Scouring the Streets of Chiang Mai for Culinary Classics

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Central to any Thai city or town, the bustling marketplace - with its walking street lined with food stalls and pushcarts - is where one can truly feel the pulse of the people. A quintessential aspect of Thai culture, these daily exchanges of both cooked and uncooked food present a fascinating spectacle. “The vibrant chaos and hustle can be overwhelming initially, but diving into this cornucopia of sights, smells, and tastes is truly rewarding,” smiles Suwattana Boonyarattananusorn, Thai Chef Instructor at Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai.

Historic Connection

As the bastion of Northern Thai culture, Chiang Mai's food scene draws on its rich and unique history and represents a wide variety of regional Thai cuisines. With traditions that trace back over 700 years, and influences that include Myanmar, China, Laos and local Lanna heritages, the flavours on offer along the city’s streets can be truly compelling. “The wealth of seasonal produce from the hills and the riverine eco-systems nearby are on full display in the vibrant wet markets and add a dimension of colour and freshness to the food,” adds Sous Chef Naruchit Taingtrong.

Although expanded beyond its traditional walled city limits, Chiang Mai's traditional markets are a must-visit for authentic local cuisine. “These scenes are best witnessed after sunset as the streetlights come on and the locals visit their favourite spots,” shares Boonyarattananusorn, who loves to explore the local restaurants to discover the best dishes for his cooking class at Rim Tai Kitchen.

Local Delights

For those who are keen to get a taste of authentic Chiang Mai cooking, the walking streets at Chang Puak Gate, Chiang Mai Gate, Warorot Market, and the Night Bazaar are just some of the local street markets that come alive after dusk. The chef duo recommends a list of must-haves:

  • Khao Soi: Dive into a bowl filled with a symphony of spices, tender meat, and crispy noodles, creating a harmonious blend that will leave your tastebuds dancing.
  • Pad Thai: Skilled street chefs expertly toss noodles in a wok, infusing them with smoky goodness, creating a delicious medley of sweet, sour, and savoury notes.
  • Sai Ua: Spice up your palate with Northern Thai sausage. Grilled to perfection, these sausages offer a flavourful kick that highlights the region's distinctive culinary profile.
  • Kanom Jeen Nam Ngiew: For a unique and authentic experience, savour this noodle dish featuring a rich and aromatic broth made from tomatoes, pork, and Northern Thai spices.
  • Gaeng Hang Lay: This unique dish features tender chunks of meat - often pork or beef - simmered in a flavourful curry made with a blend of spices, tamarind, and turmeric, capturing the essence of Northern Thai cuisine.
  • Roast Chicken: Succulent and expertly roasted, the crispy skin and tender meat, often seasoned with local herbs, make it a satisfying and comforting choice.
  • Moo Ping: The perfect balance of sweetness and smokiness makes this grilled pork dish a favourite among locals and visitors alike.
  • Satay: Whether it is chicken, beef, or pork, these skewers are a savoury treat, especially when paired with a sweet and spicy dipping sauce.
  • Mango Sticky Rice: Ripe mango slices are served alongside glutinous rice drizzled with coconut milk, creating a heavenly combination of textures and flavours.
  • Khao Niew Pieck Lam Yai: The chewy texture of the glutinous rice complements the natural sweetness of the longan, creating a delicious treat.

Flavours of Chiang Mai

Bringing a taste of the streets directly to your table, guests will find that Taingtrong features some of Chiang Mai’s finest flavours at KHAO by Four Seasons. A native of Northern Thailand, Naruchit is passionate about his heritage and uses his innate knowledge of tropical ingredients to deliver an authentic taste of Chiang Mai’s street markets at the restaurant. “Look for all season classics such as Khao Soi - a fragrant coconut curry served with crispy noodles, and Gaeng Hang Lay, an aromatic meat stew rich in spices, between showstoppers such as Sai Oua (local spicy sausage) and Mango Sticky Rice,” he suggests. Using local cultivars of the longan fruit (a cousin of the lychee), Naruchit’s Khao Niew Pieck Lam Yai is his tribute to Chiang Mai’s most favoured dessert, where the juicy sweetness of the longan fruit contrasts perfectly with a thickened coconut cream and chewy, sticky rice.  

As Thai Chef Instructor, Boonyarattananusorn hosts a wonderful Thai Street Food Delight cooking session that explores the many facets of Northern Thai cuisine. “Guests can learn how to conjure up some street food staples such as Tod Mun Goong (Thai prawn cakes) and Satay Gai (chicken skewers),” he says, “And some trade secrets of my kitchen craft!”

Exploring Chiang Mai’s street food trails with our chef and Concierge recommendations. Write to us at or chat in real-time through the FS Chat App to discover more.