I love food, and I especially loved eating in Chiang Mai. From dim sum to Japanese to traditional Thai street food, you can get it all! Here are some of the highlights that I found:
Food is literally everywhere you look in Chiang Mai. Vendors with tables and plastic chairs are on every corner, and there are countless markets with clusters of vendors.
I tried food at the Warorot Night Market but wouldn't recommend it. Go here for shopping, but skip the mundane food courts (our street food guide wasn't so impressed with them either).
If you go just down the street, though, you'll reach a small modern market called Ploen Ruedee Night Market International Food Park. I would recommend this if you want something a little different—I had a bao bun there filled with pork which was actually a bit soggy, but the samosas and pad thai looked good, as well as some spicy seafood dish. It is on Chang Klan Rd across from the Night Bazaar and easy to miss, so just walk down that side of the street and look for the sign and bales of hay on the ground. It’s a good place to sit with a glass of wine and listen to a DJ or live music.
One of the markets I visited with the street food tour and went back to was the one just north west of Chang Phuak North Gate (on the side outside of the Old City). It has amazing slow-cooked pork, and the lady with the cowboy hat is quite famous. I didn't get a chance to go back and try the bean paste-filled bao buns, but I did take home some deep-fried sweet potato cakes. Just point to what looks good, say "phet nit nawy" (sounds like "pet neet now") which means "a little spicy" and sit down on a plastic chair to enjoy!
You have to try Khao Soi while you’re in Chiang Mai (yellow noodle soup with chicken). I had it about three times and the best by far was recommended to me by my cooking instructor Noi, whom I met in Koh Lanta and is from Chiang Mai originally. He sent me to Mae Pa Sri Restaurant on Ratchamank Road, and I went there on my first day. It was incredible—a perfect balance of sweet, sour, salty, and a bit of spice. The chicken was super tender and fell off the bone, and the noodles on top were nice and crispy.
Taste From Heaven was lovely; I went there twice and had their noodle soup as well as a curry dish. Both were delicious and the service is very kind and personal.
If you’re in the mood for Italian, go to Secret Learning Restaurant. It is a small, cozy place with some nice personal-sized pizzas and good tiramisu. I appreciated the attention paid to the music with a turntable set up and the owner (I assume) playing DJ in between taking orders.
I would also recommend getting out of the Old City and eating or having a coffee in the Nimmanahaeminda Road area. Smiley Kitchen serves Japanese food and my bowl of pork katsudon and edamame were hearty and comforting. I appreciated that they gave me a jug of iced tea for free with the meal.
I also had a lovely chia seed fruit bowl and latte for breakfast at Rustic and Blue (good if a little overpriced). This area has tons of cute boutique stores and coffee shops so it’s worth spending an afternoon or two here if you like that sort of thing.
I really enjoyed Chiang Mai, especially eating! if you're interested in other activities I did in and around the city, click here to see my post with all the highlights from my time there.
Want to chow down at all of the places mentioned here? You can download a map to this article through GPSmyCity, and even make it available offline—great for if you won't have data on your phone while you're traveling. If you decide to purchase the map, I'll make a few cents, which goes toward the cost of maintaining this blog. Click here to download the article app.