Five great restaurants in Northern Thailand

The region

The Northern part of Thailand is particularly known for its breath-taking nature with stunning green hills and endless rice fields. The cities of Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai can easily compete with many Southern beach towns in terms of tourist activities. Together with the megapolis of Bangkok and the highlights in the South, this area makes Thailand one of the most exiting destinations in the world.

Food wise, as everywhere in Thailand, the region is a destination on its own. Because of its proximity to Myanmar, Laos and China, North-Thailand has a specific kitchen with influences from its neighbouring countries. The food here is spicy, but not as spicy as in the Southern part of Thailand.

In the dishes from the North, one will discover more tomatoes than in other parts of Thailand. Other vegetables are used more as well. Sticky rice is the standard here and is used to dip the food. Besides these characteristics, one will also discover strawberries around Chiang Mai (make sure to try the dried ones!), lots of pork dishes, and tea and coffee plantations.

Some of the famous dishes (and must-tries!) include Khao Soi, the most typical dish of the North and a sort of coconut curry soup with fried and boiled noodles; Krathong Thong, a deep fried rice pastry shell with minced chicken; and Khaoniew Mamuang , coconut sticky rice with mango. Larb, a spicy salad with minced pork or mushrooms, is very common, too.

Five great restaurants in North-Thailand

  1. Restaurant Tong Tem Toh (Nimman Soi 13, Chiang Mai)

Popular with tourists but definitely not a tourist trap. Tong Tem Toh is a famous Northern Thai restaurant with a barbeque grill outside on the street. It’s only open for dinner but make sure to come on time! Due to its popularity, there are often queues but the food is worth the wait. Try the famous Larb dish with minced pork, the Northern Style Sausage or the Northern appetisers with dipping sauces. Order a good Thai beer and your experience is complete!

  1. KHAU Restaurant (Four Seasons Hotel Chiang Mai)

Chef Stéphane Cavet hails from France but there are few people who know the culinary history of Northern Thailand better than this very talented and extremely motivate Chef. Stéphane learned the magic of the Thai cuisine through literature and experience and brings together history and flavour at his restaurant KHAO.

Nestled amid beautiful rice fields and against a backdrop of mist-clad mountains, KHAO takes you on a journey with rice at its core.

The word KHAO means rice and at the beginning of every meal, guests have the possibility to choose from a diversity of rice species like the Khao Glong Doi, a delicate, tender rice deriving from the famous Thai Royal Project and grown around Chiang Rai at high elevation.

Afterwards one can choose dishes from the menu, offering mainly traditional, timeless Northern Thai dishes with Yunnanese as well as Burmese accents.

For those that want to learn more about the rice growing process, we highly recommend the “Rice Planting Experience at this resort. During this experience, you will join the farmers and transplant sprouts from seedbeds to the rice fields. You will wear the farmer’s traditional costume ‘Morhon’ and learn all about the rice – from soil to plate!

  1. The Service 1921 Restaurant & Bar (Anantara Hotel Chiang Mai)

The beautiful Anantara Hotel – located right in the centre of Chiang Mai – has several interesting restaurants on offer. The Service 1921 Restaurant & Bar refers to the resort’s beautiful colonial house that opened in 1921 as the British Consulate of Chiang Mai. The restaurant’s interior is designed to take you back to this colonial era and is cosy, warm and beautiful. It even has a ‘secret dining room’ (for you to discover where).

The perfect way to start your meal is with a cocktail from the great mixologist. Asian inspired cocktails that combine sweetness, saltiness, bitterness and sourness – just like many dishes in the Thai cuisine.

To continue, guests can choose between dishes that mix the best of the Asian and international kitchens:

  • Indian and Peruvian fusion dish with Tandori scallop, Machi Tikka and Tandori prawn
  • Pla Tom Buay Mor Fai soup, with poached snow fish in plum broth, Chinese celery and freshly chopped Chili
  • Sar Jin: (Very) spicy beef tartare ‘Northern Style’
  • Phad Kra Pao Si Krong Kae: wok fried lamb chops with roasted garlic and basil
  • Mixed Thai dessert with coconut ice cream, prepared with liquied nitrogen

  1. Hong Tauw Inn (Nimmanhemin Road, Chiang Mai)

Another great restaurant where one can sample Norther Style Thai dishes. Although this restaurant is a little bit more upscale for Thai standards, it remains very cheap. Try the mixed Northern style appetisers, the Northern spicy sausage, the fried softshell crab and the delicious fried chicken.

  1. Dining by Design and Spice Spoons (Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort)

A stay at the Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort is an experience in itself. Perched on a ridge overlooking the Golden Triangle, every room opens a window to breath-taking nature. The resort also has an on-site elephant camp, designed as a traditional mahout village. Food-wise, guests can have lunch and dinner in one of the two restaurants in the hotel itself or at a location of your choice with ‘Dining by Design. A truly unique dining concept! What’s your choice: a dinner on the terrace overlooking the mighty Mekon River, a lunch in the middle of green rice fields, or a dinner in a private restaurant in the bamboo forests of the elephant camp?

The restaurant ‘Spice Spoons’ offers a private cooking class and interactive immersion in Thailand’s gastronomy. Guests can enjoy a guided local market experience to purchase their ingredients and cook them their selves for lunch or dinner when they return to the resort. A delicious and instructive experience!

TIP: You can fly from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai, but it is actually much more fun to drive through the hills by car or bus. You will also encounter several interesting sights such as the Thaweesin Hotspring and the Wat Rong Khun (the famous white temple). In addition, for some even more important, lots of great street food! Along the roads, you will find numerous stalls with delicious Thai dishes. Here is what we discovered:


Flying to Bangkok is possible directly from Brussels with Thai Airways, and that no less than 5 times a week! More information can be found on this website.

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