Eat the best food of Chiang Mai | Thai, Western, International, & More
One of the many reasons why we love living in Chiang Mai is the abundance of delicious Thai dishes and decadent Western cuisine! Thai food is appreciated around the world, but living in Chiang Mai provides us with the most authentic, tasty experience. And as an expat-haven, many foreigners have opened restaurants with food from around the world - Italian, Indian, Mediterranean, Burmese, American, European, Russian, Mexican, Vegan - You name it, Chiang Mai’s got it! Unlike some countries, living in Thailand does not mean you’re limited to Thai food. It just means the food is more inexpensive and you can enjoy eating out more!
After eating amazing $1 Thai meals, your perception of “expensive” will change, and a night out “splurging” will be a whopping $8 for a sirloin steak. With a worldly community of expats, you will have a great time eating your way through the city with your new found friends.
To see what you have to look forward to, we have listed a few of our favorite places below. When you retire with us, we will provide you with our Live Like a Local Guidebook including a comprehensive list of the city's best restaurants and cafes. Some locations have been recommended by our local Thai friends and expat communities, and some cafes we have stumbled upon while riding through the jungle. You will love what we have to share with you!
The Best Thai Food in Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai arguably has the best Thai food in the world. Locals’ recipes having been passed on by generations, offering cheap eats on every corner, and Michelin Star restaurants with world-class chefs offer a fine dining experience. Thai food is known to be much fresher and lighter, packed with local herbs, vegetables, and spices. And lucky for us, most meals at the typical Thai restaurant are only $1 USD! Most foreigners eat out at least once a day which is surprisingly more economical than cooking in.
Popular Thai dishes
Served with your choice of chicken, pork, shrimp, or tofu
Pad Thai: A classic Thai dish everyone knows and loves - Stir fried rice noodles topped with peanuts, bean sprouts, and a slice of lime
Khao Soi: Northern Thailand’s signature dish - Yellow curry noodle soup topped with crunchy noodles, pickled greens, sliced shallots, and a slice of lime
Pad Kra Praow: Stir fried choice of protein with Thai basil served with rice. Add a fried egg, a common addition to Thai dishes, and watchout for a spicy kick sure to cleanse your sinuses!
Khao Pad: Fried rice. Make it a Pineapple Fried Rice to add the perfect sweetness mixed with cashews
When you relocate with us, you will learn how to say your favorite dishes in Thai. Plus, we include translations (in English and Thai characters) in our guidebook so you will always be able to get food you enjoy, even if you're in a remote village with menus in Thai language!
Recommended Thai Restaurants in Chiang Mai
Khao Soi Mae Sai
One of Northern Thailand’s most celebrated dishes is Khao Soi, and this little shop may have the best Khao Soi in all of Thailand. The spicy curry soup is an innovative blend of flavors with boiled egg noodles and crunchy deep-fried noodles. Chiang Mai locals and Northern villagers pride themselves on this must try dish.
If you want to enjoy an ambient environment with traditional Lanna style architecture, pay a few baht extra to eat at this upscale Thai restaurant.
Food Stands in Chiang Mai
Food stands are common and one of the many reasons to visit night markets. The food ranges from Pad Thai to coconut-flavored sweet treats wrapped in sticky rice paper. Most meals are around 30 THB ($1 USD) while snacks range from 5 THB - 50 THB (15 cents - $2 USD). Some dishes are made fresh while others have been pre-prepared in large batches. While it is rare to get sick, use your own judgement and stay away from meat or milk that looks like it's been sitting out for too long.