I can only describe our Chiang Mai trip in two words: magical and memorable. Chiang Mai had terrific local food. But best of all, we were there in time for the Sunday-only market and the Loy Krathong and Yi Peng festivals.
Soothing Our Hunger at the Sunday-only Local Market
We were starving when we arrived in Chiang Mai. We were excited to head on to the Sunday walking market for some soul-feeding, but we had to feed our bodies first. We decided on eating at this airy, cozy restaurant that serves Northern Thai cuisine tapa-style, Huen Jai Yong.
Huen Jai Yong: A Popular, Cozy, Airy Restaurant
I’m familiar with the food here, but my companions weren’t. It was surprising and so fulfilling to watch them try unfamiliar food. I was also glad they liked the food, eating them without hesitation and sampling every dish we ordered.
We ordered almost everything on the menu, which were:
- Nam Prik Nhum or Pork Rind with Green Chili Paste
- Sai Oua or Northern-Style Pork Sausage
- Stir-Fried Chinese Cabbage with Oyster Sauce
- Chicken Wings with Lemongrass and Turmeric
- Fermented Omelette
- Fried Pork
- Pork Stew
- Different Kinds of Sticky Rice
I was in awe as I watched my Soul Foodies eat the spicy pork rinds – it was too spicy for me! Yet somehow, it found a home in their taste buds. More than that, it was so soul-feeding to watch them eat sticky rice for the first time. Surprisingly, they loved black sticky rice the most.
Check out this episode if you’d like to peek at the beautiful, flavorful food from Huen Jai Yong.
Sunday Walking Street Market: A Perfect Place to Showcase Traditional Crafts
As I said, we scheduled our trip around Chiang Mai’s Sunday-only market and the Loy Krathong and Yi Peng festivals. We managed to arrive in Chiang Mai on a Sunday, and our day was just incredible.
As we walked, we came across traditional and hand-crafted Thai items. There were hats, bags, embroidered shirts, Chiang Mai-style earrings, resin flowers, and many other things. We also saw birds, music groups, and plenty of street food like fish balls, Chinese Dim Sum, Fish Maw Soup, fried tofu, and grilled chicken skewers.
I was in awe of the musicians: some were in police uniform while others looked like veterans. As for the earrings – you know just how much I love those – I bought two or three dozen of them. All of the hand-crafted items there were so bright and colorful that it was hard not to get them!
Awestruck Tourists and a Cooking Class
If we thought we finished treating our eyes to marvelous things, we were wrong. When we reached our place for the night, we were treated yet again with more things to marvel at in Raya Heritage. You can only imagine how restful our sleep had been and how ready we were for our cooking class the next day.
Raya Heritage: Paradise on Earth
I could only describe Raya Heritage as paradise. The place was so wonderful that I thought you should see how it looks for yourself in a separate episode. It features sensual lighting, neutral, woody colors, and a Northern Thai Lanna design.
I was so in love with my room’s aroma, too. Then again, the bathroom that looks like an oasis competes with this! My room also had a cozy balcony with a pool view and a mosquito repellent scent. It should go without saying that we managed to rest so well on our nights in Raya Heritage.
Boonpratana House: A Hospitable, Family-Run Cooking Class Spot
The Boonpratana House hosts weddings, events, and cooking classes! In my opinion, our cooking class there was more memorable than anything I’ve ever attended. Mama P, our primary teacher, and everyone else in there had just been so hospitable. It was like we were also part of their family.
More importantly, we learned so many things and gained the opportunity to bond as a group as we fed our souls. Mama P taught us how to prepare Nam Prik Ong or Thai Spaghetti Dipping Sauce, a northern-style dip made with chicken or pork.
We also learned how to make Som Tam or Papaya Salad, Pad Khee Mao or Drunken Noodles, Kao Soi or Northern Thai Coconut Curry Noodles, and Bua Loy, a Thai dessert. We used bamboo shoots, bell pepper, mushrooms, onions, and long beans for the Drunken Noodle. For Kao Soi, we used lemongrass, yellow curry powder, red chilis, white peppercorn, and coconut milk.
As for dessert, it was a simple mixture of purple yam and sticky rice flour and yellow yam and sticky rice flour. We mixed them, turned them into tiny balls, and boiled them. I found myself amazed with how such a simple mixture could create a delightful treat.
Thai Silk Village: An Oasis of Colorful, Handmade Clothes
By the time we finished our cooking class, we still had plenty of time to spare on Day 2 of our stay. We decided to visit Thai Silk Village. There, we found ourselves amidst Chiang Mai-style tribal clothes and many other colorful designs! They were all handmade, too, so it was pretty soul-feeding to see them.
Old Festivals and a Temple in Heaven
Day 2 of our Chiang Mai trip also happened to be the Loy Krathong and Yi Peng festivals. We spent our afternoon resting and preparing for the night events. I’ve lived in Thailand for more than half of my life, but I’ve never been to the Yi Peng festival.
Yi Peng and Loy Krathong: Bidding Fears Goodbye and Expressing Desires
It was everything I’ve dreamt of and more. I admit I was a little scared as we lit the lanterns. Everyone was close to each other, lighting their giant lanterns. We also had to hold on to the lantern as it was filled with hot air.
Yet when the time came to let our lantern go, it was magical. And pretty. Have you ever seen hundreds of lanterns light the sky? Knowing each lantern held dreams, wishes, and desires made it even more beautiful.
Besides the lanterns, we also lit a candle and allowed it to float on a leaf in the Loy Krathong festival. It’s for helping people let go of their sufferings as it floats away. It was freeing to watch the candle go. The celebrations also mean so much more than just wishing and letting go, and you can see what I mean here.
Doi Suthep: A Mountain Top Temple
We cheated a little on this one by taking the tram instead of climbing 309 steps. Climbing would have exhausted us too much to keep on touring, so we were grateful for the tram. In Doi Suthep, we fed our souls with comforting sights as we walked three rounds around the golden pagoda.
We also conversed with a monk, who read our “Feed Your Soul” shirts and asked us what it meant. I explained that our mission is to feed people’s souls and inspire people through food and travel, and he chatted with us about how it’s along the same lines as their mission.
After that, we opted for some fortune-telling, hung a Nikky Feeding Souls sign on a golden bell, and went to Beast Burger for lunch. The staff had cool shirts that said, “I’m sorry for what I said when I was hungry.” Peek at their delicious burger!
Lessons from the Chiang Mai Foodie Tour
It’s so soul-feeding to immerse yourself in a world different from the one you grew up in. We also conversed with so many amazing people during our Chiang Mai trip that I learned nothing could beat hospitality. It makes everyone feel welcome and allows them to enjoy a place even more.
If you want to see more details about our Chiang Mai trip, check out this YouTube playlist. You can also visit our blog for my Chiang Mai reflections. More importantly, if you want to keep yourself updated in our travels, sign up here.