Chiang Mai feels a bit like a second home for me. I’ve returned to this city many times to appreciate the culture, beauty, calm vibes and most importantly, the delicious Northern Thai cuisine. I love discovering new Chiang Mai restaurants and places to eat, and my recent visit was ALL about tasting the best Thai food in Chiang Mai. And I’m pretty confident that I did a solid job.

chiang mai restaurants Aroy Dee roasted noodles fresh herb vegetables

If you’re searching for the top places and restaurants in Chiang Mai, Thailand, read on for my best choices below and where you can find them.

You don’t need to eat in expensive Chiang Mai restaurants to enjoy the best Thai food. Some of the most enjoyable meals I’ve eaten in this city were from street food vendors and small, simple eateries. 

The key to their success is usually cooking just a few dishes they’ve perfected. We’ll talk more about that below, and of course, I will share with you where to find these places to eat in Chiang Mai.

What will you find in this Food Guide of Chiang Mai?

The best part about eating your way around Chiang Mai is that it feels like eating Michelin-star quality food at super low prices. 

Our food guide of the best Chiang Mai restaurants and places to eat focuses on the central Chiang Mai area. 

papaya salad chang phuak gate night market chiang mai

The restaurants and locations suggested below are in and around the Chiang Mai Old City and Nimman neighbourhood. Many hotels and accommodations are popular, and in higher demand in these areas, so they’re easy to reach.

Of course, there are many more Chiang Mai restaurants in areas further from the city. Still, the places listed below are likely to be within walking distance or a short scooter or taxi ride away from your accommodation. 

If you’re simply looking for the best foods to try in Thailand, Chiang Mai is a great city to explore your culinary options.

Best Chiang Mai Restaurants, Food Markets and Places to Eat

The Best Chiang Mai Restaurants

Disclaimer: When I’m referring to the best Chiang Mai Thai restaurants in this food guide of Chiang Mai, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a fine dining restaurant.

As I mentioned earlier, the best food in Chiang Mai is from simple restaurants. I’m talking about the ones that offer fair prices, a clean and hygienic dining area, and, of course, serve fantastic food. Many of them are usually run by a family too, which I like. 

Another good sign of a restaurant that cares about the food and customer experience is the clean condiments on the table. It matters. Check that out next time you dine out.

Ok, let’s get to the best Chiang Mai restaurants already! 

1) SP Chicken

This humble place has made quite a name for itself, and I was excited to see what all the fuss was about. When I heard about their extraordinary little roasted chickens cooked over a vertical charcoal rotisserie, I wanted in!

From the outside, you first notice the golden birds spinning over coals. Then, women behind the counter pounding som tum (papaya salads) in giant mortar and pestles pass me the menu with a smile, piece of paper, and pen to check off your desired order. 

It’s a great menu of Northern Thai cuisine, packed full of spicy meat salads, pork and more. A food-loving friend told me that roasted chicken is a must if I only have the chance to eat here once. So naturally, that’s what I order.

They don’t offer a quarter portion of chicken on the menu, so I had to order half. At 95 baht, it’s a fair deal. I also ticked off a papaya salad and sticky rice. 

Best Chiang Mai restaurants SP Chicken with sauces

SP Chicken Chiang Mai Restaurant in the Old City. The best roast chicken you’ll ever try.

What can I say, this was some of the best roast chicken I’ve ever tasted. I noticed that the stuffing is fresh chopped garlic and lemongrass, and I was given some with the chicken.

The skin is perfect, full of flavour, and the meat is moist and delicious. 

There are two amazing sauces given to you with the meal – they’re top-notch, some of the freshest, zingiest dips ever. Also, the sticky rice is super handy for mopping up all of that yummy lime, herbed chilli sauce.

Easily, one of the best restaurants in Chiang Mai Thailand has to offer.

Check it out on Tripadvisor

2) Aroy Dee

Located on the edge of the Old City and a very convenient walk from my exceptional, but very affordable hotel in the Old City, Rena House, the best thing about Aroy Dee is the freshness.

The next best thing is that the kitchen is at the front of the small restaurant, and you can watch the cook work those woks!

Best Chiang Mai restaurants Aroy Dee green curry

One of the best Chiang Mai restaurants is Aroy Dee. Green curry is fantastic

The prices are good (on average 50 baht per plate), and the menu is excellent. This is one of those Chiang Mai restaurants where you could just sit all day and watch the world go by.

They offer most of the standard Thai dishes such as green curry, Pad See Ew noodles, Pad Krapow (pork with chilli & holy basil over rice with fried egg) and they also serve a good bowl of Khao Soi noodles (the iconic noodle dish of Chiang Mai).

