Scooter Trip through Northern Thailand: Kanchanaburi, Chiang Mai and Pai

Greetings from Thailand everyone! 🤩

IMG_1828
Panviman Spa Resort in Mae Rim

There’s no doubt that 2020 has been a doozy of a year, and affected everyone on different levels. As an expat in Thailand, I have encountered quite a few unexpected changes in life, but I’m continuing to find the positivity in each experience and find COVID-friendly alternatives to my original plans for the year. I’ll begin with what I considered to be a good omen and a reminder of human kindness. To celebrate my 32nd birthday, I enjoyed a delicious Thai meal along the Chao Phraya River. This celebration ended abruptly as I dropped my iPhone right into the water. Now to my astonishment, the next morning, the restaurant owners actually went into the water, which literally resembles chocolate milk, and fished out my device with a net. Wow! 😱

g
Willy Wonka’s chocolate river vs the Chao Phraya River: Same same, but different 😂
f54
My phone after being fished out of the water…it still didn’t work, but it was a sweet gesture

Of course, it was obligatory to buy a new iPhone, and this experience also reminded me of the impermanence of money, material possessions, and good fortune.

f62
enjoying cocktails at Lebua, the hotel in “The Hangover”

Sometimes life will present us with challenges that make us wish for yesterday’s problems. As such, I’ve decided to keep seizing the day to do what I love: travel, eat and explore.

f63
Centara Resort and The Beach at Anantasila in Hua Hin

I’ve been on quite a few domestic vacations and foodie adventures that I’d like to share with all of you. Hope you enjoy! 😃

f64
Oceanside Beach Club in Hua Hin

Kanchanaburi

First up was a train trip to Kanchanaburi. My boyfriend and I took a 3-hour train trip northwest to Kanchanaburi town, then rented a scooter to explore the country roads along the River Kwai. 🚂

f65f61

We stayed at Aek Pailin River Kwai Hotel, which was near to Erawan National Park and Elephant World, a sanctuary that I volunteered at in the past. 🌼

f60f70

I loved the resort’s riverside picnic-style dining in the evening, where we sat on the lawn surrounded by twinkling lights strung up in the trees. 💕

f58

f59
local Thai dishes: Yum Kai Tom (spicy soft boiled egg salad), Tod Mun Pla (curry fish cakes), cashew chicken, and Chinese olive fried rice

Chiang Mai and Pai

Most recently, we also took a 10-day trip to Chiang Mai and Pai.

f56
Fah Lanna Spa for a Thai massage and The FACES Gallery and Gastro Bar for a Weiss bier from Chiang Mai brewery
f10
Wat Chiang Man

We flew with AirAsia, which cost about 50 USD each way and took 1.5 hours.

f35

The Wing Boutique was a great value for money when we arrived so late, since we wouldn’t get to appreciate a fancier hotel. It was centrally located and only cost 20 USD.

f36

We had drinks and listened to DJ music at Nophaburi Bar to celebrate our arrival.

f37
Mekhong whiskey mixed with pineapple juice and elderberry syrup, and a red ale from Chiang Mai brewery

Once in Chiang Mai, we rented a scooter and drove 3 hours north to Pai.

f24

Here is the White Buddha, a landmark in Pai, and the rice terraces in the surrounding area. In the photo on the right you can see the White Buddha looking like a small white speck surrounded by the green mountain landscape. ☸️

f67

Now, the road to Pai is well-paved, but is also a winding mix of hills and over 750 turns. Not recommended when it rains! 😱

f26

Although my boyfriend is a safe driver, I was jealous of the witches at this quirky witch-themed cafe. I would have much rather flown there on a broom. Hah! 🧙‍♀️

f25
Witch’s House on the road to Pai; Cocolino cafe in Pai; old Ferris wheel near the viewpoint

Anyway, we made it safely and enjoyed various styles of resorts and restaurants during our visit. For a budget-friendly, centrally-located option, we stayed at The Quarter.

f22

For something more European and refined, we stayed at Reverie Siam Resort. Their included breakfast was opulent and resembled afternoon tea in London. We also appreciated the vintage colonial decor, lavish soaking tub, attentive staff, and unusually shrubbery, which honestly made us feel like we were transported to England. They even infused their own gin and let guests create DIY cocktails. 🍸

f19

f18
eggs benedict with a tower of biscuits, fresh fruit and blueberry pancakes; gin with rosemary and orange

For something more contemporary, we stayed at Puripai Villa. We loved the large balcony overlooking the mountains, warm wooden elements with modern seating, open-air restaurant, and cafe.

f11f12

In terms of food, Pai traditionally caters to tourists and offers many Western options. Our favorite spots were Siam Bar and Bistro, Witching Well, Cafecito, and The Pedlar. We also liked the staff at La Reve wine bar and the selection of beers at Jikko Bar.

f20
Huevos Rancheros at Cafecito and street art nearby by Alex Face
f42
chicken burger and prosciutto with melon at Witching Well; bruschetta and wine at La Reve (the owner is an incredibly likeable and humble New York City local)

f23
For traditional Thai foods we tried Baanpai restaurant and some local street food.

