Chiang Rai Restaurants

Where and What to Eat in Chiang Rai

Chiang Rai’s dining scene has a good mix of local and international offerings. Apart from typical street-side snacks, such as noodles, rice porridge, congees and the like, you will find an impressive range of European cuisine, from pizzas and English-style fish & chips to hearty Dutch fare, Mediterranean bites and even a Swedish bakery – thanks to its small but active expat community.

West of the Clock Tower, on Banpaprakan Road, a range of budget eateries line both sides of the street. These are mostly family-run restaurants with nondescript interior décor but they have been around more than two decades. South of the Clock Tower, on Jet Yod and Phaholyothin Roads, is where things get more culturally diverse and aesthetically exciting. So, head straight to this area if you fancy homemade raviolis, wood-fired pizzas, steaks, shepherd’s pie and a whole host of European specialty dishes.

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Baan Chivit Mai

This lovely café-bakery is part of a charity founded by Swedish missionaries, in an effort to provide vocational training to ethnic hill-tribe children as well as to help support their social welfare (Baan Chivit Mai means ‘Home for New Lives’). The warmly lit interiors look inviting from the outside. Step in and find a small ceramic corner on your left and, to your right, a cute display counter for cakes, baguettes, cookies and pastries of the day – a delightful place to stop for an espresso and freshly baked cookies. Natural wood and chequered table cloths add a warm, homey feel to the seating area, which overlooks the main bus terminal and southern entrance of Night Bazaar from the floor-to-ceiling windows. Along with the bakery, Bann Chivit Mai offers a small but tasty Thai and western dishes selection, plus set breakfasts and sandwiches.

  • Opening Hours: 08:00 - 21:00 (Mon - Sat)
  • Location: Prasobsuk Road, opposite the bus terminal
  • Tel: +66 (0)53 712 357
  • Cuisine: Thai, European, Swedish bakery
  • Price Range: Affordable

Cabbages & Condoms (C&C)

What strikes you upon entering this homey restaurant is a pair of mannequins decked out in hundreds of vibrantly coloured condoms. Worry not, you are not walking into a freak house but rather a dining establishment founded as a part of PDA Chiang Rai’s social development activities. Serving a delectable range of northern and central Thai dishes, with a few imaginative names like spicy condom salad and C&C steak to pique your curiosity, the restaurant has loyal fans among local politicians and business owners. Seats are spread over the three partitioned zones. Enjoy live music – mostly Thai and English songs from the ‘80s – with your lunch and dinner. Profits generated by the restaurant are used to support PDA’s family planning initiatives.

  • Opening Hours: 10:00 – midnight (live music 12:00 – 14:00 and 19:00 – midnight)
  • Location: Thanalai Road, first floor of the PDA Chiang Rai building
  • Cuisine: Northern and central Thai
  • Price Range: Affordable
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Chiang Rai Nam Ngeow

This open-air eatery has a few items on its menu, but each is well executed as well as tasty. The signature dish, rice noodles in spicy northern-style pork broth (Kanom Jeen Nam Ngeow), and the dessert, steamed rice-skin dumplings (Khao Kriep Pak Mo), are not to miss. You can also try the famous Khao Soy (egg noodles in spicy curry soup) here. The portions are quite small but are well matched with the budget prices. There’s little to the interior décor, and seating is casually arranged behind the noodle station in the front.

  • Opening Hours: 10:00 – 18:00 (closed Sundays and Mondays)
  • Location: Singhaklai Road, near King Mengrai’s Monument
  • Tel: +66 (0)53 745 221
  • Cuisine: Northern-style noodles
  • Price Range: Budget

Da Vinci

Set right opposite the Night Bazaar, this Italian pizzeria has a lot more to offer than original wood-fired pizzas. Try the all time favourite beef ravioli with shitake and gorgonzola cheese sauce or fabulous lasagna dishes – both arguably being the best in town. Other offerings include a range of classic pasta dishes, thin crusted pizzas and an extensive wine collection from the Old and New Worlds. The contemporary-style interiors offer a relaxed ambience, blending a green colour scheme with a nature theme, making it an ideal base to enjoy a delectable dinner before heading over to the Night Bazaar or neighbouring Jet Yod Road for some bar hopping.

  • Opening Hours: Noon – midnight
  • Location: Phaholyothin Road, opposite the Night Bazaar
  • Tel: +66 (0)53 752 535
  • Cuisine: Italian pasta and pizza
  • Price Range: Affordable

Lee Ocha

You can tell that this restaurant serves traditional Chinese cuisine by the red lanterns hanging in the front. The owner, not a Chiang Rai native, was a chef in Bangkok, before relocating to Chiang Rai over 30 years ago to open his own restaurant. Serving a whole range of Chinese fare, from simple rice porridges with side dishes to a full-on Chinese banquet menu, this casual eatery is a favourite among local diners and out-of-town visitors, as it has garnered quite a reputation across town. Try the signature dishes, including crispy whole chicken, steamed freshwater goby in soy sauce and Chinese-style seafood hotpot.

  • Opening Hours: 06:00 – 22:00
  • Location: Banpaprakan Road, immediately west of Clock Tower
  • Cuisine: Chinese
  • Price Range: Budget-Affordable

Phu Lae

Brightly lit and easy to spot from the street, this casual eatery is popular among local diners. The interiors are loosely decked out in natural teakwood tones, with splashes of red from the wall and paper lamps. It serves an eclectic selection of northern, western, central Thai and seafood dishes, from northern-style curries and local beef steaks (pon yang kham) to deep-fried German pork knuckle and herb-infused New Zealand mussels. The atmosphere is laid-back and informal, with soft music in the background.

  • Opening Hours: 11:00 – 23:00 daily
  • Location: Thanalai Road, opposite PDA Chiang Rai
  • Tel: +66 (0)53 600 500
  • Cuisine: Northern and central Thai
  • Price Range: Affordable

Rod Yiem Beef Noodle Soup

Housed inside two typical shop-houses with no interior décor, this busy eatery claims to be ‘the only noodle shop in Chiang Rai that serves top quality beef’ – which is by no means an overstatement. It has been in business for over three decades, offering a simple menu of rice noodles, beef soup, with options of meat balls, braised beef or beef chunks, as well as rice curry, Chinese-style pork knuckles and homemade pandanus-flavoured ice cream. If you come at lunchtime, expect to wait a few minutes for a table, but you will soon find that the delightfully tender beef and mouthwatering broth make the wait worthwhile.

  • Opening Hours: 07:00 – 15:00
  • Location: Banpaprakan Road, immediately west of Clock Tower
  • Cuisine: Beef noodle soup
  • Price Range: Budget

Sabun Nga Kantoke

Combining cultural performances and a culinary experience, kantoke dinner is a must-try for first time visitors to Chiang Rai. Traditionally, Lanna people used kantoke to receive important guests in their homes, during which families would sit on the floor around the low table (toke) and enjoy an assortment of northern side dishes (khan) together with guests. Today, kantoke has become an important cultural experience for visitors to northern Thailand, with traditional dance performances as an added factor.

Housed inside a converted wooden house, part of Sabun Nga Youth Hostel, Sabun Nga Kantoke offers two sets of kantoke, each featuring eight side dishes to be enjoyed with sticky rice. The atmosphere is informal and down-to-earth – no need to dress up for the experience.

  • Opening Hours: 17:00 – 23:00 (dinner); 19:00 – 20:00 (performance)
  • Location: 2nd Floor, Sabun Nga Hotel, on San Kong Noi Road (500 metres from Clock Tower)
  • Cuisine: Northern Thai
  • Price Range: Affordable

Salung Kham

Housed inside a lovely country house, this family-run establishment has been in business for almost two decades. With a passion for cooking, the owner – a Chiang Rai native – has created a menu of authentic northern Thai dishes from her grandmother’s secret recipes. The northern-style sausage (sai aua) here is a must-try, along with green chili paste (nam prik nume) with seasonal vegetables and garlic-fried frogs’ legs. Relaxed and informal, you can choose to sit in the shaded garden or the living room. Occasionally, you might run into local politicians or visiting dignitaries here, as this is one of the places where the city receives its honourary guests.

  • Opening Hours: 10:00 – 22:00 daily
  • Tel: +66 (0)53 717 192
  • Cuisine: Northern and central Thai
  • Price Range: Affordable – Pricey
  • How to get there: Phahol Yothin Road (Highway 1), about 400 metres north of King Mengrai’s Monument
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The Old Dutch

Only a few restaurants in the city centre ooze the kind of cosy vibe that instantly draws you inside but The Old Dutch is definitely one of them. From the relaxed, sidewalk café-style seating to the heartwarming European living room-style interiors, this pleasant dining venue makes you feel right at home. Owned by a Dutch chef with over 18 years’ experience under his belt, the restaurant features nearly 300 items on its menu, which covers just about every major world cuisine. Expect to find traditional European dishes as well as regional specialties, such as Swiss cheese fondue, New Zealand oysters, Mexican tacos, German sausages and even Indonesian curries. Another highlight here is its extensive drinks list, featuring an assortment of imported European beers (Chimay, Warsteiner, Kwak Dark, and Guinness), whiskeys, spirits and wines.

  • Location: About 100 metres south of the Clock Tower, on Phaholyothin Road
  • Tel: +66 (0)53 714 282
  • Cuisine: European, Thai and seafood
  • Price Range: Pricey
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