Having been in Chiang Mai only a few days, we have just scratched the culinary surface. The food here has an amazing reputation. Unlike when we were in Vietnam, where everyone warned us against eating the enticing street food, here visitors are encouraged to eat what is on offer.
Since we can speak no Thai, are unfamiliar with most Thai cooking, and I have an aversion to spicy food, we thought a food tour would be a terrific way to open the doors to this cuisine and help us to appreciate and enjoy it more over the next few weeks.
Surprisingly, food tours aren’t that common here as they are in Bangkok, but we did find a few options and chose a night market tour from Chiang Mai Street Food Tours. Rained out of our first booking, we had to wait patiently until the next night, when our guide, Coco, picked us up at our hotel at 6:30 pm. After 3 more stops, we had a van full of 6 hungry tourists.
Coco told us we would be going to two night markets (there are many market areas in and outside of the old city where food stands go up at about 6:00 and get packed away at midnight or later). The first was at the north gate (or Chang Puak Gate), and Coco explained that the food at the stalls here represented cuisine from all of Thailand, whereas the second market at the south gate (or Chiang Mai Gate) has food more typically found in the northern region.
Rather than going into detail about the foods that we tasted (other food bloggers do a much better job than we could), here are a few pics with captions. If you come to Chiang Mai, or anywhere in Thailand, treat yourself to a street food tour at the beginning of your stay. I expect that you’ll love most of what you taste (our group certainly did) and then feel much more confident to try even more new dishes on your own. It doesn’t hurt that the food here is very inexpensive, so even if you ask for something you don’t like very much, you’ll likely only be out 50-100 baht ($2-4 CAD).
- Chiang Mai Street Food Tours: Our tour cost 950 baht ($40 CAD) and included transportation, our guide, and everything we ate. It was billed as a 2 1/2 hour tour, but we were picked up at 6:30 and returned to our hotel just before 11:00 pm.
- Other resources that are helping us find wonderful food to eat: