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Chiang Mai food, with its distinct identity and fresh flavors, is one thing that keeps drawing us back to the largest city in northern Thailand.
The food in Chiang Mai draws from the mountains and cool climate as well as the influence of the northern neighboring countries like Burma and China.
You will also find food from the Isaan region, the northeast part of Thailand, which shares similarities to Laos and Cambodian cuisine.
After spending several months exploring Chiang Mai, we’ve curated this authentic food guide.
Use this comprehensive list of 15 authentic Chiang Mai foods as a guide to savor the region’s rich culinary tradition.
Chiang Mai Food – An Introduction to Northern Thai Food
The food in northern Thailand is not as celebrated as the food you’d find in Bangkok or at your local Thai restaurant.
Due to the cooler, mountainous climate, the food in Chiang Mai is fattier as people need to stay warm.
River fish used to dominate northern Thai cuisine, but over the years it’s been replaced with pork and chicken.
Locals eat a lot of roots and wild vegetables including mushrooms, young bamboo shoots, cabbage, raw egg plants, winged beans and more.
Unlike in Bangkok, where coconut milk is a staple ingredient in many of the dishes, the food in Chiang Mai is not as sweet or spicy. Soups and curries have a clear broth.
You will sometimes see Chiang Mai food referred to as Lanna food. That’s because Chiang Mai founded in 1296 was the capital of the ancient Lanna Kingdom.
This is the northern part of Thailand which now includes Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Phayao, Lampang, Nan and Phae.
Chiang Mai food is always accompanied with sticky rice, which locals refer to as khao neow.
AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST TIP: To explore the best food in Chiang Mai we recommended taking a food tour with a local guide. We personally took this Chiang Mai Northern Flavors Food Tour and learned so much about local Thai culture while enjoying loads of delicious local foods to try. A highly recommended experience to explore popular Chiang Mai food.
The Best of Chiang Mai Food For Northern Thai Food
1. Northern Pork and Ginger Curry – Gaeng Hang Lay Moo
One northern curry dish we love is gaeng hang lay. It’s a slow cooked curry of pork (usually pork belly and shoulder) with ginger, tamarind and Indian spices.
This dish has its roots in Burma and is close to the massaman curry you’d find in Southern Thailand, but without the curry milk.
There are as many versions of gaeng hang lay as there are northern Thai cooks. On the menu of some Chiang Mai restaurants, gaeng hang lay is also referred to as “Burmese curry.”
We love the rich flavors of this curry. The ginger (galangal) adds a delicious kick and the slight sourness from the tamarind is divine.
We’ve savored this dish at several Chiang Mai restaurants and from market vendors.
One of the biggest differences we’ve noticed is in the quality of the pork. At times, it can be fatty, while other times, lean and tender.
Following are two of the best places to eat in Chiang Mai for gaeng hang lay.
Best Restaurant in Chiang Mai for Gaeng Hang Lay Moo
This Lanna style restaurant is in the South Gate area in the Old City of Chiang Mai.
Featuring a wonderful backyard oasis, you can relax while enjoying aromatic pork curry cooked in delightful tamarind, turmeric, ginger, garlic, palm sugar flavors.
We discovered this restaurant on a Chiang Mai northern food tour, and went back several times because we loved it so much.
ร้านลาบไก่เมืองพันแหวน – Laab Kai Mueang Pan Waen
Address: South Gate – 11 Bumrungburi Soi 3 Rd Prasingha Muang, Chiang Mai
Next door to Baan Chern Chiangmai Hotel
Hours: Open everyday except Sunday 11:00 am to 10:00 pm
Price: 60 Thai Baht – Approx. $1.60 USD for a serving of Gaeng Hang Lay Moo (written Kaeng Hung Ley)
Pro Tips: Have your Gaeng Hang Lay Moo the northern Thai way, with sticky rice. Their Laarb, another northern Thai specialty, is also delicious.
Best Market Vendor in Chiang Mai for Gaeng Hang Lay Moo at Ton Payom Market
One of our favorite local markets in Chiang Mai is Ton Payom, located behind Chiang Mai University.
At the entrance, near the fruit section, is where you’ll find the friendly vendor who makes, in our opinion, the best gaeng hang lay moo.
We also love this market’s northern Thai specialties like sai oua sausages, nam prik dipping sauces and other authentic local dishes.
Gaeng Hang Lay Moo Vendor at the corner of two alleys after the fruit section
Address: Ton Payom Market is located behind Chiang Mai University, at the intersection of Suthep Road and Chiang Mai Outer Ring Road, Chiang Mai.
Hours: Open everyday 6:00 am to 7:00 pm
Price: 60 Thai Baht – Approx. $1.60 USD for a serving of Gaeng Hang Lay Moo or 200 Thai Baht – Approx. 5.20 USD for 1 kg.
Pro Tips: This vendor is very popular, so get there before 2:00 pm, as she tends to run out.
READ MORE: For the best places to stay in Chiang Mai for food, see our guide Best Chiang Mai Neighborhoods – Best Places to Stay in Chiang Mai for Food Lovers!
