Resident Expert: Nateepol Charoenthurayont, 23 Nationality: Thai Occupation: Freelance Artist Neighbourhood: Chang Klan
What are the defining characteristics of your neighbourhood? My neighbourhood has changed a lot over the years. There are business people and students mainly, with a big Muslim community too. My granddad is Chinese and moved here over 60 years ago. Before there were loads of factories, but now there are more shops and hotels.
Why did you choose this neighbourhood? My family built their home here years ago, so I grew up here and have never moved anywhere else. I love the morning markets and going early to get the good ingredients to then go home and help my mum cook breakfast. You’ll find the best soya milk and Youtiao fried bread sticks in Chang Klan.
What do you like least about it? As it’s not too populated, nighttime can get a bit scary. Many people go out around here and there are a lot of karaoke shops, but because it’s not so commercialised, you can sometimes see fights break out among the locals.
Who lives here? Mostly business people and students but recently there are more tourists around.
Best everyday restaurant: A small Vietnamese restaurant called Pho Vientiane, which is down a soi opposite the Shangri-La Hotel. It’s really popular, has been open 15 years and the food is really good. The food has a really distinctive Laos style, as the owner is half Lao and half Vietnamese. Their most famous dish is their beef pho but I personally like the tofu spicy salad with shrimp.
Best Special Occasion Restaurant: I would recommend the Jia Tong Heng Chinese restaurant on Sridonchai Road ( www.jiarestaurant.com). I am half Chinese so I find it a really special place to go with my family. The food is really good quality and not that expensive at all. The owners were friends with my late grandfather, so we sometimes get mates’ rates.
Best Cheap Eat: There is a brilliant jok restaurant opposite the Dusit D2 hotel that sells the best jok in all of Chiang Mai. It’s called Peekaboo Jok (Jok Ja-Ae) and it opens at 5am. By 10am, all the food is gone. I really recommend getting up early and getting the jok at least once. It is amazing and really cheap too.
Best Drinks: I know it’s a franchise and there are lots of these shops around Chiang Mai now, but Mingmitr coffee shop ( www.mingmitrcoffee.com) is one of my favourite places to hang out. The one down Chiang Mai-Land Road is actually the first Mingmitr, so it is special for that reason. The owners are really friendly too, and we sometimes have funny chats together. The coffee is first rate.
Best Night Out: Hands down, it must be Riverside ( www.theriverside chiangmai.com). The music is great, the drinks are plenty and the atmosphere is really awesome. I love this bar as everyone who comes really gets on, and there are no young stupid kids coming in and causing problems. Everyone mixes with each other, making it really easy to meet new people. I know it’s quite famous now, but it still is just as awesome as ever.
Best Daytime Activity: Art in Paradise ( www.chiangmai-artinparadise.com) is a really good place for a day out. I know they charge quite high entry, but it is totally worth it. As an artist, I find it really interesting but a bit commercialised. Definitely a place to visit on a free day.
Best Place to Shop: The morning market at San Pakoi is the best place to do all your food shopping and even pick up a few clothes if you need to. I love early mornings, so when I go shopping, I like to shop for ingredients to make breakfast. During the cold season, the mornings are the best. I can spend hours just strolling and watching people starting their day.
Best Attraction: Everybody already knows about it and it’s full of tourists, but the Night Bazaar is probably Chang Klan’s main draw. It is the best place for all kinds of clothes, trinkets and DVDs. I like to go there and buy a good film to watch in the evening. There is a small section that sells antiques, old Buddha statues, coins and stamps that’s really interesting to browse.
Best Secret: The best secret I have is a burger restaurant down Charoenprathet Soi 1, called Orange House (086 728 7638). I am friends with the owner who opened up this amazing Chicago style burger joint in 2008. After spending about 27 years in Chicago, he made it his dream to sell truly juicy, delicious burgers, tacos and pizza pies. With food like Italian beef and chicken wings, the menu is surprisingly big for such a small burger joint. You must try it.
Best Tip: If you are not local to Chang Klan, you may find the daytime a bit boring unless you are heading to a specific restaurant. My advice is, come in the morning, get some awesome grub at the morning markets and start your day with a really fresh experience.
Anything else? People in Chang Klan are friendly and it’s the best place for Halal food. There is a big Muslim population here and the food they make is really good, so check out some restaurants that you may not usually choose.