Chiang Mai is the largest city in northern Thailand. It is a popular destination with many Buddhist temples and the Old City worth exploring.
The food is one of the best-kept secrets and in particular, Khao Soi, the famous Chiang Mai noodle dish.
After eating our way through the lenses of Khao Soi, we invite you to join us on our quest for the best authentic Khao Soi in Chiang Mai.
Table of contents
- Khao Soi – The Most Famous Chiang Mai Noodle Dish
- On the Quest for the Best Khao Soi in Chiang Mai
- 1 – Khao Soi at the Saturday Market by Chiang Mai Gate
- 2- Khao Soi Islam – Serving an Original Version of Khao Soi
- 3 – Khao Soi Mae Sai – Stands True to Its Popularity
- 4 – Khao Soi Khun Yai – Recommended but Disappointing
- 5 – Khao Soy Nimman – A Catered Experience
- 6- Khao Soi Mae Manee – A Creamy Khao Soi Experience
- 7 – Best Khao Soi in Chiang Mai – Our #1 Favorite Khao Soi Local Eatery
- Watch the Video about our #1 Favorite Khao Soi in Chiang Mai
- 8 – Khao Soi Fah-Haam – Off the Beaten Path Khao Soi Gem
- 9- Huen Phen Restaurant – For Khao Soi at Dinner
- 10- Arak – Local Khao Soi Eatery in The Old City
- How to Make Khao Soi in Chiang Mai
- Love it? Pin it!
Khao Soi – The Most Famous Chiang Mai Noodle Dish
The origins of this dish are said to come from the South of China, with Chinese Yunnanese Muslims on their way through Thailand to Myanmar.
That’s why it’s only found in the north of Thailand. The main ingredients are freshly made red curry Khao Soi paste, turmeric powder, and curry powder. Khao Soi in Chiang Mai is accompanied by a fresh lime wedge, shallots, pickled cabbage, and roasted chiles.
On the Quest for the Best Khao Soi in Chiang Mai
In Chiang Mai, you’ll find Khao Soi everywhere, from restaurants, local eateries, and markets. Each vendor has their own way of making this famous Chiang Mai noodle dish. Some vendors make Khao Soi too mild, while others have it a little too hot and spicy.
To find the best Khao Soi in Chiang Mai, we went on a mission to ask locals in Chiang Mai to answer one question: “where is your best Khao Soi in Chiang Mai?”
Given our focus on local food specialties, the Chiang Mai locals we asked were local market vendors, local chefs, Chiang Mai food tour guides as well as owners of local eateries.
In addition, we also did research and read a variety of articles about the popular Khao Soi eateries in Chiang Mai.
Finally, to pull together this comprehensive list together, we ate Khao Soi several times a week at many of the places that were recommended to us.
Although some of the places listed below are more famous and popular than others, try several before you decide on your own favorite Khao Soi spot.
Following are 10 Khao Soi eateries to give you a head start. Don’t miss our favorite and best Khao Soi local eatery.
1 – Khao Soi at the Saturday Market by Chiang Mai Gate
As always, the best places to find local dishes is at the local markets. Chiang Mai offers many incredible food markets day or night.
Every Saturday night is the Wui Lai Market by the Old City. The market starts across the Chiang Mai Gate and extends all the way down the length of Wui Lai Road. Although the market is dedicated to art and crafts, you will find plenty of food options.
The area around Chiang Mai gate is a bustling square where food vendors set up their carts and tables. You’ll see tourist and locals alike sitting together and enjoying the local foods.
On our first Saturday night in Chiang Mai, we walked through the many vendors and decided to try the local specialty, Khao Soi, the famous Chaing Mai noodle dish.
From a local vendor with a long line, we were served a generous bowl of Khao Soi and were eager to try our first Khao Soi in Chiang Mai.
The noodles were perfectly cooked. Not soggy at all. And the chicken was extremely tender . The curry soup thick and not too spicy. For our first introduction to Khao Soi in Chiang Mai, we were delighted.