My favourite thing about Aroy Dee is the wide rice noodle dishes; I’ve never tasted such fresh, springy wide rice noodles than right here. Anything with wide rice noodles in my opinion is just the best foods to try in Thailand.

I highly recommend ordering a dish ‘fried rice noodles with vegetables and fresh herbs’, it’s simply clean flavours and a delight to eat.

Check it out on Tripadvisor

Best Chiang Mai restaurants Aroy Dee Roasted noodle with herbs vegetables

Best Chiang Mai restaurants Aroy Dee. I recommend this dish of roasted noodle with herbs and vegetables

3) Grazie Thai Local Food

Conveniently, this place is only doors away from Aroy Dee restaurant listed above. There’s nothing fancy about this little restaurant, but they offer excellent service, tasty and generous portions of Thai dishes and affordable prices. The average price of each plate is around 50 baht.

It’s a family-run establishment, and it’s a reliable lunch (or dinner) place to go when you’re hungry and don’t want to be disappointed

My favourite dish is the wonton, pork and egg noodle soup (45 baht); the broth is fantastic! The crispy pork and kale over steamed rice is a favourite, too (50 baht).

Check it out on Tripadvisor

4) Mr Green Restaurant (Vegan Restaurant)

What a find this place is! Even if you don’t follow a vegan diet, you’ll enjoy the food served at Mr Green.

It’s an all-women-run establishment, and every detail is perfect—the presentation of the food, the flavours and the lovely furnishings in this small restaurant.

Best Chiang Mai restaurants Mr Green Vegan Tofu Larb

Best of the Vegan Chiang Mai restaurants is Mr Green. The Tofu Larb dish is fantastic.

Check it out on Tripadvisor

5) Baan Landai Fine Dining Cuisine

Here’s a good reason to dress up nicely and go out for dinner. Of the Chiang Mai restaurants on my list, this is one of the only ‘fine dining’ options in the Old City.

This place delivers excellent food and service. The menu includes a good variety of vegetarian options too. The restaurant is modern, with a lovely dining atmosphere, and the prices are fair for the quality of the food. 

Check it out on Tripadvisor

6) Khao Soi Maesai

If there is one dish that Chiang Mai is known for, it’s the famous Khao Soi Noodle Soup. Khao soi is a coconut curry noodle soup from Northern Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar. It consists of yellow flat egg noodles in a thick, creamy coconut broth, usually chicken or beef. 

The best part is the crunchy egg noodles served on top of your soup to add texture and crunch. Usually served with pickled mustard greens and raw shallots on the side, this is a pleasure to eat.

You can find Khao Soi all over the city; however, I tested a few of them, and my clear favourite is the chicken Khao Soi from Khao Soi Maesai.

This busy kitchen is packed full of locals slurping down bowls of flavourful Khao Soi noodles (and other noodle dishes too). 

It’ll set you back 45 baht for the tastiest curry soup you’ll find in any of the fancy Chiang Mai restaurants around town. 

I recommend you order a glass of local Iced Tea for an extra 15 baht – they’ve got that down to a tea too. (pun intended!)

Check it out on Tripadvisor

A few other locations to try Khao Soi Noodles in Chiang Mai are below:

  • Khao Soi Arak – A fantastic option, offering a wholesome bowl of curry soup and the prices are unbeatable!
  • Khao Soi Khun Yai – A local favourite and simple restaurant that is found outdoors, just on the edge of the Old City. The Khao Soi chicken was delicious, but for me, the serving size is too small – I needed a double portion, which I saw many locals ordering for themselves. It’s 40 baht for a bowl of Khao Soi chicken and I noticed that the crunchy noodles on top are much thinner than the crunchy egg noodles served in other places.

7) Tong Tem Toh

The restaurant is in an open-air setting, and this place has style without a huge price tag. I love the sleek wooden dining tables with large cane lighting hanging over each table. 

The service is fantastic and they’ve nailed it with the ambience factor. Great music is played in the background, and it’s a restaurant that seems popular with local Thais for a nice evening to dine out.

Let’s talk about the food. You won’t find the standard Pad Thai and green curry on rice here. Tong Tem Toh is all about Northern-style Thai food.

Their specialities include vegetables with chilli dip, Northern sausages, multiple Northern-style spicy soups, fried pork belly, meat salads packed with chilli and fresh herbs, and Burmese pork curry.

I returned a few times here; what can I say? I’m a sucker for the spicy dishes that they do so well. I really enjoyed the spicy beef salad with sticky rice and the Burmese curry was delicious.

