So, how have I spent my first few days in Chiang Mai? I’ve done a lot of stuff. Basically my own version of Eat, Pray, Love in that I’ve loved eating and am praying I don’t get (too) fat. Having to buy an extra seat on the plane back home is going to be expensive.
Like I said, Chiang Mai is a ‘temple city’ and it’s very safe to walk around, even at night. If you’re in Old Town, it feels like every block is home to a beautiful temple. An interesting contrast to the Pizza Hut or hipstery vegan coffee shop right next door. This is just one of many I’ve come across while I’ve been here and not even the most beautiful. I haven’t really made a check list of any that are ‘must-sees’. I just tend to wonder into them when I spot them.
What I did make a bee-line for, however, was a nail salon. There are loads of spas and massage parlours here and many of them offer beauty treatments like waxing and gel nails at prices you won’t find back at home. See my mooi gelish mani? I got this PLUS a deluxe gel pedi at Chic Nail Salon and the total for both treatments was just R250!
You’ll also be glad to know that the average price for an hour-long massage in Chiang Mai is just 200 Baht which is R77! Here you’ll find a 7-Eleven on every block, but there’ll be a massage parlour (or five) on every street so prices are super competitive.
Same goes for laundries. Usually your hotel will have a cheap as chips laundry service or can drop off your stuff at any of the zillions that line the streets and get a great same day wash and fold for an average of R15.
Food-wise, if you’re wanting to eat Thai, you’re looking at an average of 50 Baht (R19) a dish. And this isn’t the price of street food. I’m talking about sitting down in a restaurant. ‘Western’ food is a little pricier, but still muuuch cheaper than Cape Town. You can also get killer good value for money if you go the buffet route. Thailand just looooves a good buffet.
One of the nicer ones I’ve tried (shamefully, I’ve eaten at several) was Auf de Au, a German buffet 12 minutes away from Old Town. (I got there via an Uber for R26.) For just R96, I could stuff myself on the biggest selection of German dishes I’ve ever seen, everything from cold meats, pasta salads, pretzels and sauerkraut to many different types of hot, meaty dishes including this creamy mustard chicken that rocked my world.
But don’t even get me started on the dessert table.
The extended binge session that is now my life continued the next day at the Sunday Night Market. Chiang Mai holds two big ones, one on a Saturday and the other on Sunday night, and both are awesome. They’re in the centre of old town and super easy to find. Just ask anyone (literally anyone) where the sprawling night market is and they’ll point you in the right direction.
I tried a bit of everything and alles was delish but have to give special props to the sushi, made fresh on site just as fast as they can sell it…
…and, because I’m an uncultured, animal-type person, the ‘chip on a stick’ drenched in hot sauce AND chilli spice. (I like it hot, okay?)
This was washed down nicely by the best 100% passion fruit (granadilla) juice I’ve ever had in my life. It was super-duper sour, cost just R5,79 and I ended up going back for another.
Wanna see more market mooiness?
My grand plan, after eating a host of bits and pieces as a starter, was to end up a seafood spot and indulge in a giant plate of ‘shrimp’ (which are really more like big ass prawns) but I was so full I rolled my ass home feeling like a disgusting whale just two weeks away from a starring role on BBC’s My 600 Lb Life.
On the plus side, I’m glad I didn’t give into my curiosity and try a tempura double cheese sandwich.
I’m now going to drag my soon to be blubbery-self off to the pool for a dip (it’s so hot today, I could die) but tomorrow I’ll have a post up about my trip to the mall. Again, it involved a buffet (can Jesus just take the wheel already?), a super cheap cell phone fix and – wait for it – an even cheaper trip to a surprisingly good dentist.