What to eat in Chiang Mai:
1. Khao Soi
Khao Soi is without a doubt the most famous Northern Thai dish and should therefore be on your list of things to eat in Chiang Mai. Khao Soi is a creamy, rich curry, much more herby than regular Thai curries and is among the most favourite Thai dishes among tourists. Often serves with a chicken drumstick but versions with beef or seafood can be found throughout the city. Check out our article about the best Khao Soi in Chiang Mai as this article covers some of the most famous Khao Soi restaurants in Chiang Mai.
2. Sai Ua - Chiang Mai Sausage
Another typical Northern Thai speciality is the Sai Ua, also known as Chiang Mai Sausage. This herby sausage is so popular in Thailand that you can easily find it in every street food area in the country itself, but it originates from Chiang Mai. The sausage is packed with herbs like galangal, lemongrass, turmeric root, garlic and chillies, so expect a huge flavour explosion in your mouth. As the sausage can be overwhelming for foreigners, try a dish that contains a bit of sausage instead of devouring a whole sausage at once.
Sai Ua (Grilled Chiang Mai Sausage)
3. Northern Style Hors D’Oeuvre
This sharing plate is a common appetizer you can find at restaurants in Chiang Mai and offers a variety of traditional Northern Thai dishes including the previous recommended Chiang Mai sausage. When wondering what to eat in Chiang Mai, there is no better dish you can try in order to experience the Northern Thai cuisine to the fullest. Famous restaurants such as Tong Tem Toh and Kao Soy Nimman offer this dish as one of their specialities, where the sharing plate is served with Nam Phrik to dip in, a dish that we recommended later in this list as well.
Northern Style Hors D'Oeuvre
4. Hang Lay - Burmese Style Pork Curry
Many Thai dishes are influenced by nearby countries or regions and the Northern Thai cuisine, in general, is heavily influenced by the Burmese. One of the absolute must-try dishes in Chiang Mai is Hang Lay, which is a Burmese style pork curry. Flavour-wise, Hang Lay is a bit similar to Massaman Curry, but without coconut milk. But what makes Hang Lay so delicious is the super tender pork belly, which melts in your mouth. Together with the curry paste itself, it’s one fantastic dish that you should not miss here. The famous restaurant Tong Tem Toh serves a fantastic version of Burmese Style Pork Curry.
5. Nam Prik Pu Kai
Nam Prik is a collective name Northern Thai style herby dips served with vegetables and other ingredients such as crispy baked pork and comes in many forms. Nam Prik Pu Kai is a version that is made with crab meat and can be found at Thajene Chomchan, one of Chiang Mai’s most popular Thai seafood restaurants. The Thai herby dip is packed with crabmeat, made together with garlic, chilli, shallot and other flavorful ingredients. For more information such as opening times, location ad address, other recommended dishes and reviews from TopTravelFoods users, check out the TopTravelFoods review page of Thajene Chomchan.
6. Nam Ngiao
Nam Ngiao is yet another Northern Thai speciality and definitely a must-try. This spicy soup originates from Burma, but the version that is available in Thailand does have a distinctive tomato taste. This curry with thin noodles is even more popular than Khao Soi among Thai and if you can handle a decent amount of spice, you can’t leave the Northern parts of Thailand without trying this dish. Keep in mind that the soup is served with blood curd, an ingredient that most foreigners do not fancy. You can always order without, although the curry is pretty easy to eat without having that blood curd on your spoon. Two highly recommended restaurants that serve Nam Ngiao are Khao Soi Maesai (a true Khao Soi legend) and Kao Soy Nimman.
7. Khua Khae Gai
Khua Khae Gai is yet another highly recommended Northern Thai curry that you can add to your list of things to eat in Chiang Mai. Similar to the previously recommended curry, the Nam Ngiao, is this curry more watery than you expect from normal Thai curries. Khua Khae Gai is as herby as you can expect of a Northern Thai curry, and a great alternative to Nam Ngiao if you want to avoid blood curd. The best place to get Khua Khae Gai is Huen Muan Jai. If you’re looking for more incredible curries, check out our article about the best curries in Chiang Mai, which includes extraordinary versions of more common Thai curries such as Massaman Curry and Crab Curry.
