The Riverside Boutique Shopping, “Wat Ket” Community, the classic district of Chiang Mai
Mae Ping riverside, a significant commercial district of Chiang Mai with the outstanding way of life and the diversity of race, culture, religion of the people that came to settle down in Chiang Mai for over the decades. Subsequently, along both sides of Mae Ping River are packed with the edifice, hotel, guesthouse, restaurant, and stylish café that you can take a seat and sip a cup of coffee while you indulge in the pleasant atmosphere nearby the river. And just so you know, the riverside district here is also another shopping destination in Chiang Mai that any tourist should not miss, specifically the one who loves the vintage lifestyle. And now we would like to introduce you a charming and classic community “Wat Ket”.
Location fo Wat Ket Community
Wat Ket Street or literally is “Charoenrat Road” is so-called a street of culture that lives together with the city of Chiang Mai for more than 500 years. The outstanding location that contains 4 different groups of people – Buddhist, Christian, Muslim, and Sikhs but they can live together peacefully and interdependently. The charm of the place such as the vintage style wooden house and the classic lifestyle of the villager on the riverside of Mae Ping which is a vital source of water of Chiang Mai is plenty enough to lure you to visit them.
One Fine Day at the Vintage Community nearby Mae Ping River
All along the road of Wat Ket district, the picturesque panoramic view of Mae Ping River with some boats are sailing with the classic architecture as the background is such a pleasant environment that it is hard to believe in witnessing in the vibrant city of Chiang Mai today. But you can find at this riverside community. And now let us bring you to know this lovely place for more.
Piam Suk at Wat Ket Community
Begin at Nakornphing Bridge, for any bakery lover would be exciting to get the first stop at “Piam Suk” (Happiness), a little homemade cake shop, but big of deliciousness. The cake here is dominant with its taste and freshly baked daily that appeals to lots of customers. The signature item of the shop is “Coconut Pie” that made from the finest coconut from the south of Thailand; moreover there are Banoffee Pie, Cheesecake, Dates Cake, and more and the price starts at THB55 per piece only. Piam Suk Cakeshop opens from 9.30am through 6.30pm daily.
Sri Guru Singh Sabha
Then just a few steps, you will find the elegant and gigantic building which is “Sri Guru Singh Sabha” or the Sikh temple where the place is the spiritual center of the Sikhs in Chiang Mai. The holy site established in 1905 by an Indian “Ishir Singh and parties”. The 3-level building with the outstanding golden dome that always welcomes the Sikhs for the religious rite weekly. The men with the Patka and the ladies with shawl and Indian style costume come to the temple to pay respect and listen to the sermon from the Sikh scripture is familiar to the people to see. The place allows for the publics, but please be respect and calm.
AND A MUST-NOT-MISS to visit when you come to this area is Wat Ketkaram วัดเกตการาม to worship to Phra That (the grand pagoda) that stands inside the compound for luck. Wat Ketkaram or better known locally as “Wat Ket” the origin of the name of this location is another old temple in Chiang Mai city. Next to the grand pagoda is the Buddhist school made of the wood which is a very exquisite architecture. Furthermore, inside the monastery complex is a museum that collects the original properties of the temple since the establishment. For example, the finial that is a delicate craving work, pottery, tableware, etc. The collection in this museum, initially was the villagers’ belongings and later lots more people donated to the temple – coins, the Buddha image, Thai national flag, antique, and more. Until now, it could say that the museum at Ket is one of the valuable historical sites of Ching Mai. The place opens to the public between 9.00am – 7.00pm daily.
Wat Ket established by King Chao Sam Fung Gaen, the father of King Tilokarat in 1428 with its original name was “Wat Sa Ket” (Sa Ket means hair wash) or “Wat Ket Kaew” since in the past, there was a natural pond in the east of the compound. Every April 15 annually, the royalty members of northern Thai visited the site to wash the hair for fortune. And they then built the temple and Buddhist school to teach the dhamma for the Buddhist monk in 1919. On an opening day, Somdet Phra Maha Samana Chao Kromma Phraya Vajirananavarorasa, the former supreme patriarch of Siam presided at the ceremony.
What exciting things at Wat Ket are vihara (the chapel), belfry, ubosot (ordination hall), Phra Boromthat Chedi Ketkaew Chulamanee the symbolic pagoda of the year of the dog followed to the Lanna belief.
Along the walkway of the Wat Ket district also full with a broad array of classic style food stalls and restaurants, and gift and souvenirs shops that mostly are handmade and might be the one-of-a-kind piece of work that you can only find here.
