We had our first visit to Chiang Mai in January. Nice change of temperature from the freezing Hong Kong. The view before the landing was patches of green fields, trees and the Ping River. Very nice!
Let's this article focus on the practicalities.
Transit from the airport and in Chiang Mai
A Chiang Mai travel book advised to register at the airport taxi counter. I tell you, don't. It took an hour to be picked up. Very chaotic! Just go to where people arrive, wave hand to any red car (Songthaews), ask for the price and get go. Our taxi cost 150B for 2 persons. Red car can be 80B.
For travelling within the city, red car costs 20B per person. It drops you anywhere. Tuk tuk costs 30B per person.
The price range can vary much. We stayed at 20 Lodge. Price at Agoda is 2100B. Walk in is 3000B. We cancelled the Chiang Rai trip and needed to stay one extra night in Chiang Mai. The price of Nine House next door is 850B for a deluxe room with twin bed. Simple, big and clean, with breakfast. A smaller one with double bed cost 650B. It's even commented at Trip Advisor. Both are located on the western side of the wall. Advice from other travellers, their guesthouse costs only 400B for a double room. If I will visit Chiang Mai next time I will definitely get a cheap one.
We tried a few places for massage. Foot massage on the walking street, near our hotel, the bar street and Fah Lanna. The one near our hotel charged the market price. Thai massage 150b, oil massage 250B per hour. It is served by a mother and her daughter. A small place but good.
The best is Fah Lanna Massage, a cheaper alternative of the sister spa venue. It provides individual massage room with a single bed. Dim light with tranquil music. Aromatherapy quality is superb. A deep relax of the body, indulge yourself with great massage. And it's not expensive. 900B for body scrub and one hour aroma oil massage.
Khao Soi is curry noodle with any kind of meat. Pork and chicken are popular. We sampled it at The House. It was in a charming venue and the noodle was good. Less of the topping with the deep fried one will render it full mark. My research found two local favoured Khao Soi places but I did not have a chance. They are Khao Soi Samer Jai and Khao Soi Lam Duan Fah Ham.
Best soup noodle was found to be a tiny decent place at Singharat Road. Don't know the name. Its decor drew us inside. The noodle with pork was super good. A noodle cost 20B, a coke 15B.
Best pat thai sampled at the night food stalls at the northern gate. Stalls after stalls. Smoke, fabulous smell triggered our appetite. Pat thai there was wrapped in egg sheet. Special and yummy!
The best known coffee is Ristr8to Coffee. They are very serious about their coffee. The latte art was outstanding. Their waffle stick is a 'must' try.
We discovered an innovative way of combining hotpot and BBQ in one pot. It always go in a buffet format. Sukontha is the most popular buffet venue in Chiang Mai. A few hundred of tables serving big groups or small ones. Tonnes of food spread across many long tables. Once you are seated, a waiter will deliver a charcoal fire, then a pot like a bundt pan, the middle part serves as BBQ plate while the surrounding water for cooking your food.