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Kathie's next trip includes a stop in Chaing Mai and she needs your recommendations!

Kathie's next trip includes a stop in Chaing Mai and she needs your recommendations!

Old May 8th, 2006, 05:51 PM
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Kathie's next trip includes a stop in Chaing Mai and she needs your recommendations!

Yes, the rumor is true - I'm spending some time in Chaing Mai during my November trip. The regulars on this site know that I've not been a big fan of Chaing Mai. But a number of people whose opinions I respect (Gloria, I want lots of suggestions from you!) love CM. Also, my travelng companion, Cheryl, has never been to CM, and I consider Doi Suthep a must-see in Thailand. It's been many years since I was last in CM and I'm eager to see how it's changed.

We'll be in CM for 5 nights at Yaang Come Village (Hanuman, thanks for your recommendation). We'll hire a driver for at least one day to go out to Doi Suthep (and Orchid Jade) and to some of the craft villages. We'll be there over a Sunday to do the Sunday Walking market

Here is the input I need:

I am thinking about buying a full set of celadon dinner ware (it's less expensive than remodeling the kitchen!), so I'd appreciate your recommendations on which celedon places you especially like.

We want to do a cooking class and have read good comments on several (CM Cooking School and A Taste of Thai). I'd love any additional input about your experiences.

We'll visit at least one spa - Oasis comes highly recommended, but if you have others to recommend, please add them,

Of course, I'm also interested in restaurant recommendations (jkgourmet, i printed out your reviews - thanks!).

Let's get all of this out of the way before Bob returns from France and Italy- he's already emailed me and called me a traitor! (well, actually, a trader... lol)

Many thanks for your suggestions!
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Old May 8th, 2006, 06:34 PM
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Kathie, We are among those who really liked CM, but noticed a huge increase in traffic from first visit to second, just one year apart, so I hope you won't be disappointed.

Celadon: We bought a full set of celadon dinnerware two years ago at Baan Celadon on San Kampaeng (sp?) Road & love it. WAY less expensive than remodeling a kitchen or even just buying a few new posts & pans in the U.S.! We thought Baan Celadon had the best quality and a large selection of lovely patterns. Do a google search and check out their website.

Restaurants: We liked the Grand Lanna at the Mandarin Oriental. As Gloria has said the hotel is over the top and really too much like a Hollywood set, but the Grand Lanna, which was there before the hotel, is tastefully decorative and we thought the food very good. You might enjoy lunch there while shopping on San K... Road since it is just off that Road. The Whole Earth right next door to Yaang Come Village is also good. We thought Mahanaga in CM was terrible -- the worst dining experience we've had in Thailand.

Spas - I'm an Oasis fan, but only the original one set in a garden. Others may have other recommendations.

If you like nature and want to get into the hills and visit untouristy hilltribes, you should definately contact Sargeant Kai.

Have fun planning!
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Old May 8th, 2006, 06:38 PM
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Put Dalaabaa on your list of CM restaurants. We enjoyed it very much in January of this year.
Carol
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Old May 8th, 2006, 06:41 PM
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We considered buying a set of Celadon from the factory, but were deterred by the cost of shipping. Shipping costs per kilo are prohibitive and would have doubled, approximately, the cost of the set. The folks at the factory suggested we investigate shipping by the cubic meter, but time ran out and we did not pursue this idea. I believe DHL can do it.

If you discover a relatively economical shipping method, I'd appreciate it if you would post your findings.

BTW. If you like glass-brass pieces, you might consider a trip to the Elegant Glass factory. It's listed in the CM tourist guide.
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Old May 8th, 2006, 07:01 PM
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Baan Celadon shipped for us via DHL and even though the cost of shipping was almost as much as the cost of the dinner set, it was still less expensive than a dinnerware set at home -- and we have never found anything in celadon like this in the U.S. So for us it was worth it. By the way, everything arrived in perfect condition with not a thing broken.
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Old May 8th, 2006, 08:07 PM
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CFW, it's been a lot of years since I was last in CM, and I'm sure it's changed a lot (since I found it pretty boring then, I expect I will like it better now).

