As a well-known tourist destination, Phayao offers an embarrassing wealth of restaurants, bars, and even coffee shops. Although there isn’t much geared toward the small number of tourists from abroad, things appear good and sunny for Thai food and pubs in the Thai way. From the weekend market park at the southern end to the Phaya Ngam Muang Park at the northern end, Chai Kwan, the lakeside road, offers the better part of a kilometer’s worth of cafes, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, and local style pubs. These range from basic neighborhood cafes with plastic seats to opulent, stylish, and tastefully furnished bistro settings.
Generally speaking, the strip begins in the south with more affordable cafe-style eateries, continues on with more traditional restaurants, and ends with flashier pub-style establishments towards the intersection with Phahon Youtin road. Although there aren’t many bars that resemble “farang” drinking dens, there are plenty of Thai-style establishments. As we’ve previously stated, Thai restaurants and bars frequently combine because locals typically can’t drink without eating and vice versa. However, some establishments, such as BM Pub and Vespa Club or Meeting Point, next to the 7-Eleven, are more out and out bars with loud music, occasionally performing live bands, and trendy décor. However, everything officially closes at 00:00:30.sat Road. That describes Thai-style bars, which feature trendy furnishings, hot cuisine, frequently large-screen TVs displaying EPL matches, and frequently live music. However, the brand-new, two-story, extremely fashionable D Day (“Dee” is meaning “Good” in Thai), near the southern end, defies this trend and appears to be quite well-liked by Thais for its fantastic vistas and tasty local cuisine, even though, like a few of the other flashier venues, pricing weren’t exactly cheap. The simpler restaurants will typically close early, probably between 21:00 and 22:00, whilst pubs will stay open as late as their licenses allow, or until midnight.
Some of the larger, two-story pubs, like the aforementioned D Day or Ti Deim, which has a prime location, rooftop seating, and an air-conditioned interior, offer fantastic vantage points if you’re more interested in a view and possibly a cozy place to enjoy a sundowner. Ti Deim is open throughout most of the day because it also serves as a coffee shop. However, some of these trendier locations aren’t exactly inexpensive because you have to “pay extra for the decor”.
A few doors down from Ti Deim, Saen Chan, seemed like a good halfway point; it was more upscale than the places with plastic chairs but wasn’t over the top, and its younger staff, possibly students, did speak some English even though their extensive menu was entirely in Thai. Since we were at their mercy and ordered “whatever the chef recommended,” everything was delivered quickly, was delicious, and was reasonably priced. For that, they absolutely deserve a gold rating.
An equally large stretch of stalls at a night market on Rob Wiang Road is located away from the lake, possibly where people go to avoid the visitors. Again, this created the better part of a kilometer’s worth of food and beverage stands and extended from close to the intersection with Don Sanam right through Northern Lake Hotel. A wide variety of noodles, sukis, hot pots, soups, grilled chicken, meatballs, pig, fish, som tam, and other dishes are offered, with some restaurants setting out seats and others only taking orders for takeout. The market opens in the late afternoon and remains open until late at night.
It’s not unexpected that there are so many restaurants by the lake and a sizable night market, but we did uncover a few unique places on Tha Kwan Road. For 45 Baht, Khao Soi Seng Pian on your right as you move towards the lake offers a sizable bowl of excellent, traditional khao soi in either beef or chicken versions.
An Italian eatery by the name of Al Forno is located across the street from the Khao Soi Cafe and is worth mentioning because it’s a little different. Pizzas cost 110 and 200 baht for 8 or 12 inch pizzas, and pasta meals cost about 80 to 90 baht. There are tables on a small terrace and an indoor air-conditioned area. Even though they are made in the Thai way, they do contain cheese, come with a choice of toppings, and aren’t too bad if you’re tired of rice. Additionally, they offer white, bechamel sauce, which isn’t as awful as it sounds, or traditional tomato sauce.
Although there are many good coffee shops nearby, especially along the lake road, the outstanding Cupcakes bakery and coffee shop deserves special attention. They serve freshly fresh coffee, juices, smoothies, and a good bakery assortment of Western style cakes in a very charming garden setting. They are welcoming, speak fluent English, and have a wealth of information available. While we were there, the daily special was English-style fish and chips for 130 baht. There is also WiFi and bicycles available for rent. Even so, they are open for superb brunches, with a full cooked meal for 150 and including juice and coffee.
Although there aren’t many bars that resemble “farang” drinking dens, there are plenty of Thai-style establishments. As we’ve previously stated, Thai restaurants and bars frequently combine because locals typically can’t drink without eating and vice versa. However, some establishments, such as BM Pub and Vespa Club or Meeting Point, next to the 7-Eleven, are more out and out bars with loud music, occasionally performing live bands, and trendy décor. However, everything officially closes at 00:00:30.