I came to Chiang Mai for the hype, for the fact it’s an absolute mecca for digital nomads and because my trip to Thailand ended up being pretty last minute and I’ve been intrigued about the place for quite a while now so seemed as good a place as any.
I’ve been here a week now, and you know when time seems like forever but then no time at all, all in one? Yeah, that.
– You’ll see, keep reading…
So, just in case you’re interested, here’s what I’ve been up to for the last week on Nimmanhaemin Road in Chiang Mai.
Thursday – travel day
The journey from Tutbury in Derbyshire, to Bangkok in Thailand went a little like this…
- 3:49pm – 5:50pm Tutbury to Euston train
- 6:15pm – 7:15pm Euston to Heathrow underground
- 9:50pm – 7:20am Heathrow to Bahrain flight (7 hrs, but the time difference)
- 10:30am – 7:35pm Bahrain to Bangkok flight (6hrs 30)
…around 21 hours of travelling
And that was when I found out there were in fact two airports in Bangkok, and I’d booked my connecting flight to Chiang Mai from the wrong one. So had another guy at the baggage carousel, who, after we realised we wouldn’t be going to Chiang Mai that night, asked if I’d like to share a twin room for the night. Errrr, no?
He was definitely just being friendly but I couldn’t deal with the thought of polite paranoia for the night so pretty much ran away to my friend Emily, who was at a hotel a 45-minute drive away by the other hotel. I saw the bed, I showered, and I slept.
Insert Facebook post
Friday – Bangkok, Chiang Mai and the Night Bazaar
Yay, in Bangkok!
Spent the morning devouring the excellent and varied breakfast in her hotel, and then working away in the room. The new connecting flight was at 2pm so it didn’t leave much time to explore Bangkok, and such is the life of a travel blogger!
After a quick McDonalds at the airport – in our defence it was that Burger King, KFC or sushi which Emily doesn’t like – we got our flight to Chang Mai.
I liked the vibe of Chiang Mai as soon as our taxi dropped us off at the 2230 hostel on Nimmanhaemin Road, or Nimman Road, as we found it was ok to call it. This was the ‘hipster’ part of Chiang Mai. We’d decided to get a twin room each, seeing as it was only £10 a night. We went up to our sliding doors wardrobe – a little bigger than the one I’d had in my room as a teenager. Behind those sliding doors was a bunkbed with about five inches of space down the side. Yay backpacking! So happy we’d indulged in one each.
It lacked in space, and any sort of spring in the mattress, but it made up for it in friendly staff and location. We wandered around – got a quick leg and armpit wax – and drank coffee in between checking out the shops. Chiang Mai is a lot more progressive and forward thinking than I imagined. A lot more. Where I thought tacky repetitive souvenir shops would be there were fancy clothes, unique jewellery and never-seen-before housewares. There were also a ridiculous amount of cool coffee shops to work in, which is exactly what I was after.
We walked an hour on tiny roads, past the canal, past Christmas lights and over crazy roads to the nightly food market and sat down for Pad Thai. Delicious and only 45 bhat / 90p. And then walked 30 minutes the wrong way to try to find the Night Bazaar. Back again and it was worth the detour, even with the jetlag. Rows and rows of cool stuff to buy. With elephant trousers, a tshirt and a little present for mum in my bag we had a beer and got a tuk tuk home to our sliding wardrobe.
I slept about two hours that night. Damn jetlag.
Saturday – Digital Nomad Summit and khao kha moo
Despite setting both our alarms Emily and I woke 15 minutes before we were meant to be at the Digital Nomad Summit we’d signed up for. Quick change and 30 minutes later we were there – happy to find they’d moved it forward so we were pretty much perfect timing for a pre-conference coffee.
The summit was interesting and inspiring. I love hearing people’s stories of how they achieved the digital nomad life. We had 10 speakers, each with 20 minutesish each, and lunch in the middle. One guy relayed his story of how SkyCig went from him giving them out from a car travelling round the UK – a country he’d never been to before – and just a few years later he sold the business for a sweet £30 million.
Some talks were about great tools to use, others were stories of inspiration while others had complete action points on how to do things. There was so much information to take in, I had to bow out of one for a nap on the sofas outside, and then another at the end where the guy didn’t seem to be able to talk at a normal volume into the microphone. Too much.
I caught up with a few blogger mates and people who’d been at the DNX conference in Berlin in August. It was cool. I definitely think I have too much inspiration and not enough time though, not sure I need to keep going to these conferences!
On the way back to our wardrobe we passed the Think Park which had a stage set up for the weekend. Emily and I watched Thailand’s answer to One Direction while munching on an ice cream feeling pretty happy with ourselves (the next day the little girls from the top of the post were dancing – so cute!).
That night we met with Paul and Karen from GlobalHelpSwap.com and they showed us the best place in Chiang Mai to get khao kha moo, slowly stewed pork. Oh my Buddha it was delicious. The cowgirl stall at White Elephant Gate (Chiang Puak) night market is the most famous in all of Chiang Mai, thanks to Anthony Bourdain’s visit and the deliciousness of the food.
