Where to eat and drink: Chiang Khong

Chiang Khong: Where to eat and drink

Apart from in-house hotel and guesthouse restaurants, the well known old Rimkhong is one of Chiang Khong’s best known places to eat. With a large and well situated wooden terrace overlooking the river, it brings good and bad news. Good is that their inexpensive and wide-ranging Thai menu is consistently fine quality, but bad in that their waiters are consistently disinterested. Well, they are interested in their smart phones, but not interested in customers. So admire the food, enjoy the view and ignore the tip. We’re not saying this lightly as we’ve eaten here several times and several locals concurred. (The manager’s a nice guy so he needs to work on this.)

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Back on main street, next door to Namkhong Riverside and opposite the pink-coloured Government Savings Bank, is the friendly, family-run Padthai Baan Yim. Owner Yim knocks up a variety of simple Thai dishes with their signature pad Thai going for 35 baht and most other dishes in the 70-100 baht range. They also have curry-over-rice and fried rice dishes for 30-40 baht and an English menu. It’s an excellent spot, but when busy you may wait a while and their cute garden does have a few mossies about. Note they close for a break between 15:00 and 17:00.

A bit further on down Sai Klang is another good address, Bamboo Restaurant, which is part coffee and juice bar and part Thai and Mexican restaurant. If you’re wondering how a Mexican eatery came to open in Chiang Khong, then we’re sure the very talkative owners will be pleased to tell you. The couple only prepare Mexican food during the evenings, with burritos, tacos, enchiladas and so on going for 200 to 250 baht. Since we visited at lunch time we can’t divulage what the dishes are like, but they do get excellent reviews from locals. Thai standards plus sandwiches using housemade wholewheat rolls were very good, as were their fresh juices and coffees, which the owners claims to blend themselves. It’s not particularly cheap but it’s good quality, so overall still fine value for money.

A few food vendors set up along Sai Klang in an evening, some moving up and down the street, others in fixed posts serving up a few grilled snacks and noodles plus more evening stalls pop up by the traffic lights after the bridge.

There’s a good selection of coffee shops along Sai Klang Road. In the centre of town opposite, and obviously cashing in on the popular Green Inn, you’ll find the very good Chim Coffee with a cosy, rustic feel and offering a wide range of smoothies, teas and coffees and Western-style breakfasts. With good quality, reasonable prices and a couple of well placed tables outside for watching the main street’s coming and goings, this is a solid spot. Moving north, Baan-Fai has a good coffee shop out front while further on again, down towards the port, is the interesting Riders Coffee Shop. Adding to Chiang Khong’s eclectic food options they serve, apart from very good coffee, roti pizzas, sandwiches and cakes as well as having a full bar menu. There’s interior air-con seating and a great little garden out front. Unfortunately, since they close at 18:00, we didn’t get to sample their intriguing Margarita rotis at 89 baht, nor their range of imported beers, but it is a fine spot for breakfast. (We mean for their coffees, juices and bakery, not the pizza and beer.)

More classic English-style pub grub is to be found at English-run pub The Hub, down Soi 2 off Sai Klang. This highly convivial bar would be a gold mine in for instance Pai, so tucked away down a Chiang Khong side street it’s definitely worth seeking out. Welcoming landlords Alan, who runs Hub Pub with his Thai wife Mai, also just happens to hold the world record for circumnavigation of the world on a bicycle no less (106 days!). It’s astonishing stuff and explains the bar’s bicycle theme. (If you’re wondering how the Guinness world record holder for round the globe cycling came to open a bar in Chiang Khong, just ask him.) There are cheap beers and a range of cocktails plus pub grub such as burgers, toasties, fish and chips and jacket potatoes with everything priced at 99 baht. Happy hour is from 16:00-21:00 and if that’s not enough there’s a free shot on the hour every hour – whether you like it or not – which helps to explain the convivial atmosphere.

There’s an unusual bicycle museum upstairs from the bar and they have accommodation in the form of Funky Box Hostel nearby. Oh yes – they rent bicycles too. Good quality bikes and mountain bikes go for 100 baht per 24-hour period. Don’t miss it!

Bamboo Restaurant: Sai Klang Rd, Chiang Khong; T: (053) 791 621; open daily 08:00-22:00 (Mexican served evenings only).
Chim Coffee: Sai Klang Rd, Chiang Khong; Opposite 7-eleven; open daily 09:00-18:00.
Hub Pub: Tesaban Soi 2, Chiang Khong; T: (082) 765 1839; open most days 07:00-00:30, though this is variable.
Padthai Baan Yim: Sai Klang Rd, Chiang Khong; T: (090) 135 4289; open daily 10:00-15:00, 17:00-21:00.
Riders Coffee Shop: 398 Sai Klang Rd, Chiang Khong; T: (053) 791 522, (084) 617 7694; open daily 07:00-18:00.
Rimkhong Restaurant: Down the small street parallel to Sai Klang and the river, near Rim Nam Guesthouse, Chiang Khong; T: (053) 791 105, (081) 289 6883; open daily 11:00-21:00.

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