Tag Archives: Southeast Asia

Taking a Chiang Mai Cooking Class in Thailand

chiang mai cooking class - Basil Cookery School

Taking a Chiang Mai cooking class is a popular experience to have in Thailand. This was my experience with the Basil Cookery School.

Growing up, I’ve always loved cooking, and besides that one time I accidentally used the garlic olive oil to make box brownies, I’ve been a fairly decent cook in the past.

Making pies and holiday treats with my mom is one of my favorite parts of the holidays, I used to be that girl in school who would bring bags of homemade cookies for her friends every Friday, and I’m that girlfriend who goes all out for anniversary dinners and birthdays.

Taking culinary classes and learning about food culture at Apicius Culinary School in Florence, Italy for a month a couple summers ago amplified my curiosity about cooking even more, and is one of my most cherished life experiences.

Image

I have a passion for creating things, cooking is no exception. Therefore, I knew when I was planning my trip to Thailand, a cooking class would be high on my list of things to do, and it also helps that Thai food is one of my favorite types of food.

I heard that Chiang Mai was the best place to learn the ways of Thai cooking, so I started researching different cooking schools that would be the most all encompassing and still within my price range.

Out of the many options, I landed on Basil Cookery School for my Chiang Mai cooking class. This was my experience.

Related: Why a Second Visit to Thailand Changed My Mind

chiang mai cooking class in Thailand

A Chiang Mai Cooking Class at Basil Cookery

I chose to attend the morning class, but there’s also an evening class offered if you’re short on time or it works better for your schedule. The morning Chiang Mai cooking class includes transportation from your accommodation, seven dishes (curry paste is one of those), and costs approximately US$30 or 1000 baht.

The class goes from about 9am to 3pm, including a one hour break between the starters and the main course, and at the end you take away your own cookbook of the dishes you made for the day.

The instructor spoke perfect English, and was the right amount of sass and professionalism. The class size was small, manageable and everyone was friendly. The actual school, located in her home, is clean and well set-up, and it was cool to walk around a local Chiang Mai neighborhood that was void of tourists during our break.

thai cooking class in chiang mai

I was picked up by a tuk tuk from my hostel around 8:30am, there was one other girl already in the back from Taiwan, and we preceded to pick up a couple more people, including an English girl and a German, and traded our respective back stories on the bumpy ride.

We were all handed a sheet of paper with the possible dishes we could make for the day, and were asked to circle one from each of the categories: curry, soup, stir-fried, appetizers, and desserts.

Image

After we made our selections, our first stop was a local market near the school, to grab fresh ingredients for our dishes. And when I say local market, I mean one where no one speaks English and you can pick your own live fish from a tub to take home.

Our instructor gave us a run down of the ingredients we would be using for the day, and explained the major differences between Thai vegetables and their well known western counterparts. And let me tell you, Thai baby eggplant, looks and tastes nothing like western eggplant.

Mind blown.

chiang mai cooking classes - basil cookery school in northern thailand

After some time spent at the market, we all jumped back in the tuk tuk and made our way to the cooking school and got to work, the smells from the kitchen were already incredible.

Throughout the day I made drunken noodles, panang curry paste and curry, hot and sour prawn soup, stir-fried minced pork with holy basil, fried spring rolls, and sweet sticky rice with mango. Everything was delicious, especially the panang curry and drunken noodles, two of my recent obsessions while in Thailand.

Image

The school is very much geared towards beginner cooks so it’s not a problem if you have no experience in the kitchen.

One of the aspects I didn’t like as much about Basil, was the fact that all of the ingredients were already pretty much measured out and chopped up for us at the start of each dish, meaning we just had to cook it, add the right amount of spice, and we were done.

Although, I do understand why this was so with time constraints and the amount of dishes we made. The only “hard work” we had to do was making the curry paste with a mortar and pestle by hand, but even that was actually pretty fun.

Image

I haven’t had a chance to make any of the dishes since arriving back in Australia, but I hope to start cooking again soon once I have some more free time, and I’ll have to report back if the dishes are just as good when made at home.

Regardless, taking a Chiang Mai cooking class was definitely one of my favorite and most delicious experiences in Thailand, and my travel companion was happy about the leftovers I brought back to our hostel later that night, so really, it was a win-win day.

Related: Travel Budgeting for Thailand

Have you ever taken a cooking class in a foreign country? 

Looking for other things to do in Chiang Mai? Check out this post on how to learn Muy Thai.  

Image

 

Looking for more Thailand travel inspiration? Check out these related posts! 

How to Spend a Week on Koh Chang Island

Looking Back on 8.5 Months in Asia

Living it up at the Full Moon Party

Travel Misconceptions: Thailand

Travel Misconceptions: Thailand | Asia Travel

One of my goals on The Atlas Heart is to break down travel misconceptions or judgments about places and ideas. Perhaps it could be that destination that everyone warns you not to visit because of how dangerous it is, or maybe you yourself had preconceived notions that were proven wrong once you arrived to where you were going.

My aim is to present a variety of different opinions and experiences through the eyes of other travelers. It’s important to hear travel stories from all different perspectives in life, I call it seeing the world through a kaleidoscope lens.

Continue Reading

12 Things to do in Penang, Malaysia

Things to Do in Penang, Malaysia

The best things to do in Penang! From street art to cafes, hikes, and wacky museums, there are plenty of activities to keep you busy in this multicultural city.

I wasn’t sure what to expect with my return to Malaysia this year. The brief time I spent in the country in 2013 was a good experience overall, but it’s also the first place where I was aggressively groped in broad daylight.

