With Bangkok, Phuket and Krabi being done to dust, travellers are seeking unexplored locations that still retain the original charm of Thailand. The laid-back Chiang Mai, with its stunning architecture, lush countryside and ancient temples fits the bill perfectly. What is even more exciting about Chiang Mai is that the city is taking active steps towards sustainable tourism, including the opening of a great variety of vegetarian restaurants serving a range of local and international delicacies in an environment-friendly way.
Here are our top picks for places to eat at in Chiang Mai, if you are a vegetarian:
Its name translating to ‘Thousand Varieties’ , the Pun Pun restaurant serves organic fare aimed towards sustainability. Owned by Jon Jondai of the eponymous organic farm, the restaurant serves an array of popular Thai dishes, including some of the classics that you won’t find elsewhere in the town. Featuring a huge courtyard underneath a Boddhi tree and set against the stunning backdrop of Wat Suan Dok temple, the ambiance of Pun Pun restaurant impresses as much as the food. Patrons visiting the restaurant will shell out between £O.84-1 for most dishes.
Sitting in the busy courtyard of the Kad Klang Wiang Plaza, Beetroot Stories has perfected a range of popular vegetarian Thai dishes, western cuisine, breakfasts, fresh salads and sandwiches. The restaurant’s name owes inspiration to ample representation of beetroot on its menu, especially amongst salads and juices. Trying to make patrons eat healthy, the restaurant ensures that all its rice dishes are served with brown rice. Don’t go missing the sumptuous smoothies on offer especially the chocolate banana coconut or peanut butter banana chocolate smoothies.
One of the oldest vegetarian restaurants in Chiang Mai, AUM has a base of loyal followers who keep coming back here for its home-style fare. The feeling of eating at home is emphasised by floor seating arrangements for which you will have to remove your shoes and sit on cushions on the floor. The restaurant has an extensive menu featuring some great Thai dishes as well as western fare. Fried pumpkin with mushrooms and tempeh is a must-try as is vegan and vegetarian sushi. Those looking forward to eating healthy can consider sweet potato or steamed tofu.
Erring on the right side of healthy, the Dada Kafe serves a plethora of local delicacies along with a range of western dishes. You will only have to walk a few steps from the popular Tha Pae Gate on Ratmakka Road to reach to a stunning site –flowers hanging from baskets and reaching the road and a row of colourful lights, making the restaurant stand-out. If you are susceptible to hot weather, please know that the restaurant is not air-conditioned. Some of the dishes that you can’t leave the restaurant without trying include ‘Carpaccio’ of pineapple, basil and ice cream, fried potato & cheese balls, avocado on toast or fried breaded tofu balls. The smoothie selection of the restaurant is massive and has a match to all kinds of temperaments and moods.
Khun Churn brings the food dreams of ardent vegetarians alive by offering a delectable all-you-can eat buffet. The buffet features a range of soups, a huge salad bar, Khao Soi, tofu and grilled vegetables, various rice and noodles dishes and a large selection of herbal teas and fresh fruit water. Savour mixed mushrooms and coloured bell peppers stir fried in a light chili-based prik pao, with the side of authentic brown rice as well as kanom jeen gaeng het, or soft rice noodles covered in mushroom curry to have a burst of flavours in your mouth.