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Chiang Mai: Best Review

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Brian Kennett

Amateur Chef and Boozy Traveling Foodie Extraordinaire

Chiang Mai: An amazing refiew of our first trip

Chiang Mai Review: We needed a family break. I have done so much travelling 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 our Chiang Mai Tour.

We checked in to The Empress Hotel, a cracker near the Ping River, close to the town centre and all those wonderful restaurants. You really cannot complain at $100 a night, including breakfast, and one free family dinner. Give them a call at +66 53 253 199.

I am loving this city 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. It was slightly painful that we had to walk the entire length of the airport from international to domestic at Bangers. 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 Burger King. Check the third shelf – yep they serve beer in Burger King Thailand, so of course, as the kids were grabbing a BK, I grabbed a Heineken.

Chiang Mai Review Burger King Beers

Note the BurgerKing sign above the fridge, and shelf three – yep it is Heineken. OMG!

We flew with Thai Smiles airline, the SilkAir of SingAir on the connecting flight to Chiang Mai. 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 – haha!!! Great article.

Chiang Mai Review Chef Poo

Reading the in-flight magazine from Bangers to Chiang Mai and hey presto I spotted this article about some cooking. I am adventurous as you know, but I think I’ll give this one a miss. Cooking with Poo is a bridge too far…

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 superb. What did we have for lunch on Chiang Mai Day 1.

This was all served to us by the lovely Muay. We had her all week for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Empress Hotel be proud of your staff, she was incredible. So happy and smiley every day. It was a delight to come down for food, she did look after us so so well.

Chiang Mai Review Wifey's battered fish

Mary goes hard on the fish for day 1 lunch, with pan-fried sea bass ‘Meunier’. She said it was super fresh, lightly battered and served with an oil and butter dressing, and a delicious fresh vegetable stack.

Chiang Mai Review GI Dinner

The kids go Western with a dish created during the Vietnam War for the American GIs – American fried Rice with fried chicken, and sausages with a fried egg on top. The rice had tomato sauce, raisins and the like. Weird.

Chiang Mai Review Tom Kha Gai

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. Spicy, sweet, sour, salty: the 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.

Chiang Mai Review - Laab Gai

Lunch at the hotel. Here is Ollie’s choice of a super spicy dish, pork mince with chilli and basil. BOOM. Like a Laab of sorts, but plus basil. So wonderful.

Chiang Mai Review Chillis

I mentioned that my soup was super spicy. Once I had consumed it all, I fished around in the bottom and arrived at this little spoonful. Hmmm, I wonder why it was super spicy? Maybe because it had about 5 dried chilis and 8-10 Thai bird’s eye chilis. Holy COW!

I thought my soup was rather spicy. There must be about 8 different Thai chilli in here – OMG. Well, this was what I fished out after I 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. It’s easy to grab tuk-tuks, and a local fare should only cost about 1-120 Baht – we crammed 5 of us into one.

I recommend booking The Good View Restaurant Chiang Mai as it was mobbed when we arrived, with many tables already reserved too. 13 Charoen Rat Road, Wat Gate, Amphur Muang, or bell them at +663 (0) 5241 866. Live music, 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 Review Day 1.

Chiang Mai Review - Good View Restaurant
Chiang Mai Review Pork Knuckle

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 inbox there.

Chiang Mai Review Thai Beef Soup

My choice of spicy beef soup at The Good View Restaurant Chiang Mai was incredible on the flavour front with lime leaf, lemongrass, galangal etc. so sour and flavoursome. This was a cracker. But, I think they saw the white face and left the chilli out, so this was not a spicy beef soup, just a wonderful Thai-inspired beef soup. More chilli next time please The Good View.

Chiang Mai Review spicy seafood soup

Mary steps it up Thai style 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.

Chiang Mai Review The Good View Restaurant

A cracking family photo at The Good View Restaurant – happy days!

Chiang Mai Review Laab Moo Sandwich

Ollie gets in there with something new, and some bum-burning deep-fried beef laab sandwich. Absolute crackers. Really good. Seriously amazing beer food.

Chiang Mai Review Ping River

The Ping River Chiang Mai

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.

Chiang Mai Review nighttime on Ping River

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.

Chiang Mai Review - Good View Restaurant

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 a non-English speaking place – we really liked it here.

Chiang Mai Review River Ping and Mountains

And a final one for today is the other way down the river to the mountains and the Chiang Mai National Park. We plan to jump into this tomorrow – maybe it is Tiger Time? Watch this space.

So there you have it folks Chiang Mai Review of our Day #1 Tour. What an incredible city. This is our first time in land-locked, Northern Thailand, and it is very different to Southern Thailand. It is booming, it seems, with good infrastructure, and 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 into a return destination for sure. It’s a must. ENJOY!!!

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