Free Bird Cafe – Thrifting in Chiang Mai

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As you guys may know I’ve been based in Chiang Mai recently, and of course had to scope out some of the best thrifting spots for you!

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When I heard about Free Bird Cafe I immediately arranged a lunch date to check it out. It’s in the centre of Chiang Mai and is pretty easy to find if you look out for the banners and graffiti outside. It’s always busy with travellers, hippies and foreigners, plus a few locals too.

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Although I found a few second hand clothes places in Chiang Mai this was the only ‘charity shop’ I tracked down. It’s such a gap in the market! They take donations from travellers who need to lighten their bag as they go/shop, and also locals of course. They sell books and clothes on site, but will take pretty much anything. The items they don’t choose to sell in the shopΒ are givenΒ to refugees arriving in the area, or sentΒ out to other worthy causes in Chiang Mai. All the money raised goes towards funding the Thai Freedom House (for Burmese refugees).

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The actual cafe itself was super cool – lots of photos of supporters on the wall, regular ethical events going on, travel books to read, and of course my beloved charity shop.

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Here’s a quick sample of the food – basically it was epic! All vegetarian and organic with heaps of vegan options and rejuvenating smoothies. I managed to hunt down the most sinful thing on the menu (rich dark chocolate brownie) which was heavenly! I balanced it out with some hummus and vegetables, while the others had curries. Yummy!

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I wolfed down the (delicious food) as elegantly as I could whilst being DESPERATE to finish up and go thrifting. They had a surprisingly large selection of clothes, books, shoes, and accessories. As everything has been donated by travellers it’s ideal for other travellers – they had exactly what I needed for lightweight, comfortable, stylish clothes. Wonderful.

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There were lots of thoughtful touches like you being able to try on a sample size of the branded t-shirts to make sure you got the right fit. Wish more places would do this!

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Here I am in heaven! I ended up getting a super cute white crochet top with a very 90s traveller vibe, and my friend Steph got a gorgeous burgundy high-low skirt. I was tempted by LOADS of things but am trying to be good since my 30 Day Declutter Challenge.

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I’d definitely recommend you guys checking this place out if you’re ever in Thailand. The food was amazing, service great, full of cool people, and even a charity shop tagged on.

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Have you ever been to Chaing Mai or Free Bird Cafe?

What’s your favourite international thrifting spot??

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7 Comments

  1. ElizNash March 5, 2015 / 5:05 PM

    Food, books, thrift clothes, travel–terrific post, Louise! Quite a surprise to me to see a charity shop in Thailand that looks so much like those here in the U.S. Thanks for taking us ’round the world with you.

    • pauperintoprincess March 6, 2015 / 8:43 AM

      Hehe, you’re so welcome! Yes it was a like a little piece of home, and making a big difference. Hopefully it kicks off an industry of charity shops opening up.

  2. Lisa Nesser December 7, 2015 / 2:10 PM

    HI! I don’t know why I didn’t see this awesome review and post until now, thank you so much for visiting us and supporting our work! Since this post we have made even more improvements in the Pre Loved Charity Shop and just put out a new menu in our charity cafe; Free Bird Cafe just after our 6 year anniversary a few months ago. Glad to see you are in still in town and lovely to connect on a facebook group, I look forward to seeing you in the cafe this Sat πŸ™‚ Thank you again! I am going to share it on our facebook page now!

    • paupertoprincess December 7, 2015 / 4:58 PM

      Fantastic! Yes, last time I went in there were twice as many clothes which was super exciting!! Looking forward to visiting again next weekend to donate and buy xoxo

  3. larissa August 9, 2016 / 7:43 PM

    Stunning little place you found! I love the idea of a little cafe and thrift shop all in one, and the cause is enough to make me want to just buy a tshirt. It is so nice of them to have sample tshirts so you can find the perfect fit! Thanks for sharing, maybe I’ll find myself in Thailand one day and be able to slip in and have some of that awesome cake!

    • paupertoprincess August 11, 2016 / 12:06 AM

      Absolutely – you must visit if you’re ever in the area! All the staff are fabulous, the food is spectacular, and it’s the only place for Western sized clothes. Highly recommend! Thanks so much for reading and leaving a comment – means the world! Happy thrifting πŸ™‚

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