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What to Eat in Chiang Mai Old City

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Close up of a tray with several circular dishes made of ricde wrapped in vine leaves, all arranged on a C shape on top of a larger green vine leaf. What to Eat in Chiang Mai Old City

Welcome to my guide to what to eat in Chiang Mai, Thailand – particularly the two markets in the Old City…

Chiang Mai’s old city is set inside a walled square, with a nightly market at the north and south gates. These are probably two of the best places to find street food in Chiang Mai. Each market is packed out every night, with a vast array of tasty treats.

There’s so much available, though, that it can be hard to know where to start. So, with the help of some Thai locals, a few blogger pals, and my own research – I put together this list of what to eat in Chiang Mai at the old city.

The must-try market dishes listed below. And at the end of the page, I’ve also included some recommendations for my favourite restaurants and cafés in Chiang Mai. Bon appetite!

NB – Some of the foods listed below are probably available at both markets. However, I’ve listed them under the markets I tried them at because I know there’s definitely a stall there! 

What to Eat at Chang Puak Market in Chiang Mai

Just outside the Old City’s northern gate, the Chang Puak Gate, this market is definitely one of the best places to eat street food in Chiang Mai. In fact, it’s easily one of the top things to do in Chiang Mai, full stop! Here are some of the dishes you need to try at Chang Puak Market…

What to Eat in Chiang Mai Old City
The famous Chiang Mai cowgirl.

Khao Ko Moo

Pig leg, cooked for 15 – 20 hours in soy sauce, served with rice in a rich, tasty gravy. The most famous stall is Khao Kha Moo Chang Phueak, recommended by the likes of Anthony Bourdain, who put this dish firmly at the top of every “what to eat in Chiang Mai” list!

The stall is easy to find because the owner always wears her iconic cowgirl hat. Her khao ko moo comes served with a perfectly soft boiled egg and a dash of amazing chilli vinegar. It’s worth bearing in mind, though, that the Chiang Mai cowgirl isn’t the be-all and end-all of stewed pork. I also tried a plateful from one of the neighbouring stalls and it was still pretty good, just different! 

Sticky Rice

Glutinous rice is soaked for water overnight, then steamed and served up in a neat little sticky ball – usually served in a bamboo pot. Sticky rice is the perfect thing to accompany one of the many soup dishes in Chiang Mai.

What to Eat at Chang Puak Market
Khao Ko Moo

Tom Sab

A tasty soup made from boiled pork (or fish) with mushrooms and chillies, flavoured with galangal (a local root that looks similar to ginger), lemongrass, and kaffir lime leaves.

Nam Tok Moo

An amazing spicy pork dish made with sliced grilled pork, crushed toasted rice, onions and chillies smothered in fish sauce and lime juice. Perfect with sticky rice!

Pad pak bung (morning glory)

I discovered the joys of morning glory in Vietnam, where it’s served fried in garlic and butter. In Chiang Mai, they stir fry this green vegetable in oyster sauce with garlic and chillies to make the tasty dish pad pak bung fai daeng. Don’t miss it!

Mango Sticky Rice

Everyone’s favourite Thai dessert: sticky rice with coconut sauce and deliciously fresh mango. There are plenty of stalls at the Chang Puak Market serving this iconic dessert.

What to Eat in Chiang Mai Old City
Mango Sticky Rice!

Khanom Bua Loi

Keep your eyes peeled for a vat of creamy white soup-ish stuff with egg and what looks like bloated peas floating in it. At first glance, it doesn’t look all that appetising, but this warm Thai dessert – made from sweetened coconut milk with balls of green rice flour – is really yummy.

For the daring!

Braver foodies might want to give some of Chang Puak Market’s other delicacies a go. There’s crispy fried frog – just keep an eye out for the fat, skinless frogs found on some stalls – which is apparently a speciality.

