The Hedonist: Chiang Mai

What to see and where to be seen

My arrival in Chiang Mai – 370 miles north of Bangkok and 1,000 feet above sea level – provides a welcome respite from the smog-filled, low-lying Thai capital.

I check in to The Chedi (00 66 53 253 333;, which is housed in the former British Consulate building on the banks of the Mae Ping River. It belongs to the same group that owns the rather smart Setai in Miami, so I don't expect it to be shabby. And it's not, with 84 sleek rooms full of dark, handsome woodwork, plenty of floor-to-ceiling windows and razor-sharp lines throughout.

I throw my bag down on crisp white sheets, then head outside to meet the others around the infinity pool. I can feel warm rays on my skin as I order a well-deserved Singha beer from a smartly dressed waiter, who passes it down to me in the water.

The smell of scented gardens and the taste of the gorgeous golden stuff relax me more than any spa could. But just in case I'm wrong, I pad my way through the hotel to the on-site spa. I order the signature treatment, The Chedi: a heady, three-hour ritual that sees me polished, massaged and bathed within an inch of my life.

After a quick change, I meet the others in the lobby and we hop in a taxi to the Four Seasons (00 66 53 298 181; where we have a table reservation at its restaurant, Terraces. First we're escorted through the hotel, past tropical gardens, to the Ratree Bar and Lounge. It's a picturesque setting: on the upper deck of the main swimming pool is an arrangement of wicker tables, chairs and oversized day beds, lit by glowing candles and mood lighting. We're shown to our own private bed underneath a Lanna-style pavilion and slurp a round of exotic-looking concoctions while looking out over the pool.

Then we're taken through to the restaurant. It's stunning, overlooking the rice paddies, with the looming shape of the Doi Suthep mountain in the distance. The menu, meanwhile, is international fused with Asian. I order roast sea scallops followed by pan-fried duck breast with apple-pumpkin mash. It's divine. More importantly, though, it provides the perfect stomach lining for the night that lies ahead.

A hotel golf cart is summoned to whisk us back through the gardens and up towards the hotel entrance. Here, we climb into a cab and ride down the winding roads, back the way we came.

We eschew any bar-hopping and head straight to Warm-Up at 40 Nimmanhaemin Road; it's a little out of town, but worth the trip. In a ramshackle building an interior courtyard is enclosed on three sides by different bars. We order a round or two and sit al fresco with Chiang Mai's party crowd: skinny jeans, open shirts and Manga-style hair is the uniform for the club's roster of regulars, most of whom pull up outside on two-wheelers.

It's hard to tell what music is playing, with genres from all angles melting into one thumping track, but we finally opt for the largest room, which turns out to be blaring chart-friendly tunes.

It's the type of place you come to when you're ready to wave your hands in the air (like you just don't care). And that's exactly where we're at.

A Hedonist's Guide to... (Hg2) is a luxury city guide series for the more decadent traveller. For more information, see

Arts and Entertainment
Lou Reed distorted the truth about his upbringing, and since his death in 2013, biographers and memoirists have added to the myths
musicThe truth about Lou Reed's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths
Ed Miliband received a warm welcome in Chester
election 2015
Life and Style
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special even
fashionIs the iWatch for you? Well, it depends if you want for the fitness tech, or the style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Bid / Tender Writing Executive

    £24000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in Manchester, Lon...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Executives / Marketing Communications Consultants

    Competitive (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a number of Marketi...

    Recruitment Genius: Marketing Executive

    £20000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This well established business ...

    Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester

    £25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester...

    Day In a Page

    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
    Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

    UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

    Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
    John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

    ‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

    Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
    Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

    Let the propaganda wars begin - again

    'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

    Japan's incredible long-distance runners

    Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
    Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

    Tom Drury: The quiet American

    His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
    Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

    Beige to the future

    Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

    Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

    More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
    Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

    Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

    The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own