Category Archives: Tips/Tricks

The Best Mobile/4G Option in Thailand

Category : LiveInCM , Offers , Tips/Tricks

We’ve recently changed over all of our mobile devices from DTAC to FINN.    Turns our that FINN is using the DTAC network but offering rates up to 70% lower.

Why we switched:

  1. LINE, and LINE TV are free – They do not count against your 4G allotment
  2. 4G is NOT throttled.   Up to 100Mbps speed (depending on distance from tower)
  3. NO Contract.    Its month to month.  Cancel, change packages, etc
  4. UNLIMITED internet – After you use you 4G allotment, you still have unlimited internet at 256k (fast enough for messaging, FINN, Facebook, email….)
    • They even let you control when you use your 4G or the FREE 256k speed.   You can switch anytime through the app!  (Use high speed when needed, save it when you don’t)
  5. PRICING – I got the XXL package.   600 minutes talk and 40GB 4G for 329THB!
    • Use the link below for an additional 10thb/month discount.
    • Use LINE pay and you’ll get an 10% refund on each monthly payment.
  6. Move your existing phone number to FINN or get a new number
  7. Do EVERYTHING on-line.    You can request the new sim, sign up, etc from you computer/device.  They will send a new sim to your home/hotel, etc.  No need to go anywhere.
  8. ENGLISH.  The whole process is done in English.    No translation issues

Save an additional 10thb per month (and reduce our bill by 10thb/month) by using our discount code:

Get Finn Mobile – No Contracts

So, who is this good for?

EVERYONE.   From local/long-term stay, to short-term/tourists.   It the cheapest by far compared to any monthly plan and pre-paid/tourist plan.    If you’re only here for a week or two, the 179thb plan with 150 minutes and 5GB data is cheaper that the “Tourist” sim card plans available.


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Food delivery – Big Mac’s at you beckoning.

Category : LiveInCM , Tips/Tricks

Thai people are getting fat!

The average Thai person in Chiang Mai is much larger in the mid-section than the last generation.  Do you want to know why?   Well, I don’t know, but fast food delivery could be part of the issue.

 

EVERYONE DELIVERS

Yes, that’s right.  Just about every fast food place has their own delivery service, but that’s not all.   There are services here that will pick up pretty much any meal you like.  They’ll even stop at the 7-11 for some potato chips and Q-Tips.

 

REALLY?

That’s right fat boy.
Just imagine…  You’ve joined the digital nomad life. (You’re reading this on your Mac), you bought your tickets to the next Drop Shippers Mastermind, and you’re killing it so hard you don’t want to leave your computer for more time than it takes to replace the battery in your GoPro.

 

What do you do???

Well, if you haven’t already assigned this task to you Sri Lanken VA, you can order in.  (Pro tip: You can even use those PayPal dollars you’ve been unable to use...)

 

 

We all expect pizza deliveries, but McDonalds, KFC, and Burger King deliver too!
“No, its not on the approved list of Paleo options?”

We’ve got you covered.   You can order from ANY restaurant.
Yes, VEGAN cupcakes, Non GMO Cheetos and Raw Organic bell peppers can be
delivered to you without you ever leaving the “conversions ” count on you dashboard.

 

 

In all seriousness, between the delivery services of the fast food chains and services like MealsonWhees4U and FoodPanda, everything can be delivered to you for a small cost.

 

As you will see below, the fast food chains generally charge 40thb per order and will accept most credit cards.    Many of these offer 24hr service as well.    We’ll try to list the contact information (website/phone number) for ordering form the bigger chains and leave the information about the 2 main delivery services.


The Breakdown:


COMPANY WEBSITE PHONE CHARGE ACCEPTS
Burger King https://www.burgerking.co.th/?&lang=en 1112 40thb CASH
KFC https://www.kfc.co.th/home 1150 40thb CASH/CREDIT
McDonald’s https://www.mcdonalds.co.th/home.aspx 1112 40thb CASH/CREDIT
Pizza Hut https://www.pizzahut.co.th/home 1150 40thb CASH/CREDIT
The Pizza Company https://www.1112.com/ 1112 40thb CASH/CREDIT
FoodPanda https://www.foodpanda.co.th 053216667 70thb/Restaurant CASH/CREDIT
MealsonWheels4U https://www.mealsonwheels4u.com 0846086661 70thb/Stop CASH/CREDIT/PAYPAL

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Elephant in a Field

How to book tours in Chiang Mai

Category : Tips/Tricks

Wat Rong Khun – White Temple in Chiang Rai

Congratulations on booking your trip to Chiang Mai!  Now is the time to start planning your days.    What are you planning to see and do while in Chiang Mai?     As you begin to look into the different options, you’ll come up with many many questions as most people do.   Here are some of the most common questions we get and our best try at answering them:

 

“So, I want to (Insert your tour of choice here).  Which company/group is the best?”

Unfortunately , this is one of those unanswerable questions.    Unless you’ve actually been on every available option, there will never be any way to say that “this” tour is the best.   Yes, I know your friend that came through Chiang Mai 3 years ago said “I went to xxx and it was amazing.”  And they were right.  In fact, just about EVERYONE goes home and says the same thing to their friends.    Is it a conspiracy?   No, it just shows that most of the tour operations are good at what they do (They do it everyday!)

Luckily, we have sent thousands of guests to various tours.  So we have created a list of the tours that our guests have enjoyed the most.    That does not mean that they are the best, it means that they have a great history as far as we are concerned.  We have no financial/personal reasons to recommend these tours over any others.   That being said, we are happy to book any tour you like.  As stated before, we can get discounts on most tours, listed on this site or any other site.   Just let us know the name or contact info and we’ll give them a call.

My Recommendation:   Check out out the list we put together of the more popular tours.  As explained above, they are tried and tested and we can happily recommend them.   It will also help with ideas for those who don’t know where to start.  –>  THE BEST REVIEWED TOURS LIST  <– 

 

“Ok.   I’ve decided on which tours I want, how do I make the booking?”

This is probably the easiest part!   The simple answer is to let us make the booking for you.   Yes, its that easy.    If you are staying with us you probably already know that we prefer to book for our guests.    If make sure that we don’t get calls early in the morning from lost drivers.   We extend this to people using our website as well.    If you contact us through CMStay, whether by booking through the tours page or by simple messaging us, we can arrange any tour on your behalf.
Here is the dirty little secret that most Westerners (non-Thais) don’t realize.    The prices on brochures and most tour company websites are padded (include a commission for an agent).   Yes, that’s right.   When an agent books for you in Thailand, there is NO ADDED COST to you.    In fact, that is how we get discounted prices for our customers.   We simply cut or share the commission leading to a cheaper price for you.    Why?   It’s a long term investment.    We give away what commission we make here and there and we get great reviews and great reputation.   In the long run, that is worth much more to us than 100thb or so…
If it’s not completely clear, let me put it like this:

 

***The HIGHEST possible price you can pay is by going directly through the tour’s brochure contact or through their website!    This is not a typo!***

 

All of my US friends and rolling their eyes or pulling at their collars now.   Yes, I know its always better to cut out the middle man to save money in the US, but not here.   Give it a try.  If we can book at the same or cheaper, you’re welcome to book it yourself.
Now, there are some tour companies that do not have commissions built in, but in those cases using an agent will get you the brochure/website price and help with translation issues and location confirmations.   You still get the same price, but with a bit of added service (FREE!)

 

“When should I book?”

The simplest answer to this question is: Book as soon as you are sure of the tours and dates.   Most tour companies have a no cancellation/no refund policy.   This is not a big issue for most people.  If you let them know in a reasonable amount of time, most companies will allow you to reschedule or even change between tours that they offer.   This is why its probably better to book just a few days before the actual tour as you’re schedule will be better defined and less chance of needing to miss the tour due to scheduling issues.
*HOWEVER, certain tours do book out completely during the high season and especially during holiday periods.
For example, during the high season, you may want to book the elephant camps a week or more in advance.   If you are planning to come during Yee Peng, you may even want to book a month or more in advance.

“How do I pay for the tours I want to book”

This will depend entirely on how you make your booking and for what tour.   More and more tour companies are creating websites where you can ask for a booking.   Depending on the size of the company and level of sophistication, these sites will range from having a fulling functioning credit card payment system, PayPal, or simply provide instructions for a bank transfer.
Keep in mind that Thailand is still a mostly cash economy and most places will prefer not to use credit cards or PayPal as they will incur extra changes for using them.   For this reason, most smaller organizations will not take online bookings at all or will charge an additional percentage to cover their fees.
This is another clear reason to use a local friend/host/agent to make a tour booking on your behalf.   A local can easily run over to the office or even make a free bank transfer to cover the tour fees.
If you are staying with us, you already know we offer this service to all of our guests.   For those of you not staying with us, we can still help.   We currently accept online transfers of PayPal and BTC.   We hope to have the credit card system up and running soon.   If you’re not sure, or just have questions, send us a message at King@CMStay.com

 

“What do I do on the day of the tour?   Where will they pick me up?”

Another often overlooked benefit of having a local book the tour for you is being able to arrange pick up/drop off and explaining where you are staying.   This is no small feat, when you consider that addresses do not work here and names (non-thai) of streets, hotels, Airbnb’s get transliterated and can become impossible to find.
We’ve come across many travelers that did not realize that 99% of tours include transportation.   And of course the tour company did not make a point to let them know either.   So they diligently get up early and start walking across town to get to the office, while everyone else is being picked up.
So, on the day of the tour make sure to be prepared before the scheduled pick up window.  Its a best practice to make it as easy as possible for the tour guide/driver to find you.   If you’re at a smaller hostel/hotel, wait in front so they can simply ask for you by name.   This is usually the best case scenario for large hotels as well, but there will be times to simply tell them your room number and have them ring you when downstairs.
  • TOURIST DISCLAIMER – Keep in mind that everyone going on the tour is a tourist on holiday.   They may not be as puctual as they would be in their normal lives    If one person is late, not ready, or hard to find when the tour driver comes, everything/everyone gets slowed down.   And of course, if gets worse and worse if others are not prepared.    Don’t be one of them and keep in mind that the pickup time window is a “best guess” estimate.  They could be 15 mins late or more depending on the other tourists.

 

“What do I bring with me?”

Have your receipt ready.  When you make your booking you will receive a payment receipt stating the tour name, date of the tour, price, etc.    If you book online, this could be emailed to you.  Please be sure to have a printed copy to give to the tour guide.
You should also bring your camera/phone, bug spray, and sunblock.    These would apply to pretty much any/every tour in Chiang Mai.   If you are going on a tour where you will get wet (Rafting, Elephants, Grand Canyon, waterfalls) a towel and change of clothes may be useful.   If you are going anywhere near a border (Chiang Rai/ White Temple, etc) bring your passport.   They have border police road blocks and they have the right to check that everyone is in Thailand legally.
Most tour will include a meal or food of some sort, entrance fees, and include transportation.   Unless on a private tour, or specifically stated, the only thing you should have to pay for on the day of the tour are “extras” not included in the tour such as souvenirs and drinks (most tours will include bottled water in their price)

CONCLUSION:

Use a local agent/friend/host to book your tours.   They can cross the translation barriers, help with getting you picked up from the right place, and save you some money.   Seriously, give it a try.   The worst thing that can happen is they get you the same rate, but save you the effort of doing it yourself.