f16
drunken noodle in soy sauce at Baanpai and the Bamboo Bridge

They have a black sticky rice pancake drizzled with nuts and sweetened condensed milk.

image
photo courtesy of Travel Feed

In terms of attractions, we visited the Bamboo Bridge, Chinese viewpoint, and hiked part of the Mae Yen Waterfall Hiking Trail. 

f15f13f8f21
After 4 nights in Pai, we drove back towards Chiang Mai, stopping two nights in a hidden gem known as Mae Rim, an area surrounded by luxury resorts with spectacular mountain views. 😍

f4
We stayed at Panviman Spa Resort, which had a secluded location, stunning infinity pool and jacuzzi, delicious dining options, and lots of on-site activities, like yoga, meditation. My favorite part was the soothing essential oils that they used across the resort and the ambient music that was playing wherever we walked. So peaceful! 🧘

f6
meditation cave
f5
infinity jacuzzi and reception of the hotel
f7
breakfast buffet with a view; Pong Yaeng-style chicken curry with penne pasta and cheese
f2
valley deluxe

In terms of attractions, we explored nearby Mon Jam, a hillside farming community with incredibly unique options for mountain camping. It must be a gorgeous spot for the sunrise! 🌄

f3

We also visited Kuv Niam Forest, a field full of purple flowers, where they also sold local fruit wines and handicrafts.

f

Once back in Chiang Mai, we stayed in the hip and artsy Nimman neighborhood, so we could explore the food scene and nightlife. Our favorite spots, based on the cuisine we were craving at that time, included Rustic and Blue, The Overstand, The FACES Gallery and Gastro Bar, Rock Me Burger, Wanlamun Rim Nam, and Gallery Seescape.

f46
salmon benedict at Seescape; mushroom omelet at The Overstand; fried chicken and waffle with cheddar cheese, sriracha and a maple glaze with candied walnuts and fried basil at Rustic and Blue 😋
f9
quirky sculptures and artwork at Seescape
f47
standard American burger at Rock Me Burger; chive dumpling, beef red curry and crab at Wanlamun Rim Nam

Aside from our two luxurious holidays, we have been enjoying many new restaurants in Bangkok.

f38
Jua: katsu sandwich and chicken meatball with egg yolk shavings
f57
Cheap Charlie’s Bar is an institution in Bangkok and they recently were moved out near Phra Khanong BTS

We met one of the nicest restaurant owners at Senban Hokkaido Butadon near Samyan and their food was also delicious. Butadon is a Japanese dish of grilled pork and onions with egg and a sweet soy sauce on rice. I even had mine topped with melted cheese. Yum! We also tried a new dish called Yum Pla Duk Fu at The Bangkok Heritage. This dish consists of crispy fried catfish on top of mango coleslaw. The consistency was similar to cotton candy, and the fluffy fried fish just melted in your mouth. The greasy fish paired well with the sweet, tangy and fresh slaw too.

f41

Weekend brunches are my favorite; however, so that was definitely the focus of this food journey.

f43
Featherstone Bistro; eggs benedict at The Gardens of Dinsor Palace
f44
avocado toast with fried enoki mushrooms at Counting Sheep Corner
f28
eggs benedict omelet at Kay’s Boutique Cafe
f40
truffle egg and mozzarella pizza at L’Oliva; sweet potato and bean quesadilla with guacamole and tzatziki at Broccoli Revolution; chickpea wrap with sesame kimchi dressing at Veganerie Concept
f69
L’Olivia storefront; pulled pork grilled cheese with corn at Holmes
f32
eggs benedict and cinnamon orange iced coffee at Organika House
f45
panda-separated, socially-distanced seating at Maison Saigon; bacon egg sandwich on quinoa sourdough at Kaizen; omelet and holy basil chicken at The Quarter Poshtel; drip coffee at Factory Coffee

Now coffee and brunch go hand-in-hand, so I was delighted to also visit the IMPACT Arena for the 2020 Coffee Fest. ☕

f27

We also participated in Bangkok Restaurant Week, where participants pay a fixed price for a set menu at an upscale restaurant, which has a nice value for money. We chose DTF: Dao Tu Fook, a Chinese restaurant in the old town with a post-war nostalgia theme, and El Tapeo, a Spanish wine bar in Thonglor. 🍷

f31
pig ear & wood ear salad with spicy and sour dashi dressing, wontons with Sichuan sauce, stir-fried eggplant with tamari & maple syrup sauce, asparagus with Chinese black olive sauce, gnocchi crab meat with black pepper sauce, braised and pan-seared pork belly with miso mustard sauce and a cocktail for only 30 USD each

f34

f33
garlic prawns, pork skewers with a spicy mayo, minced pork meatballs in a homemade tomatoes sauce, roasted eggplant with tomato and cheese topped with salted anchovy, fried calamari, fried potatoes with a homemade spicy paprika sauce, grilled salmon with vegetables, lentils and pork stew, homemade Basque cheesecake served with red berry jam, and an apple pastry tartlet filled with vanilla, caramel, and roasted walnuts for only 25 USD each

