Beer Lab Review in Nimmanhaemin, Chiang Mai!

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This is my 3rd week in Chiang Mai, Thailand and mostly I’ve been eating out at Western/American places along with a bit of Thai food since I cannot have spicy Thai food everyday.

One of my new favorite places to go at Nimmanhaemin district in Chiang Mai, Thailand is the Beer Lab.  This place has a great selection of your favorite beer from all over the world including America, Europe, Asia, and much more.  They do have some nice selection of draft beer on tap and I got to try out some nice German unfiltered beer.

Now since I have my family here with me on my trip, I usually like to go to places that also serve food and boy am I glad I found the Beer Lab.  They don’t have a big selection of food but they serve some great steaks to go along with your beer.

Price is definitely one of the highest you will find but the atmosphere is definitely worth it and this is a place for those of you who want to have a good time, not those of you backpackers on a budget.

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This is the page with all the current draft beer.

 

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On my first day, I tried one of the steaks, I think this is the Prime Rib.  Now, I ordered medium rare and I do recommend ordering medium if you actually want medium rare as it was a bit too rare on the sides.  But overall very good steaks!

 

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In my last trip to Barcelona, Spain, I drank a lot of Voll Damm, which is Spanish beer and I was so glad they had it here so I can try it without a trip back to Spain.

 

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Beer Lab is huge with lots of seats.  They get busy starting around 8PM and if you are coming with a family, just come early around 6-7PM and there’s plenty of seats including a few air-conditioned seats inside.

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They’ve got literally beers from all over the world.  They don’t have my favorite American beer like Blue Moon, Sierra Nevada, or Anchor Steam but the selection is great along with plenty of draft beer to enjoy.

 

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They’ve got some excellent cocktails also, this one is “Lady Lychee” served with dry ice to keep it cool so you can enjoy it surely and slowly.

 

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My daughter had a blast playing with the dry ice from the cocktail (obviously).

 

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My daughter Peony ordered the burger, which she rated 7 out of 10, which is really good score since she is a tough food critic and has pretty high tastes for an 8-year old (mostly because her father spoiled her with good food).

 

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On my second trip, I ordered the other steak (I forget what it’s called) but I loved it.  This time I ordered it “medium” and came out a perfect American “medium rare”.  So juicy and yummy.  not quite up to the standards of America but for Thailand, very very good and delicious.

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I also got to try some of the special cocktail of the month, the Ghost Rider which has fireball coming out of some fruit.

Overall, I would highly recommend the Beer Lab for anyone who wants to enjoy some young vibes/atmosphere in Nimmanhaemin, great beer selection, and bar food to go along with it.   Oh yeah, they also do accept American Express which is great for me since I hate using cash in Thailand as my U.S. banks charge me $8 surcharge every time I take money out of the ATM.

Note: These reviews are purely my own opinions, I find reviews on Trip Advisor are sometimes not very accurate and filled with fake reviews.   But I do agree review of Beer Lab on Trip Advisor seems pretty accurate on this one, which is how I found this place.  I will try to keep updating my blog often with my own experiences so you can find more good places to eat in Chiang Mai.

I used my Nexus 6P for all the photos in this blog post, I love my 6P!

Rimping Supermarket in Chiang Mai!

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If you need to get some international/western food such as some pasta, beer from Europe, or even Korean noodles/snacks, one of the best places to go in Chiang Mai is Rimping supermarket.  They have about 6 different locations throughout different parts of Chiang Mai (including one inside MAYA mall near Nimmanhaemin Rd.) and they have great selection of freshly baked bread (I get the baguette every morning for my sandwiches which is baked fresh every morning but make sure to go before noon as they sell out quick and they don’t make them in the afternoons), fresh fruits, and fresh meat if you like to barbeque your own steaks.

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You can also find many American/international household items.

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They have great selection of ham, prosciutto, sausages from Europe and locally made.  My favorite is the spicy Bangkok Ham, which is ham with Thai peppers inside, makes great for spicy sandwiches, I eat it like every day it’s so good.

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Cheese selection is also very good, they sell all types of cheese from Europe and locally made to satisfy your cheesy appetite.  I usually pick up a few blocks of mozzarella cheese and shred my own for making pizza at home.  They do sell shredded mozzarella too but they are usually not fresh and best to buy blocks as it’s also much cheaper.

For pizza dough, you can make your own dough or you can grab the mediterranean frozen all-purpose dough.

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Pet food?  Yes, I grabbed a bunch of dog food for my dog here, they mostly got Pedigree for American brand but they have enough selection to keep your pets happy.

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If you are into fish, you can find great selection of fish here also.

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Want to cook your own steaks at home?  No worries, grab fresh beef just like in America.  Prices are not bad considering dollar goes a long ways recently in Thailand.

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Of course, if you love fruit like durian or any local Thai fruit, Rimping sells the most fresh fruit.  Even local Thais prefer buying them at Rimping due to freshness.  I can’t stand the gaseous smell of durian back at home in the U.S. but durian in Thailand is super fresh, there’s zero gaseous smell and surprisingly now I enjoy eating durian.