You are one of several people who have recommended Baan Celadon, so I'll try them first. And thanks for the tip on DHL.

Is there more than one Oasis spa in CM?

I've added the restaurant recommendations to my list - thanks CFW and Carol!

hi50, I always expect that shipping will double the cost. If I do opt to buy and ship celadon, I'll post the details here upon my return.
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Old May 8th, 2006, 08:07 PM
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Kathie, see if Phuphing (sp?) Palace is open when you are there. It's a seasonal retreat for the queen and has peaceful and beautiful grounds to explore. Also prize roses as big as houses, if that's your thing. It's on the same road as Doi Suthep (but past it)
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Old May 8th, 2006, 08:49 PM
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Thanks for your recommendation, Jim. That sounds like something we'd be interested in.
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Old May 9th, 2006, 02:47 AM
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Yui of alotofthai.com did an outstanding job arranging our private class...tailor made for a child of 8, my husband (who was a chef in a multi-Asian restaurant for years in the states so he already knew the offerings in the standard cooking school menu), and myself (I really wanted to make appetizer food, you know, the small packages with savory fillings).

We e-mailed back and forth a few times (actually with her husband as he's the computer half) and she had great ideas to compliment some of the dishes we already knew we wanted to make. And, she was brilliant with our daughter.

She used to work for the Chiang Mai Cookery School (the big one) and split off from them. I had initially tried to arrange a customm class with them, but they were VERY expensive for their "advanced Class" and they were not flexible with the menu. With Yui, we got exactly what we wanted, just for us (no other students as our class was private).

They picked us up around 8:30 I think, we went to the market (a nice one, too) to get the fresh ingredients we'd need, then went to their house. We cooked, ate and talked all day, getting back to Yaang Come Village around 7:00 pm...long day that flew by! She health conscious and caring for the environment as well, which is something that is also important to us.

I can't recommend Yui enough, really! And I don't unconditionally recommend much, but Yui, I do.
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Old May 9th, 2006, 02:56 AM
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Hi Kathie,

I can't imagine finding any spa in Chiang Mai to better Oasis. It is fabulous. I think there are a couple in CM and one was due to open in a hotel. The one I went to, which was set in a garden, was near Wat Phrasing. They will send transport to pick you up and you are whisked away at the end of your spa experience too, which eases your transition back into the world from your highly relaxed state!

www.chiangmaioasis.com

You may like to have a look at Vila Cini and Sop Moei Arts on Charoenraj Road near the Ping River. (same street as Baan Orapin). Vila Cini is set in a restored Lanna Style teak house and has fabulous silk table runners and lovely furnishing fabrics. Sop Moei Arts has equally stylish, high quality silk for the home.

This same road has a number of other shops and galleries that might appeal. I particularly like the Tree House where I found locally crafted pewter/silver napkin rings each with an elephant sitting, standing or lying on top.
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Old May 9th, 2006, 03:05 AM
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Now for the other recommendations...I though Yui deserved her own seperate message!

E-mail YCV before going and ask for a room that faces the pool, as some rooms face the outside of the property and their views are of a building. I think you will really enjoy yourself there....it's right in the city, but is really quiet and peaceful. We found all the staff very kind and accommodating, and ready to recommend activities.

They have a desk in reception with a photo book of tours and activities...don't book any tours as they are expensive...but do get a car through them, as each time we did the price good and the driver spoke good English and was friendly.

I went to Oasis Spa 4 times...there is another one that looks LOVELY - there are brochures in the reception area - but its prices were out of my league and I've forgotten the name. I am usually not one for getting an in room massage, but the manager of YCV encouraged me to try the in room massage (2 hours, 600 baht) one evening....it was well above my expectations. Next time, I'd go to Oasis a couple of times, and have in room massage a couple of times...save about $200.00 that way!