The curry is quite similar in taste to other Massaman curries I’ve eaten here, but this one had a lovely peanut-flavoured sauce, toasted peanuts throughout, fresh ginger matchsticks and tender chunks of pork. 

I highly recommend this place if you want to try something different and escape the typical tourist restaurants.

Check it out on Tripadvisor

8) Tengoku+Yaki

After you’ve eaten the best Thai food in Chiang Mai, I suggest you taste the best Japanese food in Chiang Mai too.  

Located in the Nimman district, this is one of the pricier Chiang Mai restaurants you’ll find here, but if you appreciate fine Japanese cuisine, it’s worth it. 

The sashimi is super fresh and the variety on the rest of the menu is fantastic.

Check it out on Tripadvisor

9) The Chinese Restaurant (near Cat Brother’s Cafe)

I just happened to be walking past, and this restaurant just looked like a place that serves excellent food, so I took a gamble and went inside. It was helpful that they have a menu in English and some photos of the dishes they offer. 

The thing that caught my eye when entering the place was the slabs of juicy-looking crispy pork. Upon reading the menu, a choice of dishes, including stewed pork, BBQ pork or crispy pork, were offered. 

I chose crispy pork with egg noodles and Chinese vegetables.

Best Chiang Mai restaurants Chinese restaurant best crispy pork

Chinese restaurant serving the best crispy pork I’ve eaten in Thailand.

Wow, the crunch on that pork was incredible. Someone here knows a thing or two about cooking perfect crispy pork. It’s probably the best crispy pork I’ve eaten in Thailand.

I loved the food; the egg noodles were as fresh as anything, the blanched greens and that moist pork with crispy goodness. I was surprised that it was just 50 baht for a fabulous dish as the restaurant is basic but immaculate, spotless and tidy.

10) Pakorn’s Kitchen

Usually, the small Chiang Mai restaurants pack loads of flavour into their food, and that’s the story here. A casual, friendly atmosphere and many great dishes to eat in Pakorn’s kitchen.

Locals regularly frequent this restaurant, a good sign of the authenticity of the food served here.

It’s excellent value, and I highly recommend the Massaman curry, the stewed pork leg, and Pakorn whips up a fantastic papaya salad too!

Check it out on Tripadvisor

Highly Recommended: Don’t miss a chance to visit the super cute town of Pai. Located around 4 hour drive from Chiang Mai, this place is wonderful. Book a shared minivan here, from just 240 baht. There are some great places to stay in Pai, check here for prices and availability of all accommodation. Our personal favourite is Phu View Guesthouse, with private rooms from 300 baht per night ($9) which includes breakfast, it’s a great deal.

The Best Places to Eat (Simple Eateries & Street Food Vendors)

11) Fried Chicken Lady – Street Cart in Old City

Newsflash! If you think you’ve eaten the best crispy fried chicken of your life in a country other than Thailand, think again. It’s a fact proven to me just days ago; that Thailand makes the best-tasting fried chicken in the world. 

best Chiang mai restaurants fried chicken gai tod stand

The best fried chicken (Gai Tod) in Chiang Mai

There’s a street cart set up in the Old city that slings out the best fried chicken (Gai Tod) you’ll ever taste. She deep-fries cuts of pork and fish too, but I had my eye on the chicken. I’d watched for over a week the staggering number of taxi drivers and people stopping by to buy fried chicken from her. I had to know what was so good about it, so I stopped by. 

Gai Tod, or fried chicken, is a typical street snack in Thailand, and it’s usually eaten with a bag of warmed sticky rice. I went for the larger piece of chicken, the Maryland cut. I was hungry. 

This massive piece of crispy chicken was 40 baht (or I could have ordered just a big drumstick for 25 baht, but I was too excited at the time, so I went big).

So, along with a bag of sticky rice for 10 baht, my lunch was 50 baht total. 

I KNEW I’D HIT THE JACKPOT when I pulled that chicken out of its plastic baggie to eat it. The first bite was a loud crunch, and the inside was perfectly moist and tender chicken. Then, wow, the marinating flavours of garlic and fresh herbs are prominent. 

Where to Find This Place – On Mun Mueang Rd, just to the left-hand side of Aroy Dee restaurant (when you’re looking at it). 

Tip: There’s another street food vendor parked next to her that does amazing papaya salad too.

You can even order something from both ladies and eat at the one solo table behind their stalls (that’s what I did). 

12) The Big Big Shabu

You will find Japanese-style Shabu restaurants all over Chiang Mai. Some are great, some are not so great – but this place is always busy. Open from about 4.30 pm till late, take yourself to this outdoor dining experience for something different.

