Photo: Khao soi in Chiang Mai.

Eat and meet


An introduction to North Thai cuisine

Opinions vary somewhat over just how delicious Lao, Burmese, Khmer or even Vietnamese food is, yet when it comes to Thai cuisine you’ll rarely hear a bad word said by any visitor. Everyone loves the varied, often fiery, yet still somehow delicate and sophisticated Thai dishes. One of the added bonuses of Thai cuisine is the strong regional food traditions: the fierce, rich curries and coconut... Read our full review of An introduction to North Thai cuisine.

Top of page


Khao Soi Khun Yai
Between the temples of Wat Monthian and Wat Kuan Kama, Chiang Mai

One of Chiang Mai’s most famous contributions to Thai cuisine is khao soi, (or soy), noodle soup. The classic version combines two noodle varieties: flat wheat noodles, (tagliatelli-ish in form) and deep-fried crispy noodles, in a spicy coconut chicken curry. The soup is served with a slice of lime, roast chilli paste and pickled... Read our full review of Khao Soi Khun Yai.

Roomjai Kai Yang restaurant
around 100m from Chiang Mai Ram Hospital, next to a 7-Eleven on Boonrueang Rd.

The Roomjai Kai Yang restaurant is a Chiang Mai institution and certainly our favourite Isaan (northeastern Thai/Lao) spot in town. It’s not haute cuisine but rather simple, rustic dishes with plenty of intense flavours from the liberal use of herbs and spices. This is the spot for spicy salads and vegetable dishes of, for example, bamboo shoots, green papaya and green mango, to accompany... Read our full review of Roomjai Kai Yang restaurant.

Eating at Chiang Mai's Sunday walking street
Ratchadamnoen Road

The excellent walking street market that sets up in Chiang Mai late Sunday afternoons along Ratchadamnoen Road serves up some fantastic food, especially local specialties. You might not sit down for a full blown Thai banquet but it’s certainly a paradise for snackers. Here’s a selection of what you might... Read our full review of Eating at Chiang Mai's Sunday walking street.

Mit Mai Tree, Lake Rama 9
Lake Rama 9, 5km north of Chiang Mai on Route 107

Lake Rama IX is so close to Chiang Mai that it’s one of our favourite end-of-day getaways to catch the sunset over the mountains and mark the end of another day of exploring and travel writing with a... Read our full review of Mit Mai Tree, Lake Rama 9.

Tam Jai Sung
Sermsuk Rd (off Ratchapuak Rd), Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai’s Tam Jai Sung is an unassuming restaurant serving up a short but sweet collection of Burmese curries, salads and soups, Shan dishes and Thai classics at affordable... Read our full review of Tam Jai Sung.

Intawarorot street food
Intawarorot Rd, Chiang Mai

Looking for some great street food in Chiang Mai? The short section of Intawarorot Road, near the Three Kings Monument between Chaban and Phrapokklao Roads and opposite the City Arts and Cultural Centre, is little frequented by visitors to Chiang Mai but very well known among residents for its delicious and cheap food. It’s worth taking a break from the usual restaurants and seeking... Read our full review of Intawarorot street food.

Huay Tung Tao
Foot of Doi Suthep, off the Mae Rim/Canal Road

It’s true that you’ll need to hire or rent transport to get out there but we reckon the stunning setting, well-prepared and very reasonably priced classic Thai cuisine and a chance to splash about in the scenic lake afterwards make a trip to Chiang Mai’s Huay Tung Tao well worth it. Here are some of the dishes you may want to try when you’re up... Read our full review of Huay Tung Tao.

Khun Mor's
Western end of Nimmanhemin Soi 17 (near Nimmanhemin Rd itself)
T: Western end of Nimmanhemin Soi 17 (near Nimmanhemi

Khun Mor’s might not be the trendiest eatery of Chiang Mai’s chic Nimmanhemin district but they do clearly prioritise food quality over fancy decor. No gimmicky fusion dishes or quirky Thai versions of Western dishes for Nimman’ yuppies with more money than tastebuds; this is well prepared and reasonably priced Thai and north Thai classic cuisine in a pleasant... Read our full review of Khun Mor's.

Organic Vegetable
Nimmanhaemin Soi 13 (then just down the alley to the right of 7-eleven)

Organic Vegetables may not boast luscious gardens, or a lake, or an exquisite wine menu, but you will find some of the tastiest, most reliable street food Chiang Mai has to offer. And while it will satisfy vegetarians, meat eaters will find dishes here to happily devour as... Read our full review of Organic Vegetable.

Chang Puak Gate night market
Chang Puak Gate

As we all know some of the best Thai food can be found in markets and street stalls. In Chiang Mai, the night market at Prathu Chang Puak or Chang Puak Gate market, is one of the best food markets we know of in town. It’s located on the exterior side of the northern moat road, Sri Chum Road, immediately west of the Gate itself (see... Read our full review of Chang Puak Gate night market.