Doi Suthep is certainly a must see. We spent a whole morning there. The Meo village past Doi Suthep is interesting, but a tourist trap if you ask me. If you go there, and you need a clean toilet, right by the parking lot you will see a single shop with lots of signs in Japanese...they speak English too...anyway, their toilet is immaculate and they welcome visitors to you it.

The Sunday Walking Street is really fun. Go before 5:00 to get your bearings before it gets packed out. After dark, its packed with people and there are street performances and a whole intersection set up with massage chairs for foot reflexology...quite a site. There is a place just up the street a bit and on the opposite side of the street from Tamarind Village called BarLY...it's really the only restaurant/bar you'll see with outdoor tables....it's a great place to sit and watch the crowd move around, and the staff there is really friendly too....bathrooms very acceptable, too (and some of the only ones you'll come across at the walking street). There are all kinds of food vendors set up in the side streets and open areas on each side of the walking street...even if you avoid eating street food, there is no harm in looking...so interesting we thought.

The manager at YCV can give you good recommendations as to where to buy things of high quality and fair price. They also can arrange to sell you things similar to what you find in their rooms if you need to save time.

We found 5 days too short...you'll have no trouble filling your time, that's for sure. Be sure to leave yourself some time to relax around the pool..it's a great place to just chill, with a glass of wine (their "house" wine wasn't at all bad and the price was good).

Enjoy!!! We really did, and I'd love to go back soon.
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Old May 9th, 2006, 03:18 AM
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Kathie,
If you are staying in a deluxe room, email the YCV and ask for room 221. It is very large, on the second floor with a grand view of the pool. Best room there I would think. We moved to another room as our toilet blocked (ahem our fault I believe) and the new deluxe room whilst nice was not quite as large or good.
The Manager has a wealth of knowledge of the best shopping in CM. I just told her what I was looking for e.g. silk and she would call a tuk tuk driver to reception and give them specific directions on where I was to be taken, and negotiated the costs. The drivers are in awe of her. I understand her family has lived on the property for a long time.
Anyhow she would know the best places to shop. I liked some of the cushions in the room and she sent me to the exact shop where she had them made.
Have a great time .. The restaurant at the hotel is quite good but venture out for some other options. Whole Earth is at the end of the drive and there is a good coffee shop right next door to WE.
Cheers
Dy
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Old May 9th, 2006, 06:42 AM
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hi Kathie... first I'd like to thank you for all teh help you gave me for our trip back in March...

I'd like to echo the statements about Baan Celadon... they have a great selection, and prices are fantastic... we bought an unbelievable hand painted tea set (a one of a kind), several hand carved plates, gifts, etc. for about $400... I think one intricately hand carved dinner plate was about $8... they packed it and we actually took it with us through the rest of our trip - checking it in on every flight (CM-BKK-Hanoi-SIN-Newark) and everything came home in perfect shape (whew!!)

Also, I cannot recommend Sergeant Kai highly enough... he is a sweet wonderful man, knows TONS of history of Chiang Mai (and Doi Suthep) - he made sure to take us there so that we'd be able to see the monks beginning their evening rituals.. very interesting... he knew just where we should be at every moment... Also, for craft villages, he knows many people in hilltribe areas, so he may be able to show you a side of the village that you might not get to see otherwise...

For a cooking class, we booked a private class with A Lot of Thai... Yui, the teacher, is excellent as is her English. A private class is nice because you are not tethered to the "standard menu" of the day... plus, her prices were definitely more reasonable than her CM Cookery School counterpart... we got our private class for not much more than 2 spots in some of the competing classes.

If possible, don't miss the Sunday walking market - it was part of the highlight of CM for us... We actually arranged our cooking class on Sunday, and had Yui drop us off at the walking market when we finished (around 4PM)... It was great because you wind up eating a LOT of food during the class, so it was nice to walk it off... I wouldn't plan on making dinner reservations for that night!

