Chiang Mai: a plant-based food paradise
Traveling to Thailand has changed a lot over the years, especially as the tourism industry has gone online. There are a few things, though, that remain as a staple for tourists coming from all over the world- one of which is food.
Traveling to Thailand has changed a lot over the years, especially as the tourism industry has gone online. There are a few things, though, that remain as a staple for tourists coming from all over the world- one of which is food. 

Thai food is colorful, usually a bit spicy and often has a base of some animal product- namely chicken or fish. Taking a stroll through any night market in Thailand means being immersed in the sounds and smells of Thai street food, most of which is meat.

‘lukchin moo’- grilled pork on a stick being sold for 2 baht at a night market.

However, there are plenty of options for tourists that are looking for a plant-based meal, and surprisingly they are not exclusive to the big city of Bangkok- Thailand’s hub of international food. In fact, the plant-based paradise most well-known in the vegetarian/vegan community is nestled in the mountains up north, in Chiang Mai.

Chiang Mai has long been known as an artsy and laid-back tourist destination. There are many farms and homestays in the calm city, though it’s tiny airport is actually home to many international arrivals every year. As a result, there are a number of hostels and affordable hotels that are frequented by tourists looking for a healthy meal, and over the years many of those hospitality businesses have expanded into plant-based food themselves.

As such, Chiang Mai now has over 20 plant-based restaurants, and that’s not including the food you can find at markets like the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar.

Whether you’re still planning your trip or you’ve arrived in Chiang Mai, here are a few tips to finding the plant-based food vendors around the city:

1. Look for the “Jay”
Vegetarian/vegan food restaurants and food stalls are normally marked with the Thai lettering เจ - pronounced “Jay” in English. Very often, they are put on a yellow background, such as in this photo:

Vegan is prominently featured on the sign for Ming Kwan Vegetarian Restaurant, in Old Town.

2. Google maps.
If you’re already in Chiang Mai, or you are planning ahead for how you’d like to eat while you are there, you can open Google Maps and search for ‘Vegetarian’ or ‘Vegan’, and you’ll get a long list of options returned from that search.

A listing of vegetarian/vegan food vendors in Chiang Mai (Source: Google Maps)

3. Download the HappyCow App
HappyCow is a vegetarian/vegan food mobile app that uses your current location to show you which options are available nearby for plant-based food, and even lists them by the proximity that they are from where you are currently standing (good for the people walking). 

The listings are regularly updated with photos and ratings by other travelers, and it works anywhere in the world. The app costs $4 USD (125 THB), and is well worth it if you are in a rush and

HappyCow listings of plant-based restaurants, vendors and cooking schools in Chaing Mai.

Recommended Dishes
Though most Thai restaurants will be accommodating of a plant-based diet in Chiang Mai, there is definitely one northern dish in Chiang Mai that must not be missed: Khao Soi. 

Traditionally made with chicken, many plant-based vendors in Chiang Mai have made it their signature vegan dish. It’s spicy, crunchy, and served hot - and also, it’s usually not going to cost you more than 60 THB ($2 USD) per bowl.

Photo Caption: Khao Soi from Ming Kwan Vegetarian Restaurant in Old Town, Chiang Mai. Cost: 40 THB.

And one last thing that can be found all over Thailand, but is not so easily found without seafood: Som Tam, or papaya salad. As with Khao Soi, it is a very commonly served dish at plant-based food vendors in Chiang Mai, and it’s often pretty spicy so if you’re going to try it, be sure to order it with some ice water or a refreshing glass of Thai Milk Tea. 

Photo Caption: Vegetarian Som Tam

Photo caption: “Cha nom yen”, aka Thai Milk Tea

Bon Appétit!
All entries

Thailand: A Land Where Nature and Culture Bind in Perfection

There are few places in this world where you can find the perfect bond between nature and culture, but one has what it takes for this match made in heaven.

The Golden Buddha in Bangkok, Thailand

Koh Phayam - A Peaceful Island Retreat!

Wan Visakha Bucha in Tha Phanom

Ladies of Tha Phanom in Nakhon Phanom Province proudly presenting their heritage as part of the Wan Visakha Bucha celebration.

