Chiang Mai – ‘the new city’ – claims a history spanning across more than 800 years of monarchy and rule. What was once the quiet realm of agriculture and the country’s producing heartland has become a thriving centre of cuisine and culture. No longer simply a backpackers haven; the Northern city holds so much more beneath the surface than the lure of the lights in the night bazaar; the cool night air cloaks a city that embraces its polarity – a seamless blend of ancient history and contemporary culture.
Blackitch Artisan Kitchen
With just two tables, the hole-in-the-wall establishment sits atop a gelateria. Ascending the unassuming staircase, however, you’re met with an entirely new experience. Blackitch boasts an exciting blend of Japanese and Thai flavours, best sampled in the four-course chef’s table menu. The pair spend the majority of their time travelling around Thailand in the search for fresh produce, so booking ahead is essential.
27/1 Nimmanhemin Soi 7 | Suthep Subdistrict, Chiang Mai 50200;
Tel. +66 92 587 9979
The Service 1921
Hotel bars are a dime a dozen, but that’s not to say that there aren’t gems hidden amongst the ordinary. The Service 1921 is one such gem – and this one is particularly hidden. The British Consulate’s colonial-era building now hosts the Anantara Hotel. The property’s bar and restaurant is furnished with dark wood and navy interiors, emanating the building’s regal history. But what truly strikes patrons is the added air of intimacy of the bar’s private room, concealed behind a bookcase, in the manner of all the greatest spy novels.
123-123/1 Charoen Prathet Road, Changklan, Muang, Chiang Mai 50100;
Tel. +66 53 253 333
Four Seasons Tented Camp
A jungle encampment tends not to bring visions of luxury and extravagance to light, but the Four Seasons Tented Camp challenges such perceived juxtapositions – with all the indulgence you could imagine amid the tranquil setting of the jungle canopy. With personalised meditation programmes and a range of traditional Thai spa treatments, the encampment is one of few places you can achieve a spiritual awakening in style. The camp also functions as an on-site elephant sanctuary; the perfect place to get up close and personal with these majestic animals while avoiding the malpractice of the elephant riding camps that propagate Northern Thailand.
Chiang Saen Post Office, Chiang Rai 57150;
Tel. +66 53 910 200
The emerging Nimmanhaemin District has been slowly creeping into the consciousness of visitors to Chiang Mai, with cafés, eateries, boutique shops and galleries scattering the streets. One such shop is Wit's Collection – a boutique store showcasing a vibrant, eclectic range of contemporary design. Wit's is filled to the brim with statement pieces and one-of-a-kind vases, seamlessly harmonising modern design and nods to tradition.
12 Nimmanhaemin Soi 3, Suthep, Muang District, Chiang Mai 50200;
Tel. +66 53 222 468
In one of Chiang Mai’s protected national parks rests a tree house unlike any other. The Giant, as it is known, is a café set within (quite literally) within an ancient banyan tree, attracting more adults than you’d expect a tree house to. With panoramic views of the surrounding forestry, it’s highly advisable to plan a visit ahead to ensure you are one of the visitors within the café’s daily quota.
Baan Pok Village, Huaykaew, Mae On, Chiang Mai Province, 50130;
Tel. +66 53 317 677
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By S. P. Somtow
Comparisons to Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye become clear to readers of Jasmine Nights, a novel chronicling a young aristocrat, known as Little Frog. The coming-of-age story chronicles his relationship with his larger-than-life family, dealing with issues of race, sex, and identity politics in ways that are both comedic and tragic; providing a unique portrayal of Thailand in the 1960s.