With its eclectic and energetic gastronomic scene , Chiangmai is no stranger to quirky hipster cafes cum art galleries, hidden rooftop bars that come alive under starlight and an amalgam of street food, international cuisine and local delicacies.
While a lot of the dishes in Chiangmai are predominantly meat-based, there are plenty of restaurants offering mouth-watering meat free options that don’t just toe-the-line between bland salads with limp greens or dishes that are uninspired, watered-down versions of their meat-based counterparts. Instead, think signature Thai curries prepared with the freshest seasonal veggies, farm to table restaurants that beautifully utilise the local ingredients as well as experimental cutting edge cuisine that’ll leave even the most skeptical meat lover impressed and asking for more.
So whether you’re a vegetarian or simply looking to add a little variety to your Meatless Monday endeavors, here are five wonderful places to get your green on in Chiangmai. To get the best savings for dining, travel tickets and holiday rentals in Chiangmai, remember to hit up Saleduck for the latest promotions and online deals.
A sustainable learning centre, Pun Pun also houses an organic farm as well as a restaurant dedicated to serving inventive and honest vegetarian food with a distinct Thai touch. Pun Pun – meaning one thousand varieties- was founded by husband and wife team Jon and Peggy in an effort to promote and preserve sustainable agriculture and the restaurant dishes out some of the best lacto-ovo vegetarian food you’ll find. Be sure to try the nam hed song kreung, a fermented mushroom sausage that is a vegan version of Thailand’s popular street snack and the panang curry, a rich coconut curry loaded with oyster mushrooms and eggplant. Also get your fill of organic local fruit juices, smoothies and brewed coffees.
Considered by many as a pioneer in vegetarian cooking in Chiangmai, Khun Churn crafts the most beautiful vegetarian renditions of traditional Thai dishes and is quite possibly the most popular vegetarian restaurant in Chiangmai. Despite being in the business for over 20 years, there is little sign of wear and the painstaking effort that goes into the food is as on point as ever. For when you’re especially hungry, the lunchtime buffet offers an extensive plethora of dishes ranging from khao soi to tom yum, salads to wraps all for a very affordable 169 baht per head. The restaur ant is also open for a la carte meals during dinner and the isan laab – a salad garnished with fresh aromatics, chillies and lime juice – comes highly recommended.
Manna Mango Sticky Rice
Mango sticky rice is the dessert du jour in Thailand and beloved by both locals and travellers who often make the pilgrimage to sample this sweet treat in its most authentic form. Which is why Manna Mango Sticky Rice gets an honourable mention in this list. This humble little shop is notorious for dishing out the best mango sticky rice in all of Thailand and while it does offer a small variety of other items on its menu, we all know which dish is king. While it’s still relatively under-the-radar amongst travellers, this is where the locals go to get their fix and that’s more than enough to convince us that this is the place to be. The mangoes are always perfectly ripe and sweet; and when served with the sticky glutinous rice coated in coconut milk, this dessert is simultaneously sinful and heavenly. We also really like the sprinkle of crispy fried mung beans that offers the dish a nice textural contrast.
If you’re all about casual chillaxed vibes paired with heartwarming food, then Bamboo Bee is right up your alley. The best thing about this place is that it also offers cooking classes so if you happen to come across any particular dish that sticks with you, there’s a high chance that you can find out how to make it yourself! It’s the sort of nondescript place that you really need to look out for but once you step inside and take note of the varied menu that features a whimsical mix of Thai, Shan, Japanese, Korean and Western dishes- you’re hooked. The food here is simple, accessible and most-importantly, well-prepared and worth the price tag.
Situated in a serene little hideaway along the bank of the Ping River, Happy Green is an under-the-radar gem that serves authentic Thai dishes as well as massive organic salads accompanied by a selection of raw, vegan dressings. Food here is farm-fresh ( with some ingredients sourced directly from the restaurant’s own garden) and includes universally familiar favourites such as laab and p ad thai – all cooked to perfection and vegetarian-friendly.
Accompanying their a la carte menu is buffet spread that while not as extensive as Khun Churn, features a small but well-curated selection of dishes that fill you up quite nicely.