by : RJ Fisher last update: January 2024
*at the end of this article you will find an interactive map to easily navigate your way to all the Chiang Mai street food venues.
Chiang Mai Street Food
Chiang Mai is renowned for its delicious street food. Next to traditional Thai dishes, the Northern Thai culture boasts a variety of flavors unique to this region. With so many street food venues and low prices, easy access to all the good stuff is guaranteed. No wonder Chiang Mai is such a popular destination for foodies around the world.
Let’s explore the best venues for Chiang Mai street food and the best dishes to try while you’re there. So bring your appetite and let’s get started!
Note!: I understand that street food hygiene can be a point of concern, but it shouldn’t be, it really shouldn’t. By all means, go for Chiang Mai street food, but use your eyes and stay alert. Is the vendor using gloves? Is the food heated at high enough temperatures? Are the raw and cooked food stations separated? Just use your common sense and I’m sure you’ll be fine.
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Chang Phuak – North Gate
Opening hours: everyday from 5pm to 12am
The area just outside the Old City at the Northern Chang Phuak gate is a great spot to sample Chiang Mai street food. Some of the stalls here have been around for ages, which is mainly due to the particularly high quality they offer. The fact that plenty of locals come to eat here as well should attest to that. When looking for Chiang Mai street food, Chang Phuak should be your first stop.
You will find the obvious grilled meats on a stick, spring rolls, mango sticky rice and truth be told, it’s all very tasty. However, Chang Phuak made its name thanks to the presence of three absolute Chiang Mai street food superstars.
1. Pork Leg Rice
First off is the cowboy hat lady serving Khao Kha Moo (braised pork knuckle). The food stall made famous by Anthony Bourdain’s visit is an undisputed Chiang Mai street food show stopper. The iconic cowboy hat lady-chef/owner chopping up the pork knuckles is no longer there. Apparently she still shows up every now and then, but only for short visits to check on things. The food however, is still fantastic and one of a kind.
Pork knuckle is braised for hours in a Chinese master sauce (soy sauce, ginger, sugar, rice wine and 5-spice), resulting in tender, aromatic and fall of the bone pork. The meat is served with a generous splash of the master sauce gravy. Since this dish is so rich it’s a good thing it’s served over rice to absorb the juices with pickles on the side. Just THB50 for a plate, but I would always opt for the extra THB10 boiled egg.
2. Suki Koka
Another long time Chiang Mai street food favorite, proving that simple is sometimes best. This place is so busy that from 5.30pm all seats are taken. Fortunately, they have a system for that. At the makeshift counter they give you a pager. You hang around in the stall’s vicinity and they will page you when there’s a table available for you, usually after 10/15min or so.
As said, the food choice is simple. Chinese cabbage (napa cabbage) with glass noodles and protein of your choice. You can opt to have it prepared as a soup or stir fried with xo sauce (chopped shrimp, scallops, chili, onion and garlic). THB50 for pork, THB60 for beef, fish or seafood.
Read more: Chiang Mai Travel Guide, Things to do and where to stay in Chiang Mai
3. Suang Bualoy
After snacking and dining on street food we need a sweet finish, right? Check out this Bualoy stall. Bualoy is basically glutinous rice balls in sweetened coconut milk. This is a common dessert in Southeast Asia and a regular in the Chiang Mai street food scene.
The Suang Bualoy stall offers a lot of variations of this traditional dessert. You can choose soy milk instead of coconut milk and for toppings the choice is endless. Sweet corn, tapioca strings, crispy fried dough, jellies, mung beans, all kinds of fresh or candied fruits. You can even add a sweetened or salted egg. Don’t dismiss it just yet, try it first, the combination works surprisingly well.
Don’t worry, they offer an excellent mango sticky rice as well.
Chiang Mai South Gate Market
Opening hours: every day from 7:30am to 12am
Located at the Southwest gate just within the moat of the Old City, the Bumrung Buri fresh market opens its doors every day from 7.30am. It’s an indoor fresh market selling vegetable produce, fruits, flowers, take out meals, dried goods, spices, rice and more. The butchers have their own separate section, which is quite large. The fresh market stays open until 8pm, but most stalls already pack up from midday. However, when the sun starts to set, the real action moves outside to what is locally known as the Chiang Mai South Gate Market.
