As a budget traveler, I always avoid fancy restaurants to keep more money in my pocket for adventure and fun. Luckily, there’s an abundance of cheap restaurants in Chiang Mai.
In fact, this little list will fill you up for just 324 baht (CA$12.47/€8.53). That’s about the price of a Big Mac meal except these yummy dishes are way better.
So, whether you’re a meat eater or prefer a plant-based diet, here are my top 10 recommended dishes at the best cheap restaurants in Chiang Mai. Bon appetite!
1. Netflix Khao Soi @ Khao Soi Lung Prakit Kad Kom
I would be a terrible Chiang Mai Guide if we didn’t kick off the list without Northern Thailand’s most popular dish: khao soi.
My Thai ex brought me to this shop to try Khao soi for the first time. Now I’m introducing it to you! But beware, you may have to wait in line for a seat because this cheap Chiang Mai restaurant is extremely popular.
Try it for breakfast if you’re short on time. However, the wait is worth it — trust me. Especially since it only costs 50 baht (CA$1.93/€1.32).
2. Mala Beef Noodle Soup @ Je Hua Noodles
If you’ve never been to China but want to try some real, authentic Chinese noodles — this is it! A small bowl of mala beef soup will cost you 60 baht ($2.31/€1.58).
You should also try the fried buns for 30 baht (CA$1.15/€0.79). It comes with sweetened condensed milk to dip and they are the tastiest donut-like treat to enjoy after that mala spice!
3. Chicken Fried Rice @ Lantern Cafe & Restaurant
Chicken fried rice is the safest thing to order on a menu. But I’ve found one of the most flavorful one at a cheap restaurant on the outskirts of Chiang Mai.
This oversized chicken fried rice is just like a Thai grandmother would make for their beloved grandkids. Top it off with an egg and you have yourself a yummy meal for 69 baht (CA$2.66/€1.82).
Seriously, this is the ONLY place to stop for crazy good food if you’re taking a trip to:
- Lanna Mini Zoo
- Sticky Waterfalls
- Royal Chiang Mai Golf Course
p.s., This is my friend’s shop that just opened in January 2024. I’ve tried he Auntie’s cooking many times before and its some of the best. So, please support a Thai entrepreneur and visit here if you’re passing by and say hi to Miew!
4. Chicken Mango Curry @ Srifaa’s
We all know mango sticky rice is a thing. But would you ever have thought to eat chicken and mango together?
This dish was so damn good and it only cost 60 baht. However, I got extra chicken and mango which was 100 baht with 2 fried eggs on top. So, I paid 120 baht in total (CA$4.62/€3.16) but I’m not complaining.
By the way, I can’t take credit for this recommendation. My friend, Robert Tickner, stumbled on this delicious, cheap restaurant in Chiang Mai while hunting his new neighborhood for the best coffee shops.
5. Vegetarian Pad Thai @ Pad Thai Baan Yim
Every once in a while I like to avoid meat. Luckily, that’s easy to do with the many cheap vegetarian restaurants in Chiang Mai.
This yummy, vegetarian Pad Thai hit the spot for just 55 baht (CA$2.12/€1.45). You’ll get a very generous portion size, so don’t worry. This is the kind of cheap food that’ll make you feel full.
What Cheap Restaurants in Chiang Mai Do You Recommend I Should Try?
Got a recommendation for me? Let me know in the comments below.
I’ll continue to upload the best cheap and yummy dishes to this list.
Until next time!