Kao Soy Nimman
Nimmanhemin Soi 7
T: (053) 894 881

On our ongoing search for Chiang Mai’s best khao soi we checked out a new spot on fashionable Nimmanhemin’s Soi 7 with the promising name of Kao Soy Nimman.Spellings may vary but it’s a standard — signature really — north Thai and Chiang Mai dish; both soft and crispy wheat noodles in a curry broth. (See earlier post.) Checking out Kao Soy Nimman was definitely a good move since this... Read our full review of Kao Soy Nimman.

Nan Talam
Srimankhalajan Rd, Chiang mai

Khao man gai, the Thai variant of the original Hainanese chicken rice, is hugely popular in Thailand and found just about anywhere you go in the kingdom. Known in China as wenchan chicken it was brought to Southeast Asia by Hainanese merchants and sailors, so presumably spread out from ports frequented by traders from the Chinese island of Hainan (Singapore, Penang, Phuket, Bangkok and so on.)... Read our full review of Nan Talam.

No pic at the moment -- Sorry!
Outside Central, Huay Kaew Road, Chiang Mai

This small but interesting night market sets up every Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening outside Central Shopping Mall on Chiang Mai’s Huay Kaew Road and for fans of Thai food it’s well worth a... Read our full review of Sum Meut (Hiding in the Dark) Market.

Late night eats in Chiang Mai
Across the city

One thing leads to the other and all of a sudden it’s 04:30 in the morning in Chiang Mai. The last thing you ate was an inadequate custard concoction from 7-Eleven purchased to soften the blow from those five wine glasses you inhaled at Why Not’s infamous wine buffet. This is exactly why not, you think to yourself. You might as well give in to your sudden, violent hunger. Now what is it you... Read our full review of Late night eats in Chiang Mai.

Chiang Mai late-night market eats
Across the city

Chiang Mai has phenomenal late night street food. One of the best places to head for a fail-safe midnight meal is one of the markets. Not all markets are created equal, however, so here’s a rundown of just a couple of our favourite late-night... Read our full review of Chiang Mai late-night market eats.

Tops food hall
Central Huay Kaew shopping mall

Tops supermarket’s food hall at Chiang Mai’s Huay Kaew mall has had a bit of a makeover recently and while you still might not go there for the ambiance or decor — think canteen-esque — it’s a great spot to taste some cheap, varied and well-prepared local specialties. Here’s what you can... Read our full review of Tops food hall.

The Food Factory
Huay Kaew Central outlet

The Food Factory is a food hall located in the Huay Kaew branch of Central shopping mall — but possessing a slightly more imaginative name than you might expect for Central. Now the food offerings aren’t frankly the most imaginative, but it does have several advantages: cheap prices, bilingual menus, it’s clean and bright and on offer are a wide range of classic dishes, so you get to sample... Read our full review of The Food Factory.

Top of page


The Tea Tree Cafe
181 Moon Muang soi 6 (across Somphet Market, go up the multi-coloured stairs)
T: (082) 339 4722

Head to The Tea Tree Cafe if looking for some good tea and an afternoon of hanging out, reading, improvised music and meeting fellow like-minded travellers. The Tea Tree was inspired in a moment of desperation, born from owner Laura’s urgent craving for good chai masala and a place to relax in Chiang... Read our full review of The Tea Tree Cafe.

Coffee in Chiang Mai

Any visitor to Chiang Mai, or for that matter pretty much anywhere in Northern Thailand, will be struck by the preponderance of coffee shops; they are simply everywhere and, a few international chains excepted, provide cheap and excellent quality coffee. Here’s a rundown on the local brew up here in the... Read our full review of Coffee in Chiang Mai.

Siam Celadon
158 Tha Pae Rd, Chiang Mai
T: (053) 234 518

We’re not specifically targeting the blue-rinse brigade, but since we regularly review the more interesting coffee shops in Chiang Mai why not a tea shop for a change? And the excellent Siam Celadon is certainly one of Chiang Mai’s finest. So for the low down on Earl Grey and cucumber sandwiches in northern Thailand… here... Read our full review of Siam Celadon.

Asama Cafe
122/128 Moo 6 Klong Cholpratarn, Chiang Mai
T: (081) 530 5388

Among the impressive homes of residential compound Lakeland hides Asama Cafe, one of Chiang Mai’s best places for a great cup of coffee as well as a little-known place to catch up on emails while you’re on the... Read our full review of Asama Cafe.

Vigie Sist Cafe
200/3 Ratpakinai, Sri Phum, Chiang Mai
T: (08) 1671 2113

Chiang Mai has loads of cafes; the local brew is excellent, the accompanying bakeries are good and nearly all come with free WiFi and pleasant seating areas. But when we came come across this interesting variation on a coffee shop theme the other day — a piano bar coffee shop — we thought it was worth writing home about; it’s probably the cutest looking coffee shop we’ve come across in a... Read our full review of Vigie Sist Cafe.

Top of page


Amrita Garden
Soi 5, Samlan Rd, Chiang Mai
T: (086) 053 9342

Tucked away amid the bustle of Chiang Mai’s old city is Amrita Garden, which acts as coffee shop, macrobiotic restaurant, guesthouse, health food haven and fashion retailer. We take our hats off to owner Makiko, because Amrita Garden does each of those things... Read our full review of Amrita Garden.