From 5pm a zillion makeshift food stalls set up shop on both sides of the Bumrung Buri Road. On the market side of the street it’s mainly carts selling snack food. Plenty of choice here with grilled skewers, fried spring rolls, sushi and Thai sweets like Khanom Beuang (crispy mini pancakes filled with cream and shredded coconut). The moat side of the street has street food stalls with tables and chairs, or rather stools, for a quick sit down cooked-to-order dish.
Definitely try the Khao Soi (Northern Thai curry noodles), one of the main star dishes at this Chiang Mai street food market. Lot’s of vegetarian options as well.
Chiang Mai Street Food Tour
If you’re a bit apprehensive on how, what or where to order street food, but you would still like to try, why not join a Chiang Mai street food tour? You will visit two street food venues, while being accompanied by a guide. He/she will provide interesting context so you can get acquainted with street food that you like and don’t like. Before you know it you’ll be ordering street food by yourself with confidence.
Pick up from your accommodation and transport is included. Eight different tastings with a limited group to guarantee a personal experience. Book now to secure your ticket, but only pay until 72 hours before the tour starts. Book your Chiang Mai street food tour for only €37 or $40.
Chiang Mai Street Food @One Nimman
Opening hours: every day from 5am to 10pm
Nimmanheamin, lovingly shortened to “Nimman” by the locals, is an area just Northwest of the Old City. You could well say that this is the trendy part of Chiang Mai with all the hipster cafes, cool coffee shops and creative boutique hotels. There is a cluster of decent street food stalls at the landmark Maya shopping mall that are worth checking out. However, the real street food gem of Nimman is a few doors down the road.
The “One Nimman” shopping mall is built like a beautiful Italian arcade and piazza, surrounded by Nepalese/Lanna style buildings and even a clock tower. I realize this sounds like crazy architecture, but it works!
Many events are hosted here, such as live music, art exhibitions and regular themed markets with second hand vintage clothing, Japanese/Lanna lifestyle and local handicrafts. Every weekend the piazza hosts an atmospheric street food market with all the usual suspect dishes, but also lot’s of organic food options.
Next to the weekend street food market, there’s also a regular food court mimicking a street food market. Most food here is the same as at other streets food markets (just a tad more expensive, but still dirt cheap). However, there is definitely an innovative street food vibe going on here, call it “Chiang Mai street food 2.0”.
Vegan and organic food are well represented and there is a lot of attention for food hygiene. For all those apprehensive to try Thai street food because of hygiene concerns, this is the place for you.
We tried Nam Phrik Num (green chili/vegetable dip) with Kaeb Moo (pork cracklings), a real Northern Thai specialty. Looks like a fresh pesto sauce, tastes like inferno, loved it! Also, we satisfied our fries craving with a large fully loaded bacon ranch chili cheese fries. Not very Thai I admit, but hey, we just couldn’t resist.
Update March 2023: We did notice that after Covid most stalls at the food court have re-opened. There are still some empty spaces though and the ones that are operational have reduced their prices to attract more local eaters. We will keep updating with any new information that reaches us.
Read more: Thai Food you’re sure to love, Top 11 Thai food
Opening hours: every day from 5pm to 12am
This is the mother of all Chiang Mai street food venues, maybe even of Thailand. The Night Bazaar area is huge and extends over multiple blocks. Shoulder to shoulder market stands sell anything from t-shirts to toys, jewellery, handicrafts and anything in between. It truly is a shoppers paradise.
I remember walking around for hours till our feet hurt and working up a serious appetite. In the end all we wanted was to sit down, eat a good meal and chill with some beers. Well, turned out that the Night Bazaar was exactly the right place to be.
Numerous, or rather countless choice of street food vendors are evenly mixed in with the other stalls. Also, the Night Bazaar features the Kalare and Anusarn night markets, which are kind of like a market within a market. Both of them have their own food court that we describe below. They are actually like a crossover between Chiang Mai street food stalls and restaurants.
Kalare Night Market
Opening hours: every day from 5pm to 12am
Kalare night market features the Kalare Food Center, which is a huge outside, but covered eating area surrounded by 30+ street food vendor booths. Take your pick from Thai, Japanese, Italian, Indian, Chinese, Vegetarian, seafood or whatever food you like from one of the booths and enjoy your meal at one of the tables. With so many food vendors we suffered some serious choice stress at Kalare.
I ended up with a cooked to order Pad Thai, which was served on a banana leaf. Fresh, tasty and very good. Actually, I have yet to come across a bad Pad Thai in Thailand. Since I opted for the small portion I had room for more and went for a bunch of chicken satay skewers with a delicious peanut sauce and washed it all away with a refreshing mango smoothie. A very satisfying meal indeed.
