5 Days in Chiang Mai and Hanoi, Rain Included 

Fah Thai recently hopped on a route that flies from Chiang Mai, Thailand to Hanoi, Vietnam. With the ease of a short flight, two countries in 5 days seemed easy to say hello to the familiar sights and to find some ‘wow’ to new experiences. 

Words: Nawarat Acosta
Photos: Anutra Ungsuprasert

The capital city of Hanoi in Vietnam is but a skip and a hop from Chiang Mai, the former Lanna kingdom. While no two northern capitals can be alike, the commonality lies in their rich history, culture and the food, oh the food.

The objective was to see how much can be done with two good stops, with their wealth in historical nostalgia and local culinaria. Choosing accommodations near the iconic landmark of Wat Gate, which sits on the east bank of the Ping River and across from Chiang Mai’s city centre made getting around simpler, with the airport within reach.

Given the sporadic to heavy downpours that visit during the rainy season, renting a car is a good strategy and simply requires a driver’s license for a set of wheels offered by the plethora of car rentals at the Chiang Mai airport. Beyond the usually frequented city spots, having a car meant stress-free exploration of areas like the Mae Rim district. With the relatively small size of the airport, a car gets delivered and just as quickly, you zoom towards the main airport exit. With Google Maps serving as a trusty companion, just be on the lookout for U-turns that show up unexpectedly. It is about 15 minutes back to the airport for the car dropoff before your flight.

The immediate destination was the Mae Rim area, close to the airport and a happening neighbourhood with a strong enterprising spirit, dotted by the crop of creative bakeries, restaurants and coffee shops that stray from any predictable recipes. The first stop was “Steak of the Day,” with Chef Rewat Srilachai at the helm. His bistro is a local favourite with faithful diners who know that anything the former Four Seasons executive chef produces is exquisitely fresh and inventive but stays true to authentic flavours.

With a casual neighbourhood vibe and the amiable personality of the chef, dishes that come out, like a salad of Chiang Mai crisp greens accentuated with the sharp goodness of a real tomato is sublime in a light dressing and sheer freshness. It may be an unassuming spot but the dishes are award-worthy in taste and presentation and even better, quite affordable.

And his Steak of the Day, usually a tomahawk comes up cooked in the best possibly way. His pork chops with a softened cheese layer is decadent, and addictively tasty. The yellowtail or Hamachi is seared with the skin still crisp, while desserts like a Baked Alaska top off the experience. He also has Rimm Phi Romm Thai restaurant across the street that caters more to a local cuisine. facebook.com/steak.steakoftheday

As if that wasn’t enough, another great meal came in the form of Bombay Hut Chef Chang who lived in Mumbai for 10 years.

A beckoning goddess in wall art takes you through a cobble-stoned path into a house decorated with Chef Chang’s detailed and decorative finds, all Indian-themed in cosy displays. Already, he’s busy prepping the meal and timing its mouth-watering delivery and diners can see him walking about the kitchen and colourful décor. His table settings possess charm with carefully chosen tableware and a creative food presentation. A three-course meal should cost no more than 550 baht or 280 for lunch. With its full on Indian theme, the food retains its authentic base with a touch of local Chiang Mai ingredients bursting with personality, just like the chef himself. With Bombay Hut’s popularity, reservations are a must. Don Kaeo, Mae Rim District, Chiang Mai, +66 90 252 0563.

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