Everything I Ate At Chiang Mai’s Famous Night Markets | ccklpl.com

Everything I Ate At Chiang Mai’s Famous Night Markets

As someone who plans their travel itineraries around food, you can bet that one of my favorite things I did while in Chiang Mai is eat. Chiang Mai is known for its vibrant street and night markets that sell delicious Thai food. 

While in Chiang Mai, I experienced both the weeknight markets and the weekend night markets, the latter of which are by far superior. On the weekends, the city is filled with sprawling night markets featuring hundreds of artisans selling everything from traditional arts and crafts to clothing and jewelry to sweets and tons of street food.

To call these night markets “bustling” is an understatement. Walking through a market can be sensory overload, but if you’re anticipating the chaos, it’s an incredible way to immerse yourself in the culture. Live music and the sounds of people haggling and foods sizzling fills the thick, tropical air, of which, depending on what’s nearest to you, could smell like grilled meats, deep fried gyoza or a multitude of other savory delights. Both locals and tourists frequent the lively markets, and the experience is quintessentially Chiang Mai.

One of the most surreal parts of it all? Many of the night markets are woven amongst the city’s ornate temples, which only adds to the allure of this must-do Thailand experience.

The most famous, and largest, of the night markets in the city is the Sunday Walking Street Market. The entire street transforms into a non-stop bazaar with festival vibes. I spent at least a couple of hours here, and it still wasn’t enough time to fully comb through the market stalls in the way I wanted.

The sights, sounds, smells and flavors were mesmerizing and continued to draw me further into the market with every new vendor. Some of my favorite dishes included the region’s signature khao soi, slow braised pork shoulder and, of course, the mango sticky rice. I also visited the Wua Lai Walking Street, which takes place on Saturday nights.

Each night market has designated food courts, complete with live musicians performing American songs with a Thai twist—think everything from Nirvana to Imagine Dragons—overflowing with every kind of street food you can imagine.

Separately, if you’re in town just for the weekdays, five major Chiang Mai night markets are within walking distance of each other on Chang Klan Road and can easily be experienced all at once. They include the Anusarn Night Market, Pavillion Night Market, Chiang Mai Night Bazaar, Kalare Night Bazaar and Ploen Ruedee Night Market.

Without further ado, here are the best things I ate at Chiang Mai’s night markets.


You can’t walk into a night market, see a huge selection of deep-fried insects and not try the scorpion, right? The scorpion was sprayed with soy sauce and doused with a salt and pepper seasoning. It was certainly intimidating to look at, but after pumping myself up, I took a bite. Well, I tried. The claw was way too hard to bite through. After spitting that out, I took a bite of the body, which surprisingly had a flavor reminiscent of lobster. After a quick Google search, I discovered that lobsters and scorpions are part of the same phylum (arthropoda), so it checks out. The scorpion had a kick to it from the seasonings, and the flavor wasn’t bad; the texture was quite tough, though. I wouldn’t eat it again.

Pork Leg on Rice

The slow-braised pork leg was so tender, had just the right amount of fattiness to it and had an amazingly rich, umami flavor. The vendor asked me if I liked more or less fat before taking a nice chunk of meat to chop up (made-to-order style) and proceeded to serve it over rice, topped with a sweet, soy sauce-based broth and a side of pickled mustard greens. It came with a spicy, tangy chili vinegar sauce that cut the fat super well. Absolutely delicious.

Mango and Sticky Rice

This classic Thai dessert always hits the spot—the mangoes in Chiang Mai are second to none. I must have had five or six of these in the few days I was in Chiang Mai, and as I sit here writing this, I wish I had eaten more. Fresh sticky rice is topped with ripe mango slices and coconut milk, and the combination of refreshing flavors and chewy textures is a ten out of ten!

Fish Cakes

The fish cakes I tried were super flavorful and had an almost juicy, bouncy texture once you bit into the crispy exteriors. Though flavored with red curry paste, the cake also had an herbaceous quality, and I could taste the garlic and chili with each bite. Topped with crispy kaffir lime leaves and served with a sweet-and-sour dipping sauce, these little deep-fried nuggets were addictive. 

Khao Soi

Though eating piping-hot soup on a sweltering night isn’t ideal, I had to get a bowl of khao soi—a dish this area is known for. This coconut curry noodle soup was topped with shallots, fried chilies, crispy fried egg noodles, lime and pickled mustard greens. It was packed with savory flavors and bold spices, which were perfectly cut with the lime and pickled greens. The soup also had a little kick to it; it’s safe to say I had a little sweat going by the time I finished my bowl.

Deep-Fried Little Crabs 

These deep-fried baby crabs were a fun little snack. They were super crispy and crunchy, seasoned with salt and tossed with some green onion and herbs.

Thai Coconut Pancakes

These tasty, tiny pancakes came in purple sweet potato and plain coconut. They were sweet and dense, and the batter was full of shredded coconut. They had a slight crunch on the outside and a chewy, almost mochi-like texture on the outside. I could’ve eaten a dozen.

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