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  • Writer's pictureAround the World in Vegan Eats


Updated: Sep 28, 2023

Did you know that Chiang Mai is one of the best places to eat vegan in the world? We couldn't quite believe it when we heard this statistic before we set off on our trip, but we knew that Chiang Mai was definitely somewhere that we needed to check out. I'm pleased to say that it did not disappoint. Chiang Mai has plenty of places where vegans can eat - and not just with a few ingredients removed. The city has several fully vegan eateries, as well as lots of vegetarian places that offer vegan dishes. And we were delighted to discover mango sticky rice too: one of northern Thailand's national dishes, which is completely vegan! From its sights to its food and its friendly people, Chiang Mai continued to wow us throughout our time there.

Eating Vegan in Chiang Mai

"Thailand was built on compassion." – Bhumibol Adulyadej

Of course, it still takes a little bit of research to find the best vegan food in Chiang Mai. We found plenty of plant-based options on offer, with more and more popping up as time goes on. Watch our video and read our recommendations below to check out our favourite places to get vegan food in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

1st: Chada Vegetarian Restaurant

136/5 Ratchapakhinai Rd, Tambon Si Phum, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand

Chada is a family-run restaurant in Chiang Mai, and has a lovely homely atmosphere. The people who run it are so lovely and friendly - they have an English menu but not as much spoken English as other places in Chiang Mai. But regardless, it was really easy to order and eat there, and make sure that the dishes were fully vegan too. On our entire trip I think this was the happiest and most smiley service we encountered. Thailand is known as 'the land of smiles' and honestly, in Chada Vegetarian this line is the reality. Big shout out to the wonderful ladies who served us.

It's genuinely hard to find the words to describe how much we loved Chada Vegetarian. In this lovely, quiet, fully vegetarian restaurant we had (no word of a lie) not only the best Pad Thai but also THE BEST SPRING ROLLS OF OUR ENTIRE TRIP through Southeast Asia. The Pad Thai legit blew my mind: the flavours, the textures, the crunch of the beansprouts, this was one of the best things that we ate in Thailand. We've had a lot of Pad Thais since and none have measured up to this one.

These spring rolls though... they will forever be enshrined in our brains as the greatest spring rolls we've ever eaten. I'm not even joking, we've spent so much time thinking about them since. Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside; the noodles, mushrooms and vegetables all bound together with seasoning and spices... It makes me emotional that we're not near Chiang Mai to have them again right now.

2nd: Pick A Bowl

62-3 Charoen Prathet Rd, Tambon Chang Moi, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50100, Thailand

Besides Pad Thai and Mango Sticky Rice, Chiang Mai is well known on the backpacker scene for its delicious smoothie bowls. Hearty, healthy, and really, really Instagrammable, these are the perfect way to fuel your day checking out the sights of northern Thailand.

If you're vegan, there's still plenty of options for your perfect smoothie bowl at Pick A Bowl. This really pretty cafe is a friendly and tranquil spot to get your breakfast fix: with the easy checklist forms you can select your ideal bowl size, your choices of smoothie base (including a range of plant milks), and all the toppings you'd like perfectly arranged on top. Prepared to be blown away when it arrives: not just by the aesthetics, but by the flavour too.

Ever the sweet tooth, I chose the chocolate banana bowl which was sweet and luxurious: even though it was indulgent, it felt healthy too with the range of fruits, berries and seeds I chose to add. Mike chose a berry smoothie base and topped it with his absolute favourite, dragonfruit (though he was surprised that the granola topped even the dragonfruit as his favourite part of the bowl!)

Made to order from scratch, each bowl is unique: with unrivalled variety, you can choose exactly what you fancy. It's perfect for a hot day too, as the smoothies are prepared from frozen ingredients, so there's almost an ice-cream style quality to it. The menus go into detail about the different fruits, nuts, and seeds: so if you feel like your body needs something in particular, you should be able to find it here! The owner is really friendly and helpful too: after we'd eaten we spend quite some time chatting to him about our plans in Chiang Mai, and noting down his recommendations. We walked away from Pick A Bowl very satisfied, and with a renewed sense of health and vitality: after a fairly unhealthy couple of days, these smoothie bowls really perked us back up!

3rd: Free Bird Cafe

14 ถนนศิริมังมังคลาจารย์ Mueang Chiang Mai District, 50200, Thailand

We visited Free Bird Cafe on our quest to find vegan Khao Soi in Chiang Mai. A really friendly and wholesome place to eat, Free Bird Cafe is a vegan social enterprise that also has a shop full of plant-based treats, preloved clothing, and fun trinkets to purchase and support their endeavours. We spent some time talking to the staff, including their chef, and felt really welcome and pleased we visited.

Their selection of plant-based food is huge and tasty, with Thai specialities as well as favourites from around the world (scrambled tofu, mac and cheeze, cocktails... the list goes on and on! I even spotted a vegan snickers!) After you've ordered in the shop you can take a seat in their relaxed eating space which includes sun loungers, big collaborative tables in the centre and smaller, cosier seating options around the sides.