Restaurant wise, we enjoyed Dalaabaa (although it was practically empty) and also Huen Phen (also empty)... I gather Huen Phen makes a really good Kao Soi at lunchtime (but I didn't get to try it), but the restaurant for dinner is great too... they have many different selections than what we saw in BKK - a lot of Isaan varieties... and if you like sausage, their Chiang Mai sausage (appetizer) is amazing - terrific flavor of galangal - be sure to eat it Isaan style with sticky rice...

Hope this helps!

Ken
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Old May 9th, 2006, 07:04 AM
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Thanks for the fabulous info, everyone!

I'm convinced that A Lot of Thai (sorry, I had the name wrong in my original post) is the place for us. We've taken Thai cooking classes before and cook a variety of Asian foods at home (mostly Thai and Indian) so we aren't novices, but we certainly aren't experts, either. Customizing the menu sounds like just what we want.

The details about Oasis Spa are very useful amd we will plan to do some spa there.

I actually juggled my dates in CM to be there on a Sunday because of several of the posts I read here (Ken, I know your posts was one that I remember, and Kim I remembered your comments).

I do appreciate the specific info on rooms to request at YCV. Yes, we're in a deluxe room, so I'll ask for 221, but make sure we get something facing the pool.

Sop Moei is on my list, and thanks for the recommendation of Vila Cini. I'm interested in other recommendations for really exquisite crafts.

This board is such a wealth of information - yes, even for us old-timers!
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Old May 9th, 2006, 08:58 AM
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Kathie, many folks have sung the praises of Sargent Kai, and I'm sure he's wonderful, but I'd like to add the name of our guide while we were in Chiang Mai. Dol is his name (it's a lot longer than that, but he's shortened it for we farangs). He took us under his wing and helped make our stay in Chiang Mai a memorable one. His prices are reasonable and are just a bit higher if one want to travel out of Chiang Mai to the Golden Triangle, etc. He's very knowledgeable about the area as a native of Chiang Rai. If Sargent Kai is not available, I suggest contacting Dol. His contact information is: [email protected], phone 04-0402-877.

By the way, thank you for the help with Hanoi. We really loved the D'Syloia Hotel.
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Old May 9th, 2006, 10:12 AM
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just topped jkgourmet's recent review of several CM restaurants.
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Old May 9th, 2006, 10:35 AM
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Thanks for the guide recommendations, but I really won't use one. I've been to CM before, pretty much know what I want to do, and will employ a driver for the out of town stops. Given Kim's comments, I'll probably just ask the Yaang Come Village to recommend a driver.

I printed out jkgourmet's recommendations, and am still interested in any restaurant recommendations anyone might have.

I'm glad you enjoyed the DeSyloia, Sharon. I liked the hotels and the staff were very helpful.
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Old May 9th, 2006, 02:44 PM
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Kathie, going to Chaing Mai? This is what I love about this board...it makes you feel like you can find the good stuff in any place, no matter that you didn't "get it" on an earlier trip!!

Reading this, I think we'll try Chaing Mai next time too!
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Old May 9th, 2006, 03:04 PM
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I have a question regarding the Sunday market. Is it open all day and into the evening? We will be in CM later this year over a Sunday but originally had a day trip outside of the city planned for Sunday. It sounds like we shouldn't miss this market but wanted to get a feel for whether it should be our focus for the day or can be experienced in the evening after other travels. Also, have read in other threads about the night market--is it similar to the Sunday market--or would we want to experience both. Any advice would be appreciated.
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Old May 9th, 2006, 03:44 PM
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We got to the Sunday market at around 4-4:30PM... it was nice then - plenty of space to walk around, it didn't feel too crowded... by around 7-8PM it was PACKED!!!! I'm not sure (someone please correct me if I'm wrong) but I think it "officially" starts at 3PM, although it really doesn't get going until 5-6PM and then, as it gets dark, it gets really busy... So don't worry about cancelling day plans - you won't miss much then...

Ken
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