Chiang Mai-First time visitors value spending guide.

The guide books will tell you things about Thai customs such as men and women not wearing shorts in the temples, do not touch a baby’s head , do not point your feet towards anyone.

However, they don’t tell you that a cab from the airport to anywhere in Chiang Mai should cost you anywhere from 120 to 200 Baht depending on which cab company you contact when you hit arrivals at Chiang Mai International air port.

Recently, guests of mine shared a cab. They were charged 120 Baht and dropped off in the middle of the old city. The driver wanted another 120 Baht to take them to their the destination they had paid for.

A red cab fare anywhere within Chaing Mai is 20 Baht.The red cab is small pickup trucks with two long seats in the back.
There is a buzzer on the ceiling to let the driver know where you are getting off.
Tell the driver where you want to go. If he asks you another price other than 20 Baht politely thank him and wait for another cab. If he doesn’t say anything give him 20 Baht at the end of your trip and walk away.
There are exceptions of course. In the evening , the drivers will charge more. It is up to you to negotiate. Technically it is 20 Baht but if you want a ride home , you will have to pay more than 20 Baht but not necessarily what the driver is asking. Negotiate politely but firmly. Let him know you know the rules.

If you stay a month at a guest house or boutique hotel you save a bundle of money. The usual minimum is one month, then another discount for 3 months , then 6 months and then one year.
Even if you are staying for only 3 weeks;you will save by paying for a month and leaving in 3 weeks.

The rates vary widely , so look around. Best to stay in a small owner operated place unless you are staying in a very expensive hotel like the Sheraton in which case much of this post has no interest for you.

If you negotiate at the night market or on the street offer the vendor a bit over 50% of what he/she is asking. He/she will counter offer. Stick firm to your offer or add a bit to your first offer. Be polite but don’t appear eager. Start walking away slowly disinterested and most times they will approach you with what you asked for in the beginning.

Try not to come to Chiang Mai during burning season which begins at the end of Feb. and lasts until mid April. The pollution levels go sky high and many people have respiratory challenges.
That is it for today. Enjoy your stay in beautiful Chaing Mai.

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Chiang Mai

First, I shall apologize to any of my readers in the past for not publishing for a long time. No excuses.
The good news is that on a positive note there are so many more wonderful venues to hang out and eat in Chiang Mai.
The bad news is that it is increasingly becoming more congested with motor traffic. The noise levels vary depending if a new bar has opened nearby or not.
A couple of weeks ago I heard reports that there was a persistent thief at ,”Mountain View Guest House “. It is difficult to determine rather this thief is part of the cleaning staff or other staff members who have pass keys to your room or one of the residents who is skilled in getting through looks. In one case about $250.00 was taken and a week later $500.00 in cash that was well hidden was stolen out of a locked room.
I’ve stayed in guest houses in Chiang Mai for the past 22 years without an incident. My experience is that if you stay at a small family owned business the chances are slight as they keep an eye on the place.
Mountain View is a rather large building with many rooms. It is also near in a busy tourist area near Thapee Gate.
A new PunPun opened last March near the Y.M.C. A. on Sanithan Rd.The food and the people who gravitate there are a great addition to a wonderful experience in Chiang Mai. This PunPun has been renamed ImmAim.
In all there are 3 other restaurants that are called Punpun at the moment. The original one was at Sundock Temple. I have dined there . I prefer ImmAim ,the former Punpun near the Y.M.C. A. I have not visited the other PunPuns but I heard from someone that the one near the mountain has a good menu and food.

I mourn my beloved ,”Goat Coffee” which has been relocated near the ,”Forest Monastery” to be replaced by a huge bar, the bane and scourge of any decent neighbourhood. The noise and type of folks they often attract do not increase the quality of life in any place. Alas, like the mosquitoes, too fast cars, noisy Tuk Tuks, and crawling traffic they too will always be part of the landscape here in Chiang Mai.

There are many new wonderful coffee houses that have opened up in the area nearby Central Dept. store.
The area is also going a huge building boom as the Bangkok money movies North to Chiang Mai which is a much more tolerable place to live than the huge hot city of Bangkok.
Will Chiang Mai suffer the same fate as Bangkok with its’ unregulated sprawling growth without any regard to human habitation.

