The Old City
Old Walls, New Heart
It may not be as hip as Nimman, but in the last decade Chiang Mai's old city has seen quite a rebirth. The temples and schools are still there, for sure, but wander the major and minor arteries and you'll find plenty of new things too - restaurants, book shops, boutiques, bars and small hotels. And come Sunday everything changes for walking street.
The Lost Bookshop - Chiang Mai boasts a fairly astounding range of second hand bookshops these days (astounding , because it is not so many years ago that finding anything foreign-language and worth reading in the city was tough). The Lost Bookshop was one of the pioneers of the second-hand book scene, and it is still a reliable favourite. Down the moat-end of Ratchamankha Rd.
Sunday Walking Street - the walking street moved into the old city a few years ago from its original location on Tha Phae Rd. And since then it has continued to grow - and improve. It's a fun scene, with plenty of small vendors selling interesting products, street perfomers, and a great atmosphere. Part of the attraction is being able to wander round Chiang Mai's most charming streets without any cars nearby - a refreshing way to take in the city.
The Writers' Club and Wine Bar - a well run bar on the central stretch of Ratchadamnoen Rd, and a favourite meeting place for local journalists, writers and artists. The proprietor keeps supplies well-priced wines as well as the usual rand of beers and spirits.
Mitr Mai - it doesn't look much from the outside, but this restaurant in lower Ratchamankha Rd has a devoted following. It specializes in Yunnanese Food, including cured hams and various fermented dishes. Somewhat exotic (even for Chiang Mai), but tasty and hearty cooking.