Turning 26 in Chiang Mai, Thailand

By David

I’m over the hill; I turned the ripe old age of 26 on Friday. The celebratory activities added up to the best non-honeymoon day I’ve had in Thailand.

How to spend a birthday in chiang mai thailand

Brunch at Blue Diamond

Blue Diamond Breakfast Club (located here) is one of our favorite breakfast/brunch spots in Chiang Mai. The menu consists of a wide range of American breakfast options as well as Thai food. We both got pancakes — chocolate banana for me and coconut for Alexis — and split scrambled eggs. Yum!

Massages and Herbal Steam Bath

A few months ago, Alexis wrote about this herbal steam bath she heard about from a coworker. I still hadn’t been and she said it was great, so I wanted to check it out. They also give massages at the same place, so we decided to go big and get both. For an hour massage and another hour in the sauna, we payed a very manageable $11 a person.

The massage, by the way, was the best both of us have had in Thailand. We broke our rule of not paying more than 150 baht for a massage, but the 30 baht extra was well worth it. The setting was private and quiet and the masseuses were great. My sister-in-law commented that my masseuse looked like a giant baby. Indeed, he did, and his giant baby hands were magic.


Something every late-twentysomething needs is an afternoon nap. Especially after a taxing morning of eating pancakes and getting massaged by giant babies.

Dinner and Live Music at Loco Elvis

Loco Elvis (located here) is the most popular Mexican restaurant in Chiang Mai. Although the food is not top of the list (that honor goes to Salsa Kitchen), it’s still plenty good and the atmosphere more than makes up for it. Every weekend night starting around 7:30pm, they have live music. The Thai-accented covers of “Free Bird” and “Hotel California” were great and made for a fun start to the evening.

Muay Thai Fight at Thaphae Gate Boxing Stadium

This has been on our Chiang Mai bucket list for too long, so my birthday was the perfect reason to finally do it. Ultimately, it was a good time and I’m glad we went, but remember, this is Thailand, and the night was not without controversy.

I was looking forward to two dudes kicking the crap out of each other, but what I did not expect or want to see was kids kicking the crap out of each other.

Yep, apparently in Thailand it’s completely cool for 8-year-olds to get in the ring and fight each other. While grown adults are placing bets on the outcome, mind you. That was probably the most disturbing part.

The youngest fighters, the 8-year-olds, didn’t seem to get hurt too bad, but one or two events after them featured a couple kids no older than 15 and the loser left the ring on a stretcher 😦


He was breathing and moving around though so I hope he was okay.

Not to be deterred, fight night pressed forward and the next fight was a “special event” in which five teenagers of vastly varying sizes jumped into the ring at the same fight. They were then blindfolded and proceeded to swing wildly into the darkness in a ridiculous Battle Royal.

That huge kid on the left probably had 100 pounds on the smallest kid. His special move was jumping into the air in front of him and throwing a hammer punch and hoping it'd land on someone. Luckily for everyone's sake, it never did.

That huge kid on the left probably had 100 pounds on the smallest kid. His special move was jumping into the air in front of him and throwing a hammer punch and hoping it’d land on someone. Luckily for everyone, it never did.

Uncomfortable, distasteful, scary… these are all words I would use to describe those fights. The sound of the vicious flesh-on-flesh kicks stick in my head more than anything else. But I would be lying if I said it wasn’t entertaining too. It’s part of Thai culture and approve or not, I’m glad we saw it.

Chiang Mai Flower Festival


Just across the street from the stadium, Thaphae Gate was hosting the Chiang Mai Flower Festival and even though we were beat by the time the fights ended, we popped in for a few minutes. There was some sort of pageant going on on the stage and the surrounding area was covered in light and flower displays.

The day was the perfect mix of face-stuffing, relaxation, excitement, and cheap prices that make Chiang Mai attractive. My 26th in birthday will certainly be one to remember.

What are some memorable birthdays abroad you’ve had?


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