Go to one of the many food markets scattered around town
No matter what time day or night, in Chiang Mai there will always be a food market open and for the majority of the locals it is a daily routine to go to markets to eat there or buy food “sai toeng” (take away) for the family to eat at home and let’s face it, why would someone be willing to sweat over a hot stove, peal vegetables, prepare a meal and then do the dishes when you can just go to one of the many food markets scattered around town to buy ready made excellent meals for absolute bargain prices.
Learn about Thai culture and the locals on the food markets
To eat in Thailand is not always a necessity, but more like a hobby and what better way to learn about Thai culture and interact and have fun with the locals than visiting a market, even if you are not able to speak the local lingo you can always use your body language or just point to the by you desired dishes, most of the Thai people will be happy to help you to satisfy your appetite.
During the day or in the morning one of the more popular Chiang Mai markets to go is “Sompet” situated on Moon Meuang rd. and Ratvithi rd. fresh fruits and vegetables are sold, but there are a couple of small places to get yummy smoothies and rice dishes. “Warorot” market located in Chiang Mai’s Chinatown is another good place for food “munchies” with many different food stalls selling local delicacy’s, no outside seating, but you can
wander inside for “kaw soy” and rice dishes.
In the evenings lot’s of options are available, most of the Chiang Mai markets are situated around the moat and near the different city gates. Phratu Chiang Mai (South-gate) caters heaps of food stalls with metal tables and small plastic chairs a great location to sit, eat and people watching whilst enjoying inexpensive noodles, curry’s and rice dishes. Another personal favourite is Phratu Chang Puak (North-gate) also a great place to sit outside and watch the world go by, many traditional Northern Thai dishes, pad tai, curry’s and a very popular place amongst the locals to go and eat.
On the other side of the river is “San Pa Koi” maybe the cheapest, but surely not to be underestimated and not known by casual tourists, here you can find delicious BBQ chicken, pork and spicy hot curry’s, you can sit and eat inside the sheltered market.
Around “Nimmanhaemin” area there’s a market called “kad ring kham” also a good place to combine eating and shopping, on the other side of Nimmanhaemin rd. you can find “Ton Payom market” popular among the university students with similar food options.
More opportunity’s for street food are the markets around the Chiang Mai night bazaar, “Anusarn market” is well known and frequently visited by tour operators, but therefore also caters delicious food with a free live show with traditional Thai performances.
Next to Anusarn market is “Kalare” with an indoor seating food court where you can first buy tickets on a counter to later proceed to the different food stalls to purchase your cravings, after your meal is finished you can change your leftover tickets back on the same counter.
These are just a couple of options, but don’t forget that there is a Chiang Mai market sprouting on every vacant square spot available. If you see an empty lot, just wait around a while, sooner or later in the day or evening there will be one!
Some useful words for you to play and have fun with when ordering food at a local Chiang Mai market: “mai pet” = not spicy | “kao pad” = fried | “Moo?” = pork | “Gai” = chicken | “Kai dao” = with egg | “kwitiauw” = noodle soup | “Tao rai?” = how much?