Chiang Mai Food Tour: The Best Foodie Experience You Want To Take | [Updated 2022]

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Chiang Mai food tours offer a delicious way to explore northern Thai cuisine. After falling deeply in love with Khao Soi, Chiang Mai’s famous curry and noodle dish, we wanted to explore northern Thai cuisine further. 

To guide us into the core of northern Thai food, we took a Chiang Mai food tour for a journey into the heart of the local culinary culture.

In partnership with A Chef’s Tour, we went deep into the rustic flavors and cuisine influenced by   China, Burma and India. 

On this food tour, we explored the backstreets and unfrequented parts of town to discover the regional cuisine.

If you are looking for an authentic Chiang Mai food tour experience, here’s what to know and expect.

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Chiang Mai Street Food Tour – A Chef’s Tour

Moui Achefs Tour Chiang Mai by Authentic Food Quest
Our Chiang Mai tour guide, Moui

Moui from A Chef’s Tour was our guide on our Chiang Mai food tour. Originally from Lampang, the third largest town in northern Thailand, Moui has called Chiang Mai home for more than 20 years. 

Passionate about food and cooking, her local knowledge makes this one of the best food tours in Chiang Mai. 

We partnered with A Chef’s Tour because of their commitment to local and authentic food experiences. 

They don’t pander to western palate and and instead focus on the local specialties, no matter the flavors or ingredients.

Traveling like locals in one of Chiang Mai’s famous rod daeng trucks (also called red cars by locals), we explored the city streets, bustling with vendors, markets and food. 

For over 4.5 hour tour, we explored distinctive northern Thai cuisine at bustling markets, specialty vendors and family owned eateries.

AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST TIP: To dive into northern Thai cuisine, consider taking a culinary tour with A Chef’s Tour. Led by chefs and local experts you can count on deep insights and food tastings away from popular tourist traps. Depending on your schedule, you can choose between a lunchtime Chiang Mai food tour. Or, explore the city by night on an evening Chiang Mai food tour.

Cowboy Hat Lady Chiang Mai – Busiest Street Food Stall

Cowboy Hat Lady Stall in Chiang Mai Street Food by Authentic Food Quest. One of the most delicious stalls at the Chiang Mai market
The unmissable cowboy hat lady stall in Chiang Mai

Our first stop on the tour was the famous cowboy hat lady for a steaming plate of braised pork. 

Located across from Chang Phueak, the old city North Gate, you can easily spot the cowboy hat lady stall with her picture. 

While we had already been to this iconic food stall a few times, our tour guide Moui offered up unique behind-the-scenes stories during our food tour.

Khao Kha Moo by Cowboy Hat Lady for Street Food Chiang Mai by Authentic Food Quest.
Delightful Khao Kha Moo or melt-in-your-mouth pork leg with rice and duck egg

According to Moui, the cowboy hat lady sells the best pork leg with rice in town. This dish, known as Khao Kha Moo, came to Chiang Mai via Chinese immigrants. 

The cowboy hat lady is of Chinese descent and partnered with her Thai-Chinese husband to offer a flavorful Thai version of the dish.

What makes this particular place so special is that they slow cook the pork leg for a minimum of four hours. This makes the meat extremely tender, and it dissolves wonderfully in the mouth. 

The dish is served with a Thai chili sauce that adds a great bite to the pork and rice, making an absolutely delicious combination.

READ MORE: 15 Best Authentic Chiang Mai Food and Where to Eat It

Visiting Siri Wattana Market-  A Food Hunt at a Local Market in Chiang Mai

Thai Herbs Chiang Mai Market for Chiang Mai FoodTour with A Chefs Tour by Authentic Food Quest. Indigenous herbs seen on Chiang Mai Food Tour
Herbs are important to northern Thai cooking and many are indigenous to the region

After hopping back into the red car, we made our way to the next stop on our Chiang Mai food tour. Siri Wattana Market is a local fresh food market in the Chang Phueak neighborhood. 