2. Khao Soi – The Most Famous Chiang Mai Food
Khao Soi (also spelled Khao Soy) is the most famous Chiang Mai food.
It is a northern Thai noodle soup made with a rich and spicy coconut curry and served with chicken or beef and two types of yellow noodles.
From the South of China, the dish made its way to Thailand with Chinese Yunnanese Muslims traders on their way to Myanmar. That’s why it’s found primarily in the north of Thailand.
The main ingredients are freshly made red curry paste, turmeric powder and curry powder. The coconut curry broth has both boiled and deep fried egg noodles and chicken or beef.
Khao Soi in Chiang Mai is accompanied by a fresh lime wedge, shallots, pickled cabbage and roasted chilies.
We fell in love with khao soi, for its fragrant rich broth that with perfectly balanced spicy, sour, and sweet flavors.
With meat falling off the traditional chicken leg, this is a meal perfected in heaven.
Our article, Fall in Love With the Best Authentic Khao Soi in Chiang Mai, follows our three-month quest to find the best khao soi in Chiang Mai.
After countless bowls of the most famous noodle dish, our favorite khao soi was from a street food vendor.
This local stand at the intersection of Wua Lai and Huay Kaew Soi 2, for us, is the best in Chiang Mai.
Though, other eateries like Khao Soi Khun Yai and Khao Soi Mae Sai are also solid Chiang Mai restaurants for Khao Soi.
Best Street Food Vendor to Eat Khao Soi In Chiang Mai
Address: At the intersection of Wua Lai and Huay Kaew Soi 2 next to Fat Thin Steak, Chiang Mai
Hours: Open Monday to Saturday from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm
Prices: 30 Thai Baht per person, approximately $0.80 USD
Pro Tips: This stall is very popular with the locals. Go around noon for the best experience. You can also get a larger bowl of khao soi for 35 Thai Baht.
READ MORE: Fall in Love with the Best Authentic Khao Soi in Chiang Mai
3. Sai Oua – A Celebrated Chiang Mai Sausage
Sai oua, another famous Chiang Mai food, are fragrant sausages found in northern Thailand. Also spelled sai ua, these sausages are said to have their roots in Burma or Laos.
This is another of our favorite Chiang Mai foods. The sausages are infused with a wonderful blend of Thai spices and herbs like lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and galangal, and then grilled to perfection.
Traditionally, northern Thai sausages were prepared in this manner as a way of preserving food for a couple of days.
To dive deeper into this local food, we partnered with A Chef’s Tour to learn how make sai oua sausages from the legendary auntie Rod, also known as the “Queen of Sai Oua”.
In Chiang Mai, you’ll find sai oua sausages sold at the local markets. As with each local cook, the taste and flavors vary slightly.
Some are spicier than others, some a little fatty, while others have more lemongrass and herbs.
One of our favorite vendors is at Ton Payom market. You can sample sai oua from the different vendors and buy them hot off the grill.
Best Market Vendor in Chiang Mai for Sai Oua at Ton Payom Market
Ton Payom Market is one of the best places in Chiang Mai to taste sai oua. There are many vendors where you can sample this northern Thai sausage.
One of our favorite vendors is located in the middle of the stalls.You will identify her with the large selection of Thai fermented pork sausage, called Naem, that is around her stall.
We like the sai oua she sells as it is well spiced and on the lean side. She also has a milder version, for those who don’t like spice. At the market, you can also taste nam prik ong and kap moo, two other local dishes you must try when you visit Chiang Mai.
Address: Ton Payom Market is located behind Chiang Mai University, at the intersection of Suthep Road and Chiang Mai Outer Ring Road, Chiang Mai.
Hours: Open everyday 6:00 am to 7:00 pm
Price: 30 Thai Baht – Approx. $0.80 USD for 100 grams of Chiang Mai Sausage.
Pro Tips: Enjoy and sample as many sai oua and kap moo as you’d like before purchasing.
READ MORE: Thai Sausage: How to Make the Best Sai Oua in Chiang Mai
4. Northern Thai Chili Dips – Nam Prik
Chili dips are very popular in northern Thailand and are typically found on every dinner table.
Nam Prik Ong
Nam Prik Ong is a favorite Chiang Mai food. It is red in color and made with stir-fried chilies, garlic, shallots, shrimp paste, and ground pork mixed with cherry tomatoes and chopped, fresh coriander.
It has a thick texture, similar to a Bolognese or ragu sauce. This pork tomato chili dip is commonly served with vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower, eggplant, long beans and okra.
Nam prik ong is mild and very flavorful with a nice garlic and fresh herbs taste. We love this dip and it is the kind of northern Thai starter that will please any palate.
Nam Prik Noom
Nam prik noom, or Thai Green Chili Dip, is another well known dip that is enjoyed across Thailand. Its roots are also in northern Thailand, where it remains popular.
Green in color, this dip is made with roasted green chilies, shallots, and garlic. We would describe it as hot and sour.
Accompanying this dip are fried pork cracklings, also known as kap moo, northern sausages sausages, boiled eggs or cooked vegetables. Sticky rice is also served with this dish to make it a meal.
