We needed a family break. I have done so much traveling myself this year, but sadly it has all been alone with work. I was chatting with a client over a few beers one evening, and we got on to travel and me being a foodie. James said; “In that case you simply must go to Chiang Mai, as that is the place I have had some of the very best food ever!” I was sold, I booked immediately and so started Chiang Mai Day #1 Kennett’s Tour. We checked in to The Empress Hotel, an absolutely cracker near the Ping River, close to the centre of town and all those wonderful restaurants. At $100 a night, including breakfast, and one free family dinner you really cannot complain can you. Give them a call at +66 53 253 199.
Loving this already. Bring it on Chiang Mai.
A very early start at 0500, for an 0730 flight. A great flight with Thai Air to Bangers, and then transfer to Thai Smiles for the short flight to Chiang Mai. Slightly painful was the fact that we had to walk literally the entire length of the airport from international to domestic at Bangers, and then the other way round when we landed at domestic, but our luggage was at international at Chiang Mai. OUCH!
1st picture of the trip was at domestic Bangers airport – can you believe it,. This is the fridge at BurgerKing. Check the third shelf – yep they serve beer in BurgerKing, so of course as the kids were grabbing a BK, I grabbed a Heineken.
Note the BurgerKing sign above the fridge, and shelf three – yep it is Heineken. OMG!
On the connecting flight to Chiang Mai we flew with Thai Smiles airline, the SilkAir of SingAir. It was an easy flight, literally up and down. I was reading the in-flight magazine and came across this article which made me laugh a lot. As you know I am a major foodie and cook, but I am sorry I will draw the line somewhere and cooking with Poo and Friends is that line – ha ha!!! Great article.
Reading the in-flight magazine on way from Bangers to Chiang Mai and hey presto I spot this article about some cooking. I am adventurous as you know, but I think I’ll give this one a miss.
We arrived at The Empress Hotel. A cracker. Such nice staff. Elevated to VIP status it seems, with bags of goodies given to us – biscuits, chips, drinks etc. How about that? Amazing. We went straight for lunch at The Empress Hotel Coffee Shop. I am always a little dubious of hotel food, but I guess this is Thailand and boy did the guys knock it out of the park. The food was absolutely superb. What did we have for lunch on Chiang Mai Day #1 Kennett’s Tour?
This was all served to us by the lovely Muay. We had her all week for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Empress be proud of your staff, she was incredible. So happy and smiley every day. It was a delight to come down for food, she really did look after us so so well.
Mary goes hard on the fish for day 1 lunch, with pan fried sea bass ‘meuniere’. She said super fresh, lightly battered and served with an oil and butter dressing. Super fresh vegetable stack.
The kids go Western with a dish created during the Vietnam War for the American GI’s – American fried Rice with fried chicken, sausages with a fried egg on top. The rice had tomato sauce, and raisins and the like. Weird.
Sticking with Thai for my first day, here is my kick-ass Tom Kha Gai. SUPER spicy, no holding back on the spice at The Empress, which is just how I like it. This was an absolute cracker. Super spicy, sweet, sour, salty – perfect balance, but done my very favourite way with a little emphasis on the sour from the lime. WOW. Great work The Empress kitchen, this sits there as one of the best I have had, and I have a bloody good memory when it comes to this dish.
Lunch at the hotel. Here is Ollie’s choice of a super spicy dish too, pork mince with chili and basil. BOOM. Like a laab moo of sorts, but plus the basil. Bloody nice.
So I mentioned that my soup was super spicy. Once I had drank it all, I fished around in the bottom and arrived at this little spoon full. Hmmm I wonder why it was super spicy? Maybe because it had about 5 dried chilis and about 8-10 Thai birds eye chilis.
I thought my soup was rather spicy. There must be about 8 different Thai chili in here – OMG. Well this was what I fished out after I had finished eating this delectable dish. PHEW!
We chilled, we unpacked, we watched a bit of TV. We were then ready for dinner. I did some TripAdvisor research and we ended up overlooking the River Ping, at The Good View Restaurant. Easy to grab tuk tuks, and a local fare should cost about 1-120 Baht only – we crammed 5 of us in to one. I would absolutely recommend booking here as it was mobbed when we arrived, with many many tables already reserved too. 13 Charoen Rat Road, Wat Gate, Amphur Muang, or bell them at +663 (0) 5241 866. Live music as well, a HUGE menu to choose from, and great views of the river if you are lucky enough to grab a table on the veranda. We were lucky on Chiang Mai Day #1 Kennett’s Tour.
The kids got Western yet again, and have Pork Knuckle on a skillet. This was very – OK. 3 out of 5 maybe. The kids liked it though, so tick in box there.
My choice of spicy beef soup, was incredible on the flavour front with lime leaf, lemon grass, galangal etc. so sour and flavoursome. This was a cracker. BUT, I think they saw the white face and left the chili out, so this was absolutely not a spicy beef soup, just a wonderful Thai inspired beef soup. More chili next time please The Good View.
Mary steps it up Thai stylee with her spicy seafood soup with coconut milk. Very sweet, again not so spicy, but packed with a variety of seafood from prawns, to crab, to fish. So Mary was happy of course.
A cracking family photo at the restaurant – happy days!
Ollie gets in there with something new, and some bum burning deep fried beef laab sandwich. Absolute crackers. Really good. Seriously amazing beer food.
A beautiful shot of the Ping River that cuts Chiang Mai in half (actually 2/3 of Chiang Mai is on one side and 1/3 on the other), and the boat sat on top of it do dinner river cruises – this one I assume is the 2 hour dinner cruise. We’ll be doing this one night this week for sure. Read on to day #2 and we ate at the restaurant these actually depart from.
A view down to the bridge, jump over this, turn left, drive 1km and there’s our hotel. Again more boats sat on the water with foodies chomping down. Simply stunning.
A little snap of The Good View Restaurant from the river itself. Really good. Very local, open-aired, live music playing, good food serving, but non-English speaking place – we really liked this!
And final one for today is the other way down the river to the mountains and the Chiang Mai National Park. We plan to jump in to this tomorrow – maybe it is Tiger Time? Watch this space.
So there you have it folks Chiang Mai Day #1 Kennett’s Tour. What an incredible city. This is our first time to be in land-locked, Northern Thailand, and it is very different to Southern Thailand. It is booming, it seems, with really good infrastructure, modern buildings inter-weaved with the historic, and developments everywhere. But it is NOT mobbed with tourists, and millions of Russians like Southern Thailand is. Food so far is off the charts. This is turning in to a return destination for sure. Its a must. So I hope you like this, my first travel and food review in one for IsLifeaRecipe, I hope you – ENJOY!!!