If you’re in Chiang Mai and looking for recommendations for anything involving food, you’ve come to the right place! This guide covers “foodie” things to do, along with street food, cafes & restaurants that are worth your time, daily and weekly markets, cocktail bars, and more! I don’t know whether it was obvious or not, but I really enjoy eating. I mean, I have an Instagram dedicated to the food that I eat because I don’t want to clog up my main account with endless photos of what I eat. I love food, coffee, beer, wine, fancy cocktails, literally everything. I came to Thailand on a mission to eat food, drink coffee, and whatever else was put in front of me.
Foodie Things to Do in Chiang Mai
Learn how to make traditional Thai dishes
I did my first cooking class in Vietnam and absolutely loved it; there are tons of cooking classes you can do all over Chiang Mai. I chose the full day class with Asia Scenic for 1,000THB ($31.50) and what was cool about the class was that everyone in the group got to pick what they made! You didn’t all have to make the same thing, which makes a lot of sense because everyone has different tastes. We still got to learn how other things were made along the way.
After we individually chose what we wanted to make, we walked to the local market and strolled through the garden to learn about the different ingredients! There are so many different cooking classes, I really don’t think you can go wrong. Just check out some reviews.
Go on a Street Food Tour
I went on a Street Food Tour that took a small group of 8 through two different night markets; the entire thing lasted about 3 hours. I was picked up at 7pm and we were on our way to the first market, where the famous Cowboy Hat lady serves up her food. We toured through this market and tried about 10-12 different dishes here. Many of the dishes were served “family style,” so we could all try and taste a variety of different dishes. We finished at this market with some Mango Sticky Rice and went toward the South gate of Old City in Chiang Mai, where there was another little night market with Khao Soi, Roti, and little Coconut Bites made of fried coconut milk.
As we walked and became more and more uncomfortably full, the guide went over different foods that we walked past and told us about where everything was from and how things were made.
This tour was great because we were taught how to order things efficiently in Thai, and it was led by a Thai person himself. If I can offer you any piece of advice when doing a food tour like this, DON’T fill up on the rice at the beginning.. You will not be left hungry!
Visit Tung Lakorn Village
Looking to escape the tourist center of Chiang Mai for a few nights? I had the opportunity to stay in a small Thai village of agriculture and organic farming; you eat what you see! Head an hour north to Tung Lakorn Village or one of the other villages near Chiang Mai with Duara Travels! Read about my FULL experience here.
Try some local chocolate in the form of delicious drinks at Khom Chocolate House
You will not regret going here; all of the chocolate is either locally sourced or imported from Belgium and made into the most spectacularly delicious drinks. The owner stays busy whipping up something delicious, and she is so incredibly kind.
From plain chocolate drinks, to shots of chocolate, to strawberry, orange, blueberry, even coconut drinks with chocolate (my favorite) – everyone will find something they like here! Unless you don’t like chocolate – then you can just stick to the desserts.
While I was okay with regular milk, she made sure that I was beforehand which is very much appreciated! I’m not including this in my list of cafes because it’s not a cafe; you cannot find coffee here. You can find decadently chocolate drinks, a delightfully friendly owner, and tasty pastries, cakes, and cookies.
Street Food & Cheap Eats in Chiang Mai
I first want to express to you how easy it is to eat super cheap in Chiang Mai. If you’re going to the small, local street food markets, you won’t be paying more than $3 for a meal. Some of these I’ve tried on my own, and some of it I tried on my Street Food Tour. Either way, they’re pretty much staples in Northern Thailand and you can find them anywhere.
Khao Soi is a Northern Thai dish with Burmese influences; it’s a flat egg noodle in a creamy, spicy coconut curry. What I learned on the tour I went on is that the curry is a combination of coconut milk and masala; it’s usually served with mustard greens, red onions, and lime. Unless you’re in an actual restaurant, Khao Soi should not be more than 60 baht.
Where to try: Look up Khao Soi in Google Maps and this place is without a doubt the first place that will come up; rightly so because it’s seriously amazing and only 40-50 baht.
Stewed Pork Leg & Rice
OK, there is a reason why the Cowboy Hat Lady is famous; in part because she was featured in Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown, but in part because her food is pretty delicious and a reasonable price. You can get this entire dish for only 50 baht ($1.57). The pork is super tender and delicious.
Mango Sticky Rice
Mango Sticky Rice is obviously one of the most common things you’ll find in Chiang Mai. Don’t let yourself be fooled into paying 100 baht for a tasty portion; some street food places only charge 40-50 baht! It’s made of coconut cream/milk, mango, sticky rice, and sugar! Sometimes, it’s topped with crunchy mung bean (yum).
