Answers from Our Experts (1)
From a romantic restaurant set along the tranquil Ping River to an Anthony Bourdain-approved spot serving spicy sai krok (Chiang Mai sausages) and fresh fruit juices, these are Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ picks for five of the best places to eat at in Chiang Mai:
1. The Riverside Bar & Restaurant. The Riverside’s romantic setting on the Ping River is only part of the draw for this Chiang Mai institution that features live music seven days a week. The expansive menu here has something for everyone with over 500 Western and Thai dishes in total, including local favorites such as phat Thai, tom yam khung and khao soi. The wine selection – over 50 varieties from around the world – is one of the strongest in the city.
2. Whole Earth Restaurant. We love the laid-back ambience and unique dining experience found at this casual, well-priced restaurant that creatively marries traditional Thai cuisine with perfectly executed vegetarian Indian dishes such as aloo matter and palek paneer. Wine starts at just 210 baht by the glass or 630 baht for a carafe.
3. Huen Phen. Consistently ranked as one of the best places in Chiang Mai to indulge northern Thai specialties such as sai krok and khao soi, unpretentious Huen Phen is located near Wat Chedi Luang and stays packed with locals and tourists alike from lunch until closing time. In addition to the two aforementioned dishes, Huen Phen’s nam phrik ong, made from pork and chilis, is highly recommended.
4. Pun Pun. This primarily vegetarian restaurant’s mission is to support local organic farmers’ transition to sustainable food systems – and they do so quite deliciously. The food at both locations is exceptionally fresh: Head to the original branch at Wat Suan Dok for lunch, or to the newer one at Santitham for dinner and to shop for locally grown and made products and produce.
5. Aroon (Rai) Restaurant. This simple, elegant garden restaurant is a tourist favorite that’s drawn high praise from trusted foodie Anthony Bourdain for its authentic northern Thai dishes. Pick and choose whatever looks tasty from the can’t-miss menu, and bring a package or two of spices home with you as a reminder of your sure-to-be memorable meal.