Lizards Ants and Mosquitoes – Oh My!

Category : LiveInCM , Uncategorized

Tokay Gecko

Tokay Gecko

For those of you that did not grow up in the tropics, get ready for an eye opener; lizards ants and mosquitoes are EVERYWHERE!  

Insects and small reptiles are everywhere, but more importantly, they are lived WITH and part of our daily lives!

Lizards

Everyone knows about the mosquitoes in the tropics, but what about the lizards?  There are quite a few varieties in Thailand, many of which live with us in our homes and offices.    Yes, IN our homes and offices!    The two main ones are the Tokay Gecko (AKA  the F-YOU lizard) and the ever present Jing Joke.   

The Tokay Gecko is a larger lizard which are usually outside and almost never seen, but you WILL know they are there.    The two names are derived from the sounds that they make.  Most locals call them Tokay as that is what it sounds like to them.  However, most foreigners swear there is a little guy outside saying “F You!”    It’s actually quite funny seeing the response from first timers!

jingjokeThe more prevalent and ever present lizard is the Jing Joke or Chit Chat.   A smaller lizard pale color reaching about 10 cm at full length.   You will see these EVERYWHERE you go in Thailand.  Usually scaling walls, staying close to the lights (heat source) everywhere from restaurants, bars, hotels, temples, kitchens, bedrooms, etc, etc.       

jingjoke 2 tails

Lucky Charm?

The locals are happy to let these guys live and not simply because of their Buddhist upbringing.  They do not consider them a pest, but rather a benefit as they eat small insects!   Allowing these to stick around controls the amount of ants, mosquitoes, flies, roaches, etc.  Free insect control!   In fact, they are so ingrained in the culture that they have their own mythology or assigned “charm”    Every so often they will grow with two tails.    The local lore says that if you find one of these in your home, it means your going to have twins!  

Insects

Mosquitoes, roaches and ants can also be found just about everywhere in Thailand, but with proper technique, can be controlled.  

Mosquitoes are a fact of life here.   In the cities (we’re in Chiang Mai) you generally don’t have to worry about mosquito-born diseases, but will still care about not getting bit and being itchy afterwards.   

stripedmosquito

Striped Mosquito – Possible Dengue carrier

Tips and tricks about mosquitoes:   Don’t wear dark colors, they attract mosquitoes.  Wear long clothing, long sleeved shirts and full length pants(trousers).  You can protect yourself without the use of chemicals.    Don’t bother with natural deterrents as they are not effective.    Citronella, lemongrass, Skin So Soft, etc etc WILL NOT be useful here in Thailand!  They may keep mosquitoes away for a few minutes, but in the end you’re still being bit.    Unfortunately, the only easily accessible solution is DEET.      Use it or get stung.

Ants and Roaches

Living in Thailand requires a different level of cleanliness.   Unlike the cooler/colder “Western” countries, you CAN NOT leave food out or leave crumbs on the table/floor.   The ants will march in within the hour.   You can easily judge how clean a place is by the presence of ants.   Your hotel, guesthouse, apartment should not have any ants when you check in.   If it does, it has not been cleaned properly.   If there are ants when you leave/checkout, it means you have not been clean.  Remember that you do not need to get rid of the ants, just the food that they are searching for.  Once it’s been cleaned, the ants will leave on their own.

Roaches are similar to ants.   If you keep the place clean, you probably won’t see any.   Many modern buildings in Thailand are made of cement and do not have spaces in the walls for insects to live.   That means the roaches are living outside, usually in sewers.    It’s possible to see one roach travelling and searching for food, but if you see more its time to clean!    One exception to this is when the mosquito controls sprays are done.    People will walk the streets with industrial type foggers strapped to their backs and spray the sewer and dark areas to kill mosquito eggs and larvae.   This also affects the roaches.   That day, you will see roaches everywhere, but they will either die off or quickly return to their hiding places.

 

Remember, when in Thailand, lizards are your friends and insects  are commonplace, but can be managed!   


2016 Lantern Release – Package #2 with Zip Line – 20 Tickets!

Category : Holidays , Offers , Travel

***SOLD OUT***

Round #2 – The Zip Line Package

We have  20 standard tickets packages available!