Where to Eat Khao Soi at the Saturday Night Market
Wui Lai Market – Khao Soi Vendor
Address: Chiang Mai Gate
Hours: Every Saturday from 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm
Prices: 40 Baht per bowl, approximately $1.22 USD.
2- Khao Soi Islam – Serving an Original Version of Khao Soi
In Chiang Mai’s thriving Muslim community, close to Chiang Mai’s Mosque is where you will find this celebrated Khao Soi restaurant.
Khao Soi Islam is famous for its authenticity to the original Chiang Mai noodle dish first introduced by Chinese Yunnanese Muslims traders.
This eatery is run by a Muslim Thai family who cook following Halal guidelines.
The space is open with several rows of tables and benches to accommodate large crowds or groups.
The menu is in English and Chinese, and the service is fast and friendly.
The Friday Morning Market takes place very close to Khao Soi Islam. We recommend having lunch at Khao Soi Islam after a morning market tour.
After a market visit, we walked into Khao Soi Islam, hungry from all the tempting market treats and eager to try this celebrated version of Khao Soi.
As we have done previously, we each ordered a standard bowl of the chicken Khao Soi. When the bowls of Khao Soi arrived, we noticed right away the creaminess and the chopped up pieces of chicken in the bowl.
We enjoyed the taste of the Khao Soi, though we were not blown away by the flavors. We found the curry too mild and the egg noodles not crunchy enough.
We also typically prefer the Chiang Mai noodles served with whole pieces of chicken rather than cut up pieces of chicken in a bowl.
Even though Khao Soi Islam is not one of our top spots, we still recommend stopping by to taste this version of Khao Soi that is said to be close to the original.
Go on a Friday, so that you can enjoy the market experience before lunch.
Where to Eat Khao Soi Near the Friday Morning Market
Address: 22-24 Soi 1, Charoenprathet Road, Changklan
Hours: Open every day, 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Price: The price of a standard bowl ranges from 50-70 Baht (approx $1.57 – $2.19 USD)
Pro Tip: Khao Soi Islam is known for serving excellent biryani, particularly with goat meat. Since our focus was on Khao Soi, we did not try the biryani, though we recommend trying it if you still have room.
3 – Khao Soi Mae Sai – Stands True to Its Popularity
Another highly recommended restaurant by locals is Khao Soi Mae Sai. It is said to be the best place to have Khao Soi by expats and regular visitors to Chiang Mai.
With such recommendations and a prestigious title, we were eager to taste this version of the Khao Soi, the famous Chiang Mai noodle dish.
While we were not disappointed with the Khao Soi, we didn’t care much for the environment.
As a result of their popularity, the place gets crowded with locals and tourists who quickly fill up the tables.
With the lunch hours extended until 4:00 pm, it is best to go after the rush so that you can sit outside and enjoy your meal.
Where to Eat The Best Khao Soi in Chang Phueak
Address: 29/1 Ratchaphuek Alley, Mueang Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai
Hours: Monday to Saturday from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm
Prices: 40 Baht per bowl, approximately $1.22 USD
4 – Khao Soi Khun Yai – Recommended but Disappointing
Khao Soi Khun Yai came highly recommended and we found it mentioned in many articles and blogs. It is a really popular restaurant, filled with tourist crowding the benches at this off-road street vendor.
Given its popularity, you have to be patient when ordering your meal. It is best to go either early before the busy lunch period or a little later after the crowd winds down.
On the menu, you can choose either beef Khao Soi or the chicken Khao Soi.
We decided to order one of each to get a sense of the differences between the two versions.
Overall, we were disappointed by Khao Soi here. Perhaps we had really high expectations after hearing all the positive reviews about the restaurant.
First, the portions are relatively small as compared to everywhere else we had eaten Khao Soi. It is the kind of place where you may need to order a second bowl just to satisfy your hunger.
Secondly, the crunchy noodles didn’t seem homemade and were lacking freshness. The beef was disappointing and the chicken was only a slight improvement.
However, on the positive side, the location and atmosphere are pleasant. The restaurant is in the Old City on a quiet street across from the Wat Kuan Kama Temple. If you are looking for a laid back experience in the Old City, this is a great option.