 

Our list of the Most Popular tours over the years:  CLICK HERE

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The Best Ways To Get Around Chiang Mai

Category : LiveInCM , Tips/Tricks

Once you arrive in Chiang Mai, you will almost immediately realize there is no shortage of options for getting around the city.  You should also know by now that there are so many different types of transport and ways of charging/pricing them, that you can easily be confused and end up paying more than necessary.
Read the basic guide below to get around Chiang Mai easily and as cheaply as possible.
There are the traditional/Thai ways of getting around and then the new/imported newcomers making life much easier for foreigners and Thais alike.
The traditional/Thai options are pretty well known and some (Songthaews) have already been covered in previous posts.   We’ll add the links so you can can read a bit more detail about how they work.

 

In a somewhat chronological order:

 

Saam Lor (3 Wheel)

This is oldest public transportation method still in semi-normal use in Chiang Mai.    You don’t see them everywhere, but there are a still a few working in the Old City area.   Good for short distance trips (like from the market back home) they are definitely not the transportation mode of choice when trying to get across town.    There are no set fees so you will need to negotiate your price if you want a ride.
My recommendation: I can not confirm, but I would suggest not overloading the Saam Lor nor its driver.    If you’re on the larger side, you may want to try a different mode of transport.   The drivers legs and heart will thank you for it.

 

Tuk-Tuk

Everyone in Chiang Mai has smelled one of these before.   There are the small, motorized three wheelers “tuk tuking” around the city.    Yes, they got their names from the popping or “tuk, tuk, tuk” of the old style engines they used a while back.    While they have successfully created louder, smoke belching engines, they continue to call them by the old name of Tuk-Tuk.  There are no set prices or routes for Tuk-Tuks, and they will travel pretty much anywhere in and around the city you want.   They have a reputation for greatly overcharging riders at every chance.   Unfortunately, my few experiences with them only confirm the rumors.
My recommendation:  Try it once.   Look at it more as an amusement park ride.  You’re overpaying for a bit of death defying, adrenaline pumping fun in a undersized contraption with low safety standards.    Its a story to tell, but not one you’ll want to relive if at all possible.

 

Songthaew

The next on our list is the Songthaew.   This is still the preferred method of local travel for most Thais.    You can still get fairly good prices for going across the city.   The current rate for a shared trip is 30thb.    While that is not all-encompassing, most local trips will be in that price range.   Longer trips will cost more.
My recommendation:   Don’t ask for a specific address/place for drop off.   Asking for a close cross street, intersection, temple or other landmark will get you the normal price.    If they have to drive into a back neighborhood to drop you off, they will charge you more to make up for the lost opportunity to pick up other riders along the way.   Click this link to read about them in more detail–> REDTRUCKS     If you’re planning to go further out of the city and need to find a Songthaew with a specific router try clicking this link: When Red Trucks Aren’t Red

 

Taxi

Taxis may not be seen as a  “traditional/Thai” way of getting around, they are here and ever prevelant.  HOWEVER, in and around Chiang Mai, taxis do not use their meters and NOBODY can make them.    But “wait!” you say, “the Fromer’s says that I should make sure the taxi uses the meter or threaten to exit the taxi….”   Yes, in other parts of Thailand this is actually watched and you can call the taxi company or police if necessary.   In Chaing Mai, you pay the flat fee the driver says or get out.    They do not use the meters and its a “known” thing.
My recommendation:  Take a taxi from the airport to you hotel.   Most places in the city area are a flat fee of 160thb from the airport.    That is the last time to ever use a taxi in Chiang Mai.
 

 

Uber/GRAB

Yes, its Thailand, but its also 2018.   Uber and GRAB have come into Chiang Mai with and amazing rush.   There were the usual objections from the older modes of transports, news of harassment from taxi, tuk-tuk, and redtruck drivers.    However, that has quieted down over the last year and now Uber/GRAB are free to operate on a normal basis.    Consider this: There are no translation issues when telling the driver where you go, its pinpointed on the map/GPS.   There is no haggling over prices, its fair and derived from the distance traveled and time taken.   There is no foreigner tax, everyone pays the price listed on the app.   No exhaust fumes from tuk-tuks and redtrucks nor Thai heat, you are in an air-conditioned car that will take you point to point.
My recommendation:  Download both apps before you come.  Use one of these services for every ride, other than from the airport to your hotel.   On a ride to ride basis, GRAB tends to be slightly cheaper.  However, Uber counters this by sending discount codes a couple of times a month.   If you have a discount code (Usually good for 10 rides) Uber is the clear winner.
***UNFORTUNATELY, Uber has sold its interests in the area to GRAB and is no longer an option in Thailand***  April 2018

 

Affiliate ALERT!!! – ehh, why not try!
Both Uber and Grab offer discounts for referrals.   Use the GRAB link and Uber code to sign up for both services.   Both you and I will get discounts on your next rides!

 

Uber:  stephenl12108ui
Also, if you are looking for a place to stay in Chaing Mai, we have been working through Airbnb for many years.    It’s worth the look.   Airbnb also offers discounts for both you and I if you sign up as a referral.   Take a look here : AIRBNB REFERRAL

Birthday at the Baan Kinkaew Orphanage? Or any day for that matter!

