Over the course of my year travelling in Southeast Asia, I have spent a considerable amount of time living and eating my way around Chiang Mai.
One of the first things I noticed about this city is that it is very health conscious – I don’t think I have ever been to a place where the words vegetarian, vegan, and wheatgrass shots appear in so many menus – but that’s Chiang Mai for you. Healthy, raw, and delicious!
For anyone heading out to Chiang Mai, here are a few of my favourite vegetarian friendly restaurants in the city:
I have been coming to Dada Kafe ever since I moved to Chiang Mai, and I daresay it’s my favourite little spot in the city. While it is not strictly vegetarian, they know how to make some delicious veggie friendly dishes.
I have lots of favourites here. When I come for breakfast, I usually order the porridge with mixed fruits. It comes in a very large bowl, and you can ask to have the porridge made with soy milk or coconut milk if you’re lactose intolerant. The fruit selection changes depending on the season, but you can usually expect to find some hearty chunks of mango, papaya, pineapple, and watermelon. Drizzle some honey overtop and that’s my idea of perfection!
Dada Kafe also specializes in healthy smoothies and juices. My favourite is the Energy Me (I don’t even have to order it, they bring it straight to my table when they see me walk in!), which is made with coconut, banana, and mango. It is the best smoothie in Chiang Mai. Another close favourite is the Peanut Lover which is made with homemade peanut butter – I like that it’s kind of chunky!
When I want a light lunch I usually go for the Yahweh Toast. This consists of a whole grain toast with slices of tomato and avocado on top. Sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper, and it’s the perfect meal when you’ve had a really large breakfast.
I could go on about this place, but you need to check it out for yourself!
Address: Ratchamanka Road 20/1
This is another spot that isn’t strictly vegetarian, however, with all its veggie friendly options, it may as well be!
I come here when I want the option to create my own meal. The tables all have little slips of paper and you get to check off which items you’d like to include in your salad or wrap creation. The first 5 items are included in the price on the menu, and after that each additional item is an extra 6 baht. Premium items like bacon, cheddar, and avocado cost a bit more than the rest, but it’s still a really affordable meal.
What I like about this place is that they have a really creative ingredient selection. Whenever I get a wrap I usually ask for pumpkin, pasta, raisins, feta, olives and asparagus in it. It sounds like an odd combination (especially the pasta), but I assure you it tastes great!
Also, their Berry Smoothie is amazing! I still haven’t been able to figure out what mix of berries they put in it (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries?) but it has a nice hint of tartness while still being refreshing.
Address: Nimmarnhemin Road, Soi 13
Juicy 4 U
Located right across from Dada Kafe, Juicy 4 U is a vegan and vegetarian restaurant.
Again, I usually come here when I’m craving a build it yourself meal. Much like at Salad Concept, this restaurant also lets you create your own order, whether it be a 3-tier whole grain sandwich, a pita wrap, or a salad. All you have to do is check off the 10 items you’d like included in your dish, and they work their magic in the kitchen.
I tend to go for their 3-tier sandwich and my order usually includes tofu, raisins, bean sprouts, avocado, olives, spinach, egg, carrots and even some beetroot. Yum!
Address: Ratchamanka Road 5
This is a vegetarian open buffet style restaurant and for a mere 129 baht, their selection is truly impressive.
Some of my favourites are the green papaya salad, fried tofu, coconut rice, pad see ew, and khao soi. For dessert they have a do-it-yourself dessert table, and I usually go for tapioca with coconut milk and honey.
And if that were not enough, a variety of drinks are also included in the buffet price, including Rosella Tea and Butterfly Juice, which is blue in colour.
You will walk out of here feeling stuffed, but oh so happy!
Address: Recently relocated. Now inside Old Chiang Mai Cultural Centre on Wualai Road.
Brown Rice Organic Bistro
So I’m kind of torn about this restaurant because the food is some of the best I’ve had anywhere in Chiang Mai, but the service can also be really slow. This is the kind of place where dinner can turn into a 2 hour affair, so if you want to try it out, come with good company and make sure you don’t have any plans afterwards.
First off, the lassi here is hands down the best lassi I have had anywhere int the city; the drink made me feel like I was back in India. I pretty much finished the glass before my meal even arrived.
I would also highly recommend their fresh spring rolls. The rice paper rolls are stuffed with fresh ingredients (including flower petals!) and the mint leaves and sesame seeds make each bite burst with flavour. I haven’t had spring rolls this good since I travelled in Vietnam.
Address: Samlann Road 85/5
Located just behind Wat Suan Dok, also known as the Flower Garden Temple, Pun Pun offers a simple outdoor setting and serves up some delicious veggie dishes.
Some of my favourites at Pun Pun include their spring rolls which are stuffed with glass noodles, bean sprouts, carrots, and other veggies. These come with a nice tart tamarind dipping sauce.
I’m also a fan of their salad, which comes on a bed of lettuce topped with red kidney beans, corn, barley, green beans, onions and other ingredients that seem to change depending on the season. Almost all of the ingredients they use come from the Pun Pun Organic Farm, so you can be sure everything on your plate is fresh and organic.
I also tried their Indian set, but I have to say it didn’t taste like authentic Indian food. If you decided to come here, I would suggest you stick to Thai food because that’s what they excel at.
I would also suggest you go for an earlier lunch because this place fills up quickly. By the time we finished eating, there was a line of people waiting for a table to free up – and the food here is certainly worth the wait! Unfortunately, they don’t serve dinner.
Address: 6/1 Moo 1, Suthep Road. Behind Wat Suan Dok.
On another note, If you enjoy Thai food and want to learn to prepare some of the local dishes, I would highly recommend taking a cooking class. Before leaving Thailand, I signed up for an all day cooking class with The Chiang Mai Thai Farm Cooking School and spent the day learning to make some of my personal favourites. The class was set outdoors in an organic farm and they had both vegetarian dishes and meat-based dishes. It’s a nice way to take the Thai flavour back to your own country – I know I’ll be experimenting in the kitchen once I’m back home!
*Please keep in mind that restaurants are constantly opening, closing, and relocating. Ask around to see if the place is still open before you head out in search of dinner.
Have you been to Chiang Mai?
What vegetarian restaurants would you add to this list?