While it may not be as electrifying in the way that Bangkok is, Chiang Mai has become a recently popular draw for tourists, especially those in the younger set.
If your idea of a great weekend involves the words “hip” and “trendy”, Nimmanhaemin is the perfect place to start.
Known simply as Nimman, the crowd here is primarily made up of students from nearby Chiang Mai University, and the neighbourhood reflects the youthful energy of its inhabitants.
In this article, we tell you how to navigate its streets like a local:
Nimman provides plenty of options for all kinds of foodies and fans of Thailand’s signature cheap-but-awesome street eats will find plenty of food stalls selling all kinds of local and regional dishes, from hearty bowls of noodle soup to spring rolls wrapped with delicate rice paper.
High-end international cuisine is likewise well-represented in the neighbourhood with places like Italics, Akyra Manor Chiang Mai’s take on fine-dining Italian; and Blackitch Artisan Kitchen, helmed by famed TV chef Phunaphon “Black” Bulsuwan, which offers a nine-course tasting menu wholly made with locally-sourced ingredients.
Establishments at Nimman know that they need to appeal to their customers’ eyes as well as their palates, which is why many of them take great pains to provide Instagram-worthy backdrops for their dishes.
SS1254372 Café garnishes their food with fresh flowers, while Anchan Noodle serves blue lattes and bowls of noodle soup that should net you a few likes and comments on social media.
They use anchan, or butterfly pea blossoms, in order to give their offerings that unusual hue. The neighbourhood is also a great place to score authentic northern Thai cuisine.
For excellent Isăhn food, go for Michelin-recognized chain restaurant Somtum Der and feast on as much som tum and lâhpas your heart desires.
For Lannafavorites such as larb and Burmese-style curry, head to Tong Tem Toh, a well-loved Chiang Mai institution where the food is so good, there’s almost always a line around the block to get in.
Our recommendation? Find yourself some decent Nimmanpipak accommodations and just eat your way through the neighbourhood.
Pro-tip: you do yourself a disservice if you patronize a chain coffee shop in Nimman instead of going for one of the many smaller cafes in the area.
Serious coffee lovers will be glad to know that they can obtain the good stuff here and that it is brewed respectfully and meticulously.
Ristr8to is the busiest in the area, its customers are drawn by its unique pedigree; it is owned by ArnonThitiprasert, head barista and winner of several local and international latte art competitions including the 2017 World Latte Art Championship.
Patrons come for the Satan Latte, a smooth double ristretto that comes in the same man-sized cup used in official latte art contests.
Graph Café is another serious contender, with unapologetically cool industrial interiors and coffee sourced from Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai farms. Try the Lost Garden, a rosewater-infused nitrogen-brew that’s sure to awaken your senses.
Nimman doesn’t disappoint when it comes to the cocktail department, either. Warm-Up is Chiang Mai’s top night club, a neighbourhood stalwart that caters to both the young and the young once.
There’s The Beer Republic for all of your IPAneeds, or Myst over at the MAYA Mall for molecular cocktails served in a rooftop setting with a killer sunset view.
Other rooftop options include Hungry Heart Café at Hotel Yayee, and Parallel Universe of Lunar 2 on the Hidden Moon – yes, the name’s a mouthful, but they’ve got craft beer on tapas well as a strictly-curated international beer selection to go with your bird’s eye view of the Doi Suthep.
Independent designers and well-known brand names peacefully coexist in Nimman, where no less than 3 shopping complexes intersect between ThHuayKaew and ThNimmanhaemin: MAYA Lifestyle Shopping Center, One Nimman, and Think Park.
Of the three, One Nimman has the most diverse and eclectic selection, where clothing boutiques and art galleries share space with gifts, locally-made trinkets, and souvenirs.
MAYA, on the other hand, is an upscale shopping mall that features a huge cineplex on the top floor, the Myst Rooftop Bar, and six levels’ worth of shopping and dining selections.
Besides shopping, there’s much to do elsewhere. Chiang Mai University attracts thousands of visitors annually, many of them Chinese tourists who saw the campus in the 2012 Chinese comedy Lost in Thailand.
Groups can tour the expansive grounds on electric buses or choose to rent a bicycle. The AngKaew reservoir is also one of the campus’s main draws; it’s an artificial lake that was constructed in the 1960s in order to serve as the university’s water supply.
Today, it’s a welcome respite from a city centre that’s desperately wanting for green spaces. The area around the campus is a haven for nature-buffs, really.
Right next to the university is the HuaiKaew Arboretum, a verdant garden perfect for afternoon picnics or long walks, and the Chiang Mai Zoo, arguably the best zoo in Thailand.
A two-day holiday can be a short time to explore Chiang Mai and glimpse the area’s tourist spots and food scene.
But with the help of a carefully curated itinerary, you’ll find that eating, drinking, and being merry come naturally to the visitors of this hip and trendy city.
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