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Of course, all Thai groceries and 7-11 have selling hours for alcohol.  You can only buy alcohol between 11AM to 2PM or 5PM to midnight.  Best way is to always get more alcohol than you need in case next time you get stuck at 2AM needing to get some and finding you can’t buy it.

And also be aware of Buddhist Day, the day you cannot buy any alcohol during that whole day!  It happened to me once a few years ago in Bangkok and I had the most sober day of my life.  It doesn’t mean you can’t drink alcohol that day, they just don’t sell any so just stock up the day before and you should be fine.

The Food Factory at Kad Farang!


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For those of you who want to try some fusion food, one of my favorite places to go in Chiang Mai, Thailand is Kad Farang, which has a lot of restaurants made for westerners.   This place isn’t as touristy as downtown and many of the local foreigners who live here go.

Anyways, today I checked out The Food Factory, which sells Thai/European fusion food.   Surprisingly, I ordered the Thai style spaghetti with seafood which I really liked.  While many spaghetti dishes served in Thailand are a bit on the thick side, this dish tasted really light while giving me some spicy flavor of Thai food.

As someone who lives in the U.S., I do enjoy Thai food ofte  but not prefer to eat it on a daily basis as your stomach needs some time to get used to.

This spaghetti dish was perfect for the occasion, also the seafood was very fresh, not the frozen type.

Also if you are trying to find a place where they sell both westerner and Thai food, this place may be perfect as your Thai wife will be able to enjoy good Thai food while you enjoy some fusion food that is easy on your stomach.

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Lastly but not least, having air conditioning is certainly one of my requirements to a good restaurant since my body is not used to this weather.  The Food Factory has great AC and it’s really a hidden gem that is literally hiding at the back part of Kad Farang.  So definitely give this place a go when you are fiening for Thai European fusion food.

Google Maps doesn’t have a location of this place as it’s brand new but it’s right next to Thin Thin Pizza in Kad Farang.

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Smoothie Blues Chiang Mai – Best Breakfast in Nimmanhaemin!

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Looking for American-style breakfast on Nimmanhaemin Road in Chiang Mai, Thailand?  If so, you may want to check out Smoothie Blues.  While the name of the place sounds like they only sell smoothies, I found out in my recent stay at Nimmanhaemin area that Smoothie Blues sell a ton of other stuff like American style breakfast, Mexican breakfast, sandwiches, salads, and much more.

This is probably my 3rd year visiting Nimmanhaemin and I am so glad I found a great breakfast such as Smoothie Blues.   On my first day, I ordered a breakfast Panini, which was absolutely delicious with taste you wouldn’t believe you are in Thailand.

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I didn’t order the below breakfast burritos (will try next time I go) but it does look pretty delicious.

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They had pancake with scrambled egg inside which was very interesting, most dishes also serve with small salad.

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Don’t like heavy meal?  Then try their breakfast oatmeal with fruit which is definitely one of the best in Chiang Mai.

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Smoothie Blues is located in the center of Nimmanhaemin Road right next to 7-11 so it is really easy to find.  (Click Here for Google Maps)

Also, just another tip for travelers in Chiang Mai, a lot of restaurants with 5 stars on TripAdvisor are mainly filled with fake reviews or tourist traps so I would not rely on TripAdvisor to find good food.  Unlike my experience with Yelp back at home in SF Bay Area, TripAdvisor has been pretty much hit-and-miss every time as many restaurants I checked out were nowhere near what TripAdvisor indicated.

Best way to experience Chiang Mai is really to try different restaurants yourself.  And an easy way to tell if a restaurant is good is to see how many customers are eating there when you enter.  Just avoid any restaurants that are empty or you just have a bad feeling about it.   Some of these places are tourist traps and all they care about it making money.   But Smoothie Blues is definitely worth every penny and I highly recommend to check them out if your tastes buds are of a sensitive westerner like myself.

Elephant Painting at Maesa Elephant Camp!

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2 years ago, me and Peony went to our first elephant camp somewhere north of Chiang Mai.  It was an eye opening experience riding elephants but I saw many elephants chained to the ground and felt the elephants weren’t being treated right.  I forget which camp that was but this time around, I was going to check out the Elephant Nature Park, which was supposed to be a free environment for elephants.   But it seemed that you need to make reservation way ahead of time and our schedule didn’t fit any of their openings.

Instead, we decided to check out the Maesa Elephant Camp, which is supposed to be the biggest elephant camp in Chiang Mai, Thailand.   It was actually a pleasant experience to see the elephants bathing and doing cool tricks including painting.  Of course, I did read a ton of horror stories/rumors about how elephants could be trained to paint but I felt like there was actually no proof behind it.  It’s still made for tourists but I do also feel that these elephants would hardly survive in the wild unless they were in Africa.   Can you imagine running into a wild elephant while trekking the mountains of Thailand?

I do want to visit the Elephant Nature Park next time though and spend a whole day with an elephant but in the meanwhile, Maesa Elephant Camp seemed to be pretty good, at least 10 times better than last elephant camp we went to.   The elephants seemed to be having fun, I mean I can tell they weren’t faking it.  The trainers do carry bull hooks but that may be necessary since there’s a large crowd involved and you don’t want dead people due to angry elephants.  But I did not see any cruelty to animals that some people were talking about online.

