I recently went to Chiang Mai for 2 weeks and as I was staying for a decent period of time I fancied doing some kind of tour or activity, in addition to my week volunteering at Elephant Nature Park (a separate post will follow on that asap). In the past I’ve really enjoyed all of the tours I’ve done on holiday: a Jeep Tour in Antalya, Turkey; Bat Caves in Battambang, Cambodia; a Mekong Delta Tour in Vietnam and countless other boat tours for that matter (!) plus various cooking classes in Thailand, Bali and Cambodia. Seeing as I’ve done lots of cooking classes already, I ruled that out, but I still fancied something food-related. Either that or a boat tour, so I looked up some options on Trip Advisor and found ‘Chiang Mai Street Food Tours’ with rave reviews! Sold!
I was picked up promptly from my hotel by our driver and host, Sonny. (He was actually even a few minutes early!! Quite a rarity in Thailand! AND the best driver I’ve experienced in Thailand so far… most taxi drivers seem to have a death wish!) I was joined by two Americans, a woman around my age and an older American guy. Having such a small group was great as we got more time with Sonny and he was able to answer any questions we had and we also had plenty of time to chat in between ‘courses’.
We started off in a little side-street restaurant with 3 pork dishes which we had to order ourselves in Thai 😊 We were given a ‘cheat sheet’ and Sonny helped us with our pronunciation. In addition to useful words and phrases, our handout also included a list of the most common street food dishes, in English and Thai along with pictures and a description of the ingredients. Super handy! I’ll be keeping hold of this for future trips!
We tried Grilled Pork with Dressing (Nam Tok Moo), Minced Pork Salad (Laap Moo) and some BBQed Pork (Moogata – BBQ). I can’t tell you which was my favourite as they were all so tasty! The four of us polished off the lot! I liked the fact that Sonny ate with us so he felt part of the group than a ‘guide’. The grilled pork was served with sticky rice which Sonny showed us how to ball up and eat with our fingers.
Next we walked a short distance to our first street food market where we tried a local Chiang Mai sausage (Sai Ua). Delicious! With a good kick of spice too!
We then sat down at a street food stall with plastic seating and had the famous local dish Khao Soi alongside a pork and noodle broth dish, I forgot to write the name down (doh) but here’s a pic:
Khao Soi is a northern Thai dish with influences from Burma, which consists of flat egg noodles topped in a rich creamy coconut curry. It’s usually served with deep fried egg noodles on top, for texture, plus picked mustard greens, red onions and a wedge of lime.
Next up was a sweet treat in the form of Coconut Dumplings (Khanom Krok) made with rice flour! Yum! Very moreish and not too sweet either which was perfect for me as I’m not really into super-sweet things.
We then hopped back into Sonny’s pickup truck and headed to the other side of Old Town where we had Soy Sauce Pork (Khao Ka Moo) which is slow cooked pork knuckle, Fried Chicken and Morning Glory! (Tee hee!) The Thai name for Morning Glory is Pad Pak Bung.
Because I’m gluten intolerant I only tried a teeny bit of the pork and I skipped the fried chicken, so Sonny went and got me some plain grilled chicken – without me asking! What a sweetie! This is a good point to note that they’re very happy to accommodate any dietary requirements… when we were first picked up he asked if we had any restrictions and was well versed in gluten and wheat as well as lactose.
To round off a superb evening the plan was to end with Mango Sticky Rice (Khao Niew Ma Muang)… however the stall had out of rice! Haha! So we just had mango and coconut milk instead… still delicious! And actually, we were all pretty full, so maybe skipping the rice wasn’t a bad thing! It was topped with some mung beans which were yummy and added a nice crunch to the dish!
I was dropped back to my hotel at around 10.30pm, so it was quite a long evening. Online it said the tour lasted 2 – 2.5 hours so we overran somewhat. (My pick up time was 7pm).
Overall, the Chiang Mai Street Food Tour was fantastic tour and I’d highly recommend it. I also wrote a short review on Trip Advisor and gave it 4 stars there, simply because of the price.
At €25 EUR / $29 USD / £23 GBP I did find it slightly expensive, especially for Chiang Mai! I roughly totted up the price of the dishes in my head and that comes to around 300-350 baht p.p. which is about €10. I realise that other costs also need to be taken into account – admin, Trip Advisor commission, fuel and tour guide fee… but still… it’s a little on the pricey side so I wouldn’t recommend it for budget travellers.
FYI: I paid for the tour myself and am writing this review because I loved it 😊
€25 via Trip Advisor (Roughly $29 USD / £23 GBP / 1,000 baht.) Prices correct as of November 2018.
Includes pick up and drop off to/from your hotel in Chiang Mai Old Town.
Stuff to bring:
Mosquito repellent, comfy shoes and clothes (I wouldn’t recommend wearing a dress/skirt as you have to clamber in and out of the truck) and a tip for the tour guide (if you are so inclined… my fellow tour mates and I agreed on 200 baht each – about €5 – which is about 20%. I’m sure 100 baht would suffice though!) Plus an umbrella / jacket if the weather calls for it.
What not to bring:
No need to bring water as this is provided for you.
Please do let me know if you take the tour! Would be interested to hear what you think!