Some of the best restaurants and coffee shops in Chiang Mai will be found while on a leisurely afternoon’s walk. I first found Fern Forest Cafe while looking for interesting street markets. I had discovered a market set up in one of the temples along Singharaj Road with fresh Thai food and nice quality handcrafts. I had just enjoyed a fresh Thai salad and was headed back towards the north side of the moat when it began to pour.
Singharaj is a north/south road that runs through the west side of the old city and I often find myself walking here to avoid the traffic along the moat road. It’s not the best route for pedestrians because there are no sidewalks and the traffic starts going pretty fast once you leave the main commercial area. On this particular day, it was raining. I was getting soaked through and was looking for a quiet place to sit out the rain before continuing home. Just across from the Lanna Spa, there’s a shady place that looks as if it could be a private house with a well-tended garden. A quick peak inside the gate revealed a relaxing patio with umbrella covered tables.
I was feeling a bit pitiful with my drooping hat and wet clothing. Yet the friendly staff near the entrance at the back of the garden greeted me kindly and found a table for me inside, where I could look out on the garden in comfort.
I’ve been back a couple of times since in better weather and in more presentable condition. I try something new each time. Everything from main dishes to desserts is a pleasure to the eye, as well as the palate. Coffee or tea and dessert are popular choices. If you want a real treat, try the affogato. Chiang Mai has several places that offer it, but few do it as well as Fern Garden Cafe. If you like affogato, you know that it has to be done just right or the ice cream melts too quickly. Don’t worry; they know their business here. The glass is frosted, the ice cream is firm, and the espresso is served on the side; so you have the pleasure of pouring it slowly into the glass. For maximum pleasure, scoop each spoonful into a pool of coffee on your spoon. Delightful!
To find Fern Forest Café if you are coming from outside the old city, take the moat road to Singharaj Road from the north west corner. It’s the first main road in the north south direction. It is not so much hidden as hard to notice. If you are driving, traffic is usually heavy and going pretty fast here. It’s one of those streets that funnels traffic out of the center of the old city and into the moat road; so traffic gets heavier the closer you are to that ring road. If you are walking, it’s easy to find; but your attention may distracted by dodging the cars. It’s well worth the effort though. It is so peaceful and you will feel refreshed and ready for your next adventure after your stop at Fern Forest Cafe.
What’s your favorite cafe or restaurant that you’ve been keeping secret? Do share it in comments or pm me with the name and address, if you’d like me to write about it.