The Big Big Shabu is an all-you-can-eat buffet. You can barbecue or hot pot, or do both. They offer an extensive selection of fish, meat, vegetables and salads that you can steamboat or BBQ yourself at your own table.

It’s a fun food experience and worth the money—usually around 200 baht per person.

The Best Food Markets in Chiang Mai (and what to eat in each one)

Chang Pheuk Night Market

chang phuak gate night market chiang mai

Chang Phuak Gate Night Market in Chiang Mai

13) Chang Phueak Khao Kha Moo – The Cowboy Hat Lady

This dish and street vendor was made known to the rest of the world through one of Anthony Bourdain’s food programs. It’s known as the best-stewed pork leg (Khao Kha Moo) in Chiang Mai. And, I can tell you from eating there three times in 3 weeks, I’d pretty much become a regular. 

A plate of the most tender (and generous serving) of stewed pork over steamed rice and some fermented mustard greens on the side is 50 baht. You have the option to add a boiled egg for 10 baht.

My advice is to order the egg! It’s perfectly cooked, soft-boiled, and the inside is warm and gelatinous. 

Best Chiang Mai restaurants Khao Ka Moo Cowboy hat lady

The Best Chiang Mai restaurants on the street.. Khao Ka Moo (stewed pork) from the infamous Cowboy hat lady.

This place never stops either; it’s so busy! The cowboy hat lady (or her sister who dishes the pork during my visit) is meticulous about only serving the best parts of the stewed pork. 

Her precision, speed and accuracy are fascinating. She slices and sorts through vast chunks of the most tender and flavourful stewed pork that I’ve probably ever eaten. 

It’s making my mouth water just writing about it.

This meal is special, straight up. The hype is accurate, and I loved it!

Probably my favourite meal during my entire time in Chiang Mai, and that’s a tough call.

Check it out on Tripadvisor

14) Changphuak Suki

The other busiest place in this market serves Sukiyaki. You can order it soup style or dry, I recommend the dry sukiyaki, with pork. At 50 baht, this is one satisfying, hot, seemingly healthy meal.

There are always lines of people here waiting to sit down and eat or waiting for take-away. You wouldn’t believe the amount of Grab food delivery drivers waiting on the sidelines for their orders to be ready for delivery. 

 

Note: The Grab app is top-rated in Thailand. You can use it to order food online for home/office delivery, order transport (motorbike or car taxi), get packages delivered, and a whole heap of other things. Check it out and download the app if you’re travelling in Thailand, it’s very useful.

If you do want the chance to sit down and eat at this place, ask the lady who is taking orders behind the register for a buzzer. She’ll give you one and buzz you when the next table becomes available. I waited about 15 minutes for a table and used the extra waiting time to wander around and look at other food vendors in the market.

Best Chiang Mai restaurants Pork sukiyaki

I know it doesn’t look so pretty, but it’s so tasty – trust me on that one.

Top Tip: I’d also like to give a special mention to the lady at the far end of this market serving fantastic papaya salads and other excellent fresh and spicy Northern Thai salads.

It’s not a large market, she’s easy to find. I recommend that you order a salad for 40 baht with a side of sticky rice.

I love that it’s served with traditional pieces of fresh cabbage and fresh herbs on the side.

Chiang Mai Gate Night Market

Another excellent night market to visit in Chiang Mai is Chiang Mai Gate Night Markets.

This one has many street food vendors offering Khao Kha Moo (stewed pork leg), Hainanese chicken, noodle soups, rice and curries, standard Pad Thai and noodles dishes and Takoyaki (Japanese fried squid batter balls).

There’s a fantastic stall selling big pots of delicious curries and rice to either take away or you can order a takeaway bowl with rice and a few curries for around 40 baht. 

best chiang mai restaurants outside at Chang Mai Gate night market

The best Chiang Mai restaurants outdoors at Chang Mai Gate night market

My Top Recommendations:

  • Coconut Pudding Lady – For 20 baht ($0.55), you’ll get a tray of 8 small coconut puddings. These are a delicious Thai dessert, with warmed coconut cream and small pieces of tropical fruit inside, yet they’re crispy on the outside.
  • Fruit Shake Stand –  A street vendor here makes fruit shakes for 25 baht – a great deal if you ask me.
  • Any of the street vendors serving noodle soup is a good choice.

Top tip: This night market is close to some great bars. There’s one on the corner that usually has live music. It’s a nice place to sit outside with a drink, views of the city walls and sounds of the bustling night market.

