This page is going to be a constant work in progress so check back periodically. If you’re curious about something or want a recommendation, contact us and if we have an experience / recommendation to share I’ll add it to our list of local favorites.
– If you can spare a few days while in Chiang Mai, the Elephant Nature Park to the north of Chiang Mai is a MUST SEE. You can read more about our experience and get specifics on the Elephant Nature park on our blog here. If you are on the fence about spending the time or money, this truly was a life altering experience for my wife and I and I cannot recommend it enough. We follow the founder of ENP, Lek closely on Facebook and I am happy to report that they have rescued at least 3 or 4 elephants since our visit. Your support really goes a long way and they can sure use it.
– Missing a four-legged friend back home? Volunteers can walk dogs (and get lots of sloppy kisses) and are always needed (regular volunteers specifically) at Care for Dogs. You can read more about our experience at the Care for Dogs shelter here. As you’ll see, I’ve found it incredibly rewarding.
I think everyone that comes to Chiang Mai knows about Doi Suthep so I won’t spend much time on it but you can still see some of the pictures from our visit to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep.
If you are in Chiang Mai in November, participating in Loi Krathong is a must. We spent the evening near the east gate of the Moat and it was an incredibly entertaining night. As I understand it, Loi Krathong is celebrated all over Thailand but I hear through the grapevine that Chiang Mai is the place to be.
Looking for a good old fashioned hamburger? The Beast Burger food truck opens at 6pm and offers the best hamburger in Thailand, and perhaps better than any burger in the US as well. If you like a good burger, you cannot go wrong with this place.
If you are really considering Chiang Rai or want to get an in depth look at the area and Northern Thailand as a whole, I would really suggest checking out the video blog of these 2 local couples: 8 Miles from Home and Tieland to Thailand.
The whole reason I started the ‘Local Favorites’ section of the website was to promote this small family run business. Who knows if this will ever generate some new business for them but I figure it’s worth the effort. We first found them while waiting for the light show at the Clock Tower. During the day this particular corner is occupied by a motorbike dealer, when the dealer closes in the early evening, they setup a makeshift kitchen right on the steps. Homemade bamboo tables are set up, guests sit on small shag rugs, and frankly it’s the best place to watch the Clock Tower show. While I am no expert on Khao Soi, I have had it in probably a dozen different restaurants and food stands since we arrived and this is in my opinion, hands down the best we’ve had so far. They also serve excellent Pad Thai and Fried Rice dishes and the Iced Lemon Tea is among the best I’ve had in Thailand. Most of the dishes are around 35 THB (a little over $1 USD). We enjoyed the food so much we drove around for an hour a couple days later until we finally found their little restaurant across from the Overbrooke Hospital (as seen on the map below).
Baan Chivit Mai Bakery – near the bus station this little bakery / restaurant actually serves a pretty damn good hamburger at a very reasonable price AND proceeds from the bakery / restaurant go to a great cause (The Baan Chivit Mai Foundation). It’s hard not to recognize their philanthropic efforts and for that reason, it’s one of our local favorites.
If you are coming from the west and have never had a Thai massage, your first experience in a traditional Thai massage parlor is sure to be a bit different than anything you’ve experienced before. There’s no fancy rooms with expensive decor, you can expect a mattress lying on the floor covered with a sheet, and a privacy curtain that separates you from other guests. Very minimalist. I’ve had a lot of massages over the years and quite a few more in the short time we’ve been in Thailand. From Bangkok to Chiang Mai to Vientianne in Lao, from 200 THB to 3,000 THB and one of our local favorites in Chiang Rai is called Pai Massage.
Foot and traditional Thai massages are 200 THB, and oil massage is 300 THB per hour. The therapists speak very little English so if you need to communicate specific needs be patient. I’ve had massages from at least 6 different therapists (foot, traditional Thai, and oil) and have not had even a mediocre massage yet. They’ve all been anywhere from good to great and we’ve found their foot massage to be incredibly rejuvenating. Each therapist has a similar technique, so the consistency is always there but they all seem to have their own unique style. Strength and dexterity is never lacking whether it’s morning or evening. It’s not always quiet inside the shop but overall, it can’t be beat IMO.
ST Motorcycle, walking distance from the Clock Tower, ask for Muay the Manager. Very nice lady and easy to work with. We swapped bikes twice, one to upgrade egine size and once due to a mechanical issue that they corrected immediately.
Phone: 053 713 652
Motorbike Sales and Rentals (Honda)
We had a very pleasant experience working with the young man (I’ll update his name later) at this Honda dealer. His English is not so great but he was very easy to work with and seemed genuinely interested in helping us navigate the ownership issues that we, as foreigners, must deal with. We were able to negotiate a lower price and also received 2 helmets for free as a promotion.
Japa Tour – Japa Tour has partial, full and multi-day tours and will work with you to customize an authentic Thai experience. They can also provide motorbike rentals and are licensed travel agents. The guides all speak enough English to communicate with, drive safely, and are very gracious. It’s worth noting that a portion of their tour revenues is donated to various local tribes and charities and for that reason alone makes our list of local favorites.
Phone: +66 087 183 8336
B.O Motorcycle for Rent – currency exchange with very competitive rates and a small pharmacy also available.
Contact Name: Mr. Vilaphong Keomani
Address: Mixay Village Unit 8, 111 Setthathilath Rd. Vientiane
Phone: 030 777 2224