Ban Rai Steakhouse
Ban Rai Steakhouse, a steak restaurant original in Chiang Mai that has operated for over 30 years. The shop is excellent with the taste of food plus the large serving size with reachable price resulted in this steakhouse is very famous and spread its reputation by word of mouth. The steak and other menus serving here are delicately cooked and use only good quality ingredients. The meat to make steak needs to marinate for 15 days to let it absorbs the seasoning well. The steak menu here provided in various selections – beef, pork, salmon, crocodile, ostrich, and more. Ban Rai Steakhouse opens every day from 10.00am – 10.00pm.
The Meeting Room Art Cafe’
The Meeting Room Art Cafe’, an old wooden house that turned to be a coffee shop with an art gallery to exhibit the work of new gen artists with free of charge. Joe, the owner of the shop, told that “I opened the shop with the passion and love in coffee and art. I used to work as a sound engineer in New York for years and took the opportunity to see the art exhibition in different places. And one day when I came back to my hometown “Chiang Mai”, so I looked for someplace that I would start my dream. Each month the site will be the venue of the art exhibition twice a month which rotating artists”. Also, ‘The Meeting Room Art Cafe’ has a little library with a broad array of books the collection of the shop owner for the customer to enjoy, too. This artistic café is opposite to Wat Ketkaram and opens daily from 11.00am through 8.00pm.
Uncle Jorn Thai Steamed Rice Dumpling
And not far from that is another famous food stall that has existed with Wat Ket community more than 30 years is Khao Krieb Pak Mor Loong Jorn” (Uncle Jorn Thai Steamed Rice Dumpling) a Thai style street food snack. The shop started by a couple who make this snack over the traditional stove and served on the banana leaf bowl with just only THB5, until now with its reputation in its deliciousness that has lured lots of customers to taste it in a row. The steamed rice dumpling here is distinctive from others that the tender squared bite size texture of the dumpling and savory taste of the stuff and coconut milk dressing with the price just only THB20 per serve. Besides Khao Krieb Pak Mor, there’s also Khanom Bueng Yuan (Vietnamese Veggie Roll) and Sago Sai Moo (Tapioca balls with pork filling) that are not less yummy, as well. The shop is across from Wat Ket and opens between 7.00am – 4.00pm and closes on Sunday.
Melt away bakery
Melt away bakery, the 2-story old wooden house which locates opposite side to Ban Rai Steakhouse with is outstanding with the tinman decorated at the front of the shop. This place offers bakery and beverages.
The Old Place Coffee Bar and Cafe’
Next, The Old Place Coffee Bar and Cafe’ that is very attractive for the tourist with its vintage design and lovely atmosphere next to the riverside. So, unsurprisingly that you might be persuaded to get into the place unconsciously. “The Old Place Coffee Bar and Café” is a nice restaurant with a pleasant atmosphere that would be an ideal place for you to take a meal break during your journey at this classic district. Refreshing up with a glass of drink and delicious food or snack while you are chilling with the sweet fresh air and lovely scenery of Mae Ping River would not be enough for the place to offer you since you can enjoy with the rustic design of the shop that is the opened space Thai Lanna style building. The café serves you with a variety of menu including food, cake, tea, coffee, and alcohol beverages. The place operates into 2 sessions which are the daytime is a restaurant style, and the site turns to be pub and bistro with the lived band in the evening.
Begins Book & Coffee
Then, it is a shop called “Begins Book & Coffee” which is a shop that sells any vintage style souvenirs together with the coffee shop. Also, a guesthouse style accommodation that is very popular for foreigners. And not far from this coffee shop is a must-not-miss checkpoint at Wat Ket district which is a famous café “Vieng Joom On Teahouse”.
Vieng Joom On Teahouse
Vieng Joom On Teahouse, the pink building teahouse under the concept “Don’t Leve the Past, Don’t Deny the Changes”. The chic style teahouse originated by the passion in tea of Juree Cheurattanaphong, the Chinese born doctor that has associated with the tea since she was just only a child.
With the trend that people are more interested in tea drinking, she then started to research and learned more about tea. The more she knew about tea, the more she has a passion for it, plus her impression toward the city of Jaipur (the Pink City) that packed with many architectures painted in pink. Thence, she made her decision to make the place “Vieng Joom On Teahouse” many years ago. About the title of the shop, the word “Vieng” in northern language means the city, and “Joom On” means pink. The shop offers the customers with a broad selection of tea with different supplies from various fine manufacturers including the house blend, Chinese tea, Earl Grey, Green Tea, and more. More than that, the collection of merchandise such as teacup and tea making kits are also available for the tea lovers to get back home, as well.