Khua Khae Gai
8. Kai Yang - Grilled Chicken
So far, we’ve recommended Northern Thai dishes to answer your question of what to eat in Chiang Mai. But there are many other amazing dishes to find in this exciting city. One of these dishes is Kai Yang, or simply grilled chicken. There are two amazing local eateries to find in the city where they are specialized in grilled chicken, namely SP Chicken and Cherng Doi Roast Chicken. There are many arguments to find on the internet which of these two is the best, but we can guarantee that at both places, you have a wonderful, fairly-priced meal. Order some grilled chicken with sticky rice, papaya salad and an ice-cold beer and enjoy a fantastic fairly spiced, hearty meal.
9. Stewed Pork Leg with Rice and Egg
One of the most popular food stalls in Chiang Mai Old Town is Khao Kha Moo Chang Phueak located near the Chang Phuak Gate. The owner of this popular food stall wears her signature cowgirl hat and from five o’clock in the afternoon, she starts selling her famous stewed pork leg. A full plate with stewed pork, rice and egg only cost you 30 THB, but the reason why it’s always so busy is not because it’s so cheap, it’s because it’s so flavorful. More information about this legendary street food vendor can be found on the TopTravelFoods review page of Khao Kha Moo Chang Phueak.
Stewed Pork Leg with Rice and Egg
10. Goy Teaw Neua
Goy Teaw is the translation of a Thai noodle soup, a common meal that you can easily find in Thailand. But as you might have noticed so far, we only recommend you the best of versions and one of the most popular restaurants in Chiang Mai, namely Khao Soi Maesai. As the name already suggests, Khao Soi Maesai is a specialist in Khao Soi, in fact, it’s one of the best restaurants in town when it comes to Khao Soi. But what many foreigners don’t know is that this place is also known for its noodles. You can choose between noodle soup with pork (Moo) or with beef (Neua), of which the beef is more tender. More information about this restaurant can be found on the TopTravelFoods review page of Khao Soi Maesai.
Goy Teaw Neua
11. Giant Grilled River Prawns
While these giant grilled river prawns are actually the speciality of the city of Ayutthaya, near Bangkok, you can find these enormous creatures at some seafood restaurants throughout the country. If you’re up for something special, which comes with a big price tag, head up to the previous recommended Thajene Chomchan restaurant, which is arguably one of the best seafood restaurants in town. But don’t worry, there are many other amazing seafood restaurants in Chiang Mai, which can be found in our article about the best seafood in Chiang Mai.
Giant Grilled River Prawns
12. Khao Moo Grob
Some Thai dishes are so comforting that you can easily find them in Thailand simply because everyone wants them. One of these comforting dishes is Khao Moo Grob. A Chinese-influenced rice dish with crispy pork covered in sweet gravy. But finding a shop that serves a better Khao Moo Grob than the other is difficult. Luckily, we found a shop that does excel in what they do and that place is Kuay Jub Nam Kon. Not only is their pork perfectly crisp on the outside and super juicy on the inside, but the gravy is also what makes this simple, yet delicious dish so great. And a plate of Khao Moo Grob only costs you 60 THB.
Khao Moo Grob
13. Grilled Beef with JAEW Sauce
As mentioned earlier in this list of what to eat in Chiang Mai, sometimes grilled meats, sticky rice, papaya salad and an ice-cold beer will do the trick. In that case, head over to Lert Ros or the earlier mentioned SP Chicken. If you fancy something lighter, choose the Grilled Red Tilapia with Salt at Lert Ros. A whole fish served with two different dipping sauces only cost you 140 THB. You can’t get anything cheaper than that, plus the taste is fantastic. For more information such as opening times, location and address, other recommended dishes and reviews from TopTravelFoods users, check out the TopTravelFoods review page of Lert Ros.
Grilled Red Tilapia
There you have it, our answer to what to eat in Chiang Mai. Hopefully, this gives you a good idea of what food you can expect in places like Chiang Mai. We build an app called TopTravelFoods. With TopTravelFoods, you find the best dishes a restaurant has to offer. These dishes are individually rated by fellow travellers and food lovers. That way, you can experience the Thai Cuisine to the fullest and try all sorts of new dishes. The app is completely free and available for both iOS and Android.
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