Where the Locals Eat in Chiang Mai
The largest city in northern Thailand, Chiang Mai is a great place to visit and a paradise for foodies. Full of beautiful mountains, temples, culture, not to mention delicious food, Chiang Mai is a popular tourist destination
While you are there, you should be sure to make the most of it by trying out some of the city’s best restaurants and food markets. This article will tell you all you need to know about finding the best food in Chiang Mai. Learning where the locals eat in Chiang Mai is a great way to decide where to go for the most authentic experience.
Traditional Dishes to Try in Chiang Mai
If you like spicy and flavorful foods, you are going to love Chiang Mai’s traditional cuisine. The use of ingredients such as lemongrass, chilis, turmeric, and coconut give the food its unique and delicious taste.
A few things that Northern Thai cuisine is known for are its mild curries, the use of ginger and turmeric, and the delicious sticky rice that is served with meals in place of steamed rice. Fortunately, it is easy to find these delicious traditional foods wherever you happen to be in Chiang Mai. They are available throughout the city at outdoor markets, restaurants, and malls.
Wherever you end up dining, you should try some of the region’s most famous dishes. Khao Soi, a soup made with yellow curry, coconut milk, noodles, and meat and Khao Kha Moo, which is pork leg served with rice, gravy, egg, and condiments are two classic items that you won't want to miss.
Khan Toke, which is more of an eating experience, consists of a selection of side dishes served on a low teak tray with a basket of sticky rice. Other popular dishes that you will find in markets and restaurants are Pad Thai and meat on a stick. And for a traditional Thai dessert, try some mango sticky rice. Made with glutinous rice, fresh mango, and coconut milk, this sweet and tangy dessert is a local favourite. These are just a few of the many popular local dishes in Chiang Mai.
What to Drink in Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai has a lot to offer in the area of drinks and beverages as well. You will find great local beers, fresh juices, smoothies, gourmet coffee, tea, and just about anything else. Wine and mixed drinks tend to be expensive, so you might want to stick to beer.
Some of the best cafes can be found in the Nimman neighborhood, while smoothies are available throughout the city. Beer lovers should check out a beer buffet at Rush Bar, where you can drink as much beer as you want for a set price.
Now that you know what types of foods and drinks are popular with locals in Chiang Mai, the next step is to find out where to go to eat them. Here are some popular and delicious places where locals eat in Chiang Mai to get you started.
Markets and Street Food in Chiang Mai
Chang Puak Market, located near the Old City’s northern gate, is one of the best places to go for street food. With stalls serving traditional dishes like Khao Ko Moo, or pig leg served with rice and gravy, sticky rice, crispy fried frog, and delicious soups, this market will delight your taste buds and introduce you to a host of new flavors and dishes.
Another market to visit is South Gate Market, also known as Chiang Mai Gate Market. Stalls serve up tasty local favourites like Pad Thai, grilled sausage, curry noodles, grilled eggs, and Khanom Krok, which are sweet dumplings filled with toppings and cooked in a heated pan.
Farm to Table
If you are looking for something healthy and organic, be sure to visit Ohkajhu Farm, where you will be served dishes made from their freshly grown produce. While your food is prepared, take some time to explore the farm and its stunning views.
For Vegetarians and Vegans
For vegetarians and vegans, there are also plenty of great options. For example, Pun Pun offers a vegan sausage made from fermented mushrooms as well as salads and soups. Happy Green, on the Ping River, is the place to go for organic salads and a terrific lunch buffet. For vegan baked goods and delicious coffee, check out Da’s Home Bakery
Other Local Favourites in Chiang Mai
Some other local favourites include Toey Dim Sum, where you will have the opportunity to sample a wide range of local dishes and Huen Muan Jai Chiang, a Lanna restaurant known for its authentic local menu. This restaurant is so popular that you might have a hard time getting a table, but it is well worth the effort.
Anchan Noodle serves delicious purple noodles with a variety of tasty toppings. It’s Good Kitchen is a popular restaurant in the Old City known for its amazing green curry soup and green curry fried rice. For a roof top experience, try Xanadu Pub & Restaurant, where you can indulge on traditional Thai cuisine while surrounded by spectacular panoramic views of the city.
For a special treat consisting of great food and views, Paak Dang serves an array of traditional Thai dishes including curries, seafood, and vegetarian options. The location by the Ping River and the setting in a classical Lanna style house make for an unforgettable dining experience. This is a great place to celebrate Loy Krathong, Thailand’s Festival of Lanterns.
Where to go for Dessert
If you have a sweet tooth, there are many great places for dessert in Chiang Mai. For freshly baked goods, including croissants, pies, and breads, Nana Jungle, or the Frenchman’s Market is the place to be. You will also find shops, a cool coffee store, a juice stall, and many delicacies at the Saturday market, which runs from 7am to 10am. Be sure to get their early, before they sell out.
For the best macaroons, check out Dhara Dhevi Cake Shop, or try Love at First Bite for amazing cheesecakes and tarts. Janie Scoop, Sofuto Cream, and I Like Ice Cream are a few of the many ice cream shops you will find in Chiang Mai. Be sure to try some traditional flavors like mango or green tea.
Local Food Experiences
In addition to street food, markets, restaurants, and cafes, Chiang Mai offers some other unique eating experiences. If you are looking for an authentic food experience and want a chance to interact with locals, consider having a home-cooked meal in a Lanna village. This can be arranged by Chiang Mai Home Host. You will choose your menu, explore the family garden, and get a first hand experience of the Lanna way of living.
To get some hand’s on experience of your own, you might try a traditional cooking class. Offered throughout Chiang Mai, Thai cooking classes are a great way to spend a half or full day engaged in an enriching activity. All food costs are included in the price, and at the end, you will get to indulge on your tasty creation.
If you are looking for an educational and cultural experience, a food tour of Chiang Mai might be for you. Many different companies offer food tours of Chiang Mai, so you can be sure to find one that meets your needs. Tours visit a variety of legendary eateries as well as other cultural sites where you will have the opportunity to interact with the locals.
If you want an authentic experience of the foods of Chiang Mai, knowing what and where the locals eat in this food paradise is a great way to get started. While you're there, remember to try the traditional favourites like Khao Soi and Chiang Mai sausage and to visit the delightful markets where you will find delicious street food.
Dining with locals is another way to have a truly intimate time and to interact with a local family. In the end ,there are so many great foods and restaurants to try that you might have a hard time choosing just a few.
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