As you know I recently took a quick jaunt to Thailand over the Chuseok vacation. I have been to Thailand many times in the past, but this time I ventured up to the far north to Chiang Rai. This was my first time up in the mountains, so I was very excited to see a different kind of cuisine than that I had experienced further south. There are no direct flights from Korea, but it is cheap and easy to transfer in Hong Kong, even during the peak season of Chuseok. It also allowed us to spend a few days in Hong Kong, which is never a bad thing. Chiang Rai is a small town like city, but it is home to the famous White Temple, which was quite a sight to behold. On this trip we weren’t lucky enough to bag a free stay, but we did find a very nice and reasonably priced hotel called Laluna Hotel. We paid around $50 USD a night for our garden view king sized room. I was really pleased with this place, the room was really light and spacious, well decorated and had a gigantic bed. The bathroom was nice enough too. There was a fab pool with super big and comfy sun loungers, and a plentiful breakfast buffet included in the price. It was only a cheap tuk tuk or taxi ride into town, and I think we made a darn good choice on where to stay.
Barrab – On our first night we headed to Barrab, a cheap and cheerful Thai restaurant located just by the clock tower. It was here we first tasted our first bowl of heavenly Khao Soi. The local sweet & sour coconut curry noodle dish is incredible and you will find it in virtually every restaurant you go to. This one was topped with a chicken leg, but we also saw it served with beef, shrimp and pork. While this didn’t end up being the best one we had, it was still pretty decent. We also had a very good Pad Thai and a fairly mediocre cashew chicken. The food was very cheap though, and whilst we had better dishes at other restaurants, I certainly wouldn’t say we had a bad meal here, especially considering our three dishes & two beers cost less than $10. In Seoul you wouldn’t even get one dish for that.
Some Sunday Magic – This place is a little bit out of the main town, but not far and cheap enough to get to in a taxi or Uber. I promise if you enjoy delicious food and good aesthetics you won’t be disappointed you visited. The restaurant is actually an art gallery too, meaning the whole place is filled with plenty of beautiful things to look at as well as serving some amazingly good food. We couldn’t resist ordering another Khao Soi. This one we decided to try with pork which I think we both preferred over the chicken. The broth in this soup was even better than the Barrab one as it had a slight peanutty flavour which added an extra dimension to the dish. We also had a boat of pineapple fried rice, I just adore food that is served in food and this tasted just as good as it looks. To drink I had the most beautiful caramel macchiato, it was like a dessert you could drink. Seoul coffee shops take note, this is the way to do it. I also enjoyed another killer smoothie which I of course topped with vodka and TFB enjoyed a Leo beer, which soon became his favourite of the three local varieties.
Chivit Thamma Da Coffee House & Bistro – One of the most popular spots to visit in Chiang Rai, is Chivit Thamma Da Coffee House, and for good reason, the huge wooden clapboard house set in beautiful cottage style gardens along the Mekong river is absolutely stunning. However it is not just the setting that is beautiful, the food is equally as fabulous. The adorable newspaper style menu is a mix of western and Thai food. After eating pad thai non stop all week, we were up for a change, so enjoyed their incredible Truffle Eggs Benedict with bacon and potato wedges. I’m not sure hollandaise will ever taste as good again without truffles. We also wanted to test the muster of their Khao Soi, which has quickly become my new favourite Thai food. We also supped a refreshing Raspberry Lemonade and and a super sweet Banoffee Cofffe, this was like desert and coffee all in one glass. One small thing that was rather annoying, and caused me to have a total Verruca Salt moment was the fact that they stop serving alcohol between 2pm-5pm like most of the convenience marts. Most bars don’t seem to observe this, but this one does and I felt tortured enjoying such a fabulous lazy lunch without a cocktail in my hand. So if you want to drink, plan your visit accordingly, or be sure to smuggle in your own.
Nai Suan Bed & Breakfast – Probably the world’s cutest bed and breakfast ever, when stepping on to the property and wondering through the gardens it had a real Alice in Wonderland feel about it. The baby blue wooden building is set in a very adorable overgrown English style garden. Once inside the decor doesn’t stop, mismatched vintage furniture is strewn throughout. The drinks and food on the menu are all really well priced. We enjoyed a chicken salad, and a very tasty shrimp curry, with rice and a heart shaped egg which we thought to be adorable. I also had a mango and passion fruit shake and another fabulous caramel macchiato. Well worth a visit if you want a pretty place to take some pictures.
Favola at Le Meridian Hotel – On our last night, we were invited to fantastic dinner at Favola by the lovely staff at the Meridian hotel. The hotel itself is incredible with the gorgeous grounds and rooms being a beautiful mix of modern and eastern in style, and had I known how beautiful it was, we probably would have ended up staying here. There are two restaurants on the property, a buffet and the upmarket Italian, Favola. We dined on the restaurant’s set menu dinner menu for two which kicked off with a prosciutto wrapped shrimp salad, before moving on to the incredibly creamy gnocchi vongole. For our main course we had roast chicken and melt in the mouth belly pork, both were so good it was hard to choose which one was the best. We finished the meal with an incredible light and creamy tiramisu. It was the ideal way to spend our last night and was a great end to the trip.