Where to Eat Khao Soi Near Wat Kuan Kama
Address: Across Wat Kuan Kama Temple, Sri Poom Road, Amphoe Mueang, Chiang Mai
Hours: Monday to Saturday from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm
Prices: 40 Baht per bowl, approximately $1.22 USD
5 – Khao Soy Nimman – A Catered Experience
Located on Soi 7 in Nimman, this upscale air-conditioned restaurant is popular with tourists and expats.
The English speaking staff know enough to communicate and allow first-time visitors or those not comfortable diving into the street food version of Khao Soi, feel at home.
The Khao Soi here is predictably more expensive. The portions are not as generous as compared to other locations. Perhaps to cater to foreigners, the flavors are not as spicy. Overall, the sauce was creamy and it blended well with noodles. The chicken was tasty, though not as tender.
If you are looking for an upscale experience in air conditioning and an English speaking staff, you will like the comforts of Khao Soy Nimman. We found the experience “catered” and we much prefer Khao Soi prepared the “local” way, for the local palate.
6- Khao Soi Mae Manee – A Creamy Khao Soi Experience
The huge posters adorning the walls at this unassuming local eatery is the first thing that will grab your attention. Reviews and local articles about Khao Soi Mae Manee and pictures of the founder will intrigue you.
The menu at Khao Soi Mae Manee is pretty extensive. Besides the typical egg noodles, you can choose vermicelli noodles or even instant noodles.
Beyond the standard chicken, beef or pork ribs, you can choose Vietnamese sausage or fish.
If you want to mix different types of meat in your curry, all you have to do is pay a little extra for that experience.
The first thing we noticed when we got our hot bowls of Khao Soi with chicken was a layer of pure coconut cream sitting on the top of the bowl.
Once we mixed the coconut cream into the curry, the bowl of Khao Soi became rich and thick. While tasty and flavorful, we found the Khao Soi too rich for our personal preferences.
Khao Soi Mae Manee is one of the popular Khao Soi eateries in Chiang Mai. If you enjoy thick creamy textures, you will love the Khao Soi Mae Manee.
Where to Eat Creamy Khao Soi – Khao Soi Mae Manee
Address: 18 Soi Chotana 24, Tambon Chang Phueak, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Mai
Hours: Open every day, 9:00 am – 3:30 pm (Closed on Buddha Days)
Price: The price of a standard bowl ranges from 40-50 Baht (approx $1.25 – $1.57 USD) or 60 Bhat (approx $1.88) for a big bowl.
Pro Tip: This local restaurant is tucked away on Mae Rim Fang Road in a small alley next to the Chiang Mai Department of Labor. To get there, we took a Grab car (Southeast Asia’s version of Uber). Tricky to find, we recommend getting a local driver getting to take you there.
7 – Best Khao Soi in Chiang Mai – Our #1 Favorite Khao Soi Local Eatery
To get the local flavor and experience, there is no better place to eat in a local part of town where the locals themselves go for lunch.
We first discovered this gem on our first trip to Chiang Mai two years ago.
Every week, during our first month-long stay in Chiang Mai, we would do our laundry at a nearby “wash shop” or coin-operated laundry facility.
The clean laundry facility was just off the busy Chonprathan Road (Chiang Mai Outer Ring Road) at the intersection of Wua Lai road.
Right across the laundry place, we discovered this small street food vendor where locals would stop for lunch.
There were no signs in English and the ladies who were preparing the food didn’t speak a word of English.
Enticed by the popularity of the place, we decided to give it a try and we were thrilled we did.
This local eatery specializes in only two dishes. One of them is Khao Soi, made right in front of you.
The Khao soi is special and admittedly, it is on the spicy side. The flavors are geared towards the local tastes.
The chicken leg is full and incredibly delicious while falling off the bone. And the noodles are crispy and literally melt in the mouth.
We like several things about this Khao Soi eatery that is our favorite.
First, the experience is very local. In all the times, we have eaten there, and they have been plenty, we’ve never seen any tourists.
