Chiang Mai Street Food: Feast Like a King for Less Than US$10 a Day!

Thailand is known for amazing cuisine and affordable dining. However, if you’re a tourist, there’s always a good chance that you’ve found yourself eating in tourist traps way too often.

Sometimes tourist traps are the safer option if you have a sensitive tummy and you want to make sure that you’re eating where most of the other Western tourists are eating. However, if you’re willing to be a bit more adventurous, you’ll find that a feast can be had for as little as $3 per person.

In a recent trip to Chiang Mai, my friends and I discovered an amazing outdoor food market where we ate for the duration of our stay in the city. You know I like the finer things in life but sometimes, there are real benefits to going right down to basics.

Here I am, happily enjoying our street food haul.

Our hotel was right outside the gates of the bustling city center. For those who didn’t know, central Chiang Mai is a square complex surrounded by a moat and stone walls. The city has since expanded and the walls are more of an homage to the city’s past versus an actual means of securing the center.

Map of Central Chiang Mai

We were lucky enough to choose to stay at the GOLDENBELL HOTEL CHIANGMAI. Before booking, one of the selling points at the hotel’s site is that it is just 500 meters away from a Saturday walking market.

Read More: Goldenbell Hotel Review

We were pleasantly surprised to find out that this “Saturday” market is actually open every single evening! As soon as dusk starts to fall, the streets come alive with every kind of Asian street food that you can imagine. On Saturdays, vendors of clothes and other dry goods join the mix, thus the Saturday Walking Market. On other days, it is primarily a food night market.

This areaa, which I’ve marked in red, is where the food stalls are located. they open at around 5 in the afternoon and stay open fairly late.

Here are pics of some of the stalls:

Start safe with some familiar Pad Thai Noodles
Each serving of Pad Thai overflows from the styrofoam container. It is chock-full of toppings and can be shared by 2-3 people. (THB50)
This stall serves a variety of local Thai noodles and soups.
There’s a local KFG, which sells fried chicken. I wonder how many secret herbs and spices are being used here.
If you’re not into fried meat, you can get your chicken, roasted too.

Because we had already been in Thailand for a few days by the time we got to Chiang Mai, we were already looking for different cuisines. No matter how much you love Thai food, you need something different to cut through the intense Thai flavors.

Luckily, this night market has lots of options. The biggest hit in our group was this barbecue stand at the far end of the street.

Our favorite barbecue stand

We were delighted to find our favorite meat-on-a-stick here, pork isaw or intestines. Yes, intestines! so yummy! We have this back home in the Philippines and it is one of the most famous local snacks. I never knew that they had it in Thailand until now. What’s best, they prepared it in exactly the same way.

The meat was seasoned lightly and this time, the Thais held back from adding traditional Thai flavors. There was no tamarind or lemongrass here, just the amazing flavor of smoky, grilled meat. Perfect!

After you’ve chosen which skewers you want, they put everything back on the grill so you get it piping hot.

If you’re not feeling as adventurous, the barbecue stall also offers the usual chicken parts, pork belly, fish and other meats. For us, it was the perfect time to devour intestines, gizzards, chicken hearts and livers. Absolute heaven! I can also vouch for the cleanliness of the food because we didn’t have any issues even after eating here for three nights straight.

My friends enjoying an amazing spread.

As if we haven’t had enough meat from our barbecue selections, we also went for some pork knuckles served Chinese-style. Known to us as “Pata Tim,” we were happy to see yet another familiar dish.

How can you resist ordering if you walk past these pork knockles?

After we’ve had something Thai, Chinese and even what we would consider to be Filipino, we were happy to find some Vietnamese spring rolls and a series of stalls selling traditional Japanese street fare.

10 pcs of these large gyoza can be had for only THB60! What a steal!
Perfectly crispy pot stickers cooked in front of you!
The Japanese theme continued with some takoyaki or octopus balls.

Apart from the gyoza and takoyaki, they even had a small stall that sold sushi! I made it a point to eat here very early in the evening since there’s raw fish. I didn’t want to wait until later in the day, when the food might have been exposed for way too long. Nevertheless, the spread looked clean and fresh. It all tasted great for only THB10 a piece!

Sushi Spread

Here’s a photo of some of the food we shared (between three people):

We Even had some French Crepes for dessert!
A closer look at the colorful sushi selections

There’s a convenience store nearby where you can get bottled drinks. Otherwise, there are also stalls that sell fresh fruit juices and milk teas.

My favorite Thai Milk tea

We ended up eating here every single night while we were in Chiang Mai. None of the restaurants in the area looked as appealing. We spent somewhere between US$3-5 each every night. That already included drinks and more food that we could really eat or should eat. For less that US$10, all three of us were able to eat to our heart’s content.

Not only was the food good, the variety was a big plus factor. There are tables and chairs set up in between the stalls so you can eat right there. However, after the first evening, we realized that since we are very near the market, it was more comfortable eating at our hotel. We had some tables and chairs in the outdoor area of the hotel, so we were able to enjoy our meal more comfortably.

I highly recommend going where the locals eat next time you travel. We saw a few other tourists eating here and everyone was pleased by the discovery. If you come to Chiang Mai, just look up the location of the SATURDAY WALKING MARKET to find this food haven.

Pro Tip: Avoid the area on Saturday evenings because that’s when everyone else will be here. Enjoy it on other days when the silly tourists are elsewhere. Enjoy!

Also Read: Elephant Jungle Sanctuary, The Best Place to Visit in Chiang Mai, Thailand