There you have it folks , the beginning of my new postings.
Have a great 2013. The best to your health and wealth in the year of the Snake.

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Value Living in Chiang Mai

This is my third visit to Chiang Mai in 2012. I have been spending the past 22 winters in Asia-most of them living in Chiang Mai.

Today I observed an inordinate number of backpackers looking for a place to stay in Chiang Mai. On my way to meet a friend for breakfast I stopped briefly to help a young lady. She was not looking for a specific place but any place. November is now the high season.

While sitting at a corner eatery in off the beaten path soi(street) I observed many pairs of backpackers looking for a place to rest their travelers weary bones. The time , I noted , was around midday. Generally most backpackers arrive early in the morning by either overnight train or bus.

If you plan to come to Chiang Mai , it is good to book something ahead of time. Housing located in the center tends to be more expensive than a bit outside the well traveled tourist paths.

We had had a torrential rain downpour last night that made walking quite enjoyable this morning.

Last year, November was the low season. “The times they are a changing”. When I first came here you could easily find a place all year around. This has all changed.

With to Global recession many young people and not so young people are coming here to sit it out and stretch their savings to a much longer period than they could in their Western country.

I do promise to post regularly. I apologize for being so remiss with my posting for quite some time now.

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Value Living in Chiang Mai

On Nov. 5th I depart from Toronto, Canada where I have spend the summer for my 23 winter in Chiang Mai.
Every year I find new and enjoyable changes in Chiang Mai.
During the winter of 2012 a wonderful organic, veggie permaculture restaurant opened down the street from the Y.M.C A.
It immediately became my favourite dining place. It served original dishes that no other restaurant in Chiang Mai was serving.
It also quickly became home to what I call the ,”Conscious Community” in Chiang Mai.
People who did yoga, meditated , ate healthy food were drawn to eating there. Also, a number of people who live on Ashrams in India found this venue refreshing. There is a new visa ruling that stipulates that they leave the country for two whole months every six months even though they have a ten year retirement visa.
Another restaurant nearby sprouted up but I do not frequent it as it’s menu does not offer good value for money Except perhaps some breakfast items.
Charming Cat house relocated but shortly afterwards shut down again.
I discovered I could use the pool in the hotel in the back of Plaza around the corner from Ram Hospital.
For 3 dollars you get a towel and use of a locker and shower. The pool is located outside on the seventh floor. It’s a long pool therefore useful to serious swimmers.
I look forward to seeing what positive changes Chiang Mai has to offer.
I shall share with you dear reader all the changes Chiang Mai has wrought since I was there four months ago.

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2012 European Union Film Festival

This film festival kicked off in Chiang Mai today Entrance to the Festival is free.
It is at Vista Kadsuankeaew at teh movie thetre on th %th Floor.
The films begin at 11 a.m each day and finish around 7bp.m.
I couldn’t attend today but I shall look into attending tomorrow.

See you at the movies.

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Cloudy Days in Chiang Mai

Beginning in mid March to October one prays for cloudy and rainy days in Chiang Mai. After a rain it cools off for several days.
The cloudy period before a rain store is a good time to get around and do errands otherwise staying indoors in air an air con room is the only comfortable way to enjoy life in Chiang Mai.
Today , a storm as slowly been gathering clouds for a down pour.
It is now around 4: 30 p.m and I suspect we will have a sown pour within an hour.
The best months of visit Chiang Mai are Oct.(the later part) Nov. ,Dec. Jan. and Feb. Sometimes it isn’t so hot until Mid March but one can feel the increase of heat during the first week of March as a rule.
Also at that time beginning at the end of Feb. a lot of burning of rubbish , fields etc. causes a lot of pollution in the air that adversely affects one’s lungs.

