Where to eat in Chiang Mai, Thailand

The city of Chiang Mai สถานที่ in Northern Thailand is well-known for its food, that is pretty distinct from its cousins to the south and east of the land of smiles. This is due to the fact that there is a serious influence from Burma and China to the northern cuisine. If you happen to be in and around Chiang Mai, these are some venues and eats, that your taste buds better don’t miss.

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Chiang Mai Restaurant: the Aroon Rai

Aroon Rai Restaurant ชื่อร้านอาหาร

Located in the heart of Chiang Mai and close to the old quarter wall, the open-air eatery Aroon Rai ชื่อร้านอาหาร offers „unique authentic Chiang Mai and Thai foods since 1957,“ a promise that is written on a huge sign inside the restaurant. The owners also proudly declare that they have “no branch, either in Thailand or in any other country. Only here in the world!”

Chiang Mai Restaurant: One of the best is the Aroon Rai

An open bar Chiang Mai Restaurant

Well, actually this is pretty much what it is: authentic. With genuine dishes, basic wooden tables and the most simple plastic chairs. With old fans on the ceiling and big smiles on the waiters faces.

It’s an open venue directly at a busy road, which makes it even more real and likable. The owners serve a huge array of honest Thai dishes from soups to noodles and rice dishes. They even proclaim to serve the best curry in town and I have to admit that it was really good! Of course, they also serve the famous khao soi ข้าวซอ, better known as Chiang Mai noodles (read more below!)

Although this is still an insiders’ tip, the Aroon Rai has recently been recommended by American chef, author, and television star Anthony Bourdain. But the best thing above all: they still have normal Thai prices. Another reason not to miss this place!

Different dishes in a Chiang Mai Restaurant

A selfmade brownie in a Chiang Mai restaurant

Tip 1: Try the self-made ice-cream and self-made brownies, that are really delicious! Especially the chocolate chip one!

Tip 2: On hot days they sometimes close the cover on the entrance at the road, which makes it pretty hard to recognize the place as a restaurant. So better have a closer look.

A hidden Chiang Mai Restaurant

HARD FACTS

Aroon Rai Restaurant ชื่อร้านอาหาร
Address: 45 Kotchasarn Rd , Amphur Muang, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Opening hours: 8am-10pm
Prices: Dishes from about 40 – 60 baht, full meals around 70 – 100 baht.

A sign for the Aroon Rai Chiang Mai Restaurant

Khao Soi Samer Jai ข้าวซอยเสมอใจ

The delicious noodle soup called ‘Khao soi’, or ‘khao soy’ is the signature dish of Chiang Mai and so iconic of the northern Thailand city that it is often simply called “Chiang Mai noodles.”

When looking for a good venue to check it out, Khao Soi Samer Jai ข้าวซอยเสมอใจ is the place to go to. They serve the probably best Khao soi in town. It’s the kind of restaurant that is hard to find, namely on the other side of the Ping River, and lies totally inconspicuous next to a temple. But when you made it, you’ll be surprised how crowded this place is (with locals and not with tourists!)

A Chiang Mai Restaurant at a street

Thais eating in a Chiang Mai Restaurant

They are really happy to serve foreigners, too. Just make your order by pointing at the dishes on the tables next to you and you will be fine.
They serve the Khao soi in different flavours with beef, chicken or pork for 40 Baht. What an awesome price!

You will get some hearty egg noodles that swim in a curry soup with coconut milk, that is topped with crispy deep-fried noodles. And to make the experience perfect, have a try on the toppings like lime wedges, sliced shallots, pickled mustard and the (hot!) chili paste that are always at hand on the table.

As if this wasn’t enough the waiter even gave us dishes that we haven’t ordered just because he wanted us to have a try. How awesome is that!

Khao Soi noodle soup in a Chiang Mai Restaurant

Tip: Also get some satay sticks with yummy peanut sauce and some cucumber made with lot’s of garlic! You won’t regret it (Well, maybe the garlic later on…)

HARD FACTS

Khao Soi Samer Jai ข้าวซอยเสมอใจ
Address: 391 Mu. 2 , Charoenrat Road, Tambon Fa Ham, Amphoe Mueang, Chiang Mai, Thailand (near Wat Fa Ham temple)
Direction: Pass the Ping River and walk along northbound until you reach the Wat Fa Ham. It’s the building close to it.
Opening hours: 8am-4pm
Prices: Khao soi for 40 baht

Roti โรตี on the street

In Chiang Mai, as in any other place in Thailand, there are hundreds of little street food carts selling snacks at every corner. Many of them make roti โรตี, a special kind of pancake, or rather french crêpe, that is based on roti canai, a typical Indian bread made out of flour, fat, egg and water. Except the awesome fact that chocolate, bananas, and many other ingredients can be added to the plain roti canai!

A man making roti in a Chiang Mai Restaurant

Tip: Try the banana-egg-chocolate roti! Or honey-mango. Or… whatever, the combinations are limitless. Just tell what you want and they will be happy to cook it in a few minutes right in front of you.

And now comes the exciting part! The vendor takes a lump of dough and slaps it onto the counter repeatedly, until it is paper thin and really stretchy. Then he adds loads of butter and oil onto a flat wok and lets it sizzle a few minutes. Then later on chocolate and milk is poured onto it and in the end, the roti is folded and cut into bite-sized pieces.
This is definitely the best dessert you can get in Thailand. I promise!

HARD FACTS

Roti โรตี
Where? Everywhere in Chiang Mai, at the Night Bazar for example
Opening hours: till late night
Prices: 20-30 baht

Chiang Mai Night Bazaar ไนท์บาซาร์

Whatever you are up for, the Night Bazaar ไนท์บาซาร์ outside of the Old City walls on the east side of the city is a must for Chiang Mai visitors. It’s a typical thai market and the city’s most popular one, selling loads of stuff aimed at tourist from funky clothes to quirky artwork and loads of handicrafts.

But the best part is the food that you can find at hundred of little stalls along the streets serving everything from fresh fruits to freshly grilled insects, from soups to curries, from roti to Chiang Mai sausages, from ice-cold cans of Singha beer to whatever your taste buds are up for.

Better than Chiang Mai Restaurant: food on the night market

Tip: Also have a look at the food offerings at Kalare Night Bazaar, close to the main road. This venue is a kind of food court with little inexpensive canteen style eateries.

HARD FACTS:

Chiang Mai Night Bazaar ไนท์บาซาร์
Address: Along Chang Khlan Road, just outside the city gate on the east side
Opening hours: open every day regardless of the weather from dusk till around midnight
Prices: everything is affordable

Want to know what other dishes you definitely have to try when in Thailand? There are a lot! Check out my post about 10 Must Eat Foods in Thailand!
You have other tips or recommendations for great food and eateries in Chiang Mai or elsewhere in Thailand? You are more than welcome to write a comment! 

Have you been to Chiang Mai? What anekdotiques and tips do have from there? Leave a comment!

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  1. Oh well… you managed that I want to go back to Chiang Mai right now. I soooooo love Thai food, especially the specialities of the Northern region. Khao Soy… a dream.

    My favourite restaurant in Chiang Mai for great lunch meals is Sailomjoy. It’s very close to the Thapae Gate. Local, traditional, simple, cheap but super delicious food.

    Thanks for the throwback.

    Cheers,
    Reni

    Reply

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