Chiang Mai is the best place in Thailand for vegans. Actually, it might be one of the best places in the world for vegans. The options are endlessly exciting from traditional eats at street food stalls to swanky cafes serving the latest and greatest in the raw and plant-based foodie worlds. I’ve spent about four months in the northern Thai city over the last few years and tried nearly every vegan spot in town. The vegan food in Chiang Mai is one of the biggest reasons that keeps bringing me back to the sacred town in northern Thailand. Here are my tried and true drool-worthy vegan foodie experiences to have in Chiang Mai. I’ve linked the location for all the places I liked on Google Maps, save them before you go to Chiang Mai so you’ll never be lost or too far from a delicious vegan mean. This is a complete guide to the best and worst vegan foodie experiences in Chiang Mai.
HOW TO ORDER VEGAN FOOD IN THAI
Ahan jay means vegetarian as jay means vegetables. This doesn’t mean vegan though so if you only use this term you may get food with egg, fish sauce, oyster sauce, shrimp paste, or dairy.
No fish sauce is mai sai nam plaa in Thai
No egg is mai sai kai in Thai
No oyster sauce is naam man hoy in Thai
Ge basically means Jain or yogic food that doesn’t contain anything which could possibly have living organisms so if you use this term your food won’t have garlic or onion.
GO ON A VEGAN STREET FOOD TOUR
First things first, head off on a food tour so you can get a grasp on what local foods are vegan-friendly and learn the local lingo as listed above to help you order with ease and ensure that there aren’t any animal by-products in your food. Once you’ve learned the terms you need to know, keep a note of them in your phone or take a screenshot of the phrases in the local lingo from V Cards. I find it easier to write down the pronunciation of the word rather than the correct spelling, but then show vendors the phrase written in the local language from V Cards in case they don’t understand my terrible accent in their language.
I was invited on A Chef’s Tour which at the time was still developing their meat-free food tour so I was placed on a regular food tour with my lovely guide Moui who made sure to introduce me to various plant-based dishes. Be warned that this tour will take you to local markets where there are animals being slaughtered and lots of animal blood on the floor. You can wait outside at the flower market during this part of the tour as I did.
Moui has been a foodie all her life. She is from Lampang and has lived in Chiang Mai for 20-years where she’s become an expert in all things Northern Thai cuisine. She knows all the best secret local spots and gave me an insider look at regional food traditions. The adventurous food tour began at one of my favorite temples in Chiang Mai, Wat Lok Molee. Here Moui gave us a quick breakdown of the food customs of the area–many of which were influenced by migrants. The Chinese brought meat to the area but also the methods of frying food before Thai people only steamed or baked their foods. The insects you see around town are actually a traditional source of protein as hilltribes ate bugs way before they ate pork, chicken, or beef. Indian migrants brought an array of spices and flavors and expanded Thai broth beyond coconut milk. Burmese refugees brought over food traditions when they occupied Chiang Mai for over 200 years! Shan food is some of the best in the world. Did you know the walls around the Old City were built to protect Chiang Mai from the Burmese? Throughout all these various influences northern Thai food has always stayed bitter and sour, unlike other Thai cuisines that are spicy or sweet. You’ll notice many dishes are enhanced with tamarind and apam lime, yum!
After Moui gave us a rundown of Northern Thai food history we headed out to far corners of the city in a traditional red songthaew truck that serves as public transport in Thailand. The tour included stops at 6 places, most were focused on meat dishes but Moui was sure to find veggie dishes for me to try at each place. I don’t want to spoil the food tour and give away the route but some of my favorite things I tried were freshly squeezed pennywort juice, papaya salad, and jackfruit curry from the Thanin Market. We went to a cafe ran by Burmese refugees where I was delighted to try some of the food from Myanmar that I was really missing such as spicy nam prik pu peanut dip with veg, tea leaf salad, tamarind leaf salad. We stopped by the Chinese market to try incredible deep fried sweet potato balls and ate loads of fruit tasting with spices. Our last stop wasn’t up to par with my taste buds but it sure was unique, we ate a silky soft tofu that was floating in a tangy ginger soup!