The Pae Sunday Walking Street Night Markets

One of the best street markets in the country, and I’d say in the world too. And, I’ve visited a few of them, it’s my favourite thing to do when I travel. I really love this market.

I highly recommend trying to time your visit to Chiang Mai to coincide with Sunday Night Markets

Best Chiang Mai restaurants Sunday Walking Markets

The city closes several roads in the Old City (close to Tha Phae Gate) to create this excellent walking market every Sunday, from about 5 pm until midnight. Not only are there so many fantastic things to buy, but the vibes and atmosphere are incredible here.

Allow at least three hours to wander around and browse the many pop-up stalls, artisan clothing shops, and food choices everywhere! It’s hard to decide on somewhere to eat, although grazing and snacking as you walk is understandable too. 

The best thing about exploring these markets is that you will undoubtedly walk past some of the most beautiful Wats (Buddhist temples) in the Old City.

15) Food Centre

You can see this food centre pinned on my google map below. And here is the approximate address on Google Maps.

You will find some great food here. I won’t recommend anything in particular as there are many choices, and they’re all fantastic.

This is just one of the food centres in the Sunday Night markets. There are multiple. Just wander around and you will discover the rest of them. 

***If you can plan your visit to Chiang Mai to include a Sunday evening here, I highly recommend it.***

chiang mai restaurants Sunday markets map

Frequently asked questions about Chiang Mai

When is the best time to visit Chiang Mai?

Chiang Mai best time to visit is from November to early February when the weather is sunny and cooler. The weather during this period is mostly pleasant with a light welcome breeze. This is of course the peak season in Chiang Mai, so the best time to visit will be busier than you would probably prefer.

Another good time to visit Chiang Mai is during the festivals such as Songkran Festival, Ghost Festival and Chinese New Year. During these celebrations, the city has a great atmosphere.

best chiang mai restaurants food at lunch stand

Is there a Chiang Mai Food Tour available?

If you’ve only got a few days in Chiang Mai and you live to eat great food, I recommend that you join an Evening Local Street Food Market Tour in Chiang Mai.

Your local guide may take you to some of the key places on this list and you’re likely to discover a few more. It’s a great experience, and Chiang Mai really comes alive at night, so the atmosphere is always exciting.

What are typical Chiang Mai food prices?

For many of the Chiang Mai Restaurants and places suggested here, the average price of a dish is 50 baht ($1.40). You can see with such affordable prices, why it’s not unusual to eat two lunches or dinners! (at least that’s what I’m guilty of).

I’ve tried to include prices for you in this post so you know what to expect. 

Is it worth doing a Cooking Class in Chiang Mai?

You know what my answer will be to this! Of course, you should. Who doesn’t want to learn the trade secrets of this delicious cuisine to take home and impress your friends and loved ones?

There are a few choices for cooking classes in Chiang Mai that I will recommend, and they are both this Cooking Class with a Farm Visit and this super popular Thai and Akha Cooking Class.

things to do in thailand cooking class

What to do in Chiang Mai Thailand, other than just eat?

That is a good question and I’ve got a great answer for you. Chiang Mai and the surrounding area are full of amazing things to do!

From joining a day trip to the Chiang Rai Famous Temples, this fantastic day tour to discover Doi Inthanon National Park or a half-day tour combining Doi Suthep & Hmong Hill Tribe Village, you can see the options are endless.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about the best Chiang Mai restaurants, food markets, and places to eat. Now it’s time to get busy and start pinning them on your online maps, ready for your self-guided food adventure of Chiang Mai. 

Don’t miss our post about where to stay in Chiang Mai. In our complete guide, we cover the best hotels and accommodation options for every budget. 

If you’re searching for more of the best foods in Thailand to try, my post about the 12 best Thai dishes you need to try is informative and will perhaps inspire you to stay longer in this culinary gem.

More Posts about Travel in Thailand

Whether you’re planning a short vacation or a long-term trip to Thailand, these 26 Best Travel Tips for Thailand will help you to get the most from your visit. It’s full of useful tips, helpful advice, and things that you may not have even considered.

These 15 amazing things to do in Thailand are not to be missed and if you’re wondering about where to take your beach holiday, one of my favourite places to relax is in Kata Beach, on the island of Phuket. Read more about this slice of paradise – 10 fun things to do in Kata Beach.

Check out our ULTIMATE Packing List for Southeast Asia so you don’t forget the essentials.

And finally, if you would like more of our expert travel advice and tips, then head to our Travel Resources Page.

If you’re interested to learn more about the culture in Chiang Mai, check out Wikipedia Chiang Mai.

Essential Items for Chiang Mai

Adaptor for Thailand Light Long Pants Guidebook