The Village of Mae Kampong

A beautiful spot in Northern Thailand

4 Day Chiang Mai Itinerary

Everything you need to know about visiting Chiang Mai

Golden Temple in Chumphon

Unknown province in Thailand

The Patterns of Thailand

Lived history

Best island vibes and getaway:Koh Tao

Heaven is an small island in Thialand

My Wish to Explore the Natural Beauty of Thailand

Explore the unexplored

Thailand, A Place of Wonder

Discovering the Beauty of Thailand

Wat Arun

Romantic Bangkok

To The Guests of The Emerald Buddha

The Hidden Gems of Thailand

The best 5 most wonderful insta places in Thailand you must visit with your other half...

Heard It All About Thailand

Head Over Heals for the Tropical Fruits of Thailand

I felt so in love with the tropical fruits of Thailand and their health properties that I got a durian tattoo on the way out. I am passionate to let others discover a wonderful world of flavours, textures and colours behind the bounty of Thai fruits.

Thailand by Train

Wat Prathat Phasornkaew

วัดพระธาตุผาแก้ว = Temple on a Glass Cliff

Off the beaten track in Kanchanaburi, Thailand

Gosh, Thailand is amazing when you know where to look. Are you a FIT Traveller (Free Independent Traveller) who likes to explore the world with just your tribe? Do you like to escape and see the less crowded natural attractions?

Traveling to Nan province where live is still slow and tranquil

A weekend with the Little Elephant in North Thailand

Metal Castle at Dusk

One of a kind Wat Ratchanatdaram, also known locally as Loha Prasat or Metal Castle, in the evening light. The 37 spires represents the 37 virtues needed to attain enlightenment.

Some guy in a “sum gai” spa

Funny spa exprience in Thailand

A Taste Of Zimbabwe

Maybe, if we win, our next cool video will be of Thailand :)

The Thailand I Never Knew

A beautiful journey in Nan and Chiang Mai, Thailand

An Introduction to Vipassana and Buddhism in Chiang Mai

Heading Home

There’s no place like home. Just like this little Thai boy I captured in this Koh Khood fishing village, this travel writer is heading home.

Ayutthaya: Ancient City of Thailand

Ko Chang

Away from the bustle, we find paradise...


Land of Smiles

Unique Combination of Tradition and its Variations Found in Bangkok Architecture

Attractions in Bangkok heritage fusion-style hotels...

Marvelous Temple of The Emerald Buddha in Bangkok, Thailand

Blue, Red and Purple Sunset

The colours of a country reflect in its sunsets!

Time to Explore Rayong

Living in Thailand was getting very excited, so it was now time to explore the places around in the Rayong Province.

Why Do We Travel?

To get into situations like this in Bangkok!

Grand Palace Bangkok: History and Beauty in One

All Aboard ChangChui Plane Market

The ChangChui Plane Market is a creative space with upcycling installations, a cinema hall, stalls, performance spaces, and of course the big airplane that is the main attraction of this unique place.

An off-the-beaten-track island that'll blow your socks off

Forget All Islands You've Heard of Before - Explore this Deserted Thai Paradise

Sangkhlaburi is the Secret of Thailand

The pure land of Kanchanaburi.

Aerial Impressions of a Tea Plantation

A True Paradise, Mu Ko Surin National Park

My most memorable summer destination

The Most Revered Temple in the Northeast

Visit Wat Phra That Phanom - it's both spiritual and fun.

Thailand Off the Beaten Track: Ngao Waterfall National Park

One of the spots that perhaps not known to many is the Ngao Waterfall National Park located at Ranong, Thailand.

Why Ko Phayam Should Be On Your Bucket List

Ko Phayam - the perfect off-the-beat island.

Sri Panwa Phuket

Thailand's hip luxury resort

Visiting Thailand - A Nation Rich In Culture

I became fascinated by Thailand many, many years ago when I watched the King and I. Silly I know but factual since Thailand was once known as Siam. Thailand is one of those destinations that you hope and dream of one day visiting.

Traveling By Train In Thailand

3rd class train journey with locals