Unlike the red chili dip, this one has an enjoyable smokey and garlicky taste.
Best Restaurant in Chiang Mai for Northern Thai Chili Dips
One of the best Chiang Mai restaurants for nam prik is Tong Tem Toh. This large and airy eatery, in the core of the Niman neighborhood, is very popular with Chinese tourists.
Be prepared to wait outside the restaurant during the peak hours of lunch and dinner.
What’s great about Tong Tem Toh is their extensive offering of Northern Thai food including northern style soups, stir fries and barbecue.
Order one of their chili dips with a side of kap moo and sticky rice.
Tong Tem Toh – Northern Thai Cuisine
Address: Nimmanahaeminda Road Soi 13, Chiang Mai
Hours: Open everyday from 8:00 am to 11:00 pm
Price: 63 Thai Baht – Approx. $1.70 USD for one serving of Nam Prik Chili Dip
Pro Tips: Arrive early for dinner or lunch to avoid the long lines.
RELATED: 6 of The Best Chiang Mai Cooking Classes For Thai Cuisine – Review
5. Young Jackfruit Salad – Tam Khanun
In the north of Thailand, locals believe jackfruit or khanun is a fruit that brings fortune or good luck.
As such, jackfruit is cooked at important ceremonies like weddings and New Year celebrations to ensure prosperity and success.
When the bride and groom eat jackfruit, Thais believe they will always support each other. Furthermore, when jackfruit is eaten at New Year’s, they believe they will have good luck all year.
While in the north of Thailand, you cannot miss this auspicious Chiang Mai food. Jackfruit is used in curries, salads and desserts.
The unripe jackfruit is boiled until tender, pounded with seasonings, and briefly cooked.
To make jackfruit salad, young jackfruit is preferred for its subtle flavors. It’s mixed with minced pork, ginger, garlic, shallots, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, chiles, and more.
We enjoyed this salad several times and each time noticed slightly different tastes based on the ingredients used. The texture is firm and meaty, making it quite filling meal.
This refreshing and flavorful salad with spicy, salty and nutty tastes is one amazing food in Chiang Mai worth trying.
Best Restaurant in Chiang Mai to Eat Jackfruit Salad
Huen Muan Jai, located on the northwest side of the Old City, is a restaurant set in a traditional Lanna style house.
Their menu features an extensive selection of northern Thai specialties. This is one of the best restaurants in Chiang Mai to sample many dishes highlighted in this article.
Some of our favorites from thie restaurant are Nam Prik Ong, Gaeng Lee or banana blossom pork, Aeb Pla or grilled catfish in banana leaves and more.
Address: 24 Ratchapruek Alley, Chiang Mai
Hours: Open everyday from 11:00 am to 9:00 pm. Closed on Wednesday
Price: 80 Thai Baht – Approx. $2.10 USD for the jack fruit salad
Pro Tips: Order the northern appetizer sampler to get a taste of Chiang Mai food all on one delicious platter.
6. Spicy Pork Noodle Soup – Khanom Jeen Nam Ngiaw
While Kao Soi gets all the attention as the most famous noodle dish in northern Thailand, kanom jeen nam ngiaw is another of the region’s noodle superstars.
Khanom Jeen Nam Ngiaw (also spelled Khanom Jeen Nam Ngiao) is most associated with Chiang Rai and has Burmese and Yunanese influence.
It’s a noodle soup which starts out with vermicelli-style rice noodles in a broth of pork, spice paste, herbs, and tomatoes.
Khanon Jeen means “fresh rice noodles” and nam ngiaw is a spicy tomato infused broth. Pork is typically the main ingredient with cubes of dried chicken blood.
Chopped tomatoes, chilies and garlic give this dish flavor and spice.
The broth can range in taste depending on how it is prepared. It can range from spicy to meaty and savory.
Served alongside the noodle dish are pickled cabbage, bean sprouts, and a fresh lime wedge to liven up the meal.
Claire particularly enjoyed the fragrant and spicy combination of this dish.
Best Place to Eat Kanom Jeen Nam Ngiao in Chiang Mai
There are several restaurants serving this amazing food. One of our best Kanom Jean Nam Ngiao was at Khao Soy Mae Sai.
This local eatery focuses on a few soups typical from northern Thailand and we particularly liked the flavors in this noodle and pork soup.
While Khao Soi Mae Sai is most well known for their khao soi noodle soup, we personally preferred our khao soi local vendor. You’ll find her stall at the intersection of Wua Lai and Huay Kaew Soi 2.
Address: 29/1, Ratchaphuek Road, Chiang Mai
Hours: Open everyday from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm
Price: 40 Thai Baht – Approx. $1.10 USD per soup bowl, 50 Thai Baht – Approx. $1.30 USD per noodle soup with beef
Pro Tips: Khao Soy Mae Sai has become really popular with tourists, making it crowded and annoying to eat there during peak season. Best is to go early before lunch hours to avoid the hordes of tourists.
7. Northern Wild Thai Mushrooms
In the forested and mountainous area of northern Thailand, mushrooms feature prominently in the local cuisine.