The Chaing Mai noodle dish is exceptional. The curry sauce is harmoniously balanced. The level of spice is hot, just as we like it. The noodles are perfectly cooked and crunchy at the same time. And finally, the chicken is firm and incredibly tasty.
Where to Eat The Best Khao Soi in Chiang Mai
Local Khao Soi Street Vendor
Address: At the intersection of Wua Lai and Huay Kaew Soi 2 Road, Chiang Mai
Hours: Open Mon-Sat, 10:00 am to 1:00 pm
Prices: 30 Baht per bowl, approx $0.94 USD
Pro Tip: This street food place is quite popular. We recommend going before 12:30 pm for a delicious bowl of Khao Soi. Available in a small plastic bag are crispy chips. Get some to slurp on the delicious curry sauce.
8 – Khao Soi Fah-Haam – Off the Beaten Path Khao Soi Gem
This is our second favorite Khao Soi restaurant. It was recommended to us by our favorite local street food vendor.
On a Saturday, we took a Grab car to go to Khao Soi Fah-Haam about 15 minutes outside of the Old City.
Finding the place was challenging, as everything was in Thai, including the name of the restaurant.
As soon as we walked into the restaurant, we felt right at home. The large airy canopy style restaurant with a bamboo thatched roof was perfect on humid afternoon.
Surrounding the walls of the restaurant were pictures of the menu and a particular Chef Yoon, who received an award for his Khao Soi in 2016.
As usual, we ordered our typical chicken Khao Soi. This time we added a plate of freshly grilled pork satay that was cooking at the front of the restaurant.
We were very impressed with the Khao Soi at Fah-Haam. The portions are generous with firm and full chicken legs. The curry sauce had the right balance of coconut and curry paste.
The spice levels were just right and when topped with the condiments, the delicious flavors came shining through.
All around us were tables filled with locals. Everything is in Thai and nothing in any other language. You get the sense that the experience is not catered for tourists.
This gem was one of our best Khao Soi Chiang Mai and worth the trip for the experience.
Where to Eat Chef Yoon Khao Soi
Address: 3044 Tambon Nong Kwai, Amphoe Hang Dong, Chang Wat Chiang Mai |
Hours: Open every day, 9:00 am – 6:00 pm
Price: One serving 45 Baht (approx $1.41 USD)
Pro Tip: Order fruits or desserts from a vendor who walks around selling the treats. This is a great way to have a smooth finish to the spicy Khao Soi
9- Huen Phen Restaurant – For Khao Soi at Dinner
Huen Phen is a popular restaurant located in the Old City, which serves a nice range of northern Thai dishes.
We particularly enjoyed their Laab also called Larb Kua, a spicy salad made with ground pork meat.
Huen Phen offers two different experiences at lunch and dinner.
At lunch, you can eat leisurely on their patio in a casual environment. Some dishes are served exclusively at lunch and the place is frequented by locals and tourists alike.
Meals at dinner are served at the indoor restaurant. The interior is in an interesting wooden Lanna style house, packed with antiques and relics. The restaurant is very popular with tourists in the evenings.
Khao Soi is one of their featured dishes and prominent offerings on their Northern Thai menu.
We particularly enjoyed the crispy noodles and chicken. Although we found the sauce a bit too heavy and the curry paste too rich for our tastes.
However, it is a flavorful bowl of Khao Soi worth having especially if you are eating dinner in the Old City and craving this Chiang Mai noodle dish.
Where to Eat the Best Khao Soi in Chiang Mai Old City
Address: 112 Ratchamanka Rd, Chiang Mai,
Hours: Open everyday, day time: 8:30 am – 4:00 pm dinner time: 5:00pm – 10:00pm
Price: One serving 90 Baht (approx $2.82 USD).
Pro Tip: Go to Huen Phen for lunch for a more casual and local experience.
10- Arak – Local Khao Soi Eatery in The Old City
After meeting a friend for coffee in the Old City, we were left to find a lunch place in one of the most touristy parts of town.
We were looking for somewhere new and are always up for a good Khao Soi on our quest to find the best Khao Soi in Chiang Mai. Not knowing where to go, we relied on Google Maps to show us the way.