LEARN HOW TO MAKE VEGAN LANNA CUISINE
Now that you’ve learned the local lingo and have an idea of unique northern Thai dishes that are vegan-friendly it’s time to try your hand at creating some local delicacies! There are loads of vegan cooking class options in Chiang Mai but I loved my experience learning about Lanna traditional dishes and culture with Take Me Tour. The booking platform works exclusively with locals to help them share their traditions with visitors through immersive and authentic experiences, like my Lanna cooking class!
Use my exclusive discount code MFLTLTPROMO for 200 THB (around US$6.00) off of your first experience with a local in Thailand on TakeMeTour.com.
The Lanna Cooking Class is led by Lin, a local female entrepreneur, who was raised on traditional Lanna cuisine and is an expert in the age-old cooking methods. Her mother used to prepare Lanna style food in a local market! Before opening her cooking school in the Hang Dong district complete with an organic vegetable garden and fruit orchard Lin earned her degrees in Sociology and Anthropology and worked as a Social Science Researcher. It’s fascinating to view food through her eyes and discover the connection between food and the human condition.
At the farmstay, Lin has created a beautiful outdoor cooking area where she leads private classes. Only traditional methods are used at the course, I had never cooked over a clay oven using charcoal before, and WOW did it make a massive difference in the exquisite taste of the foods! Lin created a customized plant-based meal plan for me and guided me through the process of making a vegan khao soi (my all-time favorite Thai dish), veggie laap salad with oyster mushrooms that Lin had cultivated, tangy tomato curry, yellow veggie curry, and kanom krok (coconut Thai pudding).
We made simple swaps to ensure the traditional dishes were vegan-friendly such as using rice noodles instead of egg noodles for Khao Soi, soy sauce instead of fish sauce, and soybean paste instead of shrimp paste. The cooking course was a proper work out as I was tasked to make coconut milk and chili paste from scratch–all which require a sturdy set of arm muscles! My upper arm strength barely passed the test, Lin told me that the faster you can make these ingredients the more appealing you are to potential spouses. Men, before asking me out please send me a video of your chili paste making skills or hand grinding coconut fibers into milk!
Lin also had lots of tips and tricks for how to recreate Lanna dishes at home where it can be more difficult to find Thai ingredients–instead of apam use lime and double up ginger when you can’t find galangal. All of this and more is included in the recipe book that each guest is given.
THE VERY BEST VEGAN CAFES IN CHIANG MAI
FREE BIRD CAFE
For clean food with a heart head to Free Bird Cafe (Google Map) to devour vegan food that gives back. Free Bird Cafe was one of the first vegan cafes in Chiang Mai and remains one of the best due to their extensive organic menu and cause-based structure. 100% of proceeds from the cafe are funneled back into the Thai Freedom House charity. The nonprofit provides education and employment opportunities to Burmese refugees and indigenous hill tribe persons. The beneficiaries have influenced the menu at Free Bird Cafe with their delicious food customs. The strictly vegan cafe also serves up Thai favorites and dishes with western flare like spirulina smoothie bowls, lavender lattes, and a brownie that’s out-of-this-world delicious.
I came back here time and time again not only because the proceeds from my meal benefitted women’s empowerment but also because they whip up some of the cleanest food in Chiang Mai with organic whole-food ingredients, never using MSG, and hardly using oil. Free Bird Cafe also operates a small shop where they sell locally made ethical product such as lemongrass insect repellent, bamboo straws, and menstrual cups. They also have a small thrift store in the backroom of the cafe where you can donate and shop for gently used clothes. Ladies, don’t miss the Nomad Girls Lunch held most Wednesdays at the cafe. During the weekly event, gals can purchase goods from the Pre Loved Charity Shop at a 50% discount.
What you must try: Spirulina smoothie bowl, trio of Shan salads (my favorite are tea leaf, pennywort, and tomato), and the turmeric latte.
What to skip: Chai latte as the flavor wasn’t quite right. There are better places for vegan khao soi and pad thai.
What you need to know: Although the cafe and charity were founded by an American both organizations are nonprofits. Free Bird Cafe is a bit more expensive than other similar-style cafes, but every penny goes to a good cause so it’s completely worth a little splurge. They’re understandably not keen on people working here on their laptops as there are only a few tables. Free Bird Cafe is closed on Sunday and Monday and not open for dinner.
