My 3 Favourite Craft Beer Bars in Chiang Mai

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Who knew? Chiang Mai has a craft beer scene! The first day that we arrived, we looked up a few places to eat at for dinner, we decided to go with ‘Lemongrass.’ When I opened the menu, I was shocked to see ‘Chiang Mai IPA.’ The Beer itself was quite easy drinking; light fruity flavours with a dash of a hoppy taste, would be great for those with new taste buds for the craft scene. This then triggered a search for more craft beer and after scrolling through many, many blogs I finally had a list of places to look for. Which lead me to this blog, for you craft beer lovers out there I have narrowed it down to my three favourite craft beer bars.

 

 

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1.       Namton’s House Bar

Even the tuk tuk, drivers got a little lost trying to find this place, I ended up directing them with the map I had. Tucked away in a garden you can see the glowing lights leading to the bar. A chalk board out the front reads ‘No normal beer here’, hanging bunting leads you through a balcony terrace to indoors. Plants hang from the ceiling, candles flicker in the corners, everywhere you look you can see hand crafted arts. Then finally you see a list of 20 imported beers with a further 12 on tap.

img_0527Namton’s was my favourite craft beer bar in Chiang Mai offering a very intimate craft experience. The food served here is more so snack style, but you could easily spend hours here lingering on the wide range of craft beer.

2.       Beer Lab

Right in the heart of Nimman, (which is a huge expat area in Chiang Mai) this is where you will find the upper-class restaurants, award winning baristas and craft beer.

img_0474Think big, think flashy, you can’t miss this place! Beer lab was bustling even at 9pm! The menu is extensive with each page dedicated to a country and their beers – where do you even start?! When you walk in the entrance you have the option to sit on stools at kegs, through to stools at the bar and tables that are spread and hidden, offering some intimacy if you wish. The tables are lined with empty bottles from all over the world and there’s different styles of art work hidden behind walls and doors. The only reason this place wasn’t my favourite? It was TOO flashy. I much prefer lingering in a quite crafty with my journal than bingeing through expensive craft beer in a place most people just want to be ‘seen’ in. You’re very much a table and a number here, there’s no real opportunity to talk to the bar tender about their favourite beer.

14874871_1472317732783814_1143365080_n Here you can order a pint of Hoegaarden for only 280 Baht which is what you saw a lot of people drinking. Prices ranged from 150 Baht to 700 Baht depending on the size and strength and we ordered Heelch O’Hops; a Double IPA from California for 330 Baht with a whopping 8.7%!

14826226_1472317756117145_560807043_nBeers here came from everywhere! Spain, Mexico, Estonia, Sri Lanka, Korea, Norway, America, Canada, Scotland, New Zealand, Japan, Italy, Germany, England, Czech, Australia, Belgium, where do I stop!

3.       Craft Beer Factory

Craft Beer Factory is located in a slightly out of town location, just down the road from Namtons. Craft beer factory is more of an upbeat dive bar. There are instruments set up in the corner, (however due to the img_0439kings passing there was no music when I was there) the bar is quite dark with quirky signs about beer all over the place, you can tell it would get quite rowdy at times. The food is tasty and reasonably priced and they also offer ‘normal’ beers for those in the party that are ‘outraged’ at the price of craft beer.

Craft beers here ranged from 230 Baht to 330 Baht and there was a range between, California, New Zealand and Japan. We tried Freshly Squeezed IPA from Oregon and paid 250 Baht for a 330ml bottle. I think you could easily spend all night here eating, drinking and then dancing the night away. I liked that the bar was in a peculiar area, it was like a treasure hunt rather than an expected location and you can escape the noise of the traffic for a while

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Other Mentions

I also checked out Beer Factory, however it was quite disappointing. There was one German IPA, then the rest of the ‘craft beers’ were steins of German and Belgium beer. This bar is also located in Nimman. There’s nothing particularly special here, just another bar serving a few European beers, but hey if that’s what you are after then this is your place! We got a pint of Vedett IPA for 280 Baht .

