Chiang Mai’s Best Street Food

Chiang Mai is street food heaven.

During our six months in Thailand’s “most splendid city of culture” we ate very well. We discovered many Thai dishes we’d never heard of, and sampled some of the more well-known Thai dishes.

Here’s our top picks:

Smer Jai Khao Soy

This popular khao soy restaurant does not actually have its name written in English. You just need to know it’s the restaurant beside Wat Fa Ham.

Smer Jai Khao Soy

The khao soy here is pretty good, a great introduction to the famous Chiang Mai dish.

Khao Soy from Smer Jai

The restaurant also serves green chicken curry, som tam (papaya salad) and satay sticks. Nam prik ong, a spicy pork and tomato dip served with vegetables, and khanom jeen nam ngiaw, a fermented noodle dish, are worth trying.

Smer Jai, named after the founder, is only open for lunch. After the main part of the restaurant closes, Smer Jai’s grandson sets up a barbecue out the front. There’s also a section selling a variety of Thai sweets. And if you can fit anymore in, you can have a coffee at the cafe inside Wat Fa Ham.

Kho Jao Market

“Our” market, where we met Market Mincer Man. The honey roast chicken stall on the far left of the market is highly recommended, as is the som tam stall outside the market and a few paces north.

During the day, the market is your run-of-the-mill Asian wet market, with fresh fruit and vegetables at the front and a meat section at the back. At night, vendors sell prepared food. There are different dishes every night, and the best stuff sells out quickly.

7-11 Carpark Near Wat Jet Yod

Fabulous street food dishes, including desserts, are sold here every night.

I never discovered the name of this little collection of stalls. This place is on the right-hand side of the road, just after the Nimmanhaemin-Huay Kaew intersection. The khao kha moo (stewed pork with egg) from the big stall at the back is to-die for, and the pork noodle soup served in a coconut at the front left is also amazing.

Baanrai Yarmyen

A pricier option but always a fantastic experience. It’s the place to try insects if you dare!

Baanrai Yarmyen

The menu is as thick as War and Peace and full of all kinds of Thai and northern Thai dishes. I recommend the Hors d’oevre Muang, a platter of dip, sai oua (spicy sausage), meat and vegetables, and the mob poo, a spicy soup with black rice crab, vegetables and young coconut palm tips. It is a delicious soup that comes with great bragging rights — you ate poo! (Poo is the Thai word for crab.)

Mob poo

Other dishes we’ve enjoyed here include tom kha gai (chicken in coconut broth) and ant soup.

The owner of the restaurant, Siriphong Charana, was a rock star 25 years ago with the band Cowboy Nam Poo. Siraphong, who’s also an architect, designed the restaurant he inherited from his parents.

Baanrai Yarmyen is a little hard to find. Most tuk-tuk drivers should know it though. It’s VERY popular with tourists from Bangkok and it was our go-to place whenever we had visitors. The address is 14 Moo 3, Loi Lanka 3, Jaroenraj Road, Fa Ham Village.

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12 years ago

By: Barbara

A career girl who dropped out, traveled, found love, and never got around to going home again. Now wrangling a cross-cultural relationship and two third culture kids.


  1. Michi says:

    Delicious. I can’t wait to someday eat my way through South East Asia, mmmm. The chicken in coconut broth sounds divine.

  2. Snap says:

    I DO miss the food! Such variety, always some new dish to discover. I’ve never seen pork noodle soup served in a coconut…will have to try it next time 🙂
    Snap recently posted..Where to stay (or not) in Phnom Penh – Modern City Hotel

  3. Lori says:

    I loved the Khao Soy in Chiang Mai, too! If you have a good reciped, I’d love to see it. 🙂

  4. […] while traveling. Learning through food can take place at an ethnic grocery store or by trying local street food. It can be comparing markets between countries, or discovering your favorite new foods, wherever […]

  5. Angela says:

    Good to know the 7-11 carpark one. We just moved into an apartment and it is really close by! Thanks 🙂
    Do you have any more tips?
    Angela recently posted..Understanding China: individuality VS. unity in Chinese culture

    • Barbara says:

      Hey Angela, I hope you love Chiang Mai as much as we did!

      There’s another fab street food place down one of the sois off Nimmanheim Road (however you spell it). With your back to the highway/711 carpark, you turn right … maybe into the second soi on the right. And then you turn left down and there’s a wooden shack that’s only open at lunchtime. It does great stuff, including a great som tam. I hope you can find it with these whacky directions. 🙂

  6. […] while traveling. Learning through food can take place at an ethnic grocery store or by trying local street food. It can be comparing markets between countries, or discovering your favorite new foods, wherever […]

  7. I’m moving to Chiang Mai soon and can’t wait to try all of this…so excited!!
    Valen-Eating The Globe recently posted..An Insatiable Desire For Spice

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