This market is one of the hidden gems for food lovers in Chiang Mai. We had the chance to stop for tastings at many food stalls and learn a lot about northern Thai cuisine.

Betel Leaf Siri Wattana Market for Chiang Mai Food Tour A Chefs Tour by Authentic Food Quest
Betel leaves with all the flavorful ingredients to make miang kam
  • Miang kam: One of our favorite food tastings was this traditional Thai snack. Miang kam involves wrapping various ingredients such as baked coconuts, peanuts, lime, ginger, dried shrimp and shallots into a betel leaf and topping it with a sweet-and-salty sauce.
Cricket and Worms Stall at Siri Wattana Market on Chiang Mai Food Tour A Chefs Tour by Authentic Food Quest
Crickets, silkworms and other specialities at Siri Wattana Market
  • Silk worms and crickets: Moui mentioned that insects are typically used in northern Thai cuisine as a substitute to meat. They are high in protein, readily available, and affordable. The silk worms were mushy in texture, with not much taste, while the crickets had a nice, grilled, salty bite.
  • Buffalo meat: While eaten less frequently than pork, buffalo is another source of protein typical in northern Thai food. We found it quite tasty and surprisingly enjoyable.
Rosemary eating Sai Oua at Siri Wattana Market for Chiang Mai FoodTour by Authentic Food Quest
Rosemary taking a tasty bite of the sai oua sausage
  • Sai Oua: Sai oua is a fragrant, spicy northern Thai sausage made with pork, red curry, and herbs such as lemongrass and chili spices. This vendor was the star at the market, having earned an award for the best sai oua in Chiang Mai
  • Traditional juices like Pennywort, Butterfly Pea Flower and Roselle are typically consumed. We enjoyed sampling these juices, all with medicinal properties to keep you healthy naturally.
Crispy Pancakes Cooking Chiang Mai Street Food Authentic Food Quest
Khanom Buang or Crispy pancakes
  • Khanom Buang: To tame the spicy taste of the sai oua sausages, we finished our treasure hunt in the Thai dessert section of the market. Khamon buang are small Thai pancakes fresh off the griddle. They were warm and incredibly tasty, with a nice crisp from the pancake and a smooth finish from the coconut cream filling. 

RELATED: Thai Sausage: How to Make the Best Sai Oua in Chiang Mai

Chef Jed’s Restaurant: Burmese-Shan Cuisine

Chef Jed's Restaurant in Chiang Mai Food Tour for A Chef's Tour by Authentic Food Quest
Chef Jed’s Burmese -Shan Restaurant

As we continued to explore Chiang Mai food and the culinary culture, we took the red car to our next surprising stop. 

In a celebration of Thailand’s ethnolinguistic diversity, we visited a Shan restaurant for regional specialties. 

The Shan are one of the largest Thai groups in the north. They historically lived on the borders of Burma (Myanmar), but emigrated to Thailand in the 19th century to escape conflict. 

Chiang Mai local food we learned has resultingly been influenced by Burmese cuisine.

Pennywort and Tea Leaf Salad Burmese Cuisine for A Chefs Tour by Authentic Food Quest
Pennywort salad on the left and Tea Leaf salad on the right

At Chef Jed’s restaurant we sampled a variety of traditional Thai-Burmese dishes.

We savored pennywort and tea leaf salads, as well as nam prik dipping sauces. Nam prik ong is a red dipping sauce, while the green one is known as nam prik noom. 

They are typically eaten with deep fried pork skin, and we found them both delightful.

Already stuffed, we knew we had to make room for our next stop on this Chiang Mai food tour.

Northern Thai Authentic Food at a South Gate Restaurant 

South Gate Restaurant for Chiang Mai Food Tour for A ChefsTour by Authentic Food Quest
Quiet garden area in the Southgate Lanna style restaurant

Continuing our hunt for authentic northern specialities, we made our way into Chiang Mai Old Town. 

