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A guest post from Jub of Tiki Touring Kiwi.
Chiang Mai, is my ‘unofficial’ second home and while I wouldn’t consider myself a foodie, the food in Chiang Mai is amazing. It’s so delicious and affordable that unless you’re a passionate cook, you will eat out for every meal.
The biggest struggle when eating in Chiang Mai, is to not spend your whole day in restaurants. With so many expats in the city, there’s no shortage of people willing to join you for a meal. Great conversations can lead to breakfast, lunch and dinner taking up two hours each if you aren’t careful. That’s six hours a day in restaurants!
To counteract the obstacle above I generally eat two massive meals a day. The first one is around midday and the second in the evening. Also, I’m vegan. This isn’t an anomaly in Chiang Mai. There are heaps of vegetarian restaurants and pretty much all restaurants can adjust meals on the fly so everyone can eat together.
Meal 1: Imm Aim Vegetarian & Bike Cafe
Just outside the northwest corner of the Old City is Imm Aim Cafe. As you arrive you’ll notice the outdoor set up with chairs and tables scattered throughout the area. Filling up my own glass of water, I choose a seat at random having said hello to the staff working that day. Despite Chiang Mai being a reasonably sized city, it doesn’t take long to be a regular.
My go-to option here is the green curry with rice. Like in all good Thai restaurants you don’t wait too long. The food is hot and they have reasonable portion sizes. Because I only eating twice a day, I pretty much always get two meals. One is definitely a curry and the other is usually a salad.
The curries are quite sweet here (according to others) and are slightly on the soupy side but I love them. The curry is served in a bowl with brown rice on a plate. My method is to put all of the rice straight into the curry to thicken it up a bit. I tend to get the banana blossom salad and it is incredibly delicious and refreshing after the curry.
Total Cost: 130 baht
Address: Muang, Chiang Mai Santitham Rd, ช้างเผือก เมือง Chiang Mai 50300, Thailand
Meal 2: Organic Vegetables
This place doesn’t really have a name but when you mention Organic Vegetables just off Nimman before Anchan people know the restaurant you ae talking about. When you arrive you squeeze past the kitchen getting a waft of the smells, say hello to the friendly staff members, grab a menu, notepad and pen and look through your options.
My go to dish here, like Imm Aim involves green curry (did I mention I love green curry?). My piece of paper normally has the following scribbled on it: Green curry with vegetables and rice (no egg), Potato soup
Sometimes I go with the mushroom soup. Within 10 minutes both dishes will arrive more or less at the same time. I usually attack the green curry first as the soup is hot! The curry is different than Imm Aim (never knew curries can be made with such variety). It is a lot thicker and less soupy, and almost melts in your mouth with the vegetables being really soft. They too use brown rice so I don’t feel so bad eating two servings of rice a day. On to the potato soup, it’s a clear soup with no shortage of potatoes (or mushrooms) cut into chunks. They include a few other seasonal vegetables.
After dinner, I attempt to resist popping into 7/11 for a couple snacks. I usually find myself walking out of the with a coke and a small packet of green peas with salt. If not, I will get a coconut on the way home.
Organic Vegetables will sometimes close early and if it is, I head to the Burmese restaurants two doors down and will order rice, tea lead salad and a tamarind salad. Not a bad backup choice.
Total Cost: 90 baht
Address: Nimmanhaemin Road, Soi 13, Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai has so many great food options and while I personally don’t mind eating the same meal day after day, I know most people prefer to have a bit of variety. Here are a few other dishes I love in Chiang Mai:
- Veggie wraps from Salad Concept (Nimmanhaemin Road, Soi 13, Chiang Mai)
- Mixed fruit shake (no sugar) from Ms. Pa (South Gate night market)
- Fried Rice with mushroom from Blue Diamond (35/1 MoonMuang Road, Soi 9, Chiang Mai)
- Vegetable Noodle Soup from The Kodak Tablecloth Restaurant
Chiang Mai has so many great things to do in the city, just don’t forget to actually go and explore the city in between all of the epic meals you will eat.
Have you been to Chiang Mai? What foods did you discover there?
Jub (a kiwi) has been travelling the world with no real plan since 2010. If there are mountains nearby, he’ll be hiking. If there is a cold beer in the fridge, he might be drinking it. If the scenery is beautiful, he is probably meditating. Mainly travelling solo, he meets up with friends or goes on tour, to spice things up a couple times each year. Follow along on his adventures on is blog Tiki Touring Kiwi or on his Instagram.