From the teahouse, we will keep strolling along the street that it’s effortless to see lots of gift and souvenir shops including handmade goods, painting, sculpture, etc. And most of the clients are foreigners. The interesting shops, for example;
Color Factory at Wat Ket Community
Colour Factory, a hub of gift and souvenirs with its signature design as the colorful elephant. And if you look for one-of-a-kind item, you can make your own creation by a workshop to paint the color of the elephant with the instructor to teach you, too. The price of souvenir here is THB600 for small size and THB1,000 for the large size. So, this might be an ideal place for the kids to practice their artistic talent and concentration. Additionally, just so you know, 20% of the revenue the shop will donate to the foundations related to the elephant, too. So, apart from you would get the gift especially for you; also you will be a part to save the elephant, as well. Colour Factory opens every day from 10.00am – 8.00pm and the workshop closes at 6.30pm.
Sob Mei Art
Sob Mei Art, a non-profit organization that distributes the beautiful handicraft products – weaving textile, basketry, decoration items, for instance. These products are manufactured by the hill-tribe people who reside at Sob Mei district in Mae Hong Son province. For anyone who favors home and interior design should not miss to check in at this shop. Sob Mei Art opens daily from 9.30am – 5.00pm.
Crafitti, a handmade jewelry shop designed by Ladawan Nantavovat and Sura Surakietchai, the young designers who graduated from abroad that love in design. The items are available in brass and plating with the exotic and distinctive design. The shop operates between 10.00am – 6.00pm every day.
And you then walk forward on the path you will meet a stunning beauty of the old wooden architecture that currently is operated as the souvenirs shop called “Oriental Style. And the opposite side is a Chinese concrete building that considered as a significant edifice in Wat Ket district. Nowadays, a building is a restaurant with the title is “The Gallery”. The venue allocated into 2 sections which are the art gallery to exhibit and sell the pieces of art at the front space. And at the backward is a pleasant and chilling restaurant with a lovely view of Mae Ping River. The place serves a diverse menu with warm hospitality.
The promenade still continues to the next stop which is “Nawarat Bridge”. The bridge is the second bridge to cross Mae Ping River that today is recognized as the symbolic structure of Chiang Mai. The bridge was built by Shiek or Doctor Sheik around the year 1890 to connect between Charoenmuaeng Road at the railway station and Tha Pae Street which was the vital business road in the past. At the time, it’s favorite for the residents to transport via the waterway. The bridge has been for decades and harshly used, therefore it has been repaired for 3 times. The bridge named after Chao Kaew Nawarat to honor to the last ruler of Chiang Mai.
Khagee Natural Yeast Bread Café
And now here comes the place for the one who likes traditional homemade style bread especially the artisan bread at “Khagee Natural Yeast Bread Café”, a little Australian style café that now is remarkably huge reputation with its delicious taste of fresh brew coffee and homemade bread. Even though it is just a small shop with simple decoration and the menu is not lots of selection. But it guarantees with the freshness and quality of every service, in particular, the bread that intentionally uses only fine ingredients from nature in both yeast and flour, and fresh bake daily. So, it is a good place to grab a cup of coffee and fresh homemade bread, indeed. Khagee Natural Yeast Bread Café adjacent to Chiang Mai Christian School at the entrance of the same alley of a famous shop “Love At First Bite”. The shop opens Wednesday to Sunday between 10.00am – 5.30pm.
Saphan Lek (the Iron Bridge)
And end our day trip at this classic riverside shopping place with the beautiful scenery before the sun goes by at Saphan Lek (the Iron Bridge) or locally called “Khua Lek” (Khua in northern Thai language means bridge). This is a bridge that created to be the model of Nawarat Bridge when it was an iron structure. Due to its vintage look of the bridge that across the river Ping that makes a photogenic scenery especially during the twilight. Today, Saphan Lek becomes the popular location to take a picture of sunset among the tourists, especially the domestic one that inspired by the hit local film “Dear Dakanda” (2005) and then the shooting location for many Thai films from time on.
How to go to Wat Ket Community
To travel to Wat Ket Community, the Riverside district, if travel by car, then drive across Nawarat Bridge and turn into Charoenrat Road and find parking.
Alternatively, you can come here easily by the public transportation which is the red pick-up truck service from your accommodation inside the city and get off at Warorot market. Then, you take a walk across Chansom Bridge which is a walkway to commute between Wat Ket and Warorot community. Then, you will meet Wat Ket Community and enter the world of the classic and rustic style of environment that is a signature of the site.