Category : LiveInCM , Tips/Tricks

sdr

Birthday at the Baan Kinkaew Orphanage?  Or any day for that matter!

For all of those looking for a way of giving back, putting a smile on a small child’s face or simply putting a positive spring in your step, an experience at the Baan Kinkaew Orphanage may be what you’re looking for!

History

The first charity in Chiang Mai dedicated to needy children, the Baan Kinkaew Orphanage was founded in 1966 through a donation of land and house by Miss Kingkaew Wiboolsanti.   Along with a group of woman volunteers, the Orphanage started to care for 25 children left at what is now known as Maharaj Nakorn Hospital (Suandok).   There have been many struggles over the years including a fire that destroyed the facility, but the Orphanage and its volunteers continue on there mission.    In 2016, they care for 50 needy boys and girls.

Donations

davYes, donations are always welcome.   There is a posted sign as you walk in listing the most urgently need donations at the time.   Of course, cash is always the best option so the orphanage can quickly fill any immediate needs.

Volunteer

Contact the orphanage directly if you have a month or more to spend helping out.   The ophangage can always use more help, but for the sake of young children they ask for longer term volunteers.   This helps to add some stability to the lives of the children.   This is not a hard and fast rule though, if you have any time to volunteer stop by and ask how you can help!

Birthday’s

The Baan Kinkaew Orphanage runs a program allowing single day visits.   Many people use this opportunity to have their child’s birthday(or their own birthday) at the orphanage.   You have about an hour to watch/assist  one of the classes of children with their lunch and after lunch recess.   The kids are amazing and love to have a chance to make new friends.
The program needs to be reserved ahead of time.    As many people will visit on their birthdays, the dates can fill up quickly.   You’re asked to make a donation for the reservation.   Its 1500THB to reserve and the money will be used to cover the food costs for the day.

Contact:

The Baan Kinkaew Orphanage is walking distance from our @Sethee Court location and a short ride from our @Baan Ouikum location.

75 Wualai Rd.
T. Haiya A. Muang
Chiang Mai  50100
PH: 053275650   (+6653275650 from outside Thailand)
GPS: 18.7792618,98.9852663
Baan Kinkaew Orphanage

Baan Kinkaew Orphanage


Renew your Thai drivers license in Chiang Mai.

Category : Tips/Tricks , Uncategorized

As of March 2016

For those of you that stay long term in Chiang Mai or Thailand in general, you’ll need to apply for a local license after 3 months.    Your first license will be probationary and good for 2 years.    After that, you can renew your Thai drivers license to a standard license good for 5 years (closer to 6yrs) at a time.

ThaiProbDL

Temp/Probationary Thai DL

There are plenty of posts out there detailing how to get your first license, but this post is aimed at those long-term residents looking to renew their Thai drivers license.

General Requirements:

  • Greater* than 2 year on a probationary license or expiring 5 yr DL.  (*Greater, as in you can not renew until the  day after your first license has expired!)
  • Non-Imm visa.   You can not renew for a 5 year license on a tourist visa. (You can get another 2yr Temp DL on a tourist visa)
  • Proof of residency (either a Cert. of Residency, Yellow Book, or Work Permit)
  • Medical Exam
  • Cash – 500B for car license, 250B for motorbike license.

Where to start?

 

Prove that you live in Thailand.

You must show proof of living in Thailand using a Work Permit, Yellow Book, or Resident Certificate.

If you have a work permit or yellow book, you already know what they are and know what to do with it. For others, read below.

The Resident Certificate:

  1. Take your rental agreement, your passport, and some cash to the Promenada Mall.   The new immigration office takes up a whole side of the ground floor in building A.
  2. Find the G4T office ( or whatever the current name may be) near the local eateries.    You will need to fill out the application, include 2 pictures, and copies of the front page, entry card, and current visa from your passport.   Conveniently, there is a copy shop next door that does both.  (tip: you only need 1 Res. Cert.   If you are renewing 2 licenses, you can make a copy)
  3. Pay 500THB for the service and come back the next afternoon (2pm- 4pm) to pick it up.  ( You can do it for free at the actual immigration office, but may be forced to wait a month for the free service)

Prove you are alive and well

You will need to prove you are healthy enough to sit for an hour long refresher course.

  1. Choose any local clinic or hospital and let them know you need an exam to renew your Thai drivers license.
  2. Fill out all the basic forms and wait to see the doctor.
  3. The doctor will ask if you are well (hint: the answer should be YES)
  4. They will also check your breathing with a stethoscope.
  5. Congrats!   As long as you have the 100THB – 200THB to pay for the document, you passed!(tip: you only need 1 Med. Cert.   If you are renewing 2 licenses, you can make a copy)

Now for the fun part:  The Motor Vehicles Office!

The Motor Vehicle office is open Monday – Friday.   Click here for a map:   Chiang Mai Motor Vehicle

#1 – Arrive before 8:30am. Go directly to the Information Desk on the 2nd Floor (upstairs).  They will give you your renewal forms and tell you what copies you need.

Information Office

Information Office

#2 – Go directly to the back and get copies as necessary.  You will need 1 for each license: passport front page, resident certificate, and health check.   If you are renewing 2 licenses, make a copy of each.

Copy Shop

Copy Shop – All the way in the back.

#3 – Take you application, copies, passport, etc to counter 21 or 22.   ( first two counters to the right as you come upstairs.  They will go through your documents and make sure everything is there.

