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Jump into a tuk-tuk and all you have to do is say Nimman. The driver will transport you to one of the hippest streets in Chiang Mai. Officially the street is called Nimmanhaemin Road, but everyone just calls this trendy shopping street by its shortened form: Nimman.
Steps away from the bustling university, Nimman can’t help but be the groovy, trendy center of the second city of Thailand. Chiang Mai may be mostly known for its temples and treks, but you can discover its great restaurants and shopping.
How to Get to Nimmanhaemin Road
Chiang Mai is in Northern Thailand and there are many ways of arriving in town. From Bangkok, it’s little more than an hour flight. Most can enter Thailand for 90 days without a visa but make sure to check. From Chiang Mai airport to city is only 10 minutes to the center of town and over 100 flights go in and out every week.
Once settled into your hotel, either walk or take a tuk-tuk outside of the Chiang Mai old city to either end of Nimmanhaemin Road and walk down or up.
Exploring Nimmanhaemin Road
Start at the Lanna Traditional House Museum
If you find it hard to break yourself away from the olde world, spend the morning wandering around the Lanna Traditional House Museum at the bottom of Nimmanhaemin Road. A collection of original Northern Thai style houses saved from ruin is found on this sprawling property.
Lanna style is known for its spatially proportionate, teak raised houses with airy, big rooms for those hot summer days. Take the morning to explore and stop to refresh yourself in their adorable English-inspired tea room.
Walk up Nimmam passing the Art School. Stop in to see the future Jirapat Tatsanasomboon and Vasan Sitthiket. (If you don’t know who they are educate yourself here!)
- Lanna Traditional House Museum, 239 Huay Kaew Road
Shop for Gorgeous Clothes at Chabaa
There is always that one shop in a South East Asian city that you wish had an outpost in your hometown. Chabaa is that one. An assault of color hits you upon entering, making you want everything they have. Full of funky bags, clothes and jewelry made from the prettiest local materials, Chabaa make Chiang Mai shopping fun.
It is the chicest shop on Nimmanhaemin Road, tucked in the Nimman Promenade – an arcade of fixed-price shops, instead of the usual market haggling you might be used to in Chiang Mai.
- Chabaa, 14/32 Nimman Promenade
Have the Best Chicken of Your Life
When all the shopping and architecture make you hungry, head into Suk Kasame Street and discover a tiny, hidden restaurant up the street from Chabaa. Cherng Doi Chicken was recommended to us by my go-to food bloggers, Mindi and Daryl Hirsch – the 2Foodtrippers.
The photo above may look like a simple plate of chicken, but you would be so wrong in making that assumption. Succulent, flavorful and mouthwateringly fantastic, this “simple plate of chicken” made us order more before we were finished!
Accompanied by a fresh, crunchy corn salad and fried green papaya with spicy-sweet dipping sauce, this was one of our favorite meals in Chiang Mai. Don’t be put off by the laminated menu; you’ll want to come back more than once! It’s one of the best restaurants in Chiang Mai.
- Cherng Doi Chicken: 2/8 Suk Kasame Rd (just off of Nimmanhaemin Road)
Buy a Map at Booksmith
Jumping across Nimman for a little post-Cherng Dio shopping, we headed to the wonderful Booksmith bookstore. Grab one of Nancy Chandler’s maps of Chiang Mai, if you forgot to get one before your trip. It’s the only Chiang Mai guide you need, packed full of info and charmingly designed.
We also found loads of books about Thai architecture, Thai cooking, as well as, classics and newly published novels. So don’t worry if you leave your kindle at home, head here for the best.
- Booksmith, Soi 3 Nimmanhaemin Road
Have the ultimate coffee at Ristr8to
What could possibly be the coolest spot on Nimmanhaemin Road? Ristr8to wins this hands down. No one orders a “macchiato” here, the choices are Satan Lattes, Shakeratos from Hell, Affogato with blue ice cream – all served up in glasses that look like skulls, test-tubes and a variety of quirky glassware.
This tiny space is bursting at the seams. One reason – the coffee tastes great. Even if you don’t drink coffee, stop by to see their award-winning Latte Art.
- Ristr8to,15/3 Nimmanhemin Road
Cool off at the Maya Mall
At the top of Nimmanhaemin Road, you hit the most modern building in Chiang Mai, with its couch-filled cinema, internet café with the fastest speed in the city, and global brands. Head in to check out the funky Japanese loos that do almost everything but wipe for you.
- Maya Mall, 55 Huaykaew Rd
Come back at Night for the Ping Fai Festival (only at New Year’s)
If you happen to be in Chiang Mai over New Year’s head to Nimmanhaemin Road 6 to experience the Pai Fing Festival. Every young person in town shows up to mingle, mix, shop, eat and toast marshmallows (even me!). Stalls abound with food from all over the world – hamburgers, seaweed filled cheese balls, ice cream sandwiches, Tom Yum peanuts, are just a few.
Young Thai designers ply their wares, while DJs, both male and female, crank out the tunes, Thai rap artists and guitar playing crooners delight the crowds. Not to be missed!
Where to stay near Nimmanhaemin Road
I personally feel the best place to stay in Chiang Mai is the Rachamanka, full of charm and character, as well as being super luxurious and walking distance to everything. Still, it’s a personal choice, so here are a few other Chiang Mai hotels:
- Four Seasons Resort, Chiang Mai, out of town, but fabulous.
- Ping Nakara Boutique Hotel & Spa, on the river and near all the night markets
- Tamarind Village, right on the main Old Town shopping street
Tour the rest of Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai is a popular city with all ages, so you might want to do some cultural bits, some active bits and some foodie bits. Here is a selection of my favorite tours:
- Cultural Chiang Mai: Half Day Chiang Mai City and Temple (Private Tour)
- Active Chiang Mai: Cycling and Zipline Adventure in Chiang Mai
- Foodie Chiang Mai: Chiang Mai Lunchtime Food Tasting Tour
Best Bits of the Trip
Chiang Mai has so much going for it: great food, shopping and sights. You’ll want to stop and spend some time there. We made it our base for a week and never got bored. I suggest then jetting off to one of the islands like Koh Lanta – don’t miss my guide!
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