We also embraced our German roots by eating some German food at Alexander’s German Eatery, Sühring, and even an Oktoberfest celebration at the Mandarin Oriental.

f39
schnitzel burger on a buttery brioche with ham, bacon, tomato, and tartar sauce at Alexander’s German Eatery
f29
glammed up at the Mandarin Oriental
f30
brotzeit and spaetzle washed down with Paulener Hefeweizen at the Mandarin Oriental’s Oktoberfest

The most sophisticated of the three being Sühring, a two Michelin star restaurant which focuses on simple, seasonal dishes.

IMG_E0613

They offer a set menu that is broken down into three chapters. We also ordered some extras like spaetzle with truffle and duck confit wafer that was concealed in a traditional German chocolate wrapper. My personal favorite was the spilt pea soup poured over a ring of sweet potato and egg yolk served with various homemade breads, butter, and caviar.

f49
split pea soup; truffle spaetzle; Munich microbrews; crab, avocado, and peach in reduced crab sauce
f50
Alaskan salmon with sorrel in mustard glaze; starter trio: pureed leek balls, corned beef wrapped in tartar on rye and strammermax egg, ham and cheese sandwich; duck confit wafer
f48
turbot in a lobster bisque sauce with veggies surrounding a seaweed mayo; strawberry jelly with crispy cookie; apple tartlets with the chef’s grandma’s traditional eggnog

Of course, we’ve also been trying stay active and outdoors as much as possible during the end of this rainy season. As a general rule, whether rain or shine, I bring an umbrella wherever I go.

f51
Suan Luang Rama IX
f52
Suan Luang Rama IX

The one exception being when we were were rained out during our bike ride, so we had to take refuge at Sheepshank Beer Bar. Not a bad trade off! Cheers! 🍺

f53
rainy bike ride in the old town

At school, I’ve taken on a new role as the Year 6 middle school teacher.

f72
trashion show upcycling items into designer outfits; middle school maths club

For some examples of classroom activities, I’ve been teaching biology, and I had the kids create comics illustrating the journey that sperm make to reach an egg. I’ve also been teaching WW2 in history and had the kids create a modern twist on traditional propaganda posters.

f71
f55
The kids and I get on real well and they’ve even spoiled me with gifts on Teachers’ Day. Aside from traditional chocolates, I received dried squid and homemade northern Thai sausages. So unique and sweet! 💗🦑

f73

Anyway, we only have 7 weeks before our school takes another 3-week vacation for Christmas. In the meantime, there are many local and international holidays to celebrate, and many exciting things on the calendar to look forward to. I can’t wait to share all these experiences with you. No matter who’s reading this, no matter where you are in the world right now, and whatever challenges you are going through this year, I want to wish you well. Stay safe, stay healthy, and find any joy you can in today, because this present really is a gift. Take care everyone! X 💗

21 thoughts on “Scooter Trip through Northern Thailand: Kanchanaburi, Chiang Mai and Pai

  1. Thank you for this! I’m planning to explore the northern Thailand once they let us travel freely again and this post helps so much! Seems like you had a wonderful time 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Megan thanks for the follow 😎Your photos are beautiful.. so many different restaurants wow!
    We spent a few days in Chiang Mai about five years ago. It was during the coup and there was a curfew so we couldn’t get out much in the evening!
    I think it will be a long while until we are able to visit Thailand again 😞

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hello Megan and thanks for following my blog.

    It is truly said that it is impossible to eat badly in Thailand and this post proves it. I know it is far too long since I was in Thailand but I never remember Eggs Benedict for breakfast, which is a great favourite of mine. I never got too far past pad thai or maybe an omelette if I was in a farang state of mind. I don’t think Chiang Mai even had a brewery last time I was there never mind one making Weissbier!. Great blog, keep it up.

    Like

    1. I completely agree! I lived here in 2016 too, and so many things have changed in only four years. The city has become much more Westernized. I would probably stick with Thai food too if I was visiting like you, but after living here a while, it is nice to mix of the types of cuisine. The variety of beers is a bonus too, although I can always go for an ice cold Singha! 🙂

      Like

  4. I am actually a Chang man myself but there is not much to choose between them. Do they still serve that awful Kloster they used to do? Avoid it like the plague, it has given me some fearful hangovers. I do not know how true it is but I remember years ago being told they used to put small amounts of formaldehyde in it to stop it going off in the heat. Terrible stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve never tried Kloster before. I also agree that Chang, Singha and Leo and are all pretty equal in terms of taste. I have been visiting some cool cocktail bars lately, so that should be coming up in the next post, along with an island holiday. Take care!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You too, take care.

        I’ll tell you, I would happily swap BKK for a cold, damp November London where I am under house arrest any day. Good luck to you.

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.