Price includes:

  • 1 Standard Ticket (read about the inclusions here)
  • 1 Seat to and from the event (Transportation – from inside the Old City. )
  • 1 Day Tour Zip lining (Over 50 Platforms and 30+ runs)
    • This is a day tour including lunch and transportation to/from the Old City area.
  • Fee to cover PayPal and services (includes ticket delivery to hotel)

Total price will be 8000THB

***Don’t forget to consider the secondary costs of buying tickets outside of CMStay!   At other places, you will have to take time and money to get you tickets.   Pay a tuk-tuk ~500B or more to take you outside of town, wait in a queue for your ticket, and return you to town,.   You’ll also have to get to the pick up point outside of town.   Another tuk-tuk ~500B or more for both ways. You’re adding at least 1000THB to the prices, not including your limited holiday time! ***

YeePeng VIPVan Zip_Line_Canopy_Tour

Why buy from CMStay?

  • Trust – CMStay is the first and foremost in everything “Lantern Release”.
  • Communication – CMStay has a 100% response rate, usually within a couple of hours.
  • Ease – CMStay does everything in English.   You can ask and receive answers without any mis-communications.
  • Service – CMStay will provide the “full package”   We can arrange almost anything and answer most questions you have about Chiang Mai.

What to expect:

You will receive confirmation of payment within 24hrs.   Confirmation of ticket reservation with reservation number will be emailed by mid-April.   Information about transportation (times, location, etc) will be emailed/announced in early November.

Please note that the first 50 tickets last year sold out within a couple of days and ALL tickets sold out 4 months before the event.  We expect the same this year.    There can not be any holds or delayed reservations.    Only full payment will count as reservation.

1 Day Zip Line tour can not be taken on 14NOV.   You will need to provide a date you would like to attend by email.

 

Package #2 is SOLD OUT.  Click here for Package #1

 

*Based on exchange rate of $1USD to 36THB

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!

 

 

 

 


2016 Lantern Release – Ticket Packages are on sale now!!!

Category : Holidays , Offers

*** Tickets packages are mostly sold out***

We have removed the shopping cart button as there are very few tickets left.    Please contact us through email or facebook to check on availability.


Its starting!

Yes, as announced, tickets this year are going to be sold as a package deal.

We have a very limited number of standard tickets packages.  They WILL sell out well before the event.   Don’t delay!

Early Bird Price includes:

  • 1 Standard Ticket (read about the inclusions here)
  • 1 Seat to and from the event (Transportation – from inside the Old City.  No need to spend an additional 1000B to get to and from the pickup point)
  • 1 Day Tour with the elephants/Mahout Training (Riding bareback, no carts)
    • This is a full day tour including lunch and transportation to/from the Old City area.
  • Fee to cover PayPal and services (includes ticket delivery to hotel)

Total price will be SOLD OUT

***Don’t forget to consider the secondary costs of buying tickets outside of CMStay!   Purchasing through CMStay will save you from to wasting your holiday time and money to get your tickets.   Pay a tuk-tuk ~500B or more to take you outside of town, wait in a queue for your ticket, and another ~500B to return you to town.   You’ll also have to get to the pick up point outside of town.   Another tuk-tuk ~500B there and 500B again to get back! You’re adding 2000THB to the prices, not including your limited holiday time!  CMStay will deliver your tickets to the hotel and arrange for transport from a pick up point inside the Old City!***

YeePeng VIPVan mahout

Why buy from CMStay?

  • Trust – CMStay is the first and foremost in everything “Lantern Release”.
  • Communication – CMStay has a 100% response rate, usually within a couple of hours.
  • Ease – CMStay does everything in English.   You can ask and receive answers without any mis-communications.
  • Service – CMStay will provide the “full package”   We can arrange almost anything and answer most questions you have about Chiang Mai.

What to expect:

You will receive confirmation of payment within 24hrs.   Confirmation of ticket reservation with reservation number will be emailed by mid-April.   Information about transportation (times, location, etc) will be emailed/announced in early November.

Please note that the first 50 tickets last year sold out within a couple of days and ALL tickets sold out 4 months before the event.  We expect the same this year.    There can not be any holds or delayed reservations.    Only full payment will count as reservation.

