We love Chiang Mai—so much to approve of! Click through to the map here.
1. Ristr8to Coffee: Where else can you get a Gibraltar in Northern Thailand? This place made us feel like we were back in San Francisco in that we were too scared to ask the barista for sugar. Someone should tell them about toast.
2. Huen Muan Jai: As of press time, this is Blake’s favorite restaurant of our trip so far. Her definitive ranking is coming soon, stay tuned!
3. iberry: Ice cream by the Seinfeld of Thailand.
4. SP Chicken: An Andy Ricker favorite, this place specializes in spit-roasted chicken. You can order a half-bird or a whole one (don’t dick around, get the whole; they’re small), and the meat is accompanied by two sauces, one sweet and one vinegary. They also do a great papaya salad.
5. Wat Chedi Luang: This 14th-century temple is a stunner and also hosts Monk Chat.
6. Krua Phech Doi Ngam: Another Ricker rec, this was the only place in Chiang Mai where we saw zero tourists. Before leaving our hotel, we mapped how long it would take in a taxi: 13 minutes. Not bad, or so we thought. Our hotelier told us four times that Krua Phech Doi Ngam was “very, very far away.” In the end, we braved it, and it was, in fact, 13 minutes away. Their herb salad is the thing, and it lives up to the legend. Turns out the Pok Pok version is a knock-off of this one. Also to be found there: worker-ladies with crazy-short dresses whose one job is to refill your drinks and O, the charming and babelicious chef who has excellent English and was therefore sent out to deal with us. Improbably, she used to live in Half Moon Bay.
7. Gallery SeeScape: It seems that everything cool in Chiang Mai is built in these little communal commerce spaces where like-minded enterprises just hang out and work and sell things side by side. And Gallery SeeScape is in one of the coolest. A couple art spaces meet a handful of tiny shops and a few offices and, lo and behold, all the hip kids come out of the reclaimed woodwork. We happened upon it but pretended we belonged.
8. Kao Soy Nimman:
9. Street Pizza: We shared a wood-oven margh pizza here and didn’t even feel guilty about it. Across the alley, you’ll find Dibdee, a book bindery-cum-coffee shop that sells beautiful postcards.