Then we did a bit of a bar crawl along Nimmanhaemin Road – including to a bar / alcohol shop that let you buy the whole bottle and sit out the front to drink it.
Sunday – pool party and Night Market
After a lie in I went in search of coffee. I found Dolcetto about a three-minute walk from my house, ‘flat white please’. I was sat next to an absolute prick from Australia – one of those old fat dudes with a super hot young Thai wife that are everywhere here. He complained about everything. There wasn’t enough coffee in the coffee, he didn’t like his table, some guy pulled up in a fancy car (lamborgini?) outside and he shouted loudly in his Australian drawl “Yeah we all know you’re here”. Jealous much?
Had to leave after 20 minutes, partly because there was no need for me to sit and listen to his moaning, and because there was no food here and it was almost 11am.
I found the All Day Breakfast next door and had fried eggs cooked in bacon parcels. Absolutely sensational.
That afternoon Emily and I went to the digital nomad pool party at Green Hills Pool. Loved the pool, but it wasn’t much of a party. Chilled, swam, ate Pad Thai, and then went for a Thai massage. Jeez, never having one of those things again. She beat me up, I swear.
That night we went to the huge Sunday Night Market on Rachadamnoen Road. Even more stuff to buy, even more wants for my future house – it was endless!
Monday – work and yoga, like a real person
A lot of the cool coffee places here are just that, and don’t actually serve food. I ended up at Bake n Bite for the vegetarian combo breakfast – felt like a right fat bastard when they brought three plates over – muesli pancake, yogurt with fruit and spinach omelette. Great value at 200 bhat (£4.30) and all delicious, no Wi-Fi there though. Up and left.
We moved from our wardrobe hostel after realising we could pay the same for twin beds in a private room at the Nimman Resort, just up the road.
I spent the rest of the day working, until 5:30pm when I went to yoga with Weena. I arrived and it was all Thai people, I sat down ready for the adventure. As we started I wondered how the girl in front of me was getting so low in some of the positions and really pushed myself to do the same. When we all stood up, after the cobras and downward dogs, I realised she was about half my height, as was almost everyone else. Forgot I was a beast in Asia.
The class was one of the best I’ve ever done, and at two hours one of the longest too.
I was ravenous after but Emily and I could not find anywhere for dinner – mainly thanks to me, I was so hungry I was indecisive – it was also partially down to the fact I wanted a proper chair (it’s all little plastic stools here) and really wanted pad thai but needed to branch out but I didn’t know what to. I ended up with beef mince (larb) at King of Larb – worst meal I’ve had so far, don’t know what I was thinking.
Emily doesn’t drink much so it’s been really good for me to cut down. Two days sober, what a hero.
Tuesday – cafes, co working and street food
I worked at two super cool cafes in the morning – 9s and Yesterday. I love the café culture here and can totally see why so many digital nomads and start up business owners get sucked into life here.
After an hour’s walk just checking out the area I found another café I liked the look of, Ted’s Café and put my order in for a pork katsu curry. Food is so cheap and good here apparently not even the locals bother eating out. This café was embedded into a tree house, so damn cool.
I spent the afternoon working at the co working space, CAMP – which stands for Creative and Meeting Place. It was amazing in there, kind of like a super cool sixth form common room. All kinds of people were in there. I was sat next to an old Thai woman who was practising her English loudly from a book, which was cute but not good for my concentration. The co working space is on the top of the modern Maya shopping centre so had some cool views over the city too.
We went on a street food tour at night with Chiang Mai Street Tours. We had about 11 different dishes varying from disgusting (frog’s legs and black eggs) to damn delicious (pork and kanom krok). It was such a good eye opener for the range of food in Thailand, and great to have someone I could ask all my questions to from the last few days in Chiang Mai.
Wednesday – Wats, waterfalls and the Chiang Mai Grand Canyon
Day of fun today! I rented a moped for the day for 200 bhat and went cruising the Wats, or temples as we know them. I went to Wat Phra Singh, Wat Suan Dok and Wat Pha Bong.
Then I went and picked Emily up and we drove up to Wat Prathat Doi Suthep. It was stunning and right on the top of the hill overlooking Chiang Mai, such a fun journey driving up.
On the way back down we went to see the waterfalls of Doi Suthep–Pui National Park. We accidentally ended up on a hike, after wondering where the steps went, which was an unexpected flip flop adventure.
After that we decided we’d earned an epic lunch so found My Vietnamese Kitchen and ordered three dishes between us. Absolutely delicious. I love Vietnamese food.
After that it was a 30-minute drive to the ‘Chiang Mai Grand Canyon’. It was even better than I thought it would be and after all the hiking, driving, eating and trekking from the day was the perfect opportunity to take a swim and enjoy the natural world.
After a sushi dinner we went for an aromatherapy oil massage to top off a blummin brilliant day, and week, in Chiang Mai.
I’ve got a few days left in the old part now, just to hang out. And then on Sunday I’m going to Hua Hin – the beaches are calling!