 

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How much one week in Krabi, Thailand cost me. How much cheaper could I do it?

I often get asked “how are you always travelling, how do you afford it?!” As I’ve mentioned before, travel can be as expensive or inexpensive as you like. Let me give you a quick break down of what this week cost me.

img_1214Now Keep in mind that this week was not meant to be on a shoestring budget, it was a bit of luxury without breaking the bank. The first two-three weeks of my travels are with my family, doing family activities staying in family orientated hotels. After these couple of weeks, Rowan and I are back to true budget style backpacking.  For this trip Rowan and I are running off one travel card, so I will calculate our total spending, and divide by two when need be.

img_0674Flight – Air Asia

Sydney to Kuala Lumpur – $150 per person.

Kuala Lumpur to Krabi – $30 per person.

Shared minivan from airport – 150 Baht p/p ($5.50)

6 nights in Ao  Nang (Ao Nang Cliff Beach Resort) – 12 000 Baht (6000 per person) ($223 p/p)

This resort was stunning to stay in, our room had a bath tub on our balcony, the rooftop pool was an  infinity pool overlooking all of Ao Nang, the buffet breakfast had the biggest range of food, (which actually prevented us from buying lunch all week as we ate so much in the mornings!) housekeeping would light oil burners after the cleaned the room, the list goes on! Would definitely recommend staying here!

4 Island boat trip – 600 Baht p/p ($22.50)

(we were also meant to pay a national park fee of 400 Baht per person… but we just couldn’t see where we were meant to pay… ?)

img_1176Minivan Ao Nang to Krabi return for Night Market – 200 Baht p/p ($7)

Alcohol for the week – approx. 1000 Baht p/p ($38)

Food and Drink for the week  approx. 1000 Baht p/p ($38)

Shopping – 300 Baht p/p ($12)

Massages (4 of them) – 800 Baht p/p ($30)

Shuttle to airport – 100 Baht p/p ($4)

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Which brings this week to a total spending of $560 p/p including flights, accommodation, food, alcohol and activities.

How Cheap Could I have done it?

After a quick scan on booking.com I’ve found that you can stay in backpackers for the same 6 nights for 1188 Baht ($44.50p/p) or to have a private room in a hotel is 2341 Baht ($87.50 – so $43.75 p/p)

IMG_0663.JPGIf you filled up on breakfast, didn’t eat lunch and only ate 50 Baht meals for dinner then you would have spent 300 Baht ($11.50) – if you wanted lunch then it would be 600 Baht ($23)

Alcohol is of course different for everyone. If you drank two big beers, each day and no cocktails it would be 690 Baht ($26)

And let’s say you do one tour that week, we will add on the 600 Baht ($22.50) I paid for a boat trip.

14708251_10155443407354478_4181292344065764498_nTake a trip to the night markets 200 Baht p/p ($7.50)

1 Massage 200 Baht ($7.50)

And a few things shopping 200 Baht ($7.50)

Airfares and transfers were as cheap as they come already ($189.50)

Which brings us to a total spending of $316 p/p including flights, accommodation, food, alcohol and activities.

You could cut it down even cheaper again if you were only paying for food and accommodation, but where’s the fun in that!

If you would like to read how much the separate meals and drinks cost then check out https://imustgo.net/2016/10/19/cheapest-eats-in-thailand/

I will also be posting another blog on cost Solo vs Accompanied.

Is Grandpa dead? Where’s Grandpa? Oh, he’s brought home two Thai women!

Do you know what’s worse than trying to keep an eye on your 4-year-old sister?? Trying to keep tabs on your grandfather! Poppy has never been to Thailand before, watching him in the night markets is like watching one of the clowns in the carnival that you put balls in the mouth of. Wide eyed and jaw dropped, moving side to side.

