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There is certainly no lack of massage parlors in Chiangmai, and there is little variation in price, service or decor from one to the next. Bon Massage stands out simply because it doesn't stand out. If you'd prefer your massage in a more private setting, head here. It's directly behind the De Naga Hotel, which is right across the street from Thae Phae Gate. It's no frills, but it's clean, super friendly, and you won't be on display while you get your feet massaged.
Located north of the riverside in the Khao Soi ghetto, this eatery is one of the oldest in the city serving Khao Soi, the noodle dish in coconut water with chili, that gives the restaurant it's name. A truly amazing, authentic Thai food experience. Order the chicken soup, the satay sticks, the fried spring rolls, and if you can eat spicy, the Chiangmai sausage. Absolutely delicious, and very affordable. Your tuk tuk ride to the restaurant will cost more than your meal! Be sure to go for lunch, as they close around 3pm.
Right in Old City and spitting distance from Thae Phae Gate, this popular mainstay is a great spot for meeting up with friends. The food, a combination of Thai and Western, is decent, but the service leaves much to be desired. We waited well over an hour for meals during a slow time when we were the only diners there, and still got the wrong food. Meanwhile, the four waitresses just sat at the bar chatting, and acted like we were totally inconveniencing them when we asked for anything. John's is best if you eat elsewhere, and head straight up to the rooftop for drinks and the view.
Close to Chiangmai University, Nimmanhaemin Road is a modern and chic part of the city, great for a break from all those Wats and museums. It's not too far from the base of Doi Suthep, so you could even go there in the early evening after visiting the mountain temple. It's lovely for a stroll, and has tons of boutiques and cafes to pop into. For late night drinks, head to Warm Up, a lounge/club where the hip university students like to see and be seen.
The view and ambience of this restaurant situated directly alongside the Chao Praya River gets 5 stars. You can even dine in a riverboat off the restaurant's pier. The food gets about 4 stars. This is a great place to break down and finally get that western meal you haven't had in days. The service gets 2 stars. Prepare to have meals at your table come at different times, to have to flag down waitstaff to ask for anything, and for most of the staff to not understand English. Four people had to come over to our table just to understand the words "no meat." Obviously, it's not expected for waitstaff to speak perfect English in Thailand, but in a higher-end restaurant that caters mostly to tourists, management should provide some basic language training. That said, the view was lovely and made up for any service issues.
Don't skip this temple! Across the river from the Grand Palace and Wat Pho, Wat Arun is slightly out of the way, but well worth the added effort. Built largely from remnants of Chinese porcelain, the facade is gorgeous to see up close...no two areas look the same. Climbing all the way up the central spire can be frightening if you have a fear of heights -- the steps are steep and narrow -- but the view from the top is stunning.
Great meal in Bangkok! Definitely a tourist spot -- I only saw other travelers dining -- but delicious nonetheless. It's got an extensive Thai menu with good descriptions in English, so it's a safe place to try something new. The courtyard is lovely with its tall lush trees and colorful condom lanterns, plus is well-ventilated and refreshing after a long day in the city. The inside has air con, but those tables fill up fast. It's a bit pricey for the typical backpacker budget, but I love that proceeds go to helping sex education and slowing the spread of AIDS in Thailand. All-in-all, a lovely dining experience.
This is a fantastic located right in the heart of Old City in Chiangmai. "Naga" means snake in Thai, and the image of this animal is tastefully woven throughout decor. Despite its close proximity to Tha Phae Gate and the Sunday Market, it feels like it's in it's own little world, tucked away in a cul de sac off the main road. The staff and service were excellent, and the breakfast buffet each morning was lovely even though the selection was a bit smaller than in a larger property. The pool is also lovely -- perhaps small, if you're used to large resorts, but beautifully laid out with a rushing fountain, strong water jets, and a bar serving Happy Hour specials. We met so many other lovely travelers there! What De Naga lacks in bounty and size, they make up for in service and character ten-fold. Oh, and can i just say, WI-FI!!! Free, strong wi-fi, not only in public areas, but also inside your room. I will definitely stay here again next time I'm in Chiangmai.