In the South Gate area, we stopped at a well-known, family-owned restaurant that is popular with locals and difficult to find, particularly if you don’t speak Thai. 

Larb Muang Moo for Chiang Mai Food Tour by Authentic Food Quest
Flavorful minced pork salad

Here we enjoyed two signature northern Thailand dishes – larb and gaeng hang lay moo.

Larb is a spicy, minced pork salad made with chopped pork seasoned with Thai chili peppers, fish sauce, lime juice, toasted sticky rice and a wonderful assortment of fresh herbs.

To eat it in the traditional Thai style manner, Moui taught us to roll the rice into a ball and then use your thumb to scoop up some pork salad. 

Gaeng Hang Lay Moo Northen Thai Pork Curry for Chiang Mai Food Tour by Authentic Food Quest
Incredibly delicious northern Thai pork curry

Gaeng hang lay moo, or northern Thai pork curry, is made by slowly stewing pork in a variety of spices and herbs including palm sugar, tamarind, turmeric, ginger, garlic and more. 

Incredibly aromatic, we enjoyed diving into this rich curry with pork that just melts in your mouth.

RELATED: 9 of the Best Chiang Mai Thai Restaurants You Want to Try

Night-Stop At Warorot Market: Chiang Mai’s Largest Food Market in Chinatown

The famous Noodle Soup Lady at Warorot market

Warorot Market is one of the must-see local markets in Chiang Mai Thailand. This huge market offers a wonderful favourite dishes with different vendors in the morning and at night.

While we were already full from our previous stops, Moui explained that the Noodle Soup Lady has been at her stall for more than 20 years. 

As the name implies, her specialty is noodle-based dishes. She starts serving each night at 5:00 pm until she runs out. 

We tasted three different noodle soups. A coconut red curry noodle soup with fish balls. One red pork soup with chicken blood cubes. 

And, finally an Isaan soup from northeastern Thailand made with fermented fish sauce. 

Thai Dessert vendor at Warorot Market Chiang Mai Street Food Authentic Food Quest
Thai dessert cart filled with yummy Thai sweets

On our way out of the back alleys of the market, we couldn’t resist delicious sweets. Moui had us try mung bean cake, coconut cakes, sticky rice with coconut pudding and more. 

A welcome contrast to the savory noodle soups.

Customized Thai Desserts To End Our Chiang Mai Food Tour

Kanomwan Chang Moi Chiang Mai Food Tour A Chef's Tour Authentic Food Quest
A colorful dessert stand on our Chiang Mai food tour

The last stop on our guided tour was at Kanomwan Chang Moi for dessert. At this point, stuffed and about to explode, the word “dessert,” suddenly opened up more room in our bellies.

 This local gem, buzzing with activity and with an upbeat and energetic atmosphere, we created our own Thai dessert.

In awe of brightly-colored treats displayed on a long counter, we learned to pick toppings from each station with our preferences..

With Moui’s guidance, we tasted several delicious desserts topped with coconut milk, logan juice, and water chestnut. 

We enjoyed these fun and wickedly refreshing treats and it was the perfect end to our Chiang Mai food tour.

READ MORE: The 15 Most Delightful Popular Thai Desserts to Indulge In

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Overall Impressions of Chiang Mai Food Tour

What We Loved

Our moment of glory with the famous Cowboy Hat Lady
  • Off the beaten path – true to the mission of A Chef’s Tour, this Chiang Mai food tour took us away from the tourist paths to the food stalls only locals know. Traveling in the red car also allowed us to explore much more of the city.
  • The depth and knowledge we got from Moui, our A Chef’s tour guide was remarkable. As a food lover and local from the region, she knew the local cuisine and the best food tasting places. We left much more knowledgeable and empowered after our time together.
  • Meeting the locals – unlike other culinary tours, we got to meet the people behind the northern Thai food specialties. Even though we don’t speak Thai, Moui translated for us while sharing the individual stories of the different vendors.
  • Wide variety of Chiang Mai food and flavors. One thing we really appreciated was the diversity of flavors of local foods we sampled. From sweet to savory and street foods, we age a lot. Discovering Burmese food and its importance to northern Thai cuisine was very much appreciated.

AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST TIP: If you want to learn how to make Thai cuisine, consider taking a cooking class. See our review of the 6 of The Best Chiang Mai Cooking Classes For Thai Cuisine – Review

What Could Be Improved

The Northern Thai Noodle Soup Chiang Mai Street Food Authentic Food Quest
Moui adding Thai herbs to our soups to eat like the locals

This was a fantastic Chiang Mai food tour and we can’t think of anything in particular that could be improved.

It’s one of the best Chiang Mai food tours for foodies and adventurous eaters. Be prepared to eat A LOT! 

Know that there are many stops and you will not be sitting and relaxing at any one place for too long. 

How to Book Your Chiang Mai Food Tour

Dare to Try Century Eggs Chiang Mai Food Tours by Authentic Food Quest
Do you dare to try century eggs?

This Chiang Mai food tour with A Chef’s Tour is one of the best food tours with an authentic focus.

In the company of an expert culinary guide, you’ll dive into the local food scene and traditional Chiang Mai foods.

Tours are conducted in small groups of no more than 8 people and last about 4 hours. You’ll enjoy 15+ tasting and dishes on this absolutely delicious Chiang Mai food tour.

Other Chiang Mai Food Tours by A Chef’s Tour

If you are traveling to other destinations in Thailand, consider exploring Thai food on a guided walking tour. 

A Chef’s Tour also offers unique chef and foodie crafted tours in Bangkok and Phuket.

Bangkok Old Siam Lunchtime Food Tour 

Bangkok Backstreet Evening Food Tour

Phuket Old Town Food Tour

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In Summary

Chiang Mai food tours are one of the best ways to really get to know northern Thailand’s distinct cuisine. 

While Chiang Mai has a lot to offer visitors, the food and the culinary specialties are the biggest draw. 

Even though we had previously spent time in Chiang Mai discovering the local food on this Chiang Mai food tour took us even deeper.

Many of these hidden gems are some of the best local restaurants only accessible with local knowledge.

After seven amazing food stops and sampling over 16 unique regional specialties, we were thrilled.

With Moui’s local knowledge of northern Thai food and the link to Thai culture, we got a well-rounded perspective of the local cuisine and culture. 

The one piece of advice we would give is to go with an empty stomach. Don’t be surprised if you can’t stop eating even if you are full. It’s that delicious!

Have you ever taken a Chiang Mai food tour? In the comments below, please let us know what has surprised you about this food tour in Chiang Mai.

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Special thanks to A Chef’s Tour for having us on this tour. All views and opinions expressed are our own. Full bellies and happy taste buds too.

38 Comments on “Chiang Mai Food Tour: The Best Foodie Experience You Want To Take | [Updated 2022]”

    • Awesome and great to hear Ankurman. Indeed, the food in Thailand is incredible and northern Thai cuisine is amazing. If your travels take you to Chiang Mai, don’t miss A Chef’s Food Tour and explore the hidden gems in the area. Thanks for stopping by.

  1. Hi Claire / Rosemary,

    Could you share the address for Chef Jed’s Restaurant? We would like to give it a try during our trip to Chiang Mai. Thanks!

    Best regards,

    • Hi Jimmy, thanks for your note. We discovered Chef Jed’s on the Chiang Mai food tour in a very local neighborhood where everything was written in Thai. For directions and how to get to Chef Jed’s, we recommend checking in with A Chef’s Tour or better yet, booking their food tour. Hope this helps, cheers.

  2. I love a good food tour! You can’t go wrong with a guided tour for a cuisine as varied and incredible as Thai food. I find the Burmese influences quite fascinating. I love your photo with the famous cowboy hat lady – she’s got quite a good business going!

