Chiang Mai is a food lovers paradise and you’re never far from some form of eatery whether it be a 5 star French restaurant or a street stall selling noodles. Thai food in Chiang Mai is certainly eclectic with influences from Myanmar, China and Laos, as well as the kingdoms of Sukhothai and Ayutthaya. Chiang Mai’s geography has played a hand in shaping the unique cuisine with herbs, roots and plants from the jungle being prevalent over coconut milk, palm sugar and fish sauce from a time when these ingredients were less accessible than in other parts of Thailand. The cooler climate too meant some vegetables and herbs were better suited to Northern cuisine.
These days Chiang Mai is a culinary sponge with cuisine from every corner of the world being represented in some form or another and this internationalism makes the city so easy to enjoy every dining experience.
With this in mind, visitors to the Amazing Thailand International Chiang Mai Enduro will be in for a treat no matter what the food preference is. There is a number of Halal, vegetarian, vegan and kosher restaurants and whether you’re looking for Italian, French, Middle Eastern, Asian or a plethora of other cooking styles you won’t be disappointed.
Must Try Local Dishes
There are certain dishes which are a must try during your stay in Chiang Mai, the most popular being Khao Soi – a soup made with wide rice noodles, coarsely chopped pork, tomatoes, fermented soy beans, chillies, shallots, and garlic, then topped with pork rind, bean sprouts, chopped scallions, and chopped cilantro. According to some sources, a favorite dish of visitors to Chiang Mai, Khao Soi became popular when Chinese Muslims (Yunnanese Muslims) moved to the north of Thailand and lived in Chiang Mai in the late 19th or early 20th century and introduced coconut milk and other spices to the more traditional soups. Other sources say it was the Burmese who introduced Khao Soi to Chiang Mai. Either way, today it is the go to dish for visitors as well as locals living in Chiang Mai and aside from the countless restaurants serving their variation of the dish, there are plenty of variations from a Halal version from Khao Soi Islam to vegetarian / vegan options at popular restaurants such as Taste from Heaven.
There are small eateries everywhere you look serving delicious Thai food at a very affordable price. Many of these restaurants are very plainly decorated but don’t let that fool you, many of the most basic restaurants serve the most delicious meals so don’t be put off by simple décor and the plastic stools! Popular dishes include fried basil (pad krapow), stir fried morning glory (pad pak bung), chicken and ginger (gai pad king) and fried kale with pork (kanaa moo gop). These dishes and more can be enjoyed for just 30-50 THB per dish so be sure to explore Chiang Mai and try out some of these dishes.
Halal Food in Chiang Mai
Muslims have lived in Chiang Mai since at least the 1800’s. They are of diverse origins, hailing from China, Bangladesh, India and Pakistan and there are approximately 30,000 muslims living in Chiang Mai today. With a relatively large Muslim population this means that there are also plenty of restaurants to choose from, with the highest concentration being located in the Muslim communities, especially on Chang Klan Road, where Chiang Mai Night Bazaar is located, and Chang Phueak Road. The Muslim area is approximately 20-30 minutes from the race venue / 7.5km so we recommend using a Grab taxi or hailing a tuk tuk or Songteaw. Find out the top 10 Halal restaurants on Trip Advisor.
Vegan Restaurants in Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai is a paradise for vegetarians and vegans with an explosion of restaurants opening in the last couple of years. Pun Pun is a popular restaurant, both for its food and its philosophy and approach to organic farming and community.
Very close to the event venue is Food 4 Thought, a western-style health food restaurant which uses organic ingredients to create a wide range of vegetarian and vegan meals, from salads to wraps and sandwiches.
If you’re doing a mountain biking tour with Trailhead then check out Munchies next door if you’re craving some vegan fast food. Also check out more vegan restaurants in Chiang Mai in this vegan guide by Chiang Mai City Life.
International Food in Chiang Mai
With a diverse population and visitors from all over the world, it is no surprise that there is a huge variety of international cuisine in Chiang Mai. French, Italian, German, Indian…you name it and Chiang Mai will have it. A special mention must go to Why Not? Italian Restaurant & Wine Bar as a generous supporter of the Amazing Thailand International Chiang Mai Enduro, and one of the most popular Italian restaurants in Chiang Mai serving affordable, authentic Italian food in comfortable surroundings, whether indoor or outdoor. The owner, Emidio always has time for a chat and the team are very friendly so a visit or 2 is highly recommended.
If you have the budget then David’s Kitchen is something of a Chiang Mai institution serving classic French cuisine as well as a few original dishes with an Asian twist. We recommend dining in the comfortable garden setting and if you visit for a special occasion such as a birthday, make sure you tell them in advance for a special surprise!
If you have any dietary requirements for the Amazing Thailand International Chiang Mai Enduro, or if you simply have a question about where to eat in Chiang Mai, please let us know and we will do our best to assist.