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Friday, May 27, 2016

7 Vegetarian Eateries You Must Try In Chiang Mai

Best form of transport in Thailand is your own scooter!
 Over the last 10 years, Chiang Mai has emerged as one of the most popular destinations in all of Asia.  The city is indeed beautiful, with lots to see and do, fantastic fresh fruit, and cool winter weather.  In addition to all these lovely aspect, it does have a pretty decent vegetarian/vegan scene too.  Vegetarian food in Chiang Mai (and most of Thailand, for that matter) can be separated into two categories:-

Category 1
Restaurants opened purely targeting tourists.  These eateries will have a wide range of dishes (including Western), English menu etc.  Take into consideration, you will be paying much higher price to eat at these restaurants, you are not going to find any local Thai people that can afford to eat here. 

Category 2
Traditional Thai 'jay' vegetarian eateries.  These are typically smaller, more humble eateries, which serve a limited menu.  If you want to eat what the locals are eating (I can't imagine why you wouldn't), then these are the places you should be visiting.  Moreover, the prices at these eateries can be literally 1/5th of that in the tourist restaurants.  Two excellent local eateries which don't feature on the list below are Ratsamitham and Ariyasathan Haeng Panya Foundation.

This is the symbol you must learn in Thailand.  The 'jay' symbol may be the only way of identifying if the eatery is vegetarian or not.

Another must try in Chiang Mai is the amazing mango sticky rice.  There are several places selling it, but the most famous is at Manna Best Mango Sticky Rice, I will post my video blog of eating mango sticky rice below:-

Unfortunately the most ugly aspect of Chiang Mai is the tourists.  Most make no attempt to adjust to a new culture, and basically stay on the tourist stretch, going to Western restaurants, getting drunk in a Western bar, and then going back to their Western hotel (why leave your own country?).  This coupled with the copious amounts of 78 year old divorced dirty (borderline paedophilic) old men with their hands in the back pockets of 18 year old local Thai women (I vote for the implementation of mandatory castration for any single white man over 60 visiting Thailand), it does leave a bit of a sour taste in ones mouth.

Nevertheless, we can't allow the aforementioned to lose our appetite can we?  So let us not waste anymore time, and roll through the list of the best seven vegetarian eateries that one can find in Chiang Mai:-

7th Vegetarian Society Chiang Mai
Customers choose their dishes from the trays available
Almost every country has a vegetarian society of some kind, but there are not many that have their own eatery.  This is the case for the society in Chiang Mai.   Vegetarian Society in Chiang Mai seems (from what I gather) to be more of a Thai Buddhist group, who operate a small temple style cafeteria open to the public on weekdays.  In terms of their other activities, basically think of them as a temple group and you will be spot on.  The food is served economic rice style, where you can choose whatever dishes you want.  There are not many options of dishes, but the food I tried was above average overall.

Full Review
Chiang Mai Veg Score

Vegetarian Society Chiang Mai
Location: 42 Mahidol Rd, T Haiya, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Contact: 053-271262
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 6.00am-2.00pm.  Closed on Weekends.

6th Anchan Vegetarian Restaurant 
The Crispy Tofu Tamarind Sauce was my favourite dish from Anchan! (THB95.00)
One of the most highly rated eateries in Chiang Mai, Anchan Vegetarian has some of the best reviews for vegetarian food on Happy Cow and Trip Advisor.  It is a restaurant firmly aimed at farangs.  Is the Anchan hype justified? Yes and no.  Most farang's have absolutely no idea about Thai food (or any other cuisine for that matter), so due to the fact that most the positive feedback is from foreigners, it is almost like taking music advice from someone who is deaf.

Having said that, there were some very nice dishes at Anchan, which I could foresee myself returning back to try again.  The owners are very friendly too, and the kitchen (which is open to view) is clean and well organized.

Full Review
Chiang Mai Veg Score

Anchan Vegetarian Restaurant
Location: Nimmana Haeminda (between lane 6 and lane 10), Suthep Mueang, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Contact: 083-5811689
Opening Hours: Tue-Sat 11.30am-8.30pm.  Closed Sunday & Monday. 

5th Happy Green Restaurant
I think I 'Laab' you (THB60.00)
Happy Green is a vegetarian eatery (with vegan options) located on the outskirts of Chiang Mai, on the bank of the Ping River.  Unlike most of the eateries in town, Happy Green does retain some authentic Thai culture in its ambiance and food.  Don't get me wrong, the primary audience here is still foreigners (the place didn't have any locals when I visited), however, I felt Happy Green hasn't sold its soul, and maintains a very 'real' vibe.

The dish you simply must order is the Laab!  Traditionally laab is a meat salad dish, which relies on a myriad of fresh herbs (the key to all great Lao cuisine).  Happy Green uses scrambled tofu to replace the meat, which works really well.  Happy Green also have a daily buffet and a wide a la carte menu.

Full Review
Chiang Mai Veg Score

Happy Green Restaurant
Location: 4/3 Moo 3 Pa Daet Road, Tambol Pa Daet, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Contact: 085-5989010
Opening Hours: Daily 9.30am-7.00pm.  Closed on Monday. 

4th Pun Pun Airport
The delicious and filling Black Bean Burrito from Pun Pun (THB80.00)
Pun Pun has recently received global attention thanks to the incredible TED Talk by founder Jon Jandai.  Pun Pun is not a restaurant, it is a philosophy (see the talk).  There are currently two Pun Pun outlets in Chiang Mai.  The first on our countdown list is their 'airport' outlet - This outlet is not located inside the airport, but named so because it is located relatively close to the airport.