They are important to the region and there is even a Mushroom Research Center, just north of the city of Chiang Mai.
We were struck by the diversity of mushrooms we saw everytime we went shopping at the local Chiang Mai markets.
Likewise, the prepared meals section at the local markets also had several intriguing dishes featuring mushrooms, or het in Thai.
Don’t miss savoring northern Thai mushrooms on your Chiang Mai food travels.
Best Restaurant in Chiang Mai to Have Wild Thai Mushrooms
To taste these mushrooms, locals told us to visit Pun Pun Vegetarian Slow Food, a vegetarian restaurant close to Chiang Mai University.
We enjoyed two incredibly delicious mushroom soups with flavors we have never tasted before.
Address: 139 Suthep Rd at the intersection of Sriwichai Road, Chiang Mai
Hours: Open everyday from 6:00 am to 5:00 pm
Price: 50 Thai Baht – Approx. $1.38 USD for one serving of Mushroom Soup
Pro Tips: This is a popular eatery for delicious vegetarian northern Thai dishes and they tend to run out of food. Go early for the biggest selection of mushroom based dishes.
8. Northern Thai Sweet & Savory Treats Wrapped in Banana Leaves
All over the local markets in Chiang Mai, are small treats wrapped in banana leaves.
Some are triangular, others are long rounded rods, and some, just short and stumpy. Either way, they are all fascinating as they hold delicious treasures within.
The first few times we saw these banana wrapped delights, we were curious about the filling. Unfortunately, due to language limitations, we were unable to communicate.
Curious, we bought a few and were surprised to find both sweet and savory fillings.
Khanom – Thai Dessert
The sweet ones all contained sticky rice with coconut milk added. The ones we tried also had layers of custard, banana and black beans.
Our favorite was the sticky rice with custard, also called Khao niao sangkhaya. Prepared with glutinous rice, egg custard and coconut milk, it’s worth buying several of these banana wrapped treats.
Naem – Sour Pork Sausages
The savory ones, known as naem or nem are sour pork sausages. You will find these sausages either wrapped in banana leaves or wrapped in plastic.
These sausages are made with ground pork skin, sticky rice, garlic, chilies, spices and then fermented for a few days.
We were not fans of the strong, tangy flavors but those who love sour and savory will enjoy naem.
Best Places in Chiang Mai for Banana Wrapped Sweet & Savory Treats
Warorot market is the largest market in Chiang Mai, in the Chinatown area. There is a wonderful food scene with different vendors in the morning and at night.
During the day, inside the main building, you will find a section for sweet treats as well as a section for savory and sai oua sausage.
Let yourself get tempted as you peruse the various banana wrapped treats.
Address: Between Chang Moi Road and Thapae Road, a block west of Ping River, Chiang Mai
Hours: Open everyday from 6:00 am to 5:00 pm for the inside market. Night food vendors are outside of the building, and open until 10:00 pm
Prices: 10 to 20 Thai Baht – Approx. $0.30 to 0.50 USD per savory and sweet treats.
Pro Tips: As Warorot market is in the center of Chinatown, you will find many Chinese influenced sweets.
Watch Our Video About The Best of Chiang Mai Food
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Isaan Food in Chiang Mai
The area of Northeastern Thailand that borders both Cambodia and Laos is known as the Isaan region, also spelled Isan or Issan.
The food from this region is simple and spicy, and some of the iconic dishes are enjoyed throughout Thailand.
Som Tam or papaya salad comes from this region. Meat salads like larb and grilled meats and soups with preserved fish are common.
In Chiang Mai, you will find northeastern specialities that are part of the fabric of the Chiang food culture.
On your northern Thailand travels, don’t miss some of these famous Chiang Mai food or Isaan food specialties.
READ MORE: The 15 Best Chiang Mai Markets: Food, Flowers, Night Markets And More
9. Northern Thai Spicy Pork Salad – Larb Khua
Larb (also spelled Laab, Larp) or spicy minced pork salad is found in northeast Thailand and Laos.
In Laos, Laos Larb is a signature dish and often referred to as the country’s national dish.
In Thailand, Larb is commonly eaten in the northeast part of Thailand and is a main staple Isaan dish.
The Chiang Mai version is spicier than the northeastern version. Both versions start with the same protein base of either pork, chicken, beef or duck.
The Chiang Mai larb version tends to be dark in color as it is a mixt of pork, offals, and pork blood cubes. It’s heated quickly in cooking oil and served with a healthy dose of herbs and spices.
Whereas the Isaan version tends to include toasted rice, lime juice, fish sauce and fresh chilies.
Eaten typically with sticky rice, you don’t want to miss Chiang Mai food of Isaan flavors.
Best Chiang Mai Restaurant To Eat Larb Spicy Pork Salad
Located in the Old City, Hueng Phen restaurant has been around for more than 30 years.
They offer an extensive array of local northern Thai food specialties. One of the best dishes we had was their minced pork salad Northern style or larb.
Served in a beautiful small bowl with a large plate of leafy greens, this is a great dish to share with a side of sticky rice.
