Tip: Eat local for the best food!

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Looking for the best restaurants in Chiang Rai? Let’s dive in!

Chiang Rai was on my bucket list for so many years before I finally visited at the end of 2023. I had heard about it most frequently as an easy day trip from Chiang Mai, but it wasn’t until I visited for myself that I learned how magical this city is. Chiang Rai is home to some of the best food in Thailand.

White Temple (Chiang Rai, Thailand)
White Temple (Chiang Rai, Thailand)

So let’s jump into all of my favorite restaurants in Chiang Rai. But first, if you’re short on time, here are a few food tours in Chiang Rai to check out:

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8 Best Restaurants in Chiang Rai

The most delicious meal from ร้านอาหารไทยผัดไทย (Pad Thai - Thai Food & Drink in Chiangrai )
The most delicious meal from ร้านอาหารจานด่วน (Thai food easy style and Pad Thai)
Iced matcha latte from The Roastery By Roj
Iced matcha latte from The Roastery By Roj

ร้านอาหารไทยผัดไทย (Pad Thai – Thai Food & Drink in Chiangrai )

I won’t even attempt to pronounce the name in Thai (just copy and paste into Google Maps), but this was our very first meal in Chiang Rai and easily one of the best. The restaurant has just a few tables with a single chef cooking up the meals.

We ordered a few different dishes including noodles and stir fried dishes, and everything was delicious and reasonably priced. Our meal came to under $4 USD per person with an entree and a fresh juice each.

They even served us a plate of complimentary pineapple at the end of our meal. 100% recommend stopping by for a delicious local lunch.

ร้านอาหารจานด่วน (Thai food easy style and Pad Thai)

This delicious Chiang Rai restaurant has a similar vibe to the last, but located slightly more central and somehow even more affordable. From the pad thai to thai stir fried chicken with chili, everything was perfect! Lunch here was less than $2 USD per person.

The most delicious meal from ร้านอาหารไทยผัดไทย (Pad Thai - Thai Food & Drink in Chiangrai )
The most delicious meal from ร้านอาหารไทยผัดไทย (Pad Thai – Thai Food & Drink in Chiangrai )
ร้านอาหารจานด่วน (Thai food easy style and Pad Thai)
ร้านอาหารจานด่วน (Thai food easy style and Pad Thai)

Lalitta Cafe

If you’re looking for a fun cafe experience, make sure to check out Lalitta Cafe. Just down the road from Wat Huay Pla Kang, this cafe is a great stop before heading up to see the temple at sunset. We stopped by after sunset and it was still beautiful though!

There is a fee of 60 THB ($1.71 USD) to enter the cafe premises, all food and drinks cost extra. You’ll find man-made waterfalls, mist, and mossy greens. While we didn’t actually try any of the food and drink, it is still worth stopping by for the experience.

Khao Soi Restaurant

Khao Soi Restaurant is a great dining option in Chiang Rai, right by the night market. Service is quite slow but the food is absolutely delicious. The khao soi is obviously delicious, but I personally enjoyed the chicken Penang curry best (always my personal favorite Thai dish).

Khao Soi Restaurant
Khao Soi Restaurant
Ice cream is a must for hot days in Chiang Rai, Thailand
Ice cream is a must for hot days in Chiang Rai, Thailand

Chiang Rai Night Market

Yes it’s touristy, yes it’s worth it! The Night Bazaar, located right in the center of the city, is a great place to enjoy local dishes and desserts. The bazaar is specifically known for their hot pot, which can be enjoyed while listening to the nightly live performances. Expect to pay around $6 USD for a small hot pot, which can easily feed 2-3 people.

There is no fee to enter the market, but make sure to bring cash for any food or drink purchases.

There is a coin-operated toilet at the back corner of the market, right by the stand selling beers.

Enjoying hot pot at the Chiang Rai night market
Enjoying hot pot at the Chiang Rai night market
Trying local treats on at the Chiang Rai night market
Trying local treats on at the Chiang Rai night market

The happy table

A small local restaurant serving up delicious and affordable Thai and Vietnamese cuisine. The happy table is located just a block from the famous Chiang Rai Clock Tower, so it is conveniently located for your day of sightseeing in the city.

NINETY ONE° COFFEE

If you’re looking for top tier coffee in Chiang Rai, this is the spot for you. We went here each morning as it was just a few storefronts down from our lovely Airbnb. All of the coffee drinks are great, but for non-coffee drinkers the Thai tea is fantastic as well!

The Roastery By Roj

The Roastery By Roj gets an honorary mention on this list simply because their oat milk matcha latte was so delicious. I got it iced and it was super refreshing for our hot day exploring Chiang Rai.

Prices on our on the higher end when compared with food, so expect to spend a few bucks on your drink when an extra charge for non-dairy milks.

How to get to Chiang Rai

Chiang Rai is located in Northern Thailand, 4 hours north of Chiang Mai. While Chiang Mai is the biggest gateway to reach Chiang Rai, the city is well connected to the rest of Thailand, and the rest of Asia, by bus, plane and car. 

By bus

One of the most popular ways to get to Chiang Rai is by direct bus from Chiang Mai. The bus runs almost every hour between these two major destinations, and takes between 3.5 to 4.5 hours. Tickets can be booked online for $6-7 USD. 

It is also possible to travel from Bangkok to Chiang Rai on an overnight bus. The journey takes around 13 hours and usually costs around $20 USD. 

By plane 

Chiang Rai also has a small local airport with direct flights from Bangkok for as little as $12 USD, plus baggage fees, one way. This is a great option if you are going to or coming from Bangkok, and not visiting other cities in northern Thailand. 

By car 

If the bus schedule doesn’t work for you, or you’re looking for something a bit more comfortable, you can also grab a private taxi directly from Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai, or vice versa. We paid around 2500 THB ($72 USD) when we booked the day before for 3 people. 

By tour (visit Chiang Rai on a day trip from Chiang Mai)

If you are limited on time, it is possible to visit Chiang Rai on a one-day tour from Chiang Mai. While you won’t be able to see everything, it will still give you a great taste of the city. You can find both private and group tour options.

Getting around Chiang Rai 

Getting around Chiang Rai is super easy and affordable, with options available for all budgets.

By Grab

The easiest way to get around Chiang Rai is by using Grab, Thailand’s rideshare option, similar to Uber. Overall we found rides to be easy and reliable, and typically cheaper than hailing a tuktuk on the street. You can choose to order a normal car or tuktuk.

Bolt is another rideshare alternative available in Chiang Rai, but it is less popular than Grab.

By foot

While you won’t be able to walk to the main temples, which are scattered throughout the outskirts of the city, the main center of Chiang Rai is super walkable. In the evenings we could easy walk between our apartment and the restaurants and bars.

Best things to do in Chiang Rai

I had originally heard of so many people visiting Chiang Rai as only a day trip, so I was surprised by how many amazing things there are to do in Chiang Rai. So when you’re not dining at the best restaurants in Chiang Rai, here is a list of the best things to do in the city.

Visiting Thailand? Here are some other articles to check out:

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