Claire loves to use Google Maps and it has proven to be useful several times. We spotted Khao Soi Arak as a potential contender for our best of Khao Soi Chiang Mai.
This lovely eatery is nestled in a quiet street near Suan Dok Gate, on the west side of town. It is open only for lunch. We arrived rather late and found the place pretty quiet.
Their menu is very simple, they offer Khao Soi chicken, beef and pork. We stayed with the classic Khao Soi Chicken.
The friendly waiter served us a reasonable bowl of Chiang Mai noodles with a nice chunk of a chicken leg.
We really enjoyed the chicken really fresh, the sauce was nice though lacking spice. We noticed one local adding chili to its bowls and decided to do the same.
The noodles were tasty though we found the soup not very warm. Maybe it was due to the fact that we were on the late side.
All in all, it is a very enjoyable lunch away from the crowd in the center of town. It is a great way to refresh and resource before or after a visit to the famous temple Wat Phra Singh.
Where to Eat Khao Soi for Lunch in Chiang Mai Old City
Khao Soi Arak
Address: Arak 7 Alley, Tambon Si Phum, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Mai, Chang Wat Chiang Mai
Hours: Open every day, 10:30 am – 4:00 pm
Price: One serving 40 Baht (approx $1.25 USD).
Pro Tip: Typically Khao Soi can be spicy. At Arak, the Khao Soi isn’t very spicy so don’t hesitate to add chili provided at each table.
The experience was a lot of fun, and there was a lot of chopping and preparation involved. We learned that the secret to a good Khao Soi is in the Khao Soi Paste.
To make Khao Soi at home, here is the list of ingredients and recipe (compliments of Aroy Aroy).
You can buy the Khao Soi Paste instead of making it from scratch.
Once you’re set with the Khao Soi Paste, here are the additional ingredients needed to make Khao Soi, the most famous Chiang Mai noodle dish.
Ingredients for Khao Soi
1 pound fresh Chinese-style egg noodles, divided
2 (15-ounce) cans coconut milk, or 2 cups fresh coconut milk (do not shake)
1 cup homemade or canned low-sodium chicken stock
2 tablespoons palm sugar
2 chicken skinless chicken breasts, sliced thinly
Fish sauce to taste
Sliced shallots and lime wedges for serving
Khao Soi Recipe – Serves 4
1- Separate out 1/4 of the noodles (enough noodles to make a crispy fried-noodle topping for 4 bowls) and set the remaining noodles aside.
2-Heat vegetable oil in a large wok over high heat until simmering. Working in batches, add noodles to oil and fry, stirring and flipping until golden brown and crisp. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Season with salt and set aside.
3-Discard all but 1 tablespoon oil from wok. Using a spoon, skim 2 tablespoons of creamy fat off the top of the coconut milk and add to the wok. Heat wok over high heat and cook, stirring constantly, until coconut milk breaks and oil begins to lightly smoke, about 2 minutes. Add curry paste mixture and cook, stirring and smearing the paste into the oil, until aromatic, about 45 seconds.
4-Slowly whisk in the coconut milk, followed by the chicken stock and palm sugar. Add sliced chicken breasts and bring to a simmer. Cook, turning chicken occasionally, until chicken is tender and broth is very flavorful, about 30 minutes. Season to taste with fish sauce.
5-Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add remaining uncooked noodles and cook until al dente, about 1 minute. Drain noodles and divide between four warmed bowls. Top noodles with two pieces of chicken. Divide broth evenly between bowls. Top with fried noodles and serve immediately with sliced shallots, lime wedges, and pickled mustard greens on the side.
Have you had Khao Soi before? Let us know in the comments below what you think of it.
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Rosemary is a writer and culinary explorer. Together with her partner, Claire, they created Authentic Food Quest to inspire people to travel deeper through authentic food. Through food, they believe, people can have more meaningful connections on their travels. Prior to creating Authentic Food Quest, Rosemary worked as a director of strategy in advertising for over 15 years. Take the quiz and find out your Food Traveler Profile.
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