Best Foods in Chiang Mai: Where We’ve Eaten (With Map and Photos)

For foodies like us, Chiang Mai, Thailand was heaven! From delicious street food to unique regional dishes, this city has something for everyone.

Northern Thai cuisine, with its Chinese and Islamic influences, creates a unique blend of flavors that you must experience. 

Here’s a look at the best foods in Chiang Mai that you have to try while you’re here. We’ve tried all these while we were in Chiang Mai, so guaranteed that you won’t be disappointed.

Definitive list of Best Foods in Chiang Mai

Khao Soi

Khao Soi, a beloved dish from Chiang Mai, Thailand, is a rich and aromatic coconut curry noodle soup that epitomizes the unique flavors of Northern Thai cuisine. It is believed to have been brought to Northern Thailand by Chinese Muslim traders who traveled along the ancient trade routes connecting China, Myanmar (Burma), Laos, and Thailand.

Khao Soi is characterized by its complex and rich flavor profile. The base of the soup is a fragrant coconut curry broth that is both creamy and mildly spicy, often balanced with a hint of sweetness. The broth’s richness comes from coconut milk, which tempers the heat of the curry paste and gives the soup a silky texture. The dish is typically garnished with a squeeze of fresh lime juice, which adds a refreshing tanginess that cuts through the richness of the broth.

Khao Soi Islam Restaurant

For Khao Soi, Khao Soi Islam restaurant takes the top award from us. The rich coconut broth is divine, and the lime and the fermented vegetables on the side adds zing to the rich soup. We ordered two kinds–beef and seafood, I personally preferred the seafood version although beef is their original flavour.


Khao Soi Lung Prakit kad Kom

Another contender for best Khao Soi is that from Khao Soi Lung Prakit kad Kom. It has a steady flow of people eating their khao soi. There was line up before and after we left, plus a couple we met on the line said that this is their second visit after promising that they won’t go back to the same restaurant twice. It’s that good!

Related: 10 Best Hostels in Chiang Mai

Sai Oua

Sai Oua, also known as Northern Thai sausage, is a flavorful and aromatic delicacy from the northern regions of Thailand, particularly popular in Chiang Mai.

It has an intense and aromatic flavor. The sausage is savory, with a slightly spicy kick that comes from the chili peppers mixed into the meat. The fresh herbs and spices provide a burst of flavors with each bite, including notes of lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, and garlic.

Dam Rong, Warorot market

Dam Rong is the locals’ choice for Sai Ua, the famous northern sausage. The spices in the sausage are perfectly balanced, providing a flavorful punch without overwhelming the palate.

Sai Ua, Dam Rong, Waroret Market, Best foods in Chiang Mai
Dam rong stall at Warorot Market (left), Sai Oua sausage and crisp pork cutlet (right)

While you’re at it, make sure to also try the fried pork. It’s coated in batter and deep fried to golden perfection. I had a hard time choosing between the two meats, they’re both great!

Related: Living as a Digital Nomad in Chiang Mai: The ULTIMATE Guide

Miang Kham

Miang Kham is a one-bite salad that offers a burst of flavors—sweet, sour, salty, and spicy all at once. The name “Miang Kham” translates to “one bite wrap” in Thai, reflecting the way it is consumed. It is often served at festive occasions and family gatherings, where its preparation and assembly can be a communal activity.

This street food, made with lemongrass, peanuts, shrimp, coconut, galangal, and palm sugar, was a delightful discovery. That said, I don’t really have a recommended shop to buy this from, we were just lucky to spot this one in the night bazaar.

I really liked this street food, and preferred this over papaya salads.

Best Foods in Chiang Mai: Where We've Eaten (With Map and Photos) -

Grilled chicken with basil

Chicken lovers unite! This chicken was something else, and it rightfully deserves a mention on this post. Their take on grilled chicken was unexpected and uniquely Thai in flavour, and the chicken was very tender and cooked just right.

Best Foods in Chiang Mai: Where We've Eaten (With Map and Photos) -
Close up on the chicken skewer, you can see all the spices (left), Stall on Wua Lai road (right)

Comparing Dam Rong’s Sai Oua sausages to grilled chicken may not be a fair comparison because one’s a sausage and the other is a grilled skewer, but I think it’s okay to compare them in terms of flavour. Dam Rong’s meats have stronger flavour to them while this grilled chicken has more subtle flavour and a bit more sweeter. I liked it so much that I had to get 2 more sticks on the way back.

You can find this stall every Saturday’s walking market on Wua Lai road, it’s the same street where Oxotel hostel (now named Ombra House No. 21-24) is.

