If you’re in Chiang Mai, you might find yourself at the Chiang Mai Gate food stalls situated on the south side of the Old City’s square moat. It’s a pretty popular spot to dine at by both visitors and expats and is often recommended as a thing to do in town.
The Chiang Mai Gate food stalls start setting up around 5 pm every day and a few vendors even stay open past midnight. A great variety awaits the curious consumer and all for the going price of about a dollar per dish.
Here are our recommendations, which include a tour of our favorite vendors and a week’s worth of dinners for less than 100 baht (3 USD!) per meal.
|TIP: Whenever we reference “to the left” or “to the right”, it is as if you are standing directly in front of the food stall looking at it (not behind or to the side).|
MONDAY Fruit Smoothie and Beef Noodle Soup
|20 BAHT||+||35 BAHT||=||55 BAHT|
|MANGO, PASSION FRUIT, & PAPAYA SMOOTHIE||BEEF NOODLE SOUP|
Ms. Pa and her fruit smoothies are well known among the Chiang Mai Gate food stall scene. Armed with two blenders and a great choice of fresh seasonal fruit, she often has a long line of customers. Any fruit combo costs a mere 20 baht. She has a prime spot, located roadside along the eastbound lanes of the moat.
Directly to the right of Ms. Pa is a man who sells noodle soup with clear broth. We recommend the soup with super tender slices of beef (neua soht) and your choice of skinny or wide rice noodles. He also sells fresh slices of chicken and pork, as well as bite-sized hotdog-like beef, chicken, pork, and fish balls. He has an English menu from which to easily order, several tables, and always has big condiment dishes full of chilies, sugar, and fish sauce within arms reach to jazz up your noodles.
TUESDAY Northern Thai Curry with Egg Noodles and Kanom Kroke
|35 BAHT||+||10 BAHT||=||45 BAHT|
|NORTHERN THAI CURRY||KANOM KROKE|
If you had to eat one dish while in Chiang Mai, try the popular Northern Thai curry called khao soi. It’s a cross between yellow and red coconut based curry ladled over fresh egg noodles and topped with a smattering of deep-fried egg noodles. The food stall to the right of the beef noodle soup stall serves their khao soi with chicken. You’ll also be given a small plate of condiments that include lime, sliced scallions, smokey chili paste, and pickled bok choy.
Finish dinner with kanom kroke, a small and gooey pillow-like Thai dessert prepared in a hot skillet with a batter made of coconut milk, rice flour, and sugar. There is a stand with an umbrella near the Chang Mai Gate brick wall after crossing over the eastbound lanes away from the moat. The vendor offers plain kanom kroke or varieties topped with corn, julienned slices of sweet potato, or chives. This is an out-of-the-ordinary but delicious Thai snack.
WEDNESDAY Fruit Smoothie and Chicken Kebab Wrap
|20 BAHT||+||40 BAHT||=||60 BAHT|
|MANGO, PINEAPPLE, & BANANA SMOOTHIE||CHICKEN KEBAB WRAP|
Although not Thai, it’s nice to switch things up a bit and have the option of a deliciously seasoned Turkish chicken kebab wrap carved hot off the spit from Kebap Zone. Add lettuce, onion, and carrots then top it off with any combo of three sauces. This vendor is located just outside the Chiang Mai Gate brick wall under the morning market’s awning area.
Don’t forget to grab a mango, pineapple, and banana smoothie from Ms. Pa. These fruits are in season almost all year round and very filling. You can’t go wrong with this tropical flavor combo.
THURSDAY Fruit Smoothie and Hot & Sour Noodle Soup
|30 BAHT||+||30 BAHT||=||60 BAHT|
|WATERMELON, PINEAPPLE, & ORANGE SMOOTHIE||HOT & SOUR NOODLE SOUP|
A sweet Thai woman named Jeeup sells fresh tea, espresso drinks, and fruit smoothies at Coffee Build, the only permanent Chiang Mai Gate food stall. Well, it’s more like a hut with big bamboo chairs and it’s situated by the crosswalk on the westbound lanes of the Old City moat. Try a tart but refreshing smoothie combo of watermelon, pineapple, and orange.
What’s a visit to Thailand without a taste of one of it’s more popular flavors, tom yum. This hot and sour flavor combo is due to lemongrass, gangalal (a root in the same family as ginger), lime, and fresh chilies. Served with Mama noodles (similar to Ramen), wontons, and slices of Chinese kale, grab a bowl of this from the vendor two or three stalls to the right of the Chiang Mai Gate brick wall.
FRIDAY Papaya Salad, Chicken Skewers, and Rotee
|30 BAHT||+||30 BAHT||+||30 BAHT||=||90 BAHT|
|PAPAYA SALAD||SKEWERS & STICKY RICE||ROTEE|
Som tum (green papaya salad), sticky rice, and grilled pork or chicken skewers are the perfect northern Thai food trio. The grilled meat vendor has squeezed himself on the sliver of sidewalk along the eastbound lanes of the moat. He has a tall silver chimney with trails of smoke coming out. He sells skewers of bite-sized pieces for 5 baht and bigger portions, such as chicken legs or chicken quarters, for more. This vendor also sells other chicken bits such as tails, heads, liver, and kidney for the more adventurous eater. Don’t forget to ask for a 5 baht bag of sticky rice.
Grab papaya salad from the food stall two stalls to the left of him (directly to the right of the khao soi stall). Make the som tum spicy if you dare with two or three small red chilies.
End this meal with a rotee, a snack similar to a flattened stuffed crepe. We recommend trying the classic custard-like banana and egg filling first, but there are several other fillings to choose from. The finished rotee is sliced into bite-sized pieces and drizzled with sweetened condensed milk, honey, or chocolate. Try one from the husband and wife team in the Chiang Mai market awning area, across the eastbound street from the main moat area stalls.
SATURDAY Fruit Smoothie and Red Curry Stir Fry
|40 BAHT||+||35 BAHT||=||75 BAHT|
|COCONUT & AVOCADO SMOOTHIE||RED CURRY STIR FRY|
We recommend going to Coffee Build for this filling and super healthy smoothie made from a combination of coconut and avocado. It’ll be hard to find anywhere else that makes it this cheap! The flavors are subtle but delicious and we recommend sweetening it up with a single scoop of sugar. A great alternative is a mango avocado smoothie.
Ready for a spicy dish? Pad prik gaeng is a dry red curry stir-fry (it’s not made with coconut milk) and contains long beans, cauliflower, and your choice of protein. This dish is spicy, but the smoothie should cool your tongue down. Get it from the stir-fry lady located on the moat strip near Coffee Build.
SUNDAY Braised Pork Leg and Mango with Coconut Sticky Rice
|35 BAHT||+||40 BAHT||=||75 BAHT|
|BRAISED PORK LEG & HARD BOILED EGG||MANGO & COCONUT STICKY RICE|
Two stalls to the left of Ms. Pa on the moat side is a man who specializes in braised pork leg, or khao kha moo. The tender pork is accompanied by brightly blanched Chinese kale, rice, and a deliciously spicy and tangy sauce. For an extra five baht you can add a hard-boiled egg.
A classic Thai dessert of mango and coconut sticky rice can be found almost directly across the street. Sometimes you can find this dish drizzled with sweetened condensed milk and sprinkled with crispy mung beans, but other times it’s served plain. We think the mangoes here are unbelievable and don’t need the added sugar, but try whatever you’d like.
How to Order Food from Street Stalls
All the Chiang Mai Gate vendors we listed have English menus or signs (many with descriptions of the food), so you can either point to or say what you want to eat quite easily without worrying about a language barrier. Additionally, the food vendors selling main courses (not desserts or smoothies) have tables to sit at and free drinking water.
To order, simply approach a food stall and tell the person cooking what entrée you want to eat and what type of protein you’d like in it (chicken, beef, pork, shrimp, tofu, fried egg). Find a nearby table to sit down at, and the cook will bring your food over in five minutes or less. If you are eating with another person, do not expect to be served at the same time.
When you are finished eating, leave your used plate and silverware on the table, go back to the vendor, and pay the vendor in cash, preferably in bills of 100 baht or less. They have good memories and will look at you and the tell you the price.
Have Fun Exploring the Variety at the Chiang Mai Gate Food Stalls
There you have it! A week of dinners at the Chiang Mai Gate food stalls for less than 100 baht a night. These suggestions should help you navigate through the overwhelming variety of food offered at this popular outdoor dining spot. And of course, you can eat here for longer than a week!
For those of you who have ever visited these vendors, who is your favorite and what do they serve?