  3. I remember when I was in Chiang Mai I had lots of tasty food. Unfortunately, we didn’t go for the food tour or street food, but I would like to do so. when I am back there. This is a good excuse to go back. Am I right?

  4. I am always envious of your food tour experiences and Chiang Mai is no exception. I love that the cowboy hat lady has become well known, smart marketing… and I’m a fan of braised pork so win-win for me

  5. Hoping to be in Thailand soon and Chiang Mai but I have to be honest, I am not much of a foodie but after seeing the different types of food on offer on this tour, I be very tempted to broaden my horizons a bit more. 🙂 The northern port thai curry looks tasty and would love to try this first. 🙂

    • That’s awesome you are planning a Chiang Mai visit. The food in this region is quite unique in Thailand. Even though you may not consider yourself a foodie, getting a broad overview of what is unique to the region will help! Give it a go when you get here 🙂

  6. I always look forward to your food journeys. Traveling in famous rod daeng trucks would have been fantastic experience. I haven’t been to Chiang Mai but will definitely book with Chiang Mai Northern Food Tour by Truck. It’s a simple and easy way to taste & experience the local delicacies and hear stories about them.

    • Thanks Nisha. Glad you enjoy following our food quests. The Chiang Mai Northern food tour by truck took us to some unexpected places. Indeed, a great way to explore the food while getting local insights from a guide. Thanks for stopping by.

  7. I’ve spent a lot of time in Chiang Mai (I’ve lived there twice) and this is a great guide! I love that you included tealeaf and pennyworts salads. Chiang Mai has some awesome Burmese cuisine.

  8. I am a foodie and absolutely love Thai food so a food tour like this makes total sense for me. And I am really experimental too. Having said that, not sure if I will have it in me to try silkworms and crickets! I also love street food markets (more than restaurants) and the Cowboy Hat Lady food stall looks amazing!

    • As a Thai food lover, you would enjoy this tour. The insects are not scary to eat and they are very much a part of the local food culture. You will not go wrong at the cowboy hat lady stall. Great food and experience all around. Thanks, Medha.

  9. Khao Soi sounds really delicious. The amalgamation of this Thai dish with flavours from China, Burma and India makes it really distinct. I would totally love to visit Siri Wattana Market and get some organic food products from there.

  10. I LOVE Thai food and all of these items sound delicious (except maybe the bugs – LOL). Thank you for sharing this awesome glimpse into the Thai culture.

  11. Aaah how delicious those dishes look, it is making me drooling just to read your descriptions and look at the pictures! I love roaming around food stalls and smells all the food and discover new dishes. Thai foods look really yummy!

    • Market visits are so much fun as well as getting tempted by loads of delicious food at food stalls. So glad you enjoyed the article and hope you make it to Chiang Mai and experience this amazing tour for yourself 🙂

  12. I love Thai food so much (it’s one of the things that I miss a lot from Australia). So I would totally be all over the Khao Kha Moo from the Cowboy Hat Lady stall! And most of everything else on this list… but I’d have to skip some of the spicier stuff.

    • We miss good Thai food as well when we are back in the U.S. The pork from the cowboy lady is quite tasty and worth experiencing. There wasn’t too much spicy food and much of it can be toned down as well. Hope you get back to Thailand and Chiang Mai soon and take this amazing tour. Thanks, Katherine.

  13. When I was in Chiang Mai I took a cooking class to learn more about the food. The food tour you did sounds like a lot of fun. I am not sure I could eat the silk worms or the crickets though

  14. Oh wow, it looks like you really got to sample lots of authentic northern Thai food. I love that you give a bit of background to each dish and explain what it is because so much of it is unfamiliar to me. The desserts looked really yummy and unique, the Khanom Buang with coconut cream would be my pick but everything sounded interesting to try.

  15. I do love a good food tour when I travel. And I’m hoping to visit here towards the end of the year, so this is great! I have a huge sweet tooth and those pancakes with coconut filling looked delicious!


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