14606471_10155442464254478_440278564756074707_nIt’s been a good laugh sinking beers and reminiscing about the years we spent living on his yacht in the Whitsundays. Telling Rowan about manta rays following us and monitors chasing us, the toad races and mud crabs nipping at your feat. But I tell you what, you’ve got to keep a close eye on old Pop-sticle, he tends to stray.

Last night myself, Rowan, Dylan, Dad and Poppy set out to find a few bars and play a few games of pool. We started off at Chiang Mai Saloon and worked our way up to Carnival. We were trying to find anywhere with music as the Country has been strict with its 30-day ban on music, dance and entertainment. We heard faint murmurs in Carnival, which lead us inside, slowly the music started getting a little louder.

We entered into a pool comp with a few locals (fools we were) It was a slaughtering if I’ve even seen one! Like an animal wanting to explore new territory, Poppy started to wander, further and longer gone each time.

14793986_1462342273781360_565157874_n‘Has anyone seen Poppy?’ “No but did I tell you about the other night?” Said Dad. “I woke up at about 4am, thought I’d pop my head in to make sure Dylan and Poppy made it home, (interconnecting rooms) and he’s collapsed drunk, in a sprawled out position on the bed… naked! Then I thought to myself… Is he dead? Should I check? But I heard a little snore so I went back to bed.”

Finally, we found Poppy in the corner with a lady on each arm, we told him we were moving on but he said he was staying. He had a business card from the Hotel with the address on it, so we left him to be.

After a few more beers we head back to our rooms at about 1am. Now let me explain the room situation. Mum, Dad and Ruby are in one room that connects to a suite, that suite connects to another room which sleeps Dylan and Poppy. Rowan and I are on another floor, so the following events I’m about to reveal are stories from those in the suite.

14797340_1462343330447921_2099821586_n1.30am *phone rings in Dylan’s room*

Poppy – What are you doing?

Dylan – Sleeping

Poppy – Okay good

Dylan – What, why?

Poppy – I’ve got a friend with me.

(keep in mind everyone has had a few drinks at this stage)

Dylan yells to Dad – Poppy’s bringing a girl home!

Dad jumps up in his red underwear and frantically starts moving the lounges around in the common area.

Dad- Janelle, Janelle he’s bringing someone back to their room.

Mum – and ..? what do you want me to do ?

Dylan gets back into bed throwing the covers over his head and holding the pillow over his head for extra sound coverage.

*Knock Knock*

Dad runs from the living room and dives back into bed (in his red underwear)

Mum (whom is asleep) – Is anyone going to let Poppy in???

…..

Mum gets up in a shirt and underwear to answer the door to find TWO giggling ladies.

Ladies: Sawadeekah ..sorry for waking you Miss.

Poppy has a big smile on his face.

Poppy takes the girls into the lounge room, where giggling, kissing and shhhing can be heard. The girls only stay for half an hour, but Dad overhears Poppy organising to meet up again tomorrow.

24 HOURS LATER

Dylan asked reception for a pull out bed and has now made the living area his bedroom, shutting off both the doors (considering it has its own entry point and bathroom, he just scored himself his own room for the price of sharing!)

Poppy had a lady stay over last night and she has now taken him out to get a haircut. Let’s see where his love story goes!

 

Cheapest Eats in Thailand!

You’ve got to get brave, get away from the seated restaurants and get onto the streets. Stay away from those Golden Arches on every corner of the world. Be prepared to have grasshopper legs stuck between your teeth and feel the juices explode as you bite into the BBQ grub. TRY NEW THINGS.

img_1068You don’t have to start off with the adventurous street cooked insects, but don’t be afraid because all your friends have told you how sick they got. I’ve actually never been sick due to food or water. Of course there are times to be wary, I have witnessed my brother being astronomically sick in Hanoi 10 years ago. It wasn’t a heavy travelled area at the time; it was the water that we had to worry about. And one banana shake later (with a few ice cubes) he was bed bound for nearly two weeks.

img_1059Now you’ll find the locals are drinking out of bottled water, they’re sure as hell not going to give you the stuff they won’t drink. Don’t let it worry you if the fish you’re ordering is sitting in a cart out the front, that fish was probably caught an hour ago and thrown onto the ice in the wheel barrow. The raw meat you’re seeing on the road, that’s probably fresher than the meat we get at home. There may be a few flies hanging around, but after a quick fry up it will be good as new! Toughen you up as my Dad would say.