Rather disappointingly this outlet is not 100% vegetarian (some fish and chicken dishes are served).  But there is still an excellent selection of vegetarian and vegan food.  But I would much rather they ditch the dead animals.  The burrito is absolutely incredible, definitely a must try if you're visiting here.  But in terms of the rest of their food, I find the Wat Suan Dok outlet to be far superior (plus that one is 100% veg).

Full Review
Chiang Mai Veg Score

Pun Pun Restaurant Airport
Location: 97/3 Moo 1 Tambon Padad, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Contact: 093-2566727
Opening Hours: Daily 11.00am-7.00pm.  Closed Thursday.


3rd Amrita Garden
This may well be the best vegan burger I have ever eaten (THB110.00)
 The food at Amrita Garden was a bit hit and miss for me.  But it gets 3rd on my list simply due to the fact that they sell, in my eyes, the best vegan burger that I have ever tried!  This burger is titled 'No. 1 Vegan Burger', and I must say that is a pretty apt title.  This burger was excellent in almost every aspect.  The sesame bun texture was superb, it was crisp, firm and perfectly designed for burger consumption.  The vegan mayonnaise was great, the mustard was tangy, and the ingredients inside were fresh.  The burger held itself together pretty well also, instead of collapsing pathetically into mangled heap of indecipherable mess.  It is simply an incredible burger.

The burger (which I still catch myself fantasizing about), coupled with the lovely outdoor ambience of the eatery makes this a really serene place to have a meal.  The only downside is the cost, for a meal at Amrita Garden you could more or less purchase a house in Thailand - Ok I'm exaggerating, but the cost is very high.

Full Review
Chiang Mai Veg Score

Amrita Garden
Location: Samlan Road, Soi 5, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Contact: 086-0539342
Opening Hours: Daily 9.00am-8.30pm.  Closed on Tuesday. 

2nd Khun Churn Thai Vegetarian Cuisine
My first (of many) plates from the incredible buffet selection.
As much as I enjoyed the vegan/vegetarian food in Chiang Mai, there are only two eateries that I would truly say are great.  The first of those is Khun Churn, this popular restaurant has been running successfully in the city for over 20 years now.  It is a Thai specialty restaurant, and arguably the most high end vegetarian establishment in Chiang Mai.  Freshly divorced Western grandfathers out there reading this, this place has a lovely ambiance to bring your -just turned 18 yesterday- year old prosistut...wife.

What you must do when visiting Khun Churn is try out the buffet, it is truly one of the best vegan buffets that I have ever tried.  It has countless amazing selections, from a salad bar, dessert table, countless savoury options, khao soi table, on and on...  The staff are fantastic, not like the 低头族  zombies that are slowly taking over the world.  Even the chef can be seen regularly prowling around clearing plates and showing customers to their seat.

At 169 baht per person flat (no surcharge etc) the buffet represents great value, especially for such a high end restaurant.  It will definitely be a regular spot I visit, whenever I'm in Chiang Mai

Full Review
Chiang Mai Veg Score

Khun Churn Thai Vegetarian Cuisine
JJ Market Atsadathon Rd T.Changpuak A.Mueang, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Contact: 053-270-071
Opening Hours: Daily 10.00am-3.00pm (buffet)

1st Pun Pun Wat Suan Dok
The entire menu at Pun Pun is like a work of art - Homemade Tofu Steak with Coconut Milk & Black Pepper Sauce (THB80.00)
I don't want to exaggerate things, but Pun Pun may easily rank as the greatest vegetarian restaurant that I have ever visit in my life (yes, even higher than Gokul).

Jon Jandai, the Pun Pun founder, abandoned the rat race, gave up the obsession with money and started his own self-sustainable farm in the north of Thailand (about a 90 minute ride from Chiang Mai city).  The Pun Pun restaurants followed from this and place a high emphasis on using fresh locally produced ingredients.  You are not going to find any processed food and mock meats here.

The menu is large, affordable, and every dish is presented beautifully and tastes immaculate.  I am at a loss as to what I can recommend, because literally every dish I have tried from Pun Pun has been excellent.

Luckily this restaurant is in a nice city like Chiang Mai, but even if this restaurant was in a concentration camp in North Korea, I would still be making regular visits there.  The food is an amazing eye-opening experience, which gives you Thai food at its very very best.  I would say honestly that I felt very humbled by the food at Pun Pun, because it showed me just how amazing vegetarian/vegan food can be (and I already had pretty high expectations).  You owe it to yourself to visit Pun Pun once in your life.

Full Review
Chiang Mai Veg Score

Pun Pun Vegetarian Restaurant
Location: Wat Suan Dok Temple, Suthep Road, Chiang Mai
Contact: 084-3656581
Opening Hours: Daily 9.00am-4.00pm.  Closed Wednesday.


  1. I love what they make in Pun Pun Airport and Pun Pun Wat Suan Dok! My conclusion was very childish - every place that starts with Pun Pun in the title in Chiang Mai appears to be delicious) When I came back from my Thailand vacation I really missed their food, especially all of that chewy rice pots. For those who share my passion, I would recommend visiting cooker.guru/best-rice-cookers-for-brown-rice-reviews to find the best rice cooker to make it on yourown. The reason I'm not giving you a direct link on the cooker that I have is that it's all depends on your own preferences and needs. Have fun cooking!)


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