Just outside of Exit 6 of the City Hall subway stop, the Seoul Plaza Hall sits directly across from City Hall and welcomes you with a covered, tree-lined entrance, offering a calm feel compared to the busy surrounding area. The hotel's modern design includes a lounge with spaceship-like decor, as well as guest rooms whose pink and red accents paired with round, natural wood furnishings give a 'mod' feel. (In the Executive Suites, the color accents are yellow.) The guest rooms are smaller than hotels in the same area and price range, but the chic black carpets, dark wood decor and crisp white linens made me want to stay in and lounge all weekend. Plus, the suites have working gas fireplaces! -- Quite a rarity in Seoul. The gym is across the street, but free for all guests. As for restaurants, on the second floor, there's an impressive-looking buffet and an Italian restaurant, and on the third floor there's a higher end Chinese restaurant. The location is ideal and the staff is more than accommodating.
This is by far the best hostel in Seoul. The owner, Mary Wang, has created a truly fantastic space for backpackers, and she is a significant part of what makes this hostel so special. She says it was her destiny to start the business and run a home-away-from-home for travelers, and it shows. All of the guests seem happy here. The hostel occupies the 3rd, 8th and 9th floors of a large office building, but that doesn’t detract at all from the warmth of the environment. The guestrooms themselves are reminiscent of the many officetel apartments found throughout Seoul. There are dorm and private rooms, most of them lofted. The dorms sleep nine – 6 in the main room, and 3 above in the loft. All rooms, including the dorms, have AC, a water cooler, kitchenette, free wi-fi and are spotlessly clean. The floor-to-ceiling windows provide an abundance of natural light and also offer great views of the Hongdae area and city.
It’s a little hard to find even though it’s directly outside the Hongdae subway station. Go out exit 9, turn around, and the entrance is immediately on your left, in the office building above Dunkin Donuts.
The prices are reasonable, but according to Mary, are also negotiable if you’re staying longer or are simply really nice to her. If the prices are still too steep for your budget, then head down the street to Mary’s other property, Yellow Submarine. The rooms in that 3-story house are a bit cheaper.
I just had a 5-hour layover in Fukuoka and am thanking the universe that I had a fully-charged kindle loaded with books. This is not a great airport for hanging out. Wi-fi is free, but service is inconsistent. Plus, there are very few outlets available to charge electronics. The duty-free shopping is decent, though there are no low-mid range alcohols sold, just the top-end stuff. No Absolut for me this time around! Plus, La Mer was missing from the skin/cosmetic section...sigh. Food options are few - just two Japanese restaurants outside the gates - and barely anything to speak of near the gates: fast food udon, hot dogs and Asahi are what you get. Not terrible for a short layover, but I'll avoid doing another 5-hour stretch there again.
In terms of hostels, this one is just okay. It's small, tough to find and there's not much going on in the immediate vicinity. It's off of Sinseoldong Station on subway Line 1, which is just a short train or cab ride to Korea University, Hankuk University, the Hyehwa theater district and Dongdaemun. There are six rooms: three with a shared bath and three with a private bath. The common area is pretty small and hot. The owners live on the premises and cook in the shared kitchen, so you feel like you're staying in someone's house. They don’t speak much English, either. It's above an Ediya coffee shop, and you actually have to go into the coffee shop and walk up to the third floor to get to the entrance. Definitely a weird set-up. I can’t speak for the actual sleeping rooms since they were all occupied when I went there, but unless you absolutely must be close to Korea or Honkuk U., I would definitely check out the Hongdae Guesthouse, Beewon Guesthouse or Bong House before this one.
I *live* in Seoul and even I enjoy going up to the Hyatt from time to time. Its views of Namsan Mountain and Tower are unparalleled. The entire space has a tastefully romantic atmosphere that is not often found in Seoul. The decorative theme of the grand lobby is stone and jade: the smooth stone floors and walls, as well as the stone sculptures placed throughout paired with jade green accents seem to mimic the surrounding wooded, mountain backdrop. The hotel co-exists harmoniously with the natural setting it sits upon. As soon as you enter, you’re treated to the smooth music of a live band that seems to always be there. The lobby successfully creates a perfect balance of being busy and peaceful at the same time. The theme of elegant nature spreads through the hotel like vines. The hallways have soft, chic lighting and wall plants, that, when teemed with a series of strategically placed mirrors, seem to go on forever. The guest rooms are equally elegant and peaceful with crisp white linens, flaxen wood furnishings and grey accent pieces. On top of all that, the English-speaking staff is incredibly kind and helpful. Plus there’s a luxury shuttle bus that leaves directly from the Hyatt and goes to and from Incheon Airport for 15,000 won. There’s an uncommon elegance, serenity and a natural ambiance here that makes this Hyatt a special place.