Take a cooking class, it really opens your eyes as to where the food all comes from – even in those fancy westerner hotels. You are no exception, same meat, same prep, same dish. A cooking class will take you to the local markets to purchase your food and explain the process they go through each morning to get the freshest market food. IMG_1075.JPG

Even if you aren’t on a budget, travelling is all about experiencing another type of living, and eating local food is what it is all about. Let me give you a little break down of the prices of food in Thailand so you can start setting aside your budget. Keep in mind 26 Baht = $1AUD

Night Market / Food Carts (spring rolls, fishcakes, meat/seafood/veg skewers, crepes, noodles, fried rice, sushi, waffles, ice cream, fruit shakes, cocktails etc)

img_1091img_1069The scents from these carts will wrap around you and pull you in from a distance. These foods range between 4 – 40 Baht depending on the quantity/size. I have eaten some of the tastiest foods in my life inside Night Markets. I’ve also eaten some of the most interesting, but it always makes for a story! You can honestly eat dinner for under $2! Cocktails will be around 90 Baht and big beers (620mls) around 70 Baht. A Fresh fruit shake (you need to try lemon!) will cost 50 Baht.

Local Restaurants (Either off the main road or ones that don’t look all too flashy)

There will usually be a few cats around but they’re usually peoples pets, they’re okay don’t be worried. You’ll find these restaurants will have a specials menu which is generally a few of the popular local dishes. This will include Pad Thai, Pad Se Yu, Fried Rice, Tom Kah Gai, Steamed/ Stir fried Veg. They will be a small – medium portion sizing and will cost 50 Baht.

Other dishes like red/greed/yellow curry, massaman, salads and seafood dishes will be ranging from 120-180 Baht. There will also be carts with fresh seafood, a whole fish (1-2Kg) cost 200 Baht, a whole crab 180 Baht, 6 prawns 160 Baht) A Cocktail will cost 120-170 Baht and a big beer will cost 80-110 Baht. A Fruit Shake will be 60- 90 Baht.

14800700_1459842864031301_565066058_nLocal ‘Flashy Tourist’ Restaurants (On a main road in a high tourist area with nice seating and lighting)

There will be hot plates unnecessarily flaming to grab your eye, hot plates sizzling to make your ears listen in, maybe even a talking parrot at the entrance. Don’t get me wrong these places are still delicious and sometimes you just want some ambiance with a side of decorated carrot on your plate!

An entrée (spring rolls, fishcakes etc) will cost 120-140 Baht. A main (curries, noodles, salads, seafood) will range 180 Baht – 240 baht. Fresh Seafood will be at least 400 Baht (and it’s the same stuff the not so flashy restaurants are selling! Cocktails will be 180-220 Baht, a big beer will be 110-140 and a fruit shake will be 90 -120 Baht.

img_1186Western Restaurants

If you are wanting western food, think western prices, and it won’t taste like it does at home. The steak will be chewy, and you may wonder what meat they used on your burger. Unless of course you find those golden arches!

7 Elevens and Local grocers are everywhere! I also stop in to stock up with a few big beers for 55 Baht. Big bottles of water will cost 15 Baht.

*Tip – Always have a big breakfast even if you don’t feel like it, this usually gets me through to dinner time. And I always make sure breakfast is included in my accommodation! Only pay for one meal a day!

* Any tours you go on should include meals.

