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 Nimmanhemin, everyone just calls this trendy thoroughfare by its shortened form: Nimman.
Steps away from the bustling university, Nimmam can’t help but be the groovy, hipster center of the second city of Thailand. Chiang Mai may be mostly known for its temples and treks, but stay in town a few days and you can discover more than just Khao Soi and Monk Chat.
Here are my Best Bits of this happening part of town:
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 Nimmam. A collection of original Northern Thai style houses saved from ruin is found on this sprawling property. Lanna style = 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!)
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 is the chicest shop in Chiang Mai. Needless to say, I left with more than I could carry. It’s 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.
Cherng Doi Chicken
When all the shopping and architecture make you hungry, head into Suk Kasame Street 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!
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. They’re 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.
What could possibly be the coolest spot on the coolest street? 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.
How can you not want their Affogato after watching this:
At the top of the street, 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.
As we jumped into a tuk-tuk heading back to the best hotel in town, the Rachamankha (more on this Bit of Paradise soon), that lies within the old city, our visit to the modern world was over. Transported were we back to the Wats, the walls, and the tourist laden walking streets of old town.
Ping Fai Festival
If you happen to be in Chiang Mai over New Year’s head to Nimman 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 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!