Market or Rama IX Park for a cheap and great night out with boisterous crowds of young Thais. But be warned, it’s a different story if you make the drunken decision to explore the club scene afterwards, as popular Thai night clubs often charge steep covers for farang.

2. It’s still hot! Can you suggest any good swimming pools around Chiang Mai where I can go for a dip?

Bew (intern): There are several pools to choose from. Here are a few I would suggest. Santitham Plaza swimming pool costs 40 baht per day or 400 baht for unlimited monthly access, and is open from 9 a.m. – 10 p.m. daily. 700 Years Stadium sports complex has a swimming pool and separate diving pool with swimming equipment available for rent. It’s also open daily with a 50 baht entrance fee. Just be warned that many kids come to both of these pools in the summer so they can get a bit noisy. For something a little quieter and fancier, try Lotus Pang Suan Kaew Hotel, which has an Olympic standard pool with a fitness centre and a sauna to boot, open daily for 100 baht all-inclusive. The Lakeview Park 2 near Chiang Mai-Mae Jo Road has two pools for kids and adults, along with fitness centre and sauna. 40-60 baht for swimming only or 80 baht all-inclusive daily. If you don’t mind paying extra for ambiance, The Centre of the Universe in Chang Pueak has a huge saltwater pool with tranquil gardens and mountain views, but a day pass will set you back a cool 200 baht. Discounts for multiple entries and families.

3. I want to pass my driver’s license exams here in Chiang Mai. Where’s the best place to go for driving lessons? 

Kao (intern): I’ve asked my local friends about good courses for driving lessons and most of them have recommended Chang Phuak Driving Instruction School. This school provides great behind-the-wheel instruction and will help you through your driving exams as well. They have a variety of new and different vehicles to choose from, and a friendly, helpful staff. Visit www.changphuakdriving.com or call 089 262 2009 for more information. 

4. Woops! I overstayed my tourist visa. What do I do? 

Lancelot (intern): If you want to stay in Thailand, there are two ways to resolve this situation (but you’re not going to like either of them, I’m afraid). One is to head to the nearest immigration office – in Chiang Mai, it is located on the airport road, near Airport Plaza – to get your visa extended. Otherwise, you can do a visa run to one of the neighbouring countries. From Chiang Mai, the most convenient option is to go to the Burmese border, through Mae Sai. In each of these cases, you will have to pay the fine: 500 baht per day of overstay, up to a maximum of 20,000 baht. If you’re planning to leave the country, you still have to pay the bill at the border. Keep in mind that an overstayed visa is against the law, so if the police see your passport and find out about your situation, they have the right to take you into a detention centre, put your name on a ‘blacklist’ and maybe even kick you out of the country for good. That would typically only happen in an extreme case, but my advice to you is to get a valid visa as soon as possible if you don’t want to get into trouble.