I recently spent five days in the city of Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand. After a week on the tourist island of Phuket, Chiang Mai was such a welcome change. It was time to experience the real Thailand. Five days was plenty of time to experience and fall in love with this city which is filled with temples and night markets. I sampled a lot of food in those five days so hopefully this post will give you a good idea of where to eat and drink in Chiang Mai.
Where To Eat In Chiang Mai
Sunday Walking Market
This is the highlight of Chiang Mai’s markets. Each week on a Sunday practically every street in the Old City is closed to traffic to be filled with endless stalls selling everything from Northern Thai street food to chocolate brownies to handbags to massages. I’d recommend getting here early, it opens at 4pm, and try to see as much as possible before the crowds take over and you just drift in the current.
In terms of food, just wander from stall to stall sampling as much as possible. It really is that simple; just don’t say no as you might regret it and have to walk twenty minutes back to get it. This is where you can try Sai ua otherwise known as Chiang Mai’s signature sausage. Filled with Thai spices and herbs, the sausage becomes one of the tastiest I’ve ever tried so much so that I asked for a second. I’d probably recommend just having one as the spices are very strong and that’ll be all you can taste for the next three days.
It’s not just Thai food that’s on offer here either. Make sure you grab some Japanese steamed baos filled with pork as well as Japanese takoyakis. I’d never heard of these before but they’re basically little fried balls filled with octopus or (if you’re not brave) cheese and spinach!
Another of Chiang Mai’s iconic dishes is served up here; Khao Soi. This is basically a curry flavoured soup filled with boiled and fried noodles. It can be served with chicken too which Grazie Thai manages to absolutely nail. This is a tiny restaurant run by a small family and is really popular both with locals and a few travellers. If I’d stayed in Chiang Mai longer, I’d have had bowl after bowl. Make sure you make full use of the condiments on offer at the restaurant – I dared to add fresh chillies which was half genius/half stupidity.
Chang Phueak Night Market
You’ll have seen this place on every list of where to eat and drink in Chiang Mai. The stall in particular, the one with the Cowboy Hat Lady (you’ll know…), was even recommended by the late Anthony Bourdian. Khao Kha Moo is a popular dish in Chiang Mai and this lady serves up the best. For an absolute bargain, you can get stewed pork leg, rice and a boiled egg. The flavours in such a simple dish are fantastic but it’s made even better with the condiments on offer. Served up in just a plastic container on each table is an absolutely divine garlic chilli sauce as well as pickled mustard greens. I can barely write this now without wishing for another plateful. I’d probably go back to Chiang Mai just for this. It is that good.
Rock Me Burgers
Don’t get me wrong, I love trying local food when I’m visiting a new country but I have to admit sometimes I just love a burger. It doesn’t make you any less of a traveller to revert back to your home comforts once in a while. Whilst I didn’t try every single one of Chiang Mai’s burger offerings, this one was perfect for me. If all you need is a great big juicy burger and a beer, just go here and you, hopefully, won’t be disappointed!
Chiang Mai is famed for it’s night markets and this one just east of the Old City does not disappoint. Again, practically everything is on offer here so there’s nothing stopping you getting rolled ice cream, a smoothie and a foot massage.
If that hasn’t made you hungry and inspired to visit Chiang Mai, I’m not sure what else would! Let me know if you’ve got any recommendations for where to eat in Chiang Mai as I love hearing other people’s stories!
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