Starting Counter

Starting Counter

#4 – Proceed to counter 27 or 28.   They will take your documentation and tell you to move on to the lecture room (large room with TV)

sdr

Eye Test/Reaction Test Area

#5 – Proceed to the lecture room (Thais: Sit as close to the door as possible!!!).    In a few minutes a proctor will come in and ask you to return to Counter 27 – 28 for some tests.(See Above)   (Thais: Leave something at your seat to reserve it before leaving the lecture/TV room!!!)

TV room is in the back

TV room is in the back

#6 – They will herd you all into the back or counter 27 and do a color/vision test.   I’ve never been asked to do a reaction test for a DL renewal.  Once finished, they will ask all to find your documents (all will be laid out on a nearby table)   For foreigners, you will be asked if you understand enough Thai to sit through the video.   This is not the time to be proud, say NO!  Trust me on this.

#7 – Thais will be returned to the main lecture/TV hall and will have to sit through a refresher video of about 1 hour.  (Hopefully, you returned to your seat close to the door.)    Foreigners will be sat in another room and given an option to watch a video in English, Japanese, Chinese or Spanish.  (FYI for foreigners, they will keep your documents at counter 27.   Remember to come back for it here)

Computer room for Foreigners

Computer room for Foreigners

#8 – In about an hour the proctor will return and shut off the TV.   You will be told to walk back out and get a queue number from the Information Desk (same desk as in #1).    This is why it is key to sit close to the door.    You can get queue #1 and be finished in about 15 mins.  If you sat in the back you may be queue #80+ and sit outside waiting for a few hours.   (Foreingers, see the picture above.  You will be able to see through the glass while watching your video and know when they Thai class is getting out.    You will need to leave immediately and get a queue number first.    Then go straight to counter 27 – 28 and get your documents.

dav

The wait

#9 – When called, you will be told to come up and pay for the license(s) and any other fees necessary (address change, late renewal, etc)  Once paid, they will direct you behind the counter area for another queue number and to have your picture taken

sdr

Picture queue behind the counter area

#10 – That’s it.    The picture is taken and the new card is printed almost immediately.   You’re done!

 

 

 

 


Mexican Food in Chiang Mai

Category : LiveInCM , Tips/Tricks

chicken-fajitas

Mexican food in Chiang Mai?

Of course the first question on everyone’s minds as soon as they get into Chiang Mai is “Where can I get some good Mexican food in Chiang Mai?” You’ve exhausted all the Thai options, now you want to destroy some fajitas. Fortunately for you the Mexican food in Chiang Mai is good, so you won’t have to feel guilty about branching out from the local cuisine.

This blog post is aimed at people who are missing a taste of home and want to get some good, authentic Mexican food. Of course, for obvious reasons authentic Mexican food in South East Asia is hard to come by. Luckily for you as someone who has lived in Thailand for four years I have sampled most of the foreign restaurants in and around Chiang Mai, and have done all the ground work for you. Below is a list of in my opinion the best Mexican restaurants in Chiang Mai in terms of quality, taste, authenticity and value.

 

  El Diablos:(Closed)El Diablos

I heard about El Diablos for the first time once I had been here for 6 months.  I always knew it existed and would cycle past it often, you can’t miss it; As it has a huge sign out the front that simply says, ‘burritos’.  However it never crossed my mind to actually go inside, possibly because I wasn’t earning much money at the time so eating food that cost more than 100 baht was not on my radar.  A friend of mine invited me to go here so I took a deep breath and prepared to spend a disposable income that quite frankly I didn’t have.  Luckily for me I wasn’t disappointed. I was expecting the food to be average at best because of how close it is to the tourist area but I must say I was impressed by the size of the portions and the taste in general.

Like I said this place is bang in the tourist area and is not as busy as it probably should be.  It’s a nice place to go as a group, especially while travelling, to get to know each other.

Location: Just north of Thaphae Gate

Price Range: 150-250 Baht

Recommendations: Vegetable Quesadillas, Green Chili and Steak Burrito

Rating (out of 10): 7

 

Miguels:

One night I was with a friend of mine whom I took a Thai class with.  He was a relatively young Miguelsretiree who most likely had more money than he knew what to do with.  We went out to watch a Manchester United match (and before you ask; he wasn’t English, he was from the US) and once the game was over he asked me if I wanted to come with him on the back of his bike to Miguel’s.  I hesitantly said yes because as previously mentioned money was not something that I possessed a lot of at the time.  But when I got there I saw the prices were more than fair. I played safe and got a small taco for 60 baht but once I had tried it I was hooked.  Now if anyone asks me if they want to grab Mexican food, despite having ample choice, the first word that comes out of my mouth is ‘Miguels ‘.

There is some gorgeous Mexican food here that could even rival places back home. Yeah, I’m willing to make empty promises like that!

Location: Near the northeast corner of the moat

Price Range: 60-270 Baht

Recommendations: Chicken or steak fajita taco, and of course the chicken fajitas!

Rating (out of 10): 9

 

Loco Elvis:

Loco Elvis didn’t exist when I first came here, it was a derelict building in a prime location.  About a year after I had first come here a friend of mine, in fact the same friend I went to El Diablo’s with, said that he knew a guy who was opening up a bar there called ‘Loco Elvis’.  When I saw the place I must admit I did wonder how long it would be before they went out of business but fair play to them they are still going strong.  One of the primary reasons for this is because of the high quality Mexican food they serve as well as the live entertainment.Loco Elvis live music

This is a bar with live entertainment most nights.  Every time I’ve been here it’s always had a pretty good atmosphere.  They also serve very good burgers as well as Mexican food if you fancy something else instead.  I’ve been here when they have had karaoke nights as well, which is much more fun than you think, especially after a couple of pitchers of margaritas!

