We were surprised to find that the food we associated with our favourite Thai restaurants in Australia, WAS NOT what we saw in Thailand. I should have known better, but I was SOO excited for green curry and pad thai and mango sticky rice! Here’s a guide to where you can find some good eats and what we’ve eaten at each place. At the end is a price guide to give you an idea of what we spent on food.
NIGHT MARKET FOOD
Our favourite night market, and closest to us, was the Rincome Night Market located next to the MAYA Lifestyle Centre. A smaller-scale market but had a dozen food stalls and trucks selling a variety of food. This variety was great because you didn’t have to choose which pad thai lady to go to, there was only one!
Chiang Mai Sausage, a fat sausage filled with pork, rice noodles and spices
Satay, choose from seafood, meatballs, marinated chicken to veggie skewers
Pad Thai, from the large stall at the back (I don’t know the name!)
A Thai friend from Sydney recommended that we go to MAYA Lifestyle Centre for food. At first, we thought it was odd. When we arrived at the shopping mall, all we saw was Dairy Queen, KFC and Coco Ichibanya. Is this really where we could get good food? Well, on Level four if you keep walking past the chain restaurants and you have a mini version of night markets. About eight to ten food stalls serving all kinds of food from soups, stews, noodles curries, stir fry. And wait there’s more! On B1 basement (depending on what lift you use you may have to walk through the bike parking area) you will have even more choices of food stalls from vegan and vegetarian to pork on pork! Many stalls didn’t have English translations, but I found that many of the stall owners speak a bit of English which made it helpful for ordering.On Level 4 – Khun Su’s Omelette and Rice Stall and Fresh Me Bubble TeaOn B1 Basement – Pork Noodle and Vegan Stall
If you are keen to explore by foot and walk the streets, you will find many little places to enjoy a meal. Along the back road of our condo, at least ten tiny shops were serving different types of local Thai dishes. Most shops were lunch places, and others popped up in the evening.
Grab is more than a car share app it also delivers food! One night we weren’t feeling well and just wanted to stay in, so we tried the app, and it was so simple to use. Very similar to Uber Eats, you find the place you want, select dishes from their menu and hit order. We got our delivery within 20 minutes, which is about the fastest fast-food delivery one can have. You can learn more about using Grab app in Thailand here.
FOOD AND FOODIE TOUR
In my endeavour to be Anthony Bourdain, every night felt like a food tour for us! We had time on our side with two weeks in Chiang Mai, so it was easy for us to take our time and explore on our own. If you are here for a short stay, there are night food tours that take small groups around and show them the ropes of the night market and food culture. We have used Local Alike for another tour, so we’re confident their food tour is top-notch!
We found out as we were leaving for Bangkok that there was a food festival happening that weekend. Gutted by this realization, I decided to research this festival until I was so disappointed I gave myself a case of FOMO and Josh had to bring me back to reality. If you’re interested in next year though, check out Wongnai Chiang Mai Food Festival.
Food is cheap here, and we estimated that it’s cheaper to eat out every meal than to buy groceries and cook dinner. So that’s what we did! These are average costs for lunch or dinner dishes in Chiang Mai in Thai baht and Australian dollar. For our US friends, it’s even cheaper!
Prices for food in Chiang Mai, Thailand compared to Australia