Travelling can be as cheap or expensive as you want it to be, you can live on a shoelace or a whole boot, you can stick to a budget or let it slide a few dollars. That night you that had out at the club last Saturday,  and the golden arches that you found at 4am. Just think, you could have lived and eaten like a queen in Thailand for a week.

 

STAY AWAY FROM THE GOLDEN ARCHES!

In the back of a Truck with my Grandfather, on an invitation to a local Muslim Village.

Let me first start off by explaining that my current travels are with my Pop, Mum, Dad, Brother, Boyfriend and 4 year old sister! 14625480_10153422599554229_905787902_nThings can get very interesting when your Pop is chasing the girls on the Contiki tour and your little sister has a Thai dancing get up because she’s practically a local here! She’s already been to Thailand over 5 times! Which leads us to this story. Ruby is great at breaking the language barrier and becoming friends carefree, she FaceTime’s them from Australia (yes the 4 year old sister) and organises when we will come visit them again. Yesterday her friends invited us to their local village.IMG_0744.JPG

 

We meet them out front and jumped in the back of an old pick up truck with stormy clouds hovering ahead. It was late afternoon and it was everyone’s knock off time, we weaved our way through traffic receiving many waves and smiles. We reached a small sinking dock and walked towards a long-tail boat, where we watched 8 motorbikes drive onto a small raft like boat and make their way across the river with us.

We hopped off the other side to meet two motorcycle tuk tuks, what we didn’t expect were the baby goats! This amazing village located on Ko Klang island was filled with animals everywhere! Our friend Suda wanted to show us all around the island and stop to meet her friends.

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Our first stop was with a lady that painted fabric to survive. She showed us the way that she would do it (Just think people pay to go on tours to see this!) and how much people would pay for different items, she offered us a small piece of fabric to paint for 50 Baht ($2) and I couldn’t think of a better way to help a community then painting a colourful design! So Ruby and I sat at a little child’s plastic table and used ink to fill in the predesigned pattern.

img_0820We continued back in the tuk tuks for another 20 minutes where the drivers would try and explain as best they could what we were passing, they pointed out a homestay, a school, little shops in homes, people’s businesses, slowed for stunning views and clearly most importantly stopped so I could take photos of the baby animals!

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After making our way through the Jungle like island, I see a glamorous sign poking out, looking peculiarly out of place, our driver turns in to show us an immaculate, secluded stunning resort with the most picturesque view. The resort was called Islanda Village Resort and I would definitely love to spend a night or two there! (I did have a little giggle at those ‘posh’ sort that saw the pictures and booked the resort – thy would have been a little shocked on their journey to their resort!)

We set back on our journey to Suda’s house and just as the sun was setting we just so happened to find a small cart selling homemade coconut ice-cream for 10 baht (35cents) a cone!

Finally we arrived at Suda’s house where she introduced us to her mother and father, they were living in separate houses because they had separated, they couldn’t afford to buy new land so they just built a second house right next door! (Can you imagine that?!)

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Suda took us around her village telling us all there was to know, she walked us over the most rigidy looking bridges and gave us small tastes of food from the houses. Finally we walked down a jetty to reveal a floating seafood restaurant, where the fish were kept swimming in netted water until you ordered them. (Can you get any fresher?!) img_0806

We shared a few light dishes as we planned to go to the night markets after. Ruby chased around a cat that was a kitten last time she visited, she remembered the exact cat and that she name it chi chung, even the staff remembered ruby and the once kitten!

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We boarded another long tail and headed for Krabi Town for the night markets. Which I will tell you all about tomorrow! Suda’s friend came to collect us and she wouldn’t let us pay her a cent! However my pop bought her a soap?! and he gave her that to thank her, meanwhile Suda took us to her friend to book our boat tour for the next day which was substantially cheaper than what we were quoted!

 

 

 

 

Changes in Thailand following the Death of the King, may affect Travellers.