Location: opposite El Diablos (YEAH! Competition baby!!!!)

Price Range: 100-240 Baht

Rating (out of 10): 8 (based on the entertainment and the burgers)

 

  Salsa Kitchen:Salsa-kitchen-mixed-plate enchilada

One of my teacher friends who had been here for a year was leaving to continue his University studies in North Carolina.  I bought him a goodbye present as you do and he invited me out – his treat – to The Salsa Kitchen as it was close to where he lived.  Salsa Kitchen is not near where I live and because I had already found good Mexican food close by there was no reason for me to try any other places.  Nonetheless I was excited to try this place as I had heard good things about it. They had a wide variety on the menu so it did take a while before I decided what I was going to eat, and I had no complaints.  The place lived up to it’s reputation! So if you are further away from the other Mexican restaurants don’t fret; because Salsa Kitchen is just as good as its counterparts.

Once I did I was glad I made the jump.  It’s in a nice area of the city too so if you fancy going out for a drink or two afterwards it’s not a bad shout.

Location: Near Kad Suan Kaew shopping mall

Price Range: 159-249 Baht

Recommendations: Combination platter, but all with beef. All the beef options are pretty much winners

Rating (out of 10): 8

 

 

All restaurants are easily accessible by Songthaew (red truck cross between a taxi and a bus), private taxi or a motorcycle if you have chosen to rent one.   I hope you enjoy your experiences here and if you have any recommendations for me, please don’t hesitate to contact me and recommend them to me so I can add it to the post and also enjoy some food that may not have crossed my mind before you mentioned it.

So that’s it for The most famous Central American cuisine.  My next post will be about the best restaurants and shops within walking distance of CMStay @Sethee Court.

 

Written by: Lewis J F Clarke

  • 0

Calling Home – The best and cheapest ways.

Category : LiveInCM , Tips/Tricks

IMG_6218_1
One of the main concerns whenever travelling is keeping your “lifeline” open with friends and family back home.   Many of us are too young to have been through the days of  queueing for hours at the one international phone in the country.   Trust me, there is always someone you’ll meet while travelling that will tell you the story of paying ~$25 for a 2 minute call home back in the 1980’s… Either way, that doesn’t change the fact that we all need to check-in with the family, make an emergency call to the bank/credit card company, or just want to say hi to our friends back home.   The proliferation of the internet to all the far flung countries, islands, beaches, mountain temples, etc have made it so much easier today.
 
With a little planning, calling home has never been so easy!
 
 

Skype

The “granddaddy” of all the internet based messaging and calling programs, Skype is well tried and tested.   Overall its a great system with good calling quality on most internet systems.  Skype offers an app to be used on your smartphone, is free if your making skype to skype calls, and has reasonable rates for international calling as well.    Just keep in mind that those rates are based on your current IP location.
 
Example:  If you are living in Singapore, the Skype rate to call Thailand may be ~$0.03/min.    If you are travelling in Canada and want to make a call to Thailand with the same Skype user name/set up, it may cost ~$0.25/min.     The prices are made up for this example to point out the prices change depending on where you are located when making a call.
 
Note: there are internet cafes and computer game shops all over the country.   Avg price is 15B/Hour to use a computer.
 

Messaging services/Apps

iMessage/Facetime, Viber, LINE, WhatsApp, etc
Personal preference is Viber.    Its fully featured, meaning you can send txt based messages, make voice and video calls to other Viber users and make calls with phone numbers for a low fee.   LINE has a Premium calling ability, but I have not tried it out yet.    If anyone has tried Line and Viber, please give us your comparison below.  WhatsApp seem to be working on getting phone number calling, but I haven’t seen it yet.   iMessage and Facetime are apple specific so its limits the people you can contact.   Plus there is the lag in iMessage that you don’t get when messaging through Viber/Line or WhatsApp.
 

magicJack

ATTENTION ALL AMERICANS AND CANADIANS!!! – This is THE BEST way to stay in touch with the family for long term travlling!   For ~$60 you can buy magicJack dongle and first year of service. $35 for each additional year! That includes unlimited calls to the USA and Canada, and a US or Canadian phone number for you.    You can take and receive calls from anywhere in the world where you have internet.   The dongle can be used with your computer or on its own.   Just connect to the internet (there is a LAN and WIFI version) and plug in any phone to the dongle. THATS IT!.    If someone calls your US/Canada phone number, its will ring right there into the phone you’ve just plugged in.   Even better they have an Apple and Android app(magicApp).   You can have the calls come directly into you cell phone (Its works on WIFI, 3G, even better on 4G!)
 
We personally use the Magicjack dongle for a desk phone at home and use the app on the cellphone. Our family/friends can make a local call to us wherever we are in the world, and we can make free calls to them as well.
 

 

 

Internet Cafes

Computers for 10 – 15hr where you can log into Skype and use their headset/microphone set up. Some cafes have calling features for ~10b/min. Usually a VOIP of some type for an extortionary price.
 

Calling cards

Calling cards are still being sold at 7-11, the post office and some smaller “mom & pop” convenience stores and there are still many payphones spattered throughout Chiang Mai.   They are good in a pinch, but in today’s world of the internet of things, the options above are much easier.   Note:  make sure to tell them where you are calling as some cards offer better rates to specific countries.
 

Use a local simcard/cellphone

Recommendation – get/bring a GSM phone with you and get a local SIM card, it will make life much easier!
 
