Thursday, 5 August 2010

Chiang Mai: Top 3 places for Sunset, Beers, and Music

Whatever you get up to during the day in Chiangers, it's always nice to wind down and replenish the fluids as the sun sinks slowly over Doi Suthep mountain, which was thoughtfully placed directly to the west of Chiang Mai with exactly this sort of thing in mind.

1/ La Brasserie:

The Brasserie sits on the eastern side of the Mae Nam Ping river, and is a wonderfully romantic spot, especially if you request a table adjacent the water (get them to light a mosquito coil under the table; a few mosquitoes around especially in the wet season which is now).

Lit by colourful lanterns in the trees, it's Chiang Mai at its very best, and much more intimate than the more famous Riverside and Good View which are just 100m up the road (see below).

They have live music nightly, with an acoustic artist playing during dinner, then a couple of acts ramping things up from around 10:30 to about 1 or so (hey, this is Chiang Mai, so approximate timings only, OK!). Took, rated as one of Thailand's best blues guitarists, blazes away nightly with a set of classic stuff from Hendrix, Marley, Dylan. Other times you might have the jazzy stylings of amazing English gal, Ana Gracey.

Open from 4pm onwards ... so it's also great to catch a sunset beer here, too.

Favorite Dish: Crispy duck, fried
Fried fish with spicy salad
sirloin steak - tender and sliced

2/ The Good View Bar and Restaurant

The Good View does, as the name may suggest, give a good view of the Ping River, and is an especially good place to watch the sunset over Doi Suthep.

It is massive ... a real 'tour bus' atmosphere, so not the place you want to go for an intimate one-on-one dinner. Especially when the live band cranks up. It's bright lights and beer jugs and loud party atmosphere every night with the dance floor getting quite packed. Chances of getting a table anywhere remotely near the river are slim ... in fact most people probably never even see the river from where the sit. But it's fun, and the Thai food is good and reasonably priced for a tourist joint.

Open for lunch a dinner. Full bar and healthy smoothies available too.

Favorite Dish: Can't remember what I've eaten here. Good Thai food, and good times.

3/ The Riverside

The management were up all night thinking of a name for this place, and after the 15th Singha beer, it struck them. Duh! This is the 3rd of the great bars and restaurants all conveniently lined up in a row for you.

The Riverside is schizophrenic. Let me explain. If you want to go for a lovely romantic soft-lit meal with fine food, while you get some soft strumming in your ear, it's perfect. Gradually though, as you sip your wine, the musicians are replaced -- a game of musical chairs if you like -- and by the time you've asked for your bill (which is never as much as you think it should be in a popular tourist place like this) the music is full-on cranking.

You might even find it tricky to push through the thronging crowds of mainly young Thais who've suddenly materialised from nowhere and are moshing to the shredding band (after a few wines, the little lead guitarist even begins to LOOK like Jimmy Hendrix, jing jing!)

So you can have two different nights out in one, without ever leaving the Riverside.

As an option, you can also book a dinner cruise on The Riverside's boat, tied up adjacent their restaurant. Languid, lovely.

My Favourite Dish: eaten here several times, but can't remember. It's always been good.

So there you have it. Three different ways to enjoy sunset and dinner, all within a 100-metre stagger of each other.

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