Foodies Paradise- Where and what we ate in Chiang Mai, Thailand
Hello and welcome back to my blog. I am sure this is the post you have all been waiting for.... FOOOOOD! I hope you all love food as much as I do, because this is going to be a drool fest. I'm drooling just writing this haha.
Chiang Mai is northern Thailand's largest city, meaning it is a big hub for lots of tourists visiting northern Thailand. We spent close to 7 days in Chiang Mai because we loved the vibe and the food so much. We leave tomorrow morning to head back to Bangkok. I'm sad to leave all the amazing food behind, but I am sure we will find delicious things on the rest of our travels. Since we have had so much time in Chiang Mai, we have developed a list of favorite places to eat. Some of them we have gone back to multiple days in a row.
Disclaimer, I'm not a very adventurous eater. And some people might call me picky.... (don't blame my parents they tried till I was 15) But I do love Thai food and tried to step out of my comfort zone a bit here.
First stop, breakfast. Greg and I didn't spend a lot of time worrying about breakfast. Half of our stay in Chiang Mai our breakfast was included in at our hostel ( HusH Hostel, if you check it out here get 10% off your next booking on booking.com ) we got coffee or tea, toast, eggs and a local dish every morning. We miss having breakfast included in our room rate, because we find it can be the thing that pushes you over your budget. If you get a westernized breakfast, it usually costs around 60+ Baht, and if you like fancy coffee add another 30+ Baht onto that. I'm glad I’m not someone who needs food in the morning to get going, otherwise it would have been a bit harder for us.
Next, lunch. You have many options here for food, but most of the food markets aren't open yet in the afternoon so you are limited to restaurants and street vendors. I have found there aren’t too many street vendors in the old city. They are easier to find on the main roads heading out from the moat. So restaurants it is. You can have pretty much what your heart desires here in the old city. There are places for cuisines all over the world. Greg and I decided to stick to Thai food though. Some of our favorite meals include Pad Thai, Khao Soi, and Green Curry. We tried Khao Soi on the recommendation of our friend, and we thank her greatly! The latter two dishes tend to come of the spicier side of things, but lots of places can bring the heat down for you if you ask.
Our favorite place to get Khao Soi is at the Coconut Shell on Ratchamanka road in the old city. Khao Soi is a coconut curry soup with wheat noodles, meat (or no meat if you like) and fried noodles on top. The Khao Soi came at a good spiciness at the Coconut Shell and was only 50 Baht. I was the first one out of Greg and I to order it. When I got mine, Greg tried a spoon and decided he loved it and had to have one for himself! He has had Khao Soi everyday for the last 3 days from the Coconut Shell now. Haha. It would be easy to say we are hooked! Some placed call Khao Soi "Chiang Mai Noodles" because it is such a popular northern Thai dish. I would also suggest the Stir Fried Chicken in Garlic from the Coconut Shell.
I can't decided which dish is my favorite. Its a toss up between Pad Thai and Green Curry. My favorite way to eat Green Curry at home is soaking rice in the sauce and eating it that way. But a delicious hack to eating green curry is to ask for rice noodles instead of steamed rice. Trust me, if you like noodles (who doesn't) you will thank me later. My favorite Green Curry and one of our favorite places to eat is at Mickey's, but beware! Their Green Curry is deadly spicy. I love spicy food (but I wouldn't say I like the spiciest) and I was dying eating it. But I kept going because it was just tooooo gooood. Greg sat and laughed at me put myself through the pain. He kept asking me why don't I stop, and I said "It’s so delicious I have to finish it".
We frequently went to Mickey's for breakfast as well. Their iced cappuccinos were to die for, and the best value we had seen around. You get a giant size for 45 Baht. I have had about.... 6 or 7 since we found the place. And I don't regret a single one. I also suggest their chocolate croissants off their breakfast menu. For 55 Baht, you get two delightfully toasted croissants with goey chocolate on the inside. I rarely like chocolate but these are too good not to love.
Pad Thai is usually delicious anywhere you get it, and I have yet to be disappointed by a plate. But the 130 Baht Pad Thai is just as delicious as the 30 Baht Pad Thai, so don't feel like you need to spend more money to get better food. Greg and I only really had Pad Thai for lunch when we were on day trips and it was provided for us. We tended to save Pad Thai for dinner when we could get the most delicious dish from our favorite food stand at the South Gate Night Food Market. To find the South Gate Night Food Market, head to the south end of the old city and walk along the moat to about 1/3 of the way from the east side... hope that makes sense haha. I cant find the name of the gate its close to, but its very hard to miss once 6:00pm comes around. There are so many food vendors here, selling mostly Thai food. If you go to the side closest to the moat, you can find the cheapest fruit smoothies! 20 Baht for a fresh fruit smoothie is heaven. You can typically find them for 40 Baht at street vendors or cafes around town, but we like finding deals so we get our smoothie fix here.
One of my other favourite Thai dishes is Massaman curry. Massaman curry is a red curry that has lots of veggies and potatoes in it. The potatoes are one of my favorited parts of this dish! Some might think it’s weird to put potato’s into a curry, but just try it and you will see! Many people eat Massaman curry by itself here, but feel free to order some steamed rice to go with yours! I usually feel the potatoes are enough starch for me.
While we were in Chiang Mai we visited the Sunday Walking Night Market. I highly recommend going here if you can during your visit. The market extends over many roads and is filled with the best souvenirs you will find. There are also sooo many food vendors here! Some examples of things we tried were fried squid, Thai sausage, fresh fruit, crepes, chicken wings and so many more. The Night Market is located on the east side of the old city on Soi Ratchadamnoen Road. Some of the best food we found was on Soi Prapokklao Road. Here Greg found single servings of the most amazing cakes and desserts for around 25 Baht each. I got ebi sashimi for 7 Baht each, and we also found a girl selling noodles at 10 Baht a serving! The noodles were premade in large batches and she would just scoop a helping onto a little plate for you to enjoy! This market was one of the food highlights of my trip and I wish we had stayed in Chiang Mai till the next one so I could have gone back!
The food in Chiang Mai was the best we have found so far on our trip in Thailand. I am finishing this blog post while we are on Koh Samui. Since we left Chiang Mai, we have been to Bangkok, Cambodia and Koh Samui, and the prices have been hard to adjust to. I haven’t found Pad Thai for less than 50 Baht since we got to Bangkok. When we were in Chiang Mai, we wouldn’t dream of paying more than 50 Baht for Pad Thai from a street vendor. The only Khao Soi we have seen outside of Chiang Mai was 140 Baht at a fancy restaurant. So the moral of the story is... if you are a huge foodie, make sure you splurge and enjoy your time in Chiang Mai. Because once you leave the north it is hard to get the same value. If you are traveling on a budget like we are, finding cheap, delicious food it always a plus.
I really miss Chiang Mai. I love the city and the food. I am already dreaming of the day we can go back!