To dial a phone number outside of Thailand, you can get cheaper rates by using one of the prefix numbers before you dial the country code. The prefix numbers are 001, 003, 004, 005, 006, 007, 008 or 009. They charge anywhere between 1B and 10B per minute depending on where you are calling, prefix used, and time of day.

For example, to call an US number 1(123)123-4567 you would dial the discount prefix of your choice ex:(009) + the country code(1)+ area code(123) + the phone number(123-4567)

Each discount calling prefix is run by the main telecom companies in Thailand.  Check out their website links below for more information and rates.

001, 009 – CAT    –http://www.dtac.co.th/en/postpaid/services/004.html

003, 005 – AIS     – http://www.ais.co.th/003/en/rate_03.aspx#tips

004         – DTAC – http://www.dtac.co.th/en/postpaid/services/004.html

006         – TRUE – https://www3.truecorp.co.th/idd006/en/about_us.html

007, 008 – TOT    – http://www.dtac.co.th/en/postpaid/services/004.html


Chiang Mai Markets – Night, walking, and otherwise…

Category : LiveInCM , Tips/Tricks

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Separated by the hot afternoon sun, Thailand has two distinct market times/cultures.  

Just before sunrise, the local markets become a hive of activity.   Markets offer the basics necessary for the local Thais to make breakfast, offer alms for the monks, and small meals for people on their way to work.  

When the sun starts to go down (5 pm+/1700 hr+) there is a whole new breathe of life in Thailand. The air cools, night markets come to life, street food carts are set up, and the locals come out to play!

Here is a list of Markets in Chiang Mai that you should make a point to visit while in Chiang Mai.

 

Chiang Mai Gate in the Afternoon

Chiang Mai Gate in the Afternoon

Chiang Mai Gate Market (5am – 11pm)  

Located inside the south-east gate of the old city, this is a daily wet market by day, amazing street food market by night.  In the morning there is a full wet market offering the whole range of fruits, veggies, etc.   This market is also known to have more of the “Northern Thai” offerings such as Chiang Mai Sausage and Nam Prik Noom.  

Recommendations:

Sripan’s Shop

In the mornings check out Sripan’s shop.   Its in the front row inside the market, just behind the public phone and ubiquitous weighing machine.  One of the best places to start your “northern thai food” education.   Just about everything there is a Northern style offering, even the fried chicken!    

Pa ShakesPA Shakes

After 5pm, Pa Shakes has the best fruit shakes in town(and she speaks a little English) She is across the road from the market inside the actual “gate” courtyard. Look for the small orange color cart just off the road.

Biryani & Noodle Soups

A little west of the gate, in front of the smallest 7-11(there are 3) is the best Biryani cart, and the best noodle soup cart right next door.   The Biryani cart also does ox-tail soup if you’re up to it.The noodle cart net door is amazing, but will not serve until 8pm. Kind of annoying, but worth the wait!

Chang Puak Gate Market (5am – 11pm)  

located just outside of the northern gate (Chang Puak Gate). Much like the Chiang Mai Gate market, there is a morning market selling all the usual Thai morning fare like fresh fruits, vegetables, and meat that you would take home to prepare, but in the evenings are when the big hitters show up.

Recommendations:

The Cowboy LadyCowboy Lady

The most recognizable figure in the Chiang Mai street food scene, and a master of brand recognition. She is small Thai lady that wears a big, 10 gallon cowboy hat.   Her specialty is a stewed pork leg served over white rice with a soft boiled duck egg on the side.  The “secret” to the stew is a Master Sauce, meaning every new batch is started with the last batch.(Think sourdough)  This is the BEST stewed pork leg in town!   There is no way to miss this cart. FInd the biggest crowd in the area, push through them(this is Thailand), and there she is, cowboy hat and a smile.

Salapao

While you are there, take note of her neighbor just to the right, there is a small cart selling salapao in Thai, Bahn Pao in Vietnamese, or simply Bao in Chinese.  The simple white buns filled with sweet creams or savory meat fillings. They are usually 5B each and really, really good. Personal Favorite: Moo Sap – savory pork filling.

Muang Mai Market (24Hrs)

This is THE Market!.    This is the largest market and has the most variety.  Early in the morning, the wet market is humming.   This is the only place for the restaurateurs and cart vendors to buy their foods.  Fruits, vegetables, meats (live and butchered), herbs, spices, pots, pans, etc, etc.

In the evenings, the road closest to the river is also the wholesale market for farmers.   Find all the freshest fruits and vegetables picked earlier in the day.   The farmers drive their pickup trucks full with today’s crop and will set up for sale on the side of the road.  It pretty spread out so be ready to do a bit of walking!  

Recommendation:  Early morning for all your cooking needs.  Evenings (9 pm+) for a tour of the market.  

Kad Luang / Warorot (5am – 11pm)

Talat_Warorot

This area is generally known as Chinatown.  Early in the morning and afternoon it has everything you would expect. From imported fabrics, spices, toys, and the like. If you come in the evening there is a local market set up with food, clothes, and all kinds of trinkets.  There are very few foreigners here and is a great stop for an authentic feel . 

Recommendation – If you want to have clothes made in Chiang Mai start at one of the fabric shops at this market.  Pick the fabric you like and ask where you can have it made.    You’ll find that all the “Tailors” in town ship all the work out the back door to the tailors at Kad Luang.   Save a few baht by cutting out the middleman!

