While Chiang Mai is a much more relaxed city than Bangkok, sometimes you still need to get away from the city. Just 20 minutes from old town is sparkling Huay Tung Tao Lake surrounded by mountains.
It is a perfect spot to spend a few hours and grab the best lunch around. Entrance to the lake is 50 baht, once you’re in there are over a dozen restaurants to choose from. The atmosphere is unbeatable. You can rent a private bamboo raft for 20 baht and dine on the water.
Bring your best balance, but it’s worth it for this view.
It’s not a gimmick, the food is actually incredible as well. We were offered complimentary snacks – fried mystery objects and spicy soup with many vegetables and herbs.
I admired the skilled balancing of the waitstaff carrying food along the narrow bamboo bridge.
You need to order the fried whole fish with garlic because it is absolutely out of this world. Fresh as can be and full of meat, along with the most delicate whole cloves of garlic and ribbon crisp greens.
I dream of this meal. Paired with sticky rice and that view, there is nothing above this experience. You could stay awhile longer and get a massage right on your raft. Though if you’re ready to go, get the attention of your waiter by hitting the bamboo stick against the pillar.
Really I felt quite funny doing this, but after watching a few other tables realized it’s just the way of things. Afterwards you can take a walk around the lake (or bike), no one was swimming in the water – but there are certain areas it is allowed. You can rent a swan boat 80 baht for 30 minutes.
We gave that a go and it was hilarious. The boat squeaked and you’re only able to go in a tiny section of the lake. It was good for a few giggles, then we got a fresh coconut to drink. This turned out to be one of our favorite memories from Chiang Mai, a truly authentic experience without any other tourists around.