A Food Lover’s Heaven: Chiang Mai’s Street Food Hotspots
Northern Thailand is famous for its amazing and varied food. As the self-proclaimed capital of street food, Chiang Mai has a whole city of tasty delights waiting for you.
The locals of Chiang Mai are fiercely proud of their specialty cuisines. Known as Northern Lanna, the taste is incredible and the spice is high. Get yourself ready and venture into the night. Prepare yourself for a gastronomical feast as you wander through the evening streets. You’ll grow to know your favorite spots for street food in Chiang Mai but there’ll always be another waiting just around the corner.
We’ve picked our favorite spots. Most are centered around the Old City and are incredibly convenient if you’re staying there. If you’re not then jump in a red Songthaew taxi and simply say the names below. You’ll be whisked to them quickly and cheaply. Doing a tour of street food in Chiang Mai is a piece of cake!
Chang Puak Gate (North Gate)
Turn up any night of the week and you’ll see a huge selection of stalls and tables set up opposite the gate. Wander through, take in the sights and smells then make your selection. It’s all great but there’s one particular inconspicuous stall that you absolutely must try. Your search begins for the hat.
The locally known “Cowboy Hat Lady” shot to fame after being featured on Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown. Her fame is well deserved. The simple stewed pork and rice dish (known as Khao Kha Moo) is phenomenally good. Pork so succulent it falls off the bone in a rich savory sauce. Like it spicy? Ask one of the servers for their chili sauce. Go easy with it unless you’re a seriously seasoned heat lover. Seriously, Thai dishes can get pretty damn hot!
The Digital Nomad heartland. Some of the best coworking spaces in Chiang Mai are around here. This is where a great deal of expats live and the street food is plentiful. Every evening a whole host of stalls set up along the edges of the road offering local and international delights. If you want to keep it local there are some fantastic Pad Thai options from stalls near the McDonald’s.
Craving international food? Try the Mexican burrito from the aptly named Burrito Van, they are fantastic. Plus, when you’re finished eating the Nimman area is brimming with trendy bars. The perfect setting for a beer to wash down all you’ve eaten.
The Sunday Market
The Sunday Market is almost exclusively aimed at tourists. It is huge! Lots of streets are closed within the old city and stalls replace the usual cars and tuktuks. This is the place to come to buy your souvenirs but also one of the best food experiences.
You’ll have an endless choice of satay skewers (including vegetarian options), hundreds of fresh fruit juice options and, for the adventurous, a few stalls sell insect delicacies including whole scorpions. Not for the faint hearted. Apparently, they taste like peanuts…
If stalls aren’t your thing there are hundreds of restaurants set back from the main hustle and bustle. Perfect for people watching.
Suthep Road, The University Back Gate
A short ride from the old city this is a more local joint. Sit down at one of the stalls clustered on Suthep Road and you’ll be rubbing shoulders with local students grabbing a bite after school and people on their way home from work. There are some great satay stalls along here. Be warned if you ask for hot or chilli as the stall owners see it as a challenge and delight in watching you squirm!
Less authentic street food, more purpose-built cargo containers and hip music. It’s a fun night out to come and sit in the large courtyard of the Night Bazaar, set just down from Tha Phae Gate. You won’t find a plethora of Thai food here but you will find a great selection of quality feasts. From freshly baked Italian Pizzas to Pulled Pork Burgers, this is the place where young Thai chefs are exploring international cuisines.
Street Food Insider Tip
Don’t stuff yourself from one stall. This is a marathon, not a sprint. It can be tempting to gorge yourself when you find something delicious. Whilst it’ll be tasty we recommend you try all of the other options at your disposal. That Khao Soi will always be there again tomorrow night!