Or, there are the infamous pink eggs. Pink on the outside, but black inside, these are an Asian delicacy known as preserved eggs (originating in China). Basically, ordinary eggs are preserved for several months in a mixture of clay, ash, salt, quicklime, and rice hulls – until they turn a disgusting looking opaque black colour. According to Vicky Flip Flop, who was brave enough to try one, the taste isn’t too bad but the texture is very offputting.

What to Eat at Chang Puak Market
Thai preserved eggs – this is what the pink eggs look like inside!

What to Eat at the South Gate Market in Chiang Mai

The South Gate Market, also known as the Chiang Mai Gate Market, is another amazing place to find street food and cheap eats in Chiang Mai. These are the dishes you need to try here…

What to Eat in Thailand
Chiang Mai Sausage

Pad Thai

There’s an amazing pad thai stall at the South Gate Market, on the other side of the road from the city wall. I had my first dinner in Thailand here and it was great!

Chiang Mai Sausage (Sai Ua)

These huge swirled sausages – a little like a Cumberland – are easy to spot grilling on barbecues around the South Gate Market. Do not miss them! Delicious, fat sausages made from minced pork meat flavoured with galanga, lemongrass, and red curry paste, these are a must-try dish in Northern Thailand.

What to Eat at Chiang Mai Night Market
Don’t miss this lady’s curry noddles

Curry noodles

Another famous face on Chiang Mai’s food scene, the sweet lady running the noodle stall at the South Gate market has been there every day – with the exception of a few sick days – for twenty-five years. She’s even been featured in magazines, and her curry dishes served with noodles are pretty unmissable!


Northern Thailand takes a lot of influence from its nearby neighbours of Burma and Laos, so it’s no surprise that larb – a spicy minced meat salad that’s considered the national dish of Laos – is popular in Chiang Mai. There’s a great stall at the South Gate Market, not far from the Tesco Lotus, which serves up some seriously good larb!

Chiang Mai Street Food
Grilled squid at the South Gate Market

Grilled Eggs

Something you’ll see a lot at street food stalls around Thailand is a stick skewering two or three eggs, in shells, lying on a grill. Wondering why in the world anybody is barbecuing an egg on a stick? You’re not alone!

I asked a local and discovered that this is a heavenly-sounding Thai way of over-complicating the humble hard-boiled egg.

Basically, the inside of the egg is removed keeping the shell intact. It’s seasoned and reinserted into the shell, then steam-cooked before being finished on the grill. Ridiculously tricky sounding but from all accounts delicious. I shall be trying one shortly.

What to Eat in Chiang Mai Old City
Grilled eggs at the South Gate Night Market

Hor Mok

I spotted these tasty-looking treats at the Chiang Mai South Gate Market but was too full to try them. After asking on my Facebook Page what they are, I received the following answer (I love the internet): “It’s a kind of curry which [is made] from curry paste, coconut milk, and fish. It’s cooked by steaming. The taste is nice and not spicy.”

What to Eat at Chiang Mai Night Market
Hor Mok (also called Amok)

Khanom Krok

Traditional sweet dumplings made from rice flour and coconut milk, which are filled with a topping such as sweetcorn or pumpkin and cooked in a heated pan a little like a waffle iron. The lady making these at the South Gate Market in Chiang Mai has been working the same stall for twenty years, and it was previously run by her mother before her. A must-try Thai dessert.

What to Eat in Chiang Mai Old City
Khanom Krok lady at the South Gate night market

Best Restaurants and Cafés in Chiang Mai Old City

Want some aircon and maybe a chair with a back to go with your food? When you’re done with street food, there are plenty of great restaurants in the Old City. Here are a few of my favourite places to eat in Chiang Mai Old City…

It’s Good Kitchen

175/6 Ratchadamnoen Road

It IS good, so good in fact that I went back to this cute restaurant three times. The green curry soup is amazing, and comes with rice shaped like a teddy bear. This awesome, and friendly, little restaurant right by Wat Phra Singh is very popular so you may have to wait for a table – but it’s worth it. I recommend the green curry fried rice for a fantastic, and cheap, light option.