As for painting itself, I felt like the elephants actually do follow a set of rules perhaps but they are making the painting variations themselves.  And I believe they are perfectly capable of that.  It’s amazing what elephants can paint.  Just the fact that they can paint the whole thing themselves is amazing.

Overall, I do highly recommend the Maesa Elephant Camp for first timers.  I will try to stay out of the rumors about how elephants learn painting though.  Seeing them in person and in real life makes me think those are probably just rumors.  But if there’s any real proof to that, then it will definitely make me think twice.

Peony also had a lot of fun, the elephants kept playing with her hat and gave her many hugs.  Peony tells me elephants are her favorite animals out of them all because they are very intelligent and she’s half Thai.  I am so happy to have a daughter who is learning so much about the world out in the real world, not just with textbooks.  If you have kids, you should definitely take them out of their safe zone(country) at least once before they hit teens, they will thank you for it later in life (I predict).

Lastly but not least, I feel this is amazing experience in comparison to any zoo in the U.S., to get so close to such massive animals and touch them with your own hand.  And did you know you can make paper out of elephant dung?

Night Bazaar on Chang Klan Rd. in Chiang Mai, Thailand!

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2 years ago I visited Thailand for the first time in my life and the most memorable place for me was the busy Night Bazaar on Chang Klan Road in Chiang Mai, Thailand.  I am not sure why but my brain was simply attracted to it.  And I swore to stay in Le Meridian Hotel the next time I visited Thailand, which I did in November 2014.

Night Bazaar is filled with street vendors selling everything from Thai antiques, LED t-shirts, flower soap, and much more.   This is a place that opens everyday from around 2PM until midnight.  I usually buy lots of souvenirs for my friends and family.  I think this is the most lively place in all of Chiang Mai, Thailand and very tourist-friendly as there are a ton of great food to eat also.

Anyways, in my latest visit yesterday, I wanted to try improving my long exposure photography skills and took some photos.  What’s interesting in these photos (you can click on them to download originals) is that I felt the photos were better with high ISO.

I accidentally left the ISO high on couple of these shots and got some really nice star lights.  I plan on playing with the auto ISO next time and set the aperture/shutter speed manually.  With lower ISO of 100, I wasn’t getting nearly the shots I wanted so this is another good learning experience for me.

 

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The famous ice cream place in Thailand is here, I may try to grab the next sequel viral video for them next week.

 

 

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24 Hour Coffee Shop in Chiang Mai at Wake Up!

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After 20 hour flight from San Francisco to Chiang Mai, Thailand, I was doing just fine on the first day after getting couple hours of sleep.  On the second day, the jet lag jitters kicked in and I woke up in the middle of the night at 2AM and couldn’t go back to sleep.  Normally, I would take sleeping pills when this happens but I have been trying to avoid them as it affects me greatly the next day.

Instead, I opted to find a 24-hour coffee shop and was rather surprised that Chiang Mai doesn’t have a ton of 24-hour coffee shops.  In fact, the only place I could find using Google was the Wake Up coffee shop in Nimmanhaemin district in Chiang Mai.  It was about a 24 minute drive from Hang Dong where I am staying at but I was able to get there in just 10 minutes thanks to no traffic and my eagerness to go as fast as I can over 100Km/h.

If you are staying in Nimmanhaemin, this should be easy to find, it’s on the southern tip of the main road.  Boy, I was so glad to see this place as they have coffee, smoothies, bakery, and even 24-hour Subway that’s connected next door.

This is located right next to the Dude Cafe, Google Maps haven’t updated but it’s where the Jipata store was.  Here’s a Google Maps location.

For those of you who just arrived in Chiang Mai, this may be worth the visit (even with a Tuk Tuk) if you simply cannot go back to sleep.

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Yes, fresh smoothies!  I grabbed some strawberry smoothie for about 79 baht, pretty good.

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Hungry?  No worries, Subway is actually part of this 24-hour coffee shop.  I am about to grab breakfast here in a bit.

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They also got some great outdoor seating for those of you smokers.  At night, the weather is nice and cool so you can enjoy the outdoor setting.

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Me being sleepless in Chiang Mai, Thailand.  I am not tired though, just need a quiet place to practice becoming a digital nomad.  Chiang Mai is the world’s capital of digital nomads, I guess bloggers and alike.  I have hard time believing though that they don’t have more 24-hour coffee shops like this.

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On the second floor, they even have Korean/Japanese-like floor seating, not that I would ever want to use it muchy.

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They also got these nice rounded lookin’ seats, very comfortable actually.

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And yes, there’s AC plugs for power-hungry users like myself.

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They give you 4 hours of free WiFi with any purchase above 50 Baht.

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Internet speed is a bit disappointing though.  I am here around 4AM and no one is here yet the internet speed is a bit slow at only around 4-5Mbps download and less than 1Mbps upload.  If they can upgrade the internet a bit, this place could be the ultimate place for digital nomads.

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