To the north of the temple sits a teakwood house that belonged to the former Thai Prime Minister, Dr. Sukij Nimmanhemin. And just south of that, another teak residence stands almost 100 years old built in European, colonial style with fine, slatted shutters affording both shade and air. Testament to the diversity of foreigners who gravitated to this area, one also finds the Sikh community temple behind Wat Gate from the same period as the European architecture. A pedestrian footbridge known as Sapan Khaek crosses to Warorot Market at the spot where the Lanna Kings long ago had their royal jetty and boathouse.
1. Nandhakwang: Find colourful soft furnishings galore inside this reasonably priced, homespun haven of bedspreads, table linens and teddy bears.
2. Doi Tung: Profits from the sale of these Issey Miyake inspired clothes and shoes, raffia rugs and stylishly slouchy handbags support livelihood development projects for northern Thai communities under the patronage of Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn. Downstairs, settle into the comfy seats to sip mangosteen juice and nibble macadamia nut cookies, a specialty of the house.
3. Hong Taew Inn: This homey fan-cooled eatery serves authentic northern Thai fare like pomelo salad, coconut curry with minced pork and the signature Hong Taew fish.
4. Gerard Collection: Walls are lined with woven bamboo and leather bags, each one finished with buffalo horn, sterling silver or both at this sustainably-chic shop. See the second showroom down at Soi 3
5. Srisanpanmai: Hill tribe paraphernalia gets piled high at this ethnic emporium. Rummage around for vintage sarongs and intricately-engraved silver jewellery or opt for more practical items such as hand loomed scarves in a rainbow of soft cottons and traditional pillow squares to support the back on long car rides around the region.
6. Adorn: Traditional ikat inspires men’s and women’s clothing and accessories here, all of them handmade around the Golden Triangle, with custom tailoring available at Soi 3.
7. Wit: French artist Fabienne Jouvin displays her quirky yet sleek and modern ceramics, geometric carpets and shiny lacquered Asian-inspired furniture in the inviting whitewashed spaces.
8. Silver Birch: Prepare for a smile to cross your face upon entering this Gepetto-like workshop of toys, from tiny pigs to over-sized dragonfly, each one hand carved from locally-grown mango wood.
9. Palmy: Pitiporn Batpim combines her training at London College of Fashion with indigenous influences like Thai nun shoes for a consistently stylish footwear selection in butter soft leathers that can also be made to order.
10. Nimmanhaemin Promenade: The street facing Chabaa is overflowing with a kaleidoscope of cotton sundresses, Nepalese bejewelled belts and piles of shimmering Indian bangles. Cross the courtyard to Boho Rhapsody (Promenade Room 4, 081 167 6768) where two sweet sisters sell their intricately-embroidered dresses and accessories. At the back you’ll find Maneeslip (053 289 252) for bespoke shoes for men and women, plus ready to wear too.
11. Mont Blanc: Nip into this Japanese dessert café for the triple chocolate cake, blueberry cheesecake, tiramisu and coffee cookies. If you feel the need for sweets before Soi 7, there is a larger branch down at Soi 2.
12. Salad Concept: Plates here overflow with healthy, edible delights grown locally. Customise your salad or select one of their reliable combinations. All of these crunchy creations taste even better wash down with a fresh fruit shake.
13. Barfry: Sometimes nothing solves a snack attack like French fries, upgraded here with swanky dips like anchovy mayonnaise, spicy Mexican salsa and Japanese samurai sauce.
Seven hundred kilometer northwest of Bangkok and just over 300 meters above sea level, Chiang Mai sits along the Mae Ping River, a tributary of the Chao Praya that flows through Bangkok.