Try local northern Thai cuisine and feast on incredible international dishes at Chiang Mai’s hottest restaurants.
Chiang Mai is a favourite for expats who crave local Thai cuisine and the occasional international dish.
The Old City is filled with local cafes that have large and varied menus that cater to every taste.
At top hotels and along the waterfront you’ll find some of the city’s trendiest restaurants with breathtaking views and nightly entertainment to boot.
Look here for our recommendations on the top restaurants and cafes that won’t leave you hungry in Chiang Mai.
Chiang Mai restaurants
The Grand Lanna
The Grand Lanna combines traditional Thai dishes from the north and south with newer recipes. You’ll find this centuries-old restaurant under the sweeping roofs of a traditional-style Thai building.
Guests can dine on the terrace overlooking a tropical garden, or inside surrounded by the art collection and antiques.
Every night there is a live show that includes dancing and music.
51/4 Moo 1, Chiang Mai-Sankampaeng Road, T. Tasala, A. Muang
Ginger & Kafe at The House
Part restaurant, part bistro, Ginger & Kafe is quirky and homey. The lounge is decorated with antiques and colourful cushions.
It serves mainly cakes and coffee, but is perfect as a hot evening hangout.
199 Moon Muang Road, T. Sriphum, A. Muang, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Free Bird Cafe
Free Bird Cafe serves vegetarian and organic dishes that are homemade with fresh local ingredients.
The service is high-quality and all profits go to the Thai Freedom House organisation which assists minorities in Thailand.
116 Manee Nopparat Rd, Tambon Si Phum, Amphoe Mueang
Palaad Tawanron Restaurant
This restaurant is popular for its unbeatable views of the city. It serves a fusion of Thai and international dishes in a romantic atmosphere, accompanied by live music from the restaurant band.
100 Suthep Road , Suthep. Muang
Café SOI is located inside the hip and trendy D2 Hotel.
The food is a combination of Thai street food and traditional lanna cuisine, creating a modern twist.
The plates are small to medium-sized, meant to be shared, and are enjoyed at communal tables. The Mix Bar is also in D2 and offers a modern and hip setting for cocktails.
Dusit D2 Hotel,100 Chang Klan Road
The Good View Bar & Restaurant
With views along the Ping River, The Good View Bar & Restaurant has developed a reputation as one of the best restaurants to spend your evening.
There are live performances as you enjoy their extensive menu options.
Meat, seafood and salad dishes are served as well as dishes local to the region.
13 Charoen Rat Road, Watgate Muang Chiang Mai
This fine dining establishment is located in a converted home just outside the city, surrounded by lush gardens.
David’s Kitchen serves French dishes with an Asian influence and was voted the #1 fine dining restaurant in Thailand in 2016.
113 Bamrungrad Road, Wat Kate
The Service 1921 Restaurant & Bar
The resort’s colonial house opened in 1921 for the British Consulate of Chiang Mai but has since been converted into The Service 1921 Bar & Restaurant. In spite of that, it still maintains its colonial charm.
Watch the mixologists create Asian-inspired cocktails at the bar or sit back in a communal or private dining room and enjoy your meal.
Thai, Chinese Szechuan and Vietnamese dishes are created by expert chefs..
Anantara Chiang Mai Resort, 123-123/1 Charoen Prathet Road, Changklan, Muang
This unique, contemporary and vibrant restaurant will tickle your senses with its wide range of oven-baked pizzas and homemade pastas.
Favola features Italian dishes with fresh local and imported ingredients and gourmet seasonal menus. The glass walk-in cellar houses over 1,000 bottles of wine and offers expertise in food and wine pairing.
Le Méridien Chiang Mai, 108 Chang Klan Road, Tambol Chang Klan, Amphur Muang
5 Chiang Mai foods to try
1. Khao soi
Khao soi is regarded as one of the most popular northern Thai dishes. The base is a blend of coconut, red curry, chili and soy sauce, blended to make a soup-like consistency.
It’s served in a bowl with a mix of deep-fried and boiled egg noodles and slow-cooked chicken. It’s then topped with shallots, lime and ground chili.
2. Northern Thai sausage (sai oua)
Sai oua is another Thai dish from the north that is a pork-based sausage known for its spicy flavour.
Ingredients include lemongrass, kaffir lime leaf, chili and ginger.
3. Kanom jeen nam ngiaw
This spicy noodle dish is filled with skinny white rice noodles in a dark red broth.
It has a smoky, tangy flavour and is flavoured with slow-cooked beef or pork, stewed tomatoes and dried chilis.
It’s topped with fried garlic, fresh cilantro, bean sprouts, cabbage and pickled mustard greens.
4. Kaeng hang le (pork and ginger curry)
This curry is mild and uses spices such as ginger, tamarind, turmeric and garlic to flavour the sauce.
Large bites of slow-cooked pork belly are added and the dish takes on a tangy flavour with a touch of sweetness.
It’s served with a side of jasmine rice, sticky rice or kanom jeen noodles.
5. Laap muu (spicy pork salad)
This dish is made of minced pork and a rich blend of spices including chilis, lime juice and fish sauce that give it an aromatic taste and a spicy kick.
The meat is then wrapped in lettuce leaves and enjoyed as an appetizer.
Food tours and cooking classes
Experience the flavours of northern Thailand in a cooking class, market visits and street food tours. The following are a few suggestions:
Chiang Mai street food tour
Chiang Mai half-day cooking class
Thai and Akha cooking class