Where to try: any food stall in any evening market; you can get it in restaurants, but it’s all made basically the same way.
Stir Fried Suki-Yaki Haeng
Stir Fried Suki-Yaki Haeng is a really simple dish of stir-fried lettuce/vegetables, egg, glass noodles, meat (typically chicken or pork), and a delicious sauce. I tried it at a place in the food market by the North gate and did not regret it! Click here to see it be made!
Where to try: I recommend the same place I went to, I don’t exactly have the name but you can find it in the North Gate Market! Show someone this photo and I’m sure they’ll lead you in the right direction. Their logo is the face of a man, and there’s a woman who whips it up every night, made to order. She’s cooking every night! Find the location here.
Fried Chicken & Rice
Fried Chicken and Rice is so basic but SO delicious. Even the rice is super tasty… and it’s just plain white rice! It’s just a few food stalls over from the Cowboy Hat Lady.
Where to try: The location is here. You’ll notice the cartoon chicken as the logo.
Where to Go for Street Food in Chiang Mai
Daily Street Food Markets
North & South Gate Street Food Markets: I went to both of these on my Street Food Tour, and I think they’re probably the more authentic street food markets that aren’t necessarily catering to tourists. I definitely visited the North gate market a lot because it was super close to my accommodation and because I was really familiar with it after a certain point.
At the North Gate Market, you can find the famous Cowboy Hat Lady and her Stewed Pork Leg for only 50baht.
At the South Gate Market, you can find Khao Soi, Roti, and some other desserts and meats being grilled.
I never went to the Night Bazaar; you can go if you want, but just know that it’s known for its inflated prices and it’s super touristic.
Saturday / Sunday Walking Street Market: Obviously, one is on Saturday and one is on Sunday; they’re pretty much the same thing, just in different locations and on different days. They both sell clothing, but from what I noticed, the Saturday Walking Street had a bit more food options and certain “food” areas.
You can find the Saturday Walking Street here.
You can find the Sunday Walking Street here.
Cafes & Restaurants in Chiang Mai
Disclaimer: I went to a majority of these places more than once; I don’t like to try things one time just for the sake of my blog!
Akha Ama La Fattoria
Modern, trendy place with air conditioning, great wifi, and delicious coffee. Not ideal for posting up unless you get a good spot, but it’s doable. Had one of the cheaper flat whites I’ve found in the local area (most are upwards of 70 baht, this place was only 50 baht!). Smooth taste and a good ambiance with lots of locals sitting around on their phones. The great music and cute baristas are a plus (if you like boys).
Price: Most hot coffee drinks are about 50 baht, while iced coffee drinks are 60 baht ($1.56 – $1.88). Pourovers are only 70-80 baht, depending on the type and temperature ($2.20 – $2.50).
They also sell bags of coffee!
Location: You can find Akha Ama Coffee here.
Buzz Getta Buzz
If you couldn’t tell by the name, this place has coffee; it’s a little tent on the side of the road that looks pretty legit for being roadside. They do pour over, espresso drinks, and teas. They also sell their coffee by the bag. This was definitely one of the better coffees I’ve had in Chiang Mai; they didn’t even grind the coffee beans until I ordered, which is a really good sign. I tried their Thai Style Iced Coffee for 50 baht and it was perfect: not too watery, very aromatic and flavorful, and not too sweet. If you’re walking by and need a coffee, try it out!
Price: Super reasonable at 50-70 baht for coffees and pour overs.
Location: You can find Buzz Getta Buzz here.
This place was closed for some of the time that I was in Chiang Mai, but when I finally got to try it, it was totally worth the wait. Super fast service. You write down your order so there are virtually no mistakes. I got a Thai Tea with Lemon instead of Thai Tea with Milk and omg, you HAVE to get it. It was SO tasty and so refreshing. I got the tea and a meal for $2.99 in total!
Price: Super cheap eats; most of the meals are between 40-80 baht, but there are some that are a bit more pricey (if they require more expensive ingredients). Drinks are about 30-50 baht.
Location: You can find Tikky Cafe here.
Rich Thai Restaurant
This place was super quick, friendly, tasty, and cheap. Pretty much all of my favorite things. I had chicken Pad Thai with a honey lemon iced tea for only $2.05 (65 baht!)!! The portion was pretty good, I was able to finish most of it (and I was starving).
Price: Super cheap and reasonable; some of the prices are even lower than they appear on the menu (maybe it was because I got a meal + drink). You won’t be spending more than 70 baht on anything.
Location: You can find Rich Thai Restaurant here.
Fern Forest Cafe
A cute cafe with tons of garden seating accompanied by jazz music (sometimes live!), and a little waterfall pond. They serve homemade pies and cakes and have an extensive menu; this place is definitely not your average street-food fare and definitely not the price of it, either.
