Chiang Mai is a local food heaven within a country often touted as having the best cuisine in the world. Chiang Mai is the place to visit for all foodies, due to the options available and the cost per dish. Restaurants offer a mixture of traditional Thai dishes, as well as the richer local northern Lanna cuisine, and a range of international restaurants too. Many travelers come to Chiang Mai just to eat, and with the average price of a dish around 50 Baht (US$1.70), you can afford to eat out 5 times a day! You will often find these small local joints serve a very limited menu, sometimes passed down from generation to generation, but the one thing all these restaurants have in common is what they do, they do exceedingly well!
As long as you don’t mind the rough and ready interiors and are ready for a bit of pointing and smiling to get exactly what you want, here are what we consider to be the best local restaurants in Chiang Mai, open and ready to serve for when you come to visit.
- Wat Doi Suthep & Hmong Hill-Tribe Village
- Doi Inthanon National Park Tour
- Ping River Dinner Cruise
- Khantoke Dinner with Traditional Dance Performance
- Old City Half-Day Bike Tour
- Flight of the Gibbon™ Zipline Tour
- 2-Day Whitewater Rafting & Ziplining
- Full-Day Countryside Bike Tour with Lunch
- Aroy Aroy Thai Cooking School & Market Tour
- Full-Day Excursion to Chiang Rai & Golden Triangle
Pun Pun Restaurant is a small, open-air vegetarian restaurant tucked away behind Suan Dok Temple. All the ingredients come from local organic farms and the food is cooked fresh daily. Try the banana flower salad, spring rolls or one of the delicious curries. Pun Pun Chiang Mai is quite hard to find, but well worth the effort. Menus available in English and Thai.
- Opening Hours: Daily: 9:00 – 16:00 (Wednesday until 18:00)
- Address: Inside Wat Suan Dok temple Complex, Suthep Road
The Cowboy street stall is famous for the hard to find Khao Kha Mu dish, which consists of pork leg simmered in a rich, hearty broth for hours until soft and then served with white rice. With Khao Kha Mu costing 30-50 Baht, this street stall is becoming famous so look for the queue and the chef in a cowboy hat. Chang Puak (or White Elephant) Gate is known as a street food hotspot in Chiang Mai, so you can sample a wide array of Thai dishes here, with a no-frills seating area of aluminium tables and plastic stools shared by all the stalls.
- Opening Hours: daily from 18:00
- Location: Manee Norrapat Road, near Chang Puak Gate
Khao Soi Islam is one of the best local restaurants to try Chiang Mai’s famous dish – Khao Soi. A rich and slightly spicy curry, Khao Soi includes egg noodles, raw onion, pickled cabbage, and topped with fried crispy noodles and pieces of halal beef or a leg of chicken. Khao Soi Islam also serves a Thai version of Biryani and prices race between 30 to 50 Baht per dish. Read More...
- Opening Hours: 8:00 -17:00 (closed on Friday)
- Address: Charoenprathet Road Soi 1
Archers Restaurant and Bar has a mixture of locals and expats who come for the food and the atmosphere. Archers serves up both Thai and western dishes and on most Friday or Saturday nights offers a special promotion: roll the dice for the chance to get discounts or a free drink depending on what number you roll. Although the menu is a mix of western and Thai dishes – which usually means its main clientele are tourists – Archers Chiang Mai really does serve great Thai curries and fried English breakfasts, which shows in its fairly even split of Thai and foreign diners.
- Opening Hours: 8:00 -23:30 (closed Mondays)
- Location: 133/4 Rachapakanai Road, Old City
Chiang Mai Gate has a small night market every evening where travellers can sample local Thai dishes and desserts. Most of the food at the night market costs 30-40 Baht per dish and there are plastic chairs and tables to sit down and have a proper street meal. Look out for the Som Tam (papaya salad) and KFG (fried chicken) stalls, Chiang Mai Sausage and fried dough with warm soy milk.
- Opening Hours: Daily from 17:00
- Location: Chiang Mai Gate, Bumrung Buri Road
The Burmese Restaurant and Library serves the most popular Burmese dishes starting at 30 baht a dish. The most popular dishes are the Tea Leaf Salad, Tomato Salad, Chicken and Potato Curry and the Eggplant Curry, with a side of rice. In the past there was a library upstairs but it has since moved, and only the sign remains. The flavours of Burmese food is less fiery than Thai, which comes as a pleasant surprise to those with a delicate palate. Located on the main Nimman strip, this Chiang Mai local restaurant is easy to locate too.
- Opening Hours: Daily 10:00 – 21:00
- Location: Nimmanhaemin Road, opposite soi 13
Midnight Chicken is a road side restaurant serving up late night dinners and early morning snacks. As the name suggests the best time to visit is around midnight, and the restaurant doesn’t open until 23:00 anyway. There is a long menu of different fried chicken options, as well as rice, pork and other dishes favoured by drunken revellers. It’s better to arrive as close to midnight as possible as Midnight Chicken may run out of food on popular days.
- Opening Hours: 23:00 – 05:00
- Location: Kamphaeng Din Alley, Chiang Mai (between the Old City and Riverside)
Blue Diamond’s nickname is The B10reakfast Club, but it’s actually open for lunch and dinner too. Blue Diamond has an extensive menu offering Thai food, salads, breakfast sets, freshly brewed coffee and fresh fruit smoothies. There is a small garden with a pond full of lucky carp, and a covered area which is cooler in the summer. They bake their own bread and pastries which are also available for takeaway.
- Opening Hours: 7:00 –20:30 (closed Sundays)
- Location: Moon Muang Road, Soi 9
- Website: https://www.facebook.com/BlueDiamondTheBreakfastClubCmTh/
Right in the heart of the old city is one of the most popular Thai restaurants in town. A simple name and décor, this restaurant focuses on serving up amazing food. Chose from chicken or pork satay with a rich peanut sauce, steamed or sticky rice and freshly steamed chicken (called Khao Man Gai in Thai). All rice dishes come with soup and as the waitress takes your order she will scream it across the restaurant to the chef. It's quite a loud and authentic local Chiang Mai dining experience.
- Opening Hours: 6:00 – 16:00
- Location: Intrawarowot Road
A strange name for a restaurant but extremely popular with Thai people, Crazy Noodle offers 3 different kinds of noodle soup – plain, spicy or extra spicy. There are lots of options to add different noodles and meat options, and a large drinks menu including herbal juices like roselle or ginger tea. Prices start at 40 Baht for soup and 20 baht for juices. No English menu available, which is good for authenticity but bad for people with specific ordering instructions.
- Opening Hours: 9:00 – 21:00
- Location: Sirimangklajarn Road, Soi 13 (close to Wat Suan Dok, west of the Old City)