1 Day elephant tour/Mahout training can not be taken on 14NOV2016.

***UPDATE***  15NOV2016 is no longer available.

 

You will need to choose a date you would like to attend.

SOLD OUT  – YP2016 Package (w/Elephant Camp 13NOV2016)

SOLD OUT   – YP2016 Package (w/Elephant Camp 16NOV2016)

 

*Based on exchange rate of $1USD to 36THB

Lantern Release Festival 2016 – Date has been announced!!!

Category : Holidays

The Lantern Release Festival  (Yee Peng Lanna) date has officially been set.   Keep in mind that prices have changed and ticket sales may follow a different pattern than in previous years.   

Ticket sales started in May 2016.    Make sure to add your email address to our list or “like/follow” the CMStay facebook page for more information as we release it.   

YeePeng

BUY TICKETS NOW!!!

***Don’t forget to consider the secondary costs of buying tickets outside of CMStay!   Purchasing through CMStay will save you from having to waste time and money to get you tickets.   Pay a tuk-tuk ~500B or more to take you outside of town, wait in a queue for your ticket, and return you to town,.   You’ll also have to get to the pick up point outside of town.   Another tuk-tuk ~500B or more for both ways. You’re adding at least 1000THB to the prices, not including your limited holiday time!  CMStay will deliver your tickets to the hotel and arrange for transport from the Old City!***

Date:

November 14, 2016

information1

information2


No Yee Peng tickets! – My Chiang Mai Trip is ruined!

Category : Holidays , Offers

IMG_1263

OK, Not really.

The Bad news: we have not heard of anyone selling their tickets in almost a month.
It may be that they are all planning on going to the event or they are waiting so they can sell their tickets for a higher price.   (They were already selling for $200/Standard Ticket almost a month ago!)
 
The Good news:
  1. You will be in Chiang Mai and it will be during the most festive time of year!
  2. We’ve reached agreements with many local tour companies to offer the lowest prices in town    (While space is still available)  DISCOUNTED TOUR PRICES
 happyelephant picskyline3 white templeInthanonPagodascrop

Believe it or not, Chiang Mai is visited by hundreds of thousands of tourists every year.   Most of them do not come here during the holiday season.   In fact, there are over 70 million Thai people and at least 5 million foreigners in Thailand.   Most have them have never attended the lantern release and probably don’t care to.    

LoyKarthongThapae

Early evening @Thapae Gate

YOU WILL STILL HAVE AN AMAZING EXPERIENCE!!!

The Yee Peng lantern release IS an amazing event, BUT it is not the heart of Chiang Mai nor the Loy Krathong/Yee Peng holidays.
 
For those of you hoping to see a sky full of lanterns, you will!   In fact, you will see more in the city than at the event.    What do you think the millions of other people in Chiang Mai and surroundings are doing??? Want to float a krathong down the moat or river?   Same thing!   Many many more in the city.   Fireworks?   Not at the event!
 
For those of you with your name on our waiting list, you will still be notified of any tickets we hear of.   When all is said an done, for anyone that does not get a ticket, don’t feel sorry for yourselves!    Join a cheap tour during the daytime, and enjoy the beautiful nights skies in the city.    You will not be dissappointed!

Here is an expected schedule of events.   Its does not give the full schedule but a good start!

“Loi Krathong 2015 Event Schedule for Chiang Mai, Thailand (the following schedule has not been confirmed… yet! Will follow soon):

Loi-Krathong-Krathong-girlTuesday, November 24th
7pm to 10pm – Lantern Parade (click here for parade route)
7pm to 12am – Noppamas Queen beauty contest – day 1 (click here for location)

Wednesday, November 25th (Full Moon)
9am to 12pm – Lantern and Giant Lantern Contest (click here for location)
9am to 5pm – Krathong Making Contest (click here for location)
7pm to 11pm – Floating (Small) Krathong Parade (click here for parade route)
7pm to 12am – Noppamas Queen beauty contest – day 2 (click here for location)

Thursday, November 26th
6pm to 12am – Floating (Big) Krathong Parade (click here for parade route)
10pm – Expect to see a dazzling display of fireworks that will last for approximately 20 minutes (click here for approximate location).”

(FROM:  http://www.festivalsofthailand.com/home/thailand-festivals/loi-krathong/ )

 


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

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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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