One thing I love about Chiang Mai is that it is a foodie’s heaven – there are many blog posts dedicated to listing the best places to eat in Chiang Mai and they don’t even cover an 1/8th of what’s available in this charming and vibrant city! From boutique coffee shops, local noodle joints and roadside food stalls, there’s something to cater for every taste.
So how to make that important decisions of ‘where should I eat today’?
Here’s my selection of top places to eat in Chiang Mai: (a lot of them are around the Huay Kaew Road area as that was where I was based so did most of my culinary exploring there!)
1) Food for Thought (off Huay Kaew Road, opposite Hillside Apartments) – this place hasn’t been open for long but has become well known amongst locals and foreigners. All their food is made on site, from their tortillas, corn chips and sauces from organic ingredients, making this a great place for those who like their food on the eco-conscious side. They also have plenty of options for vegans and vegetarians; even if you’re not vegan or vegetarian you’re sure to love this joint. Prices are steeper than usual but it’s worth every baht.
2) Aum Vegetarian (Old City, near the Tha Phae Gate) – this restaurant should be called Yum Vegetarian!! Operating for over 20 years, this place deserves it’s reputation as one of the top places to eat in Chiang Mai. I had a papaya smoothie and Khao Soi with crispy and egg noodles, tempeh and organic brown rice and it was one of the best meals I’ve ever had. Fair prices and the cute yet casual setting will make this place one of your favourites.
3) Sunday walking night market (Old City, starts from Tha Phae Gate) – foodie paradise. Don’t come here for the souvenirs – come here for the food. As soon as you walk in, you’re confronted by a mixture of smells fighting for your attention; the sounds of little Thai ladies clanking away cooking pad thai and the sight of so many barbequed meats and seafood for as little at 10 baht. Even if you’re not brave enough to try street food, it is worth wandering around to appreciate and admire the cuisine on offer – keep walking past Tha Phae Gate and explore the little alleyways to see what else is on offer. You won’t be disappointed.
4) Vava frozen yoghurt (Old City and Maya Mall) – promising ‘American style’ frozen yoghurt, this was a treat for myself and my friend Dri. Not the cheapest treat at 55 baht per 100g but definitely the best thing to have after a day of studying grammar or phonology! Flavours change every now and then (if you see salted caramel, get it immediately!) and toppings range from lovely exotic fruits like dragonfruit, rambutan and mango, to mango boba pearls, coconut jelly and the usual sprinkles, chocolates, gummy bears and Oreo biscuits.
5) Catmosphere Cat Cafe (Huay Kaew Road) – cat lovers rejoice! This utterly adorable cafe is a nice escape from the hustle and bustle of Chiang Mai. You have to pay either 100 baht or purchase something off the menu to play with cats, and with a delicious matcha green tea iced latte costing you 105 baht, you’re better off getting something off the menu. My favourite cat is this cute grumpy cat who secretly loves a chin rub. Make sure you check with the staff before picking up the cats, as there are a few cats who don’t enjoy being touched or petted.
6) Wara-Wara (Huay Kaew Road, opposite P&S building) – I’ve included this for one item: their watermelon smoothies! At only 35 baht each, they are such a relief from the hot, humid Chiang Mai weather. Made from simply blending fresh watermelon and ice, this was something I looked forward to at lunch time everyday! Their food is actually pretty good too, in case you’re wondering.
7) Focus Gallery and Cafe (Huay Kaew Road) – a cute little cafe that makes pretty good coffee at reasonable prices (50 baht for a latte) and pretty delicious wild rice dishes. I fell in love with the organic wild rice and veggie green curry (90 baht) and the veggie and tempeh dish (150 baht) was pretty special too, although the serving size was quite large so get this if you’re absolutely starving! They also have something on every night including language exchange (learn a new language while teaching someone else English).
Don’t limit yourself to the above options – get out there and explore! Food is sold everywhere in Chiang Mai, I was continuously discovering new places and it seemed like the options were never-ending! There are also plenty of international options, including ramen, Korean BBQ, sushi and Mexican so if you’re hankering for something a little close to home there are plenty of places to pick.