The Top 5 Cafes to Visit in Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai is known for the spiritual depth of its temples, the delectable spiciness of its Thai cuisine and the expertise of its masseuses, but in recent years it’s also become famous for another welcoming feature: its cool cafe scene. Thanks in part to local hipster types and the influx of digital nomads who call this vibrant city home – albeit temporarily – an influx of cutting-edge coffee shops has opened up to cater to the demand for lounge-worthy spaces and world-class java.
But which should you choose on a short trip? Here are the five top cafes you need to visit when you’re in Chiang Mai.
The Barisotel by The Baristro
When you’re looking for respite from the bustling city, the fresh white walls and furniture of this Nimmanhaemin-based cafe are a welcome antidote to the colour and clutter of the streets outside. The stark palette is the brainchild of the owner – a photographer – who knew just what kind of look would appeal to the Instagram generation. Pale wooden and white furniture and the brightly hued food and drink add streaks of appealing colour to this contemporary cafe. Thankfully, though, Barisotel isn’t just about the interior design: with plenty of artisanal drinks on offer, the coffee is just as appealing as the decor.
Embrace the Thai countryside without leaving the city by swinging by No. 39 Cafe. This establishment is set within a garden that’s blessed with its own lake. Oh, and it’s also got a treehouse. Catch up on work – or better yet, relax with a good book – at this tranquil space just outside of central Chiang Mai. Choose from a thoughtfully designed drinks menu that includes a range of your usual coffees, as well as teas and Italian sodas. We recommend the blue curacao for a brightly hued afternoon boost that will also look eye-catching on your Snapchat feed. There’s a limited burger menu, too: great news if you turn up and fall so much in love that you decide to stay a little longer than planned.
The self-taught barista behind this cosy cafe takes coffee seriously. So seriously, in fact, that he changes the seasonal roasted seeds that are imported in from local plantations every four months. There has also been a big buzz about Graph – which has a sister cafe-cum-restaurant not so far away from its Chiang Mai Old Town location, too – of late, thanks in part to it introducing a delicious nitro cold brew coffee on tap. People also rave about other experimental options, such as the monochrome, a beverage that is produced with espresso, activated charcoal, vanilla and milk. Come for the drinks, but stay a while to marvel at the lush valley views outside because they’re that dreamy.
Somkiat Cafe is a little out of the way of the centre of Chiang Mai – but that’s its beauty. This space is a sanctuary for coffee lovers. The baristas are well versed in the art of pouring an excellent americano. Choose from plenty of different java-making contraptions too, like that hipster favourite, the aeropress, or opt for simplicity with a machine-made beverage. The cafe has a wonderfully sparse decor that only adds to its appeal, as well as two separate rooms – a busier one for chatting and a quiet space for working. The calming mountain views are perfect for enjoying while eating well-prepared Thai vegetarian meals.
It’s difficult to decide what is best about this award-winning cafe: the industrial decor with contrasting antique paraphernalia or the top-notch coffee. The striking interior, with its hardwood floors, expansive space and exposed brick bar, even resulted in the establishment receiving a prize for outstanding design from the Chiang Mai Creative City initiative. With its large central work table, it also has a pleasant – and welcoming – atmosphere for those who want a quiet place to write, while use of Thai beans means it’s a stellar place for trying out a local brew. There’s a huge selection of food and dessert menu, plus a chance to marvel at the sleek adjoining hotel.
Which Chiang Mai coffee house is your favourite? And which on this list are you most eager to try out?