Address: 28 Nimmanhaemin Road Soi 13, Chiang Mai
Hours: Open everyday from 8:30 am to 10:00 pm
Pricing: 90 Thai Baht – Approx. $2.35 USD for the larb
Pro Tips: For a more local atmosphere, skip dinner and go there for lunch instead. You will avoid large groups of tourists that come in the evening.
10. Green Papaya Salad – Som Tam Salad
Thai green papaya salad, also known as som tam, is one of the more common dishes you’ll find throughout the country.
Originally from the Isaan region, it is also a popular dish in Laos. It’s simple to make using chilies, tomatoes, green beans, fish sauce, palm sugar and fresh lime juice.
To get the most flavor, everything is mixed by hand, using a pestle and mortar.
There are many variations to this Chiang Mai food. There is papaya salad with fermented fish and white pork sausage called Tum Mou.
You’ll also find Tum Hoi Dong, which is a papaya salad with marinated shellfish. Yum Suo Saknakorn is another popular northeastern style salad with rice vermicelli noodles.
If you are a pork fan, you will enjoy Tum Kor Moo Yang, which is a spicy salad mixed with grilled pork neck meat.
Whichever way you prefer to have this iconic Thai salad, be sure to savor the various preparation styles of this popular food in Chiang Mai.
Best Chiang Mai Restaurant to Eat Green Papaya Salad in Chiang Mai
Som Tum restaurant specializes in Thai salads, sour Thai soup (Tom Yum soup), and chicken skewers.
All their salads are made fresh to order. You’ll also find another options like cucumber salad, corn salad, green papaya salad with blue crab, and many more.
Order your salad with sticky rice and add a serving of chicken skewers to complete your meal.
Do note that this local eatery gets busy with students from the nearby Chiang Mai University.
ส้มตำร้อยเอ็ดเจ็ดยอด – Som Tum Restaurant
Address: Jed Yod-Chang Khian Rd and Jed Yod-Chang Khian Rd Soi 7, Chiang Mai next to Chicken Ryder restaurant.
Hours: Open everyday 11:00 am – 10:30 pm
Price: 40 Thai Baht – Approx. $1.10 USD for a green papaya salad
Pro Tips: The salads and soups are served very spicy. Don’t hesitate to ask for little or no spice as this will definitely burn.
11. Thai Grilled Chicken – Kai Yang Nung Krob
Kai Yang Nong Krob is grilled chicken in Thai. It is a classic dish that comes from the northeastern Isaan region of Thailand.
It is also a very popular street style dish eaten all over the country.
One of the joys of traveling through local and authentic food is seeing how different countries approach the same dish.
In Peru, for instance, Peruvian rotisserie chicken is called pollo a la brasa and is also a popular grilled chicken specialty.
In Thailand, the grilled chicken is made with a whole chicken whose backbone is removed for quick cooking and crispy skin.
The chicken is marinated in garlic, lemongrass, Thai soy sauce and fish sauce. You will, however, find differences in the recipes used depending on the region and the cook.
Grilled chicken is typically eaten with sticky rice and green papaya salad or som tam. The combination of these three dishes makes for a spicy, flavorful and succulent meal.
Best Restaurants in Chiang Mai to Eat Grilled Chicken
Judging by the lineup of chicken skewers on the barbecue stands on the sidewalk of Toy, you know that grilling is taken seriously here.
Located East of Wat Loi Kro before the Ping River, Toy Roszab is an ideal stop for lunch while sightseeing in and around the Old City.
We enjoyed freshly grilled chicken skewers cooked with a hint of lemongrass flavors. Combined with a side of sticky rice and a salad, it makes for a tasty lunch.
We also recommend the grilled pork salad which we found really flavorful and perfectly grilled.
Address: 93/2 Kampangdin Rd, Chiang Mai.
Hours: Open every day except Sunday from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm
Price: 20 Thai Baht – Approx. $0.50 USD per chicken skewer
Pro Tips: Order the spicy grilled pork salad or moo nam tok for another delicious Isaan dish.
Cherng Doi is another restaurant located in Nimman that serves grilled chicken. The restaurant is more on the touristy trail. However, their chicken or Kai Yang Nong Krob, is exceptional and served with a delicious sour-sweet tamarind sauce.
Address: 2/8 Suk Kasame Rd, Su Thep, Chiang Ma, Chiang Mai.
Hours: Open everyday from 11:00 am to 8:00 pm. Closed on Mondays
Price: 85 Thai Baht – Approx. $2.20 USD for a plate of roasted chicken
Best Signature Chiang Mai Food Not to Miss
Beyond these famous Chiang Mai foods, there are a few other iconic dishes that cannot be missed when you visit Chiang Mai.
12. Northern Thai Food Influence By Burmese Food: Burmese Tea Leaf Salad
Chiang Mai food has been influenced by Burmese cuisine and in particular the cuisine of the Shan State.
The fermented tea leaf salad or laphet thoke is one of the signature dishes from the Shan State. Laphet is the word for green tea and thoke means salad.
The salad is full of crunchy textures and has pickled tea leaves, crisp, roasted peanuts and other crunchy beans, toasted sesame seeds and fried garlic.
