Everywhere you go within Thailand, you’ll see street vendors, with this especially rampant in Chiang Mai. Known for their outstanding flavour-filled and rich dishes, ranging from mild-curries to tumeric filled dishes.
Due to it being in the North of Thailand, Chiang Mai vendors take influence from Myanmar and China’s surroundings. This northern influence is also known as Lanna and helps set their dishes apart from other places in Thailand. With Chiang Mai being dubbed the best place for street food, here are some of our favourite stalls you need to visit when you find yourself there.
One of the best places to pick up khao soi (a curry noodle dish made with egg noodles) with your choice of meat is Khao Soi Khun Yai. It’s a popular cart to visit and well-loved by locals, so it’s well worth getting early for as it sells out quickly. You can find this stall between Wat Rajmontean and Wat Khuan Khama temples.
Made famous by the New York Times, this stall is famous for its rotisserie chickens. While they offer a range of options to order with your gai yang (grilled chicken), most choose to keep it simple with a whole chicken. SP Chicken also has a range of sauces specially prepared to serve alongside, made from chilli flakes and green onions.
Ran by a mother and daughter, Kanjana serves a wide range of Thai dishes, including chicken cashew nut and Massaman curry. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, their tom kha kai (sweet and sour soup), khao soi and mango-sticky rice have helped them become famous for over the twenty years they have been open.
Located at Chang Phueak Gate, this popular stall has become famous because the woman who runs it cooks slow-roasted pork leg, with the dish named Khao Kha Moo, a pork leg over rice. It’s in a popular location, made even more famous by the owners' get-up, but once you try your food, you’ll see why people come back time and time again.
You can find this European inspired stall at the Night Bizarre on Chang Klan Road. With many of the stalls in this area are young Thai chefs bringing European food with a new twist, the Burger Box’s take on burger and fries is as close to home as you can get. This stall, in particular, promises homemade chips, burgers and even onion rings. The burgers on offer come with a range of toppings, and the meat is from Thailand itself.
Located close to the Night Bizarre, this canteen-inspired eatery has people flocking for its khao soi and the Burmese-styled, thick-broth soup. As this stall location is in a Muslim neighbourhood, other dishes such as goat biryani or khao mok are also found on their menu.
With a smaller menu than some of the others, this stall doesn’t skimp on taste, spice or care when crafting their food. Famous Thai dishes have their own twist on them, such as laab khua (a mincemeat salad), which takes inspiration from the Lanna version. Sorn Chai makes theirs with a pig’s innards to give it a peppery and punchy taste. They also offer the sausage, sai oua, with undertones of lemongrass and coriander.
Close to Mahawan Temple, this small kitchen has been cooking and preparing kanom jeen nam ngiaw (noodles topped with a mild fish curry) for over ten years. The menu here is small but consists of both savoury and spicy dishes, crafted with a blend of chilli, herbs and basil leaves.
Found on Nimmanhaemin Road, a more upscale area than parts of the old town, this stall is open most of the time from early morning to late in the evening. Fried Chicken Leaves Nimman, as given by the name, has some of the best fried chicken and Khao Rad Gaeng (white rice) in Chiang Mai, which you can choose to come with various toppings of your choice. While there, make sure you get your hands on one of the famous Northern Thai-style sausages.
Opening in the late afternoon, this stall offers the chance to eat suki (a Thai hot-pot) in Old City’s North Gate but with a unique Suki Kota dipping sauce. Made from a tomato base, mixed with sesame oil and spices, you can choose from freshly sourced chicken, pork, or seafood to go with it.
Not a spelling mistake, this food truck has become popular amongst locals for its tacos and other Mexican-based menu items. Located in Old City and open till 11 pm, its long queues begin to pick up due to tipsy partygoers.
Just near Wat Chomphu, this family-run stall Aroy Dee is popular amongst locals for the chance to fill up on khai jiao (crispy pancake), spring rolls, shrimp pad thai and chicken with cashew nuts. It has a friendly environment and has a wide range of Thai dishes for patrons to order as a takeaway or dine at the stall.
If you’re a fan of beef noodles, this place shouldn’t be missed. RodYiam offers visitors the choice of beef preference, such as sliced beef, braised beef or beef balls, all served with their signature sweet and tangy broth with noodles.
Opening at 3 am, this famous local breakfast spot has everything you need to kickstart the day, including a soft-boiled egg or two. Make sure to grab yourself a Thai-style tea or coffee as you watch the city come to life.
Although we’re not naming one stall, in particular, the cluster of stalls at the Warorot Evening Market is hard to separate. All of these stalls are a perfect introductory course to Thai food, with favourites such as sai ua (Chiang Mai sausage), nam prik ong (chilli tomato pork dip) and kaeng khanun (jackfruit curry). You won’t be able to stop and eat, with very few places to perch, so be sure to eat as you walk or wait till you get back to your room.
Thai food is famous, with Chiang Mai’s street food being one of the biggest draws of visiting this city. There is nothing like experiencing freshly made food, smelling the spices as food sizzles before you, and these inexpensive stalls offer that chance. While this list isn’t extensive, we hope the unmissable fourteen above have given you a good starting point to jump from on your taste journey through Chiang Mai! Get an idea of where to venture further afield once your stomach is full with our guide to the best cities in Thailand to visit, and once you know where you're going... just hoo it!