Granted, gropings can happen anywhere, but I would be lying if I said it didn’t taint my experience while in the country.

It stuck with me so much that even today, four years later, when I hear a scooter coming up behind me I get a dose of adrenalin and and my sense of awareness goes into overdrive.

I knew I wanted to come back to Malaysia someday to have a more positive experience, and focus on all of the good that the country has to offer.

Continue Reading

Travel Budgeting for Laos

Travel budgeting for Laos - Asia Travel

To continue my travel budgeting series around Asia, next up is Laos!

I finally made it to Laos after missing it during my last trip to Asia in 2013. Since I went in the low season this year, I found it harder in some aspects for traveling around and budgeting.

I still managed to meet quite a few new traveler friends, but starting off my time in the country with a week straight of heavy rains in Luang Prabang, put a bit of a damper on my time, literally.

Offseason or not, Laos turned out to be on par, or even a little cheaper, than its neighboring Southeast Asian countries of Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Food and drink especially were inexpensive and accommodation prices varied a lot depending on where I was in the country.

This is everything I spent during my 28 days in Laos!

Continue Reading

Looking Back on 8.5 Months in Asia

Wat Phu, Pakse - Laos Travel

“‘Live each day as if it’s your last’, that was the conventional advice, but really, who had the energy for that? What if it rained or you felt a bit glandy? It just wasn’t practical. Better by far to simply try and be good and courageous and bold and to make a difference. Not change the world exactly, but the bit around you. Go out there with your passion and your electric typewriter and work hard…something. Change lives through art maybe. Cherish your friends, stay true to your principles, live passionately and fully and well. Experience new things. Love and be loved, if you ever get the chance.”  // Emma Morley (Excerpt from One Day)

When I stepped on that flight to Hong Kong last October, I had no idea how much my life would change in the course of eight months.

Continue Reading

6 Things to do in Phú Quốc, Vietnam

6 Things to do in Phu Quoc, Vietnam

Note: this post contains affiliate links

Explore the stunning tropical Vietnam island Phú Quốc – a side of Vietnam that most people don’t see. Soak in the sun and enjoy these 6 things to do in Phú Quốc.

When you think of Vietnam, you probably think of moody landscapes, thick jungles, and the hectic nature of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Very rarely do people think of tropical islands when considering a trip to Vietnam.

There are quite a few islands that tend to be less touristy than the mainland because not that many people know about them. I finally had my own tropical Vietnamese island experience this year on Phú Quốc.

But is Phú Quốc worth visiting?

There are a lot of fun things to do in Phú Quốc, and with white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters, the island is Vietnam’s paradise. I would 100% recommend visiting the island to anyone who is exploring Vietnam.

Continue Reading

Why a Second Visit to Thailand Changed My Mind

Is Thailand Overrated? Why a Second Visit Changed My Mind | Maya Bay in Koh Phi Phi, Thailand - Asia Travel

This is why a second visit to Thailand changed my mind about the country.

Note: this post contains affiliate links, which help run this site at no extra cost to you so I can keep providing free travel advice and tips.

When I was planning my first trip to Asia in 2013, the countries that I was most looking forward to seeing were Thailand and Indonesia. I thought for sure Bali and Thailand as a whole were going to be my favorite spots from my two months of travels.

In reality, they ended up being the biggest disappointments from that trip.

Maybe it was because Thailand was built up so much by other people before I went, or maybe it was just because I didn’t jive with the country at the time. Whatever it was, I hardly enjoyed my time in Thailand and wrote it off that Thailand is overrated and that I probably wouldn’t be back anytime soon.

Continue Reading

My First Impressions of Laos

First Impressions of Laos - Luang Prabang - Asia Travel

Pink and purple.

If I could describe Laos in colors, it would be pink and purple. There’s this soft haze of pastels that often falls over the country, and it’s easy to see why they call this the romantic traveler’s paradise.

The outline of the distant mountains, the soothing flow of the river, the soft swaying jungle always close by as you walk home from another night of paper lanterns, solo street guitar players, and red brick sidewalks.

This is Laos, a country I’ve been wanting to visit since I first came to Southeast Asia in 2013. I missed out on seeing the country back then, but I knew I didn’t want that to be the case this time I was in Asia.

Continue Reading

An Ode to the Asian Night Bus

An Ode to the Asian Night Bus

There’s nothing like an Asian night bus to make you think of your own mortality,

The stained curtains swing side to side in tune to the curves as we go around again.

I have The xx on repeat, thinking about all of life’s little defeats and how I got here.

The driver is going 80 on a hairpin turn, the wheels hugging the road just slightly so,

Will this be the last thing I see before I go?

Continue Reading

How to Spend a Week on Koh Chang Island in Thailand

How to Spend a Week on Koh Chang Island in Thailand

Koh Chang Island is home to stunning beaches and endless adventures. Discover why you should visit it and how best to spend your time in this paradise!

Note: this post contains affiliate links, which help run this site at no extra cost to you so I can keep providing free travel advice and tips.

I visited Koh Chang Island twice over the course of a couple of months and I easily found the draw of this “elephant island”. With its hilly jungles, uncrowded beaches, and the feeling that you’ve reached one of the less touristy spots in Thailand, there is a lot to love about Koh Chang Island.

Is Koh Chang worth visiting? Well, let me just say that I never thought I’d be a long-term island girl, where I’d actually enjoy living on islands for more than a month or two. I love being busy, living in vibrant cities, going to live gigs, finding new architecture, cafes, and street art down alleyways.

But guys, I have to admit, I’m kind of addicted to island life now. And I would say that Koh Chang was the island that started that addiction.

Continue Reading