Evenings at the Kalare Food Center also feature live music performances, Thai folklore dance and traditional puppet shows. To be honest, the shows are kind of cheesy, but in a good way and surprisingly fun to watch.
Opening hours: every day from 5pm to 11pm
Anusarn is the slightly more chill market at the night bazaar, but only by a bit. I guess it’s because Anusarn is towards the end of the night bazaar road and not every visitor makes it all the way down there. For this reason you can expect less crowds and lower prices, but again, only by a bit.
Similar to the Kalare food court this market also has multiple food stalls surrounding the seating area. But wait, the market extends with covered walkways providing access to regular restaurants, several beer stations and even a “Chill Square”, another food court. Lot’s of food choice here as well and including live entertainment.
Chill Square is a fun place to be, always buzzing with the beer stands that make you wanna stay longer for a few drinks. A chill place indeed. For more entertainment, Anusarn also features a Muay Thai boxing arena and a cabaret show.
Note! Do keep in mind that the night bazaar is mainly a tourist venue so flavors and variety of choice are somewhat geared towards pleasing the crowds. Also, do expect to pay a little more than at regular markets.
Read more: Where to eat in Chiang Mai – 30+ restaurant recommendations 2023 update
Sunday (Tha Phae) Walking Street
Opening hours: Sunday from 5pm to 10:30pm
When talking about Chiang Mai street food, the spectacular Sunday Walking Street in the Old City is an absolute must do when in Chiang Mai. Although, this market completely targets tourists, it is still rewarding to visit. Despite being a large and busy market it still feels so cozy and intimate. I think it’s the combination of the atmosphere and the setting in the Old City. It’s also a different market in the sense that the goods on offer are mainly handicrafts instead of the usual printed t-shirts and trinkets.
Some of the food stalls are situated on temple grounds where they have also created a limited seating area. For me, the temple grounds of Wat Pan On has the best street food. Fragrant curries, seafood from the grill and local sausages galore. You can choose to either have your delicious sit down meal here or to keep strolling and fill your belly with a multitude of bite sized snacks and desserts from the other food stalls. Don’t worry about money, prices are very reasonable.
Next to food, drinks are also something special at the market. Exotic fresh fruit juices, shakes, smoothies from mango, passion fruit, longan and even sweet corn. Wonderful and utterly refreshing lemonades and iced-tea infusions with roselle and clitoria ternatea (I swear I’m not making this up).
Saturday (Wua Lai) Walking Street
Opening hours: Saturday from 5pm to 10:30pm
Can not make it on Sunday? Lucky for you there’s also a Saturday Walking Street, aka the Wua Lai Market. It’s located in Wua Lai street close to Wat Sri Suphan (silver temple). The market also targets mainly tourists, but nevertheless, a lot of locals and domestic tourists visit here well. For this reason we can probably see more authentic and more daring food options here.
A lot of the vendors here are the same as at the Sunday market, so expect hill tribe handicrafts, handmade jewelry and local products. The food section starts at the South gate of the old city, which is actually a spill over from the regular food stalls at the Bumrung Buri market. Further down Wua Lai the food stalls are more scattered throughout the street.
Typically the Saturday walking street market offers a larger variety of Chiang Mai street food than the Sunday version. I saw many Thai foods at this market that were unknown to me, most of them local Northern Thai specialties. Well, they’re not unknown to me anymore as I tried a lot of new things, such as Gaeng Hung Lay (Burmese curry), a curry with pork belly and without coconut milk.
I very much liked Naem Moo, a kind of pork sausage that was fermented in pots before grilled and has a sour taste. Tried the raw version as well with chili, ginger and crushed peanut, which was excellent.
The fresh markets are an excellent place to sample Chiang Mai street food. They usually include a food court and ample makeshift food stalls spill out into the adjacent streets. These markets are were the locals go for breakfast and munch on their local Chiang Mai street food. Well, you know what they say, “if it’s popular with the locals, it must be good, because they know best”.
Opening hours: Everyday from 4am to 6pm, street food market from 5pm to 10pm
The Warorot Market, also known as “Kad Luang“, is a long standing local market, but as of recently also attracts tourists. The market is located near the Khua Khaek footbridge at the Ping riverside and housed in a 2 story building. Inside the building is a central atrium with galleries on the 1st and 2nd floor.