Durian sticky rice

I had a hard time looking for something with Durian without eating Durian itself. Most accommodations in Thailand do not allow durian in their premises because of their smell so it’s risky business to buy a container of Durian only to be left with excess that you can’t bring back to your room. If you’re caught with Durian, you’ll be fined 5000 THB. That being said, I sought out the next best thing–a dessert that uses durian.

Best Foods in Chiang Mai: Where We've Eaten (With Map and Photos) -
Stall at the night market (left), Durian sticky rice–small but flavourful (right)

I haven’t had luck in my entire stay in Thailand until I saw this tiny food stall in the walking market selling durian sticky rice. Durian has been mushed and mixed with the cream that you pour into the sticky rice. Top that with some crisp flakes and your sweet (and durian) tooth will be satisfied!

This stall is found on the same street where the grilled chicken and basil is on the walking market.

Rote Yiam Beef Noodle

Best Foods in Chiang Mai: Where We've Eaten (With Map and Photos) -
A very streamlined menu from rote yiam

Found on the main street of Chiang Mai, this unassuming store was pretty empty when we arrived so I was having second thoughts whether it was worth ordering from the shop. I’m glad that I did though because the soup was flavourful. As you may notice on the menu, there really is just a one meal with multiple varieties so it was no surprise that they did the dish well and provided generous quantities of the soup.

Khao kha moo

Stewed Pork Leg or locally known as “Khao Kha Moo” popped on our radar as one of the dishes that Anthony Bourdain tried during his trip to Chiang Mai.

This Thai braised pork leg on rice, is a beloved comfort food in Thailand, especially popular in street food markets and local eateries. This dish consists of tender, slow-cooked pork leg served over steamed rice, accompanied by a variety of flavorful side items and garnishes.

Khao Kha Moo Chang Phueak (Cowboy Lady’s Food Stall)

In our time seeking out good food in our travels, we found Anthony Bourdain’s recommendations to be more reliable than that of Michelin’s recommendations so I knew that this is a place we should definitely put on our list.

His recommendation was to try this dish at the Cowboy Lady’s stall (named Khao Kha Moo Chang Phueak) found at the night market near Chang Phueak Gate (north gate of the old city). Finding the stall was easy enough because of the big crowd it attracts and because the owner’s white cowboy hat was visible from afar.

Khao Kha Moo
The cowboy lady has a big staff helping her dish out the famous khao khao moo to both locals and tourists

The dish reminded me of the Filipino dish called Humba, which also uses pork leg that is cooked until it falls off the bone. Khao Khao moo uses a similar set of ingredients but with more spices resulting in a rich flavourful pork stew with a side of Chinese broccoli and a perfectly boiled egg. It was so good that we had to go for a second round on this dish that same evening.

Best Foods in Chiang Mai: Where We've Eaten (With Map and Photos) -
That evening was clearly a cheat day without barely any vegetables.

Khao Kriab Pak Moh

Khao Kriab Pak Moh offers a delightful mix of textures and flavors. The thin, translucent rice wrapper is soft and slightly sticky, providing a perfect contrast to the savory-sweet filling inside. The filling typically combines the umami of pork, the crunch of peanuts, and the sweetness of radish or coconut sugar, creating a harmonious blend.

The dumplings are usually served with fresh lettuce, cilantro, and sometimes garlic or chili, which add freshness and a slight heat to each bite.

Lung Khajohn Wat Ket 

Khao Kriab Pak Moh or steamed rice skin dumplings is the specialty of this shop in Chiang Mai. These are delicate-looking dumplings are made with rice flour and filled with a salty-sweet filling.

Lung Khajohn Wat Ket
The dumpling is made mostly with coconut from the coconut-infused rice flour sheet to the filling and the side dip

Like your normal dumplings, these comes with a dipping sauce in the form of coconut cream.  If anything, dumpling reincarnation of the Thai crispy pancakes.

Khao Kriab Pak Moh
These dumplings were readily packaged for us when we reached the stall. Each serving was enough to be an appetiser for two people.

Conclusion

Among the places we’ve visited, we loved the food in Northern Thailand the most. The Chinese and Islamic influences married with Thai cuisine made very interesting combination of flavours.

Unlike Southern Thai food, dishes in Northern Thailand are milder yet very flavourful. If I were to pick between the cuisine of the two regions, I’ll easily pick Northern Thai food because the flavours are not as overpowering and I have a strong preference for Chinese cuisine.

To make it easier for you to hunt down these places to visit, we’ve put them all in one map that you can view when you visit Chiang Mai. Enjoy!

If you liked this post and plan to do a multi-day Chiang Mai Hill Tribe Trek, check out this next post!


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