Dee's English Fish n' Chips and BBQ
Always on the move, Downtown area

Dee’s English Fish n’ Chips and BBQ is a mobile food cart that zips around Chiang Mai selling delectable and cheap fish and chips made to an old English recipe; for a quintessentially British/Thai experience, buy a plate and eat... Read our full review of Dee's English Fish n' Chips and BBQ.

Free Bird Cafe
Opposite the start of Ratpakinai Rd on the north side of the moat, Chiang Mai

If you want to try eating something a bit different in Chiang Mai, we strongly recommend Free Bird Cafe, a vegetarian Shan food restaurant, where there really are no meat or fish options, and profits go to a good cause as... Read our full review of Free Bird Cafe.

Pom Pui
24/1 Moonmuang Soi 2
T: (053) 278 209

The vast majority of visitors and expats appreciate the delights of Thai cuisine (which incidentally can help with life’s trials and tribulations) but every now and then most people are going to fancy a change from street and market food. Now while Thais will happily eat rice at least three times a day (indeed the Thai words for ‘eat rice’ and simply ‘to eat’ — kin khao — are one... Read our full review of Pom Pui.

Blue Diamond
Moonmuang Soi 9, Chiang Mai

The Blue Diamond health-food cafe in Chiang Mai‘s old town is hugely popular with expats, locals and tourists and has a reputation for being perhaps the best Western breakfast spot in town. It is actually open all day — 07:00 to 21:00 — so it’s a lunch, afternoon tea or dinner option as well, with plenty of Thai food options to choose from, but as the sign below indicates, it’s... Read our full review of Blue Diamond.

La Terrace
59/5 Loi Kroh Rd
T: (083) 762 6065

So with Huay Tung Tao being our recommended Sunday afternoon spot, and Grandma’s khao soi‘ our default lunchtime eatery, this French restaurant logs in as a firm family fave for birthday evenings and special occasions. Not that La Terrace is at all expensive (but you know … a bloggers’ wages …), which is why we like it and what motivated owner, chef and old buddy... Read our full review of La Terrace.

Top of page


Ratchawong Rd in the Worawot area

Anybody residing in or spending any length of time in Chiang Mai will know of the famous Kasem store, a genuine Chiang Mai city institution. It’s an old-fashioned style, family-run grocery store rather than supermarket as per Bangkok’s glitzy offers or Chiang Mai’s own Rimping supermarket chain, but still specialises in mostly imported products catering to the expat... Read our full review of Kasem.

Doi Kham Shop
Suthep Road past Suan Dok hospital

A few people had recommended the Doi Kham shop to me and it sounded interesting, but could I find it? Could I (deleted)! In my defense when I did eventually stumble upon it, it looked like... Read our full review of Doi Kham Shop.

Top of page

Bars and nightlife

Northgate Jazz Co-Op
91/1-2 Sri Poom Rd, across from Chang Phuek Gate on the inside of the moat

Northgate Jazz Co-Op is one of Chiang Mai’s premier venues for life music, and digging beneath its surface reveals a place rich in history crafted, above all, for the love of... Read our full review of Northgate Jazz Co-Op.

Intrawarorot Rd, just north of Wat Phra Singh, Chiang Mai

Seeking out a rooftop bar in Chiang Mai leads most tourists and expats to THC Rooftop Bar by Thapae Gate, but if you’re looking to avoid the sometimes seedy, neon rasta vibe, head to close by for an altogether more pleasant... Read our full review of CNX Bar.

Beer Republic
At the junction in the middle of Nimmanhemin Soi 11.
T: (081) 531 4765

Chiang Mai’s unpretentious Beer Republic is a specialist beer bar with an astonishing array of foreign beers and ciders on tap — at last count we got to at least 15 — at reasonable prices considering how far they’ve... Read our full review of Beer Republic.

Chiang Mai nightlife: Loi Kroh

We could almost sub-title this ‘Reclaiming Loi Kroh‘, as usually the mention of this well-known Chiang Mai road tends to bring many locals out in shudders and expats in sniggers. Yes, one small section of the road is, shall we say, sleazy, but the rest of the street is home to some excellent eateries, lively bars and cafes and plenty of totally un-dodgy massage parlours, as well as being the... Read our full review of Chiang Mai nightlife: Loi Kroh.


Chiang Mai is far from a party destination, but the town is still home to plenty of clubs, with the vibe here less snooty and more low-key than in many of their Bangkok counterparts. Here’s the lowdown on where we’d recommend... Read our full review of Clubbing.

Archer's Bar & Restaurant
133/4 Ratchapakanai Road in the old city
T: (083) 637 7621

It’s a bit of everything, really, Chiang Mai’s Archer’s Bar and Restaurant: pub, bar, coffee-shop, Thai eatery and Western restaurant. There are plenty such establishments around on the Chiang Mai restaurant scene, but we’ve singled out Archer’s because, unusually, they actually succeed on every front. From an authentic little espresso through the gamut of Thai classic dishes to... Read our full review of Archer's Bar & Restaurant.

Top of page

Where to next?

Where are you planning on heading to after Chiang Mai? Here are some spots commonly visited from here, or click here to see a full destination list for Thailand.

Top of page