The upper floors mostly feature handicrafts, clothes and bags while the ground floor is dedicated to food. Lot’s of packaged food here, such as dried fruits, teas, pork skin, dried shrimp and mushrooms, but also fresh seafood, meat, vegetables and fruits. The many food stalls here mainly sell take out food only. There is however, a food court in the basement where you can also eat your take out as most vendors include plates and cutlery (plastic…sigh).
Authentic Thai food
Food options here are definitely true to their culinary heritage, so I do recommend to try it out. It was here that we ate the most delicious Aeb Pla, an authentic Northern Thai dish of minced fish mixed with curry, wrapped in a banana leaf and grilled over a charcoal fire. We also had the unavoidable Sai Oua (Northern Thai sausage) with sriracha and a mild Nam Phrik Ong (tomato/minced pork dip), which we ate with fresh cucumber. Mind you, this was our breakfast, yum!
A fellow traveler told us that there is also an excellent vegetarian food stand with a large food variety. Unfortunately we didn’t get to try it this time around. Look for the large yellow sign with red Chinese and Thai characters above the food stall.
From 5pm, makeshift food stalls start to set up in the direct vicinity of the market. By 7pm the streets are crowded with food stalls and hungry locals, all ready for a typical Chiang Mai street food frenzy. It is said that many Thai, especially the younger generation, never cook at home, ever. With supply and price levels like at the Warorot market, I fully understand.
Siri-Wattana Tha-Nin Market
Opening hours: Everyday from 4.30am to 9pm.
What is it with Thai markets that they need to have more than one name? The Tha-nin market is another example as it also goes by the name “Siri-Wattana” market. Anyway, the market is roughly 1km North of the old city and is as local as it gets. There are a few stalls that sell clothing, shoes and jewelry, but in essence it’s a real food market.
Brush up on your Thai language skills, because you will have a hard time finding English speaking vendors here. It will make your Chiang Mai street food quest all the more exciting though, I promise you that. Two building structures make up the market area, one for the market stalls and the other houses a food court.
The fresh market part is surprisingly clean. Well, compared to many other Thai fresh markets anyway. Plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables stacked 3ft high on the countertops, all of it looking fresh and healthy. Of course there’s a meat and seafood section as well.
Next to the meat section is a large number of food preparation stalls selling Khao gaeng (Thai for “pre-prepared dish served over rice”, stir fried dishes and som tam (green papaya salad), all of them mostly for take out. Also plenty of snacks here, such as anything grilled on a stick, curry puffs and more.
The second building structure houses a canteen style food court surrounded by clothing, bags and small electronics vendors. Here you can eat your take out khao gaeng that you picked up at the fresh market. Of course you can also order food directly from one of the many food stalls here. We ordered an extra Khai Jiao (Thai omelet) with minced meat, crispy edges, moist and fluffy inside, perfect!
Chiang Mai has many other (smaller) markets that offer worthwhile Chiang Mai street food from stalls and/or a food court. It will be near impossible to visit all of them, but if you find yourself near, why not give it a try? We have included their locations on the map below.
- Meuang Mai Market, open 24/7
- Kad Na Mor Market, every day from 5am to 10pm
- Aui Tha Market, every day from 8am to 8pm
- Charoen Charoen Market, every day from 7am to 7pm
- Somphet Market, every day from 8am to 8pm
- San Pa Koi Market, every day from 5am to 8pm
- Lang Mor Night Market, every day from 5pm to 9pm
- Ton Phayom Fresh Market, every day from 6am to 7pm
- Kaed Suan Kaew Night Market (Sum Meut), Thursday to Saturday from 4pm to 10pm
We are always down to try new dishes and to discover new street food venues. So, if you have any suggestions or additions to our Best Chiang Mai street food list, please let us know in the comment section below. We would love to hear from you.
1. Sunday walking street in the old city main street, Ratchadamnoen road;
2. Saturday walking street near the old city Southern gate, Wua Lai road;
3. South gate market at the old city Southern gate, Bumrung Buri road;
3. Night bazaar between the old city and Ping river, Changklan road;
4. Chang Phuak street market at the old city Northern gate, Chang Phuak road.
1. Khao Soi, egg noodles in yellow curry soup;
2. Sai Oua, Northern Thai sausage;
3. Nam Phrik Num/Ong, red/green chili dip;
4. Khanom Jeen, rice noodles in curry broth;
5. Aeb Pla, steamed minced fish and curry.
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