In Burma, Lahpet is very important to the culture. So much so that when tea leaves are harvested, the best of the crop is set aside for fermenting to make the salad, while the rest is dried and processed for drinking tea.
Best Chiang Mai Restaurant To Have Burmese Food in Chiang Mai
One of the best restaurants in Chiang Mai to savor the earthly flavors of this salad is Burmese Restaurant & Library.
This is a well-known restaurant for authentic Burmese dishes. While you’ll also find Thai food on the menu, werecommend sticking with Burmese food.
Nong Bee’s Burmese Restaurant & Library
Address: 28 Nimmanhaemin Road Soi 13, Chiang Mai
Hours: Open everyday from 10:00 am to 9:00 pm
Pricing: 40 Thai Baht – Approx. $1.10 USD for a tea leaf salad
Pro Tips: The plate sizes are rather small. We recommend trying several dishes and sharing them. Besides the tea leaf salad, our favorites are the stewed pork, eggplant curry and prawn curry.
13. Pork Legs And Rice – Khao Kha Moo
Although not a Lanna dish or northern Thai food, this Chiang Mai food guide would not be complete without mentioning khao kha moo.
Khao kha moo is a stewed pork leg that is cooked for hours and served over rice. This simple, yet perfect dish is tender and seasoned just right.
It’s served with a boiled, bright orange duck egg, garlic, pickled mustard greens and a Thai-chili sauce.
Best Street Food Vendor in Chiang Mai To Eat Khao Moo – The Cowboy Lady
On any given evening, across from the north Chang Phueak Gate in the Old City, you’ll find the Cowboy Hat Lady stall.
One of the most famous food stalls in Chiang Mai, the Cowboy Lady’s khao kha moo is said to be the best pork leg and rice in the city.
Look for the stall with the longest line and the lady wearing a Stetson hat and a huge grin on her face.
The Cowboy Lady – Khao Kha Moo Chang Phueak Gate
Address: Chang Phueak Market across the Chang Phueak Gate, Chiang Mai.
Hours: Open everyday, from 5:00 pm to 2:00 am
Price: 30 Thai Baht – Approx. $0.80 USD for one plate served with a duck egg.
Pro Tips: The Cowboy Lady has a newly opened physical restaurant where you can get the delicious khao kha moo earlier in the day. The hours are 8:00 am to 5:00 pm every day. It is located on Mun Mueang Road at the intersection of Mun Mueang Road Soi 9 next to Hom Coffee.
14. Suki Yaki – Suki Northern Thai Version
Suki is another famous Chiang food. You’ll also find it at the Chang Phueak Gate or north gate market.
Suki consists of vegetables cooked with mung bean noodles and a mix of seafood, chicken or pork.
The accompanying suki sauce is one of the best parts of the dish. It is a tomato-based sauce with sesame oil, spices and more.
With a sizable Chinese population in northern Thailand, this dish has been adapted with Thai variations.
The use of chili, lime, coriander and a Thai spicy dipping sauce add a unique Thai flair to it.
Best Food Stall in Chiang Mai for Suki in Chiang Mai
Located in the same cluster of food stalls as the cowboy hat lady, is Chang Phueak Suki. At the stall, you’ll find two versions of suki.
You can have a dry version, called suki haeng, or a wet version with broth called suki nam.
We tried both the wet and dry versions which were both very good. We preferred the dry version with seafood, which we recommend.
Fresh cabbage, vegetables, and seafood combined with the suki sauce is absolutely divine.
Address: A few stalls down the Cowboy Lady to the west at Chang Phueak Market across the Chang Phueak Gate, Chiang Mai
Hours: Open every day; 6:00 pm -12:00 am
Price: 40 Thai Baht – Approx. $1.10 USD per order of suki, either suki haeng (dry suki) or suki nam (wet suki)
Pro Tips: One thing to be aware of is the small portion sizes. The dry version in particular disappears just after a few bites. You may consider starting with suki as an appetizer and then going to the cowboy hat lady for the pork and rice.
15. Mango Sticky Rice – Khao Neow Mamuang
Every Chiang Mai food guide needs to include Mango sticky rice or khao niao mamuang. This is one of those traditional Thai desserts you simply cannot miss.
Very popular throughout Thailand, you’ll also find it in other countries in Southeast Asia like Laos or Cambodia.
This Thai dessert is made with glutinous rice, fresh mango, palm sugar and coconut milk. Absolutely delicious, it is one of our favorite Thai desserts.
Best Street Food Vendor To Eat Sticky Rice in Chiang Mai
You’ll find many eateries, stalls and restaurants selling mango sticky rice. One of the best places to eat mango sticky rice in Chiang Mai is at Ton Payom Market.
In the middle of the market is a vendor who specializes in Thai desserts, including freshly made mango sticky rice.
We particularly like her extremely sweet mangoes that she cuts right in front of you. Her sticky rice is simply some of the best we’ve had. It is perfectly prepared with the right amount of coconut and sugar.
In our opinion, she makes the best mango sticky rice in Chiang Mai. You will be rewarded richly with a trip to Ton Payom market for this dessert and more.