Service is pretty quick, the food is fresh and tasty, and it's genuinely just a nice place to spend time too - we really recommend checking this place out if you're in Chiang Mai, especially if you're in the market for a plant-based Khao Soi!

4th: Reform Kafe

1-4 Sri Poom Rd, Tambon Si Phum, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand

On our final night in Chiang Mai we were both craving a bit of comfort food: this led us to the wonderful Reform Kafe. This plant-based restaurant offered loads of vegan foods that we fancied, including plenty of Thai and Asian dishes, and a few western things too... but the thing that sealed the deal for us was their massive menu full of plant-based cakes and desserts. It had been a while since we had eaten any kind of cake, so we were practically drooling at the thought.

The first thing that struck us when we arrived at Reform Kafe was how beautiful it was: it's known as a garden restaurant and it was very clear why, as we were surrounded by the tranquility of luscious green foliage, with lots of wooden furniture and the sounds of crickets and birdsong. What an incredible place to be. Service was fast and friendly, and we were excited to spot the adorable resident cat cosying up on a cushion in the corner.

We had some busy days coming up, so chose to carb load with the mushroom burger and chips, followed by chocolate pancakes topped with bananas, chocolate sauce and plant based cream. The mushroom burger patty was really well spiced and flavoured, with a hearty yet still mushroomy and tender texture. The highlight was the homemade vegan cheese which melted and had more flavour than most of the vegan cheeses available in the UK! The pancakes were the indulgence we needed: the sweetness was complemented by the freshness of the bananas, and it was such a generous portion too - we would totally have these for breakfast as well as dessert!

Now, this option is slightly more expensive than some of the other places we're recommending here (but we're not talking really expensive - it cost us ฿240 per delicious portion of mushroom burger and chips, which is approximately £5.92, €6.75 or $7.32). But if you want a bit of a fancier plant-based meal in Chiang Mai, in a really beautiful setting, this is the place for you.

5th: Night Markets

Chiang Mai Night Bazaar: Changklan Rd, Chang Moi Sub-district, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50100, Thailand

Chang Phauk Gate Night Market Food Stalls: 248/70 Manee Nopparat Rd, Tambon Si Phum, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand

Of course, you're not going to visit Chiang Mai without experiencing the city's famous night markets. But can vegans even eat there? The answer is a resounding YES, of course we can! During our time in Chiang Mai we ate fried rice, mango sticky rice, coconut ice cream, fried noodles, and an Indian tali at the night markets: all completely plant based.

Now, this is a slightly trickier one: without menus and dietary symbols how can you be sure that the food is completely vegan? The answer is, really, to ask the stallholders. For the fried rice and noodles, we ate at stalls that offer many different dishes. I was offered either egg or tofu in the dishes: I asked for tofu, and ensured that they weren't using any fish sauce or shrimp paste in the cooking. This was common practice for me while travelling in Southeast Asia and is something I'd encourage ('no meat, no egg, no shrimp or fish paste' starts to roll off the tongue after a while!) Mango sticky rice is a naturally vegan recipe, as is the traditional coconut ice cream (made with coconut milk, coconut water and palm sugar) - though it's worth double checking with each vendor to check that they're not using a more modern recipe!

Chiang Mai is so well-travelled by tourists that most stallholders speak some English; I always carry an app like V-Cards as well as Google Translate with me, too, just in case. Of course there may still be some cross-contamination risk if you're eating at a stall that also serves meat or dairy (most do), but the environment at night markets is so relaxed that you can take some time to watch other people's food being prepared and check that you are happy first. Honestly, everyone that we spoke to was so kind and friendly, they should be more than happy to help you tailor the dish to your requirements. If not, don't be afraid to move on: there's so many stalls, you're sure to find something that meets your requirements!

Which is your favourite vegan restaurant or food stall in Chiang Mai? Are there any new places or old favourites that we've missed? Leave us a comment to let us know (and others who might be visiting too!)


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The centre of Vienna with tall, historic buildings all around
Chiang Mai has some absolutely incredible temples

Where should I stay?

If you want a comfy sleep, the opportunity to make friends and get involved in fun activities, and be located super close to the night market, then The Islander hostel is definitely somewhere you should check out!

For a more peaceful hotel experience, with a pool and a good location, Manee might be exactly what you're looking for!

Tours & Experiences

Chiang Mai is well known for its beautiful temples: top of our list was Doi Suthep. This popular Chiang Mai city tour, which includes tuk tuk transportation, takes you to four of the most renowned temples and sights in Chiang Mai: Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, Wat Chedi Luang, Wat Pha Lat and Gate of Chiang Mai - Tha Phae.

Or if that's not quite for you, why not try one of the top-rated Viator tours below?

Note: for ethical reasons we recommend taking great care if choosing an activity that involves elephants (as this is an automatic widget, these may appear below). For advice on choosing an ethical elephant sanctuary visit, please see our Ethical Elephant Sanctuary Visit blog.

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