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Value Living in Chiang Mai

Did you know that there are approximately 15000 ex=pats who live in Chiang Mai full time. Some of the residence live here because they can have a have decent quality life style on less than $500.00 a month.
Others having planned for a nice retirement live on 4 or five times that amount.
Actually, if you have say between $650.00 and $1000.00 a month you give live a very high quality life style in Chiang Mai.
My personal budget is under $600.0 a month.
That means living in a nice quiet room and eating out three times a day.If you frequent bars and get involve with Thai ladies romantically then the sky is the limit on what you will spend.
I hang around with folks who live here full time and others who like myself spend six to eight months a year here.
The conversation today at lunch centred at where could you receive the amenities and lifestyle anywhere on the planet that you can in Chiang Mai. We came to the conclusion that you can get some of the same benefits or advantages in other countries but not all the benefits together that one can obtain in Chiang Mai.
You can buy a cheap phone or if your phone is unlock a sim card and phone time for about six dollars a month.
I recently purchased a new ipad 3 with a 3g data capability.
In the west data plans are expensive. Here in thailand I was able to buy a sim card and data time for under six bucks as the airport at around 10 p.m. in the evening when I landed.
If you plan to be here a month or so buying a cheap phone makes sense. You can buy one for around 20 bucks.
Most Androids are unlocked so you can just pick up a sim card when you arrive at the airport and put some time on it. Unlocked iphones work also but are expensive to buy.
The best months to come to Thailand is Oct. Nov. Jan. and Feb.
By mid March it becomes quite hot in the Kingdom. Also at this time there is a lot of burning that creates a thick smog that makes it difficult for many people to breathe. The burning is in the North East and the North West. You can escape it by going to the beaches in the south of Thailand.

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Value Living in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Before sitting down to write this post I opened up one I had written March 23, 2011 or over one year ago. After reading the posting, I said to myself ,” how much Chiang Mai and my experience of Chiang Mai has changed.”

Dada Kafe where I hung out most of 2011 had increased their prices by 20% across the board. I’m aware that food prices have gone up but others have swallowed the increases not changing their menu prices from the previous years. Perhaps , people are catching on as I was the only one there for dinner several weeks ago during prime dinner time.

Juice4u appeared to be doing a brisk trade with the young backpacker crowd raised at McDonald’s and Kentucky Fried Chicken given testimony to where there taste buds are at.
What I like in Chiang Mai is that there is something for everybody.

A new fledgling new restaurant opened in 2011 ,Kin Dee across the street from Dada Kafe was closed the evening I was in the neighborhood . I like the owners and wish them well. Their Italian coffee is one of the best values in Chiang Mai. I have enjoyed great meals there in the past also.

Near Thapee Gate ,”Aum” ,my first choice restaurant , for from 1990 t0 2000 but has fallen on hard times in the past decade and can not be recommended.

One of my favorites in the gated city, “Blue Diamond” still serves good food but the staff are stiff and afraid lending no so good feeling to the place. Blue Diamond has in the past year begun to display a very attempting array of tempting desserts.

Perhaps, it is because I have found much more open, relaxed and and innovative menus at other restaurants outside the gated city that these former restaurants no longer appeal to me. It is more energetically , that I fault these restaurants where I once mellowed in their service and atmosphere.
Outside the gate , near the Y.M.C.A. and a 8 minute walk from Central Plaza on the road going to the mountain in an area called ,Santanim Rd., a number of new restaurants and coffee shops have sprouted up. There are also a number of good guest houses located here . I shall not single any out as their are too many to mention. It all depends whether you plan to stay short time or long time. The Y.M.C.A. is much too expensive to me.
B2 not too far away from the Y.MN.C.A. might be a place to check into while you look around.
If you are into the healing arts, or enjoy being around people who aspire to be healthy I recommend ,Satava Yoga Restauant, PunPun and Goat Coffee in the area.
The area boasts several Thai massage schools and yoga studios.
Yet across the street and further towards the University of Chiang Mai try out ,”Salad Concepts”. Their are also many Japanese and a couple of Italian restaurants in the area .
Coffee shops frequented by Thai students are found by the half dozen on every block in the area.
The difference between the two areas mentioned above and in the gated area is that the above restaurants cater to the Thai’s as well as the Farang or foreigners.
The restaurants in the walled city near the gate cater almost exclusively to foreigners.

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Value Living In Chiang Mai

Last night as I was walking home from shopping at the night market I rediscovered one of the three raw food restaurants. It had closed for the evening. I chatted with the owner for a minute. He assured me his business was coming along fine.

As I continued walking along this back road behind a wonderful bar/hotel named B2 I literally stumbled upon a used bicycle shop. There is no sign outside but when the door is open one can view hundreds of used bikes. I have been looking for a place to purchase a good used folding bike for some time as I miss my Brompton that I leave home in Toronto. The Thai man said he didn’t speak much English but when I told him I had a Brompton in Canada he smiled and said ‘very good”.

Chiang Mai is indeed the home of value living on the planet. Along with the conventional tours of viewing wild animals such as tigers, elephants etc., one can experience shooting from dozens of different fire arms, experience being a Thai soldier for one day, taking salsa and tango lessons, taking tennis lessons, going swimming in a huge five star hotel pool for 3 bucks.

For many young and some older people ,the studying of the healing arts such as Thai massage, and yoga are a favorite pursuit.
As I have mentioned in previous posting you can find many ex-pats plying their professions -Acupuncture, Alexander lessons, Hypnosis, Reflexology, colon irrigation, Indian Medicine, cranial-Sacral, numerology readings, astrology readings, the new German medicine, Russian medicine.

Then there many different venues offering daily yoga classes. When I first arrived 22 years ago there was on lone Swiss man teaching yoga in Chiang Mai. How times have changed.
There are many language teachers in Chiang Mai. I’ve seen ads for English, Thai, Japanese and Korean teachers.

Where do I begin with the food. The average cost of a meal at my favorite restaurant ,Punpun 2 is between two to three bucks. Compared that to paying fifteen dollars in my favorite similar restaurant in Toronto, Canada.

One thing that is priceless in Chiang Mai and no value can be put on it is the wonderful people one can meet from all over the planet. Fascinating, interesting people live here full time and many more stay for months at a time during the winter months.

I was told that the ex-pat community numbered 15,000.0 in Chiang Mai. Since the tsunami in Japan many elderly Japanese have retired here establishing many small Japanese restaurants that remind me of my years of living in Japan when I frequented them in the little side streets of Tokyo.

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Value Living In Chiang Mai

There is a rather vibrant healing community among the 15 thousand ex-pats living in Chiang Mai.
This beautiful city is home to hundreds of experienced and extremely skilled natural healers from all
over the world as well as a number of Thai natural healers.

I have been coming to Chiang Mai for 22 years. For the first five years or so there was only one yoga teacher,
a Swiss man who lived and taught on the outskirts of the city. Now, there are perhaps several dozen studio’s stretched
through out the city. Yoga lessons ,although a bit cheaper than in the west is relatively expensive compared to the price or
living here. However, individual classes can be had at premium.

“The New GErman Medicine ” and the ,Russian Medicine” where people have purported to grow organs that had been removed is active in Chiang Mai. I met a Japanese man who teaches yoga on a stability ball to enhance your posture. he is higlhy qualified in his profession in Japan.

If you can haul your butt out of bed by 6:15 a.m. or so you can talk advantage of the free Chi Kung classes on the square by Thappee Gate or the free Thai Chi Chan classes at the same time on the square by The Three Kings monument.

I personally know an experienced ,skilled British Acupuncurist, Thai and western massage therapist , Alexander teacher who has founded a new type of therapy called ,”Transformational Body Work”. It is he that I have been having sessions with for the past several months and in such a short time has had a rather miraculously positive effect om both my body and mind.

In the first session alone , I was able to release a highly charged emotional trauma that I had been carrying around for the past two years. After thirteen sessions -with two more to attend-I feel 20 years younger. My shoulders , i am told have dropped two inches. The chronic tension in them have melted. The cracking ,creaking sounds in my neck of nearly 7 decades has disappeared, when I lie down all of my back makes contact with the surface I’m lying on, I walk with ease and grace-the goal then spurred me to undertake this venture 20 years ago-a my body and mind experiences a new lightness and a increase of vitality.

Chiang Mai, in my experience is an excellent city to come to for a healing retreat. One can choose from an array of both ex-pat and local Thai healers to book appointments that are quite inexpensive if you take time to look around .
This trip to me is a great testimony to that.

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