 

It has been as interesting few days in Ao Nang, I’ve noticed many more offerings on the streets and in shops, and the Thai people taking more time to pray. I’ve seen many in tears just by seeing the King’s face on TV or in a paper.

img_0725The government has declared a 1 year mourning period, with a 30 day ban on any events, live music, dancing or song. All bars and nightclubs have been shut down, the red light district in Bangkok has been shut down, the famous full moon party has been cancelled, the Grand Palace has been closed and the Festival of Lights has been cancelled. And there is a ban on all alcohol sales for a minimum of 3 days unless you are ordering with food.

The police are enforcing the laws and are ensuring that these venues follow order. We are also reminded that the country is under Martial Law, which means authorities (e.g. police)can detain, arrest or deport people without reference to the judicial system.

It is upsetting to also see many Westerners show little to no respect in this time. With many furious at the alcohol ban, they are lashing out.We have been asked to dress in Sombre colours and respectable clothing, and have been told that certain behaviours that are usually tolerated will not be. Friday was declared a public holiday and although Saturday was not, it was very much treated that way. We spent most of the day pool side due to most of the town in mourning. Here we met a group of 35 on Contiki who had also been limited to the pool, they were on the last day of their tour and mentioned they ‘partied hard earlier in the week so they didn’t really mind.’ It will be interesting to see how tours groups will continue to travel through Thailand at this time, with many only booking the tour due to excessive drinking and late nights. Our local friend told us that she went to Phuket to visit friends on Friday night and the whole of Phuket was closed.

14625432_10155428731894478_257003769_nThe Thai people have embarked in a year of wearing black, or where not possible (uniform) many are wearing black ribbons to show respect.

I’ve noticed the flights departing Thailand to bordering countries have risen today, as I guess many travellers are fleeing to find a more ‘party’ environment. Leading chains like ‘7 Eleven’ are following strict rules and are removing or covering up alcohol in shop. Little local vendors are also ‘hiding’ alcohol from view. However keep in mind that their shop is their lively hood and with a little discretion, sales are possible.

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It’s a horrible time for the Thai’s to be going through, a time that nearly no one has lived in before. The last thing they need is their tourism industry falling because of the lack of party. Yes cheap booze is appealing, but their is much more to their culture that that.

I have been invited to a local Muslim village this afternoon, I believe their will be many sensitive souls. I feel very lucky to be welcomed into this community.

#KeepTravellingThailand

 

 

 

Thailand in Mourning, King Bhumibol Adulyadej has passed away after reining for 70 Years.

This morning the nation woke with grief and uncertainty, unsure of how to move forward. At the age of 88, King Bhumibol Adulyadej has passed peacefully in his sleep. My love goes out to the beautiful souls of Thailand.

Last night I was sitting in a local restaurant with my family when we suddenly became aware of this event due to social media. We called over our Thai friend that we frequently visit, to show her the news, she broke into a frenzy and started frantically calling people on her phone. She came back looking broken hearted, “It’s true.”

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We woke this morning to find the government has set a mourning period of 1 year and the Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn has asked to delay his crowning 30 days so he can have time to mourn his father, he also urges people not to use this time to create unrest. Thailand remains without a king for 30 days.

Smart traveller has advised a ‘high degree of caution’ to travel majority of Thailand, with the other part advised ‘do not travel.’ I am currently 300km north of this area, located in Ao Nang. I will continue to travel through Thailand, I feel very safe at the moment. We will however notice a lot of things closed.

Today I wandered the streets without being asked for a tuk tuk, taxi or clothing, there were not many on the streets with most businesses closed. I heard a gong and followed the sound to find locals in prayer and mourning.

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All television channels, including international satellite have been cancelled and are only showing black and white footage of the king. The newspapers are only allowed to print in black and white. This will continue for 30 days. And yes this goes for tourism venues also

In saddening times like these, it is amazing to watch the Thai people unite and spread love. I find myself very lucky to be here in these experiences. I will use caution to travel and keep updated to the movements of the country.