What to Eat in Chiang Mai Old City
Green Curry

Writer’s Club and Wine Bar

141/6 Thonon Rachadamnoen Alley

The food is pretty nice – especially the yellow curry – but the best thing about this cosy expat haunt is the decent wine selection, which involves more than the standard Thai choice of “white or red”.

My Secret Café in Town

175/12, Rachadamnoen Road

An actual secret, tucked onto a side street behind the busy Walking Street, My Secret Café is a real hidden gem. Here you’ll find amazing cakes, as well as the best iced coffee in Chiang Mai. It comes served in cute glass milk bottles.

Grab yourself a Crownie – cookie dough brownie – or a cake, and while away an hour or two in air-conditioned bliss. There’s a gallery upstairs and a gorgeous, flower-filled garden area outside, plus it’s almost always empty; making this my absolute favourite café in Chiang Mai.

Akha Ama La Fattoria

Rachadhamnoen Rd

A socially responsible coffee company which uses only locally grown coffee – from nearby Chiang Rai – which is sustainably farmed by the minority Akha people. The coffee is great, and you can buy the beans as a souvenir. There’s no road number listed on the website, but Akha Ama is listed correctly on Google Maps, and it’s easy to find not far from the entrance of Wat Phra Singh.

Best Chiang Mai Food Tours

For a real taste of authentic Thailand, why not head on a food tour or take a cooking class? This is always my favourite way to discover a new culture! Tours and classes are also a great way to travel deeper, and to meet a few fellow travellers too.

I’ve rounded up a few of the top-rated food tours in Chiang Mai from my preferred company, Get Your Guide. I actually booked one myself when I was visiting – so much fun! FYI – If you book any of these, I’ll make a small commission – without affecting the price you pay at all.

Do you have any more great restaurant recommendations, or tips for what to eat in Chiang Mai? Please leave a comment! 

What to Eat in Chiang Mai, Thailand

10 thoughts on “What to Eat in Chiang Mai Old City”

    1. Ah you should, it’s a really cool city! I’m actually considering going back there for a month or so at some point as there are loads of great cafes to work in and the rent is seriously cheap – seems like the perfect place to catch up on blogging!

  1. This list could have kept growing and growing as we ate our way around Chiang Mai.  Whether you try some of the places listed above or discover many of the street food vendors, cafes and restaurants yourself, we are sure you won t be disappointed Thai food always looks fresh, nutritious and healthy. I loved my pad thai dishes and sticky rice served with mango. Chang Mai has even more to offer in terms of food than Bangkok. What was your favourite dish?

  2. What about the famous and fabulous khao soi? Beautiful rich chicken or beef curry, served with soft noodles, and crispy noodles on top – my favourite thai dish by far!

      1. A CM local stumbled upon your question.

        You can find Khaosoi (ข้าวซอย) everywher in CM. Most Thai tourists siad Khaosoi Fah Harm are the bests (Fah Harm is the name of the area, but, beleive me or not, none of locals I’ve met said they are delicious. We all agree that it’s too sweet. Bangkok and central thai preference)

        My recommendation would be Khaosoi Islam at night Barzar or khaosoi Khun Yai (Gandma Khaosoi) . There are more of them I would recommend. There’s only one problem:most of delicious CM food shops (not just for Khaosoi) are not on any tour guide map. It would be best if you have some local as a friend. Not just Thai but those who born and live/study here for decades. They know where to eat.

        CM, and TH, like every places. We have both good and bad things, also good and bad people. hope you see the first ones wherever you go.

        Be our guest again anytime.

        PS. FYI. Pink egg is not originated in TH. It’s from chinese cuisine. You can find them in the West. It’s called century egg.

        Also not Tom Sam but Tom Sab.

        1. Hi Ink, thanks so much for such an awesome and detailed comment – so helpful!!

          I was lucky enough to have a food tour guiding me through the markets, but I also explored on my own. Hopefully I managed to list at least a few of the best things to eat :) I’d recommend others to ask locals, always, even if it’s just the staff at their hotel.

          Also thanks for spotting my typo :)

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