Somphect (5am – 10pm)

Somphect market was once a local market.  Now its more of a 50/50 split between locals and foreigners as its in the main backpacker area.  Also, most of the cooking schools are located in this area and use the market for the “Market Tour” portion of the cooking class/tour.   

Recommendation  – Get some free advice by following one of the cooking tour classes around.

Night Bazaar / Anusarn (5pm – 11pm)

NightBazaar

The Night Bazaar/Anusarn market is the tourist market.   Just keep in mind that everything there is priced about 4x of the actual price. Whatever you’re interested in buying make sure you can negotiate price about 25 – 35% of the asking price or just look at it as a night out enjoying the sounds, the lights, and the throngs of people enjoying the market.

Recommendation – Check out the Cabaret inside Anusarn Market.   

The Weekend Markets

Saturday Night Market (5pm – 11pm)

Of the two weekend, the Saturday market is the more authentic market. Set up on Wualai Rd. between Thippanet Rd. and the Chiang Mai Gate market, the Saturday market has locally made silver products, other hand-crafted goods, as well as the usual imports. While the market starts about 5 p.m. It doesn’t really get going until closer to 7pm or whenever it’s dark out. The local Thais prefer to stay inside until the weather cools.

Recommendations – Wualai Rd is locally known as the silver district. Monday through Friday the streets are full of different silver vendor shops and artisan studios. You’ll find a lot of their work at the Saturday morning as well. Also, make a point to visit Wat Srisuphan, known locally as the silver temple.

Sunday Walking Street Market (5pm – 11pm)

The Sunday Walking Street is the largest walking street market or them all. Starting from Wat Prah 20141214_180150Singh and ending at Thapae Gate, as well as, taking over all the surrounding roads, at least one-third of the city is closed down on Sunday evenings. Just like the Saturday market, this market starts about 5 p.m., but won’t really get going until around 7 p.m. or until it’s dark out.  Be ready to do a lot of walking as this market spans at least a couple of kilometers if you hit all the side streets!.

Recommendation – keep an eye out, or ear out, for the local performers in the middle of the street. Also make a point to go into Thapae Gate and the courtyard surrounding it, as the market has spread through there as well.

Want to see all the Chiang Mai markets mapped out?    Check out the  CMStay Points of Interest Map here!


  • 4

How to get THB in Chiang Mai

Category : LiveInCM , Tips/Tricks

1000THB

*Updated April 29, 2017

One of the main fears that people have when in an unknown country is how are they going to get money out safely. Fortunately Thailand’s banks are relatively safe (as long as you don’t leave your common sense at home, you won’t run into any problems). The next issue is finding out where you can get money. Thailand decided to go into overload when it came to populating their cities with banks, and because of this you will have minimal to no trouble finding a bank or an ATM no matter where you are.

Of course, whenever you take money from a bank account it’s going to cost you, there’s no avoiding that. Below is a table explaining which bank charges what. And because a lot of the names are random, instantly forgettable Thai names, they are separated by color, which is a handy way of figuring out which bank you need. Even ex-pats may refer to their bank as ‘The yellow bank’ or ‘The green bank’!

20141222_075535

BANK COLOR MAX Withdrawal CHARGE
TMB Bank Red, white and blue 30,000B 220B
Krungsri Bank Yelllow 30,000B 220B
Bangkok Bank Blue 25,000B 220B
Kasikorn Green 20,000B 220B
SCB Purple 20,000B 220B
Aomsin Pink 20,000B 220B
Krungthai Light Blue 20,000B 220B
Aeon Purple 20,000B 220B
 *** Note the fees listed above are in reference to the Thai bank charges.  Your home bank will likely charge an additional fee of around 150B.  The MAX withdrawal assumes that your bank limits at home are set high enough to allow this amount.  Please contact them for more info.***
 

Counter Withdrawals

Most banks also offer a service called a counter withdrawal. You can go inside the bank with your credit/debit card and passport and withdraw up to the limit your bank will allow.   Generally, there are no fees for this service at the Thai bank, but you should double check with your home bank if they charge for this service.   I personally have accounts that charge for this service (a lot!) and an account that does not (FREE!).

 

Cash Exchanges 

You can sell your currency for THB and even buy other currencies if you are heading to another country.   There are Foreign Currency Exchange services in just about every bank in Thailand, but the best rates are given by the currency exchange businesses scattered throughout the city. There are no commissions or fees, just the exchange rate listed. Most offer about the same rates, but if you are exchanging a large amount or super rate conscious, the best place is Sakol Currency Exchange (SK Currency Exchange).

 

A Few Recommendations: 

 – Bring two different cards and a small amount of cash.    If you’re prone to losing things, it may be worth looking into a prepaid card, otherwise your regular cards should be fine.    

– Notify your bank/credit card company that you will be travelling and where you will be travelling.

– Keep the cards in two different locations/bags/wallets/etc.    If you lose one, you’ll still have the other.  

– Have the contact numbers for each card issuer in case you need to call in that is has been lost.  *See our Calling Home post for help on making calls. 

– Any cash you bring should be a major currency (think USD, EUR, GBP and the likes) and in good shape.   No tears, writing etc.

 

***MAR 2016 Edit:***

For those of you Americans out there, I have been using a Charles Schwab account for the past six months.    No fees, PERIOD!    No minimum deposit, no monthly fees, no foreign transaction fees, no ATM fees, …AND…   ATM fee reimbursement!!!!  Yes, at the end of every month, they credit your account for any fees charged by other ATM’s throughout the month.   (You still get charged at the ATM in Thailand, but get it back as a credit at the end of the month)

 

If you have any questions, suggestions or other tips to add, please let us know in the comments below!


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