Address: Look for the lady with the large stall of sweets and deserts inside Ton Payom Market behind the fruit stalls and before the Sai Oua stalls. Ton Payom Market is located behind Chiang Mai University, at the intersection of Suthep Road and Chiang Mai Outer Ring Road, Chiang Mai.
Hours: Open everyday 6:00 am to 7:00 pm
Price: 60 Thai Baht – Approx. $1.60 USD for a plate of mango sticky rice.
READ MORE: The 15 Most Delightful Popular Thai Desserts to Indulge In
Chiang Mai, also known as the “Rose of the North,” is a foodie paradise with a unique culinary history and tradition.
This list of 15 best, authentic, Chiang Mai foods is an introduction to help you discover the range of diverse food found in this region of the country.
Delight in your exploration of local food using this Chiang Mai food guide to the ancient capital of the Lanna Kingdom.
Have you had Chiang Mai food before? Which one of these foods in Chiang Mai would you love to try? Please let us know in the comments below.
Savor the Adventure!
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Rosemary is the editor-in-chief and strategist at Authentic Food Quest.
Traveling slow since 2015 with her partner, Claire, she has explored the cuisine in 45 countries and more than 240+ culinary cities.
Her writing about local food specialties has been featured in Lonely Planet, Business Insider, Honest Cooking, Food Insider, and Huffington Post.
As a food and travel writer, Rosemary has co-authored three books, including one in collaboration with Costa Brava Tourism.
Rosemary is an avid runner when she’s not eating and exploring new destinations. She has run ten marathons and counting.
Before Authentic Food Quest, Rosemary held senior-level strategy positions in advertising.
Find out more about Authentic Food Quest
42 Comments on “15 of the Best Authentic Chiang Mai Food and Where to Eat It”
I can’t remember if I had any of these dishes when I was in Chiang Mai, but I remember that I enjoy every meal we had there. One of the best dishes we had had fish, but I don’t know which type of fish. I would like to go back and try Khao Soi because I like noodle soup with chicken
We are right there with you. Khao soi is a good reason to keep going back to Chiang Mai 🙂
Thailand is a foodies paradise. Although I am a vegetarian, I have not faced much problem as people always dish up something for me. 🙂 🙂
Apparently, Vasu, Chaing Mai is the vegetarian capital of the country. You would enjoy the food there as well 🙂
I’m not big on rice, so it’s always the noodle dishes that I head towards when it comes to Thai cuisine. I do love mango, though, so I usually get the mango sticky rice and just don’t eat the rice. The papaya salad is always a favorite of mine. And I had some of the best chicken in Thailand, too. The skewered chicken on the barbecue looks so delicious from your photos!
That’s the good thing about Thailand is that you can choose between rice and noodle dishes. Papaya salad is one of our favorites as well. So much good food to choose from. Thanks,Jennifer.
Khao Soy is my favourite Thai dish and what an amazing experience would it be to have it from the street vendor in Chiang Mai. The best thing I love about Thailand is actually their food! I haven’t been to Chiang Mai yet though I’ve been to other parts of Thailand and I cannot wait to get there. You’ve made a wonderful guide here for foodies like me, thanks!
You are right, Thailand just captivates your taste buds in an indescribable way. Hope your next Thai travels take you to Chiang Mai! Thanks, Medha.
Oh, my goodness, your posts always make me so hungry! This is an excellent food guide for Chiang Mai, which will come in very handy when I go to Thailand in fall. I absolutely adore Thai food and we have some excellent Thai restaurants here, in Los Angeles. However, I’m sure they don’t compare with the real experience I’ll have in Chiang Mai. Those sausages look so flavorful and succulent! I can almost feel the taste in my mouth.
Perfect timing, Anda. Happy to help guide you to the best local dishes. You will have a wonderful time. Feel free to reach out for any food tips prior to your trip. Cheers.
Your blogs always make me hungry and dreamy for travel. Pork and ginger curry sounds amazing. So does sai ua, I have recently fallen in love with lemongrass
Great to hear….lol, that’s the idea, to tempt you into exploring the local specialties. Glad you enjoyed the article.
It sounds like there are a whole lot of things to try in Chiang Mai. So neat that you went for a month and stayed for two years. That’s falling in love with a place for sure. Are most of the foods spicy? It sounds like it from your descriptions. I had a Thai nanny when I was a child and she made us the most wonderful foods, but I don’t remember spicy ones. She may have been from a different area. It was fun to see these foods. Love those great big pans.
So glad you enjoyed the article, Kathleen. The spice level in the food depends on the dish and cook. You can absolutely tailor it for your needs. Hope you get a chance to visit Chiang Mai at one point. Amazing city. Thanks for stopping by.
What a mouth-watering post! I love the sound of Khao Soi – especially the coconut and chicken combination. I’m a big fan of Larb, but haven’t had the pork style, and the Chiang Mai version sounds rich and delicious.
From your response Hannah, you would love the food in Chiang Mai. Hope you get there soon to try the northern versions of larb and more. Thanks for stopping by.