I ordered some juice that was 95 baht and not at all worth the cost (super small portion but great quality! Should have gotten a smoothie) but the coffee is tasty and so is the food. The flat white was tasty while pricey.
Price: Coffee is about 70-100 baht ($2.20 – $3.15) so definitely on the pricey side for Chiang Mai, while food is around 115 baht – 235 baht ($3.60 – $7.50).
Location: You can find Fern Forest Cafe here
Gorgeous cafe with a shady outside deck and a cool interior; huge iced coffees and an extensive food menu. Great place to just chill for the day and get some work done!
Price: The prices are similar to Fern Forest Cafe for both food and coffee; coffee is about 50-100 baht ($1.56 – $3.15) depending on whether you get hot, iced, flavored, etc.
Location: You can find Fahtara Cafe here.
Good Souls Kitchen
Ok, I just want to make it clear that I am not a vegan; however, this is one of the first strictly vegan restaurants I have ever been to and I was extremely impressed. I went here a few different times while I was in Chiang Mai because it was super close to my accommodation. I tried the Beetroot & Chickpea Burger, the Mushroom Burger, as well as their Khao Soi; the burgers were absolutely INSANE! Each of them was so flavorful. The Khao Soi also had amazing flavor, but because Khao Soi is traditionally made with egg noodles, the consistency is a little bit different than your standard dish but the flavor is pretty spot on otherwise.
Price: Most of the dishes are between 100-200 baht ($3.13 – $6.27). For vegan meals, it’s apparently priced pretty well.
Location: right next to Fern Forest Cafe! You can find it here.
Bars & Cocktails in Chiang Mai
Nopharobi was a cool little bar with some fancy cocktails on the menu; they were not cheap by any means, and they couldn’t make me a dirty martini (no olives), but there is definitely something everyone will like, here! They use such fresh ingredients and spend a lot of time making each cocktail. I tried their “Amber” and the “Sweet Girl” (obvs) and both of them were crafted beautifully.
Price: Most cocktails on their actual menu were between 180-300 baht ($5.65 – $9.24); I didn’t inquire about other drinks, though.
Location: Find Nopharobi here.
Zoe in Yellow
If you want a backpacker vibe with cocktails, I went to Zoe in Yellow Garden and tried one of the “Zoe” cocktails; it was actually delicious. I mean to go to the cocktail bar, but I’m pretty sure it’s all basically the same thing. They did an amazing job of masking the alcohol taste with the freshness of the juices! This area is heavily riddled with backpackers in the evening, so if you’re looking for that sort of vibe, you’ve probably found what you’re looking for there.
Price: their specialty cocktails were definitely pricey; between 180-300 baht ($5.65 – $9.24). They have a full bar and beer, though, so you can definitely find something a bit cheaper. They also offer buckets.
Location: Find Zoe in Yellow here.
If you want a locals vibe, go to EM16 Bar; they won’t make you fancy cocktails, but you can buy a fifth of rum or whiskey for relatively cheap and chill there for as long as you want. You can also bring your own liquor and pay a 100baht fee for the vibe! I went there a few times and they often have live music and also serve some snacks if you get hungry. I never saw a single tourist there besides myself. I spent way too much on shots of Jack Daniels and some ginger ale, but it was a decent way to spend my night. Also, there’s a dog that hangs out there!
Price: The beer was maybe 70-80 baht; shots of Jack Daniels were about 150baht; fifths of Rum or Whisky were 200-360 baht (served with a bucket of ice). Mixers not included. They also had some snacks and none of them were more than 100 baht.
Location: Find EM16 Bar here.
Guys, I messed up. I got really sick during my last week in Chiang Mai, and I couldn’t try a lot of other alcoholic beverages. Trust me, I wanted to, but my health is more important than alcohol! One place I really wish I went to was Drinksmith & Co. It looks absolutely amazing. If you go, report back to me and let me know how it was!
Have you been to any of these places? Are you intrigued to try any? Leave me a comment and let me know! If you go to any of the places per my recommendation, I’d love to know what you think!
This post took a lot of calories, a lot of time, and a lot of money – I appreciate any feedback or shares! Thank you SO much for reading.
Until next time,
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Hi from THAILAND! I made a whole bunch of Thai food today, and I have to say I’m pretty impressed with myself. I know how to deep fry things now and am comfortable doing so, which is definitely NOT something I should have learned how to do! This was my second “cooking class” that I’ve done while in Asia, and it’s becoming one of my favorite ways to learn about a place and its culture. Food IS culture. Next week, I’ll be going to a village outside of Chiang Mai to learn more about Thai food and culture.. but more on that when it actually happens (I’m SO EXCITED!!!).