The young jack fruit dish is like one we have in the Philippines. The sukiyaki doesn’t look anything like the Japanese dish of the same dish! But there’s a lot that’s great to try!
The Thai sukiyaki has evolved over time and is now uniquely Thai. So different, but the same name 🙂 I wonder if the young jackfruit salad tastes the same as in the Philippines? Thanks, Carol.
I am a massive foodie and of all the places I have travelled to, I have to admit that Thai food is my absolute favourite. I live in Athens, Greece now and it’s not so easy to find it. We have one place here and it’s super expensive but I am forever dragging my friends along and I think the owner thinks I have some serious Green curry addiction problem because I am always there and I always order the same thing, LOL. So many great recommendations here I haven’t tried that I will have to keep in mind when I’m in Chaing Mai. The Gaeng Hang Lay Moo, in particular, looks amazing. Love how well you capture the food and the markets in your photos!
Perfect, Melissa, when you do make it to Chiang Mai use this food guide to help you discover the best of Chiang Mai food. So glad you are a Thai food fan as well. Thanks for stopping by.
Woah that is a lot of recommendations for Chiang Mai. I love how detailed all your recommendations are. We miss authentic Thai food, we currently live in Queenstown and struggle to find good Asian food. This post is making me very hungry ?
Thanks, Aimee, so glad you enjoyed our Chiang Mai food guide. We’ve also had a difficult time finding good Thai food outside of Thailand. The best always is to go the country/region of origin 🙂
I had no idea how different food in Chiang Mai and Northern Thailand is from the rest of the country! And I really want to try that mango sticky rice dessert.
Influenced by the region and as the former Lanna Kingdom, the food in northern Thailand developed its own identity. Fortunately, you can find mango sticky rice everywhere in Thailand. Your local Thai restaurant might it on the menu. Thanks, Kristin.
Your post is making me hungry, as always (and I actually just had Thai food for lunch – green curry chicken with brown rice!). I would’ve loved to add green papaya salad to my meal and finish it off with mango sticky rice. Although I’ve never had young jackfruit salad, so I will have to give it a try next time I’m in Thailand. Unfortunately I didn’t make it to Northern Thailand last time I was there but this post will be the perfect guide for me when I do!
Perfect timing. A Thai lunch while reading this northern Thai food guide. A trip to Chiang Mai is certainly worth it if you traveling to Thailand. Thanks, Krista.
Wooooow Rosemary and Claire!
What an amazing post! You ladies managed to find so many delicious-sounding dishes. I have only heard of a couple of these, so I feel like I really need to visit Chaing Mai! Those sai oua sausages, the mango rice, the tea leaf salad, the mushrooms, I want to try it aaaaaall!
p.s. I should not have clicked on this link before my lunchtime. You have made me so hungry, and I don’t know anywhere nearby where I can buy this kind of food! doh!
Great Josy. So glad you enjoyed our comprehensive Chiang Mai food guide. We had an amazing time discovering the local specialties and now, with this food guide, we want others to do the same. Hope your travels take you to Chiang Mai soon.
It has been a minute since I read such a detailed post! The food culture in Northern Thailand is evidently very vibrant! I like the clear distinction and the undeniable feeling of booking the next flight to Chiang Mai to eat from the famous lady!
Thanks, Bonnita. Really appreciate the feedback. Indeed, the food in Chiang Mai is worth flying over for 🙂 Hope you get there soon.
YUM!!!! Now i’m just really hungry. Saving this so I can hit up all the best places + try all the authentic northern thai food this November. Those coiled sausages look the tastiest to me.
Perfect. So glad this food guide will come in handy soon. Definitively seek out the sai oua sausages. They are amazing. Feel free to reach out if you need any local food tips!
This guide about Chiang Mai’s food is so comprehensive! You guys really showcased the best food and culture of Thailand. #13: Pork Legs And Rice – Khae Kha Moo looks so ridiculously delicious!! I wish I could mimic some of these recipes at home.
So glad you enjoyed our comprehensive Chiang Mai food guide. The idea is to make finding the local food easier for travelers to Chiang Mai or the region. Thanks for stopping by.
Oh my god this food looks to die for, but I especially love the look of the Mango sticky rice! Well done on finding so much amazing food on your travels!
All these photos of this delicious food is making me hungry! I love Thai food and didn’t know that the northern Thai food is so different from the rest of Thailand. I’m dying to try one of those sour pork sausages!
So glad you enjoyed discovering northern Thai cuisine, Lesley. The food is indeed different and worth discovering. Look for the sai oua sausages at your local Thai restaurant. They just might have them on the menu. Thanks for stopping by.
I will be honest and admit that I have never tried Chiang Mai food before, so this not only introduced me to good places to get it but also to the food itself. It looks and sounds absolutely amazing, so I may just have to make a point of changing that soon… Thanks for sharing!
So glad you enjoyed the article, Britt.
I am so attracted to try to the young jackfruit salad, Tam Khanun. I imagine the taste and start drooling already. Haha.. Thailand really has many good foods. 🙂
Indeed, Tracy, the food in Northern Thailand is unique and worth exploring.