Goodsouls (Google Map) is relatively new but quickly establishing themselves as one of the best vegan spots in Chiang Mai. It’s also my all-time favorite vegan restaurant. I say restaurant because this is not your typical Thai cafe with a dreamy outdoor garden setting, instead, the interior is a bit like an old-school American diner. What it lacks in ambiance it makes up for with fast WiFi, a kind staff, and a great place to work for the day when it rains. I love this spot so much due to its massive variety of options that it was hard to branch out and try other places after I fell in love with Goodsouls. I even celebrated Christmas and New Years here!
I can confidently declare that Goodsouls has the most delicious and generous vegan khao soi in all of Chiang Mai. The authentic rendition is delightful with the perfect combination of zest, sweet, and savory. And, the portion size is seriously out of this world! Khao Soi is usually served quite small with just a few noodles but this is not the case at Goodsouls. If for some reason you don’t love Chiang Mai’s most famous dish don’t fret, there are an abundance of other fantastic options for you. The menu boasts a variety of traditional Thai dishes but also veganized western favorites such as burgers, falafel, and pastas.
What you must try: Khao soi, mango smoothie bowl, bruschetta Pomodoro, avocado salad, pad see ew, vegan tofu scramble, and creamy mushroom fettuccine.
What to skip: Most of the western dishes I tried were very oily so I don’t recommend the veggie burgers or wraps here. I tried most of the desserts but wasn’t impressed by any of them. But the pancakes are fantastic as are the smoothie bowls so if you need something sweet get those instead.
What you need to know: The menu here is ridiculously affordable due to the quality and comfort of the restaurant. I honestly think they could raise their prices, most meals set me back less than US$10 including a drink and entree! Goodsouls is the newest business of expat Daniel Georges who also founded the Green Tiger House vegan hotel and the adjacent Reform Kafe. The service here is very slow which is the only drawback of Goodsouls in my opinion. The restaurant is rather large and they’re happy to have nomads working on their computers for the day as long as they order a few things. I’ve been known to have breakfast, lunch, and dinner here!
Before there was Goodsouls, there was Reform Kafe (Google Map)! They have the same owner but are quite different in their atmosphere and have just a few crossover items on the menu–luckily the fantastic khao soi is served here too. Reform Kafe is also strictly vegan and serves more Thai dishes. The Thai dishes are fantastic, but what kept me coming back to Reform Kafe was their amazing veggie burger! I don’t even like veggie burgers but something about the mushroom burger, vegan aioli sauce, and crispy thick cut french fries that is just too good to resist. It’s the best veggie burger I’ve ever had. I also enjoyed their coconut curry and pad see ew. Reform Kafe is open-air and situated in a beautiful garden. There’s a pool in the back but I’m not sure if patrons of the cafe are allowed to go for a swim or if it’s for guests of Green Tiger only.
What you must try: Mushroom burger, khao soi, Thai curries. I basically ate the veggie burger every time I came here so can’t attest to much of the remainder of the menu. Reform Kafe has a 5-star rating on HappyCow so don’t just take my word for it that this place is drool-worthy good.
What to skip: I had my first vegan Thai ice tea here and didn’t love it.
What you need to know: Just like Goodsouls, the value for food at Reform Kafe is fantastic when compared to other eateries of this caliber in Chiang Mai. However, it is foreign owned. If you’re a digital nomad in CM do the responsible thing and frequent locally owned places more than those owned by farang aka expats. The cafe is a good spot to work for an afternoon.
Bee Vegan (Google Map) is my favorite spot for local Thai food. Bee Vegan’s location is a bit obscure, it’s down an easy-to-miss alley within walking distance from Wat Suan Dok but far from the popular areas of the Old City and Nimman. The off-the-beaten-path location is part of what makes Bee Vegan so special so be sure to hope in a songthaew and pay this place a visit. Trust me, you’ll come back time and time again.
Bee Vegan is incredibly affordable, most dishes cost about US$2, and the portion size is very generous. This is the best place in Chiang Mai for famous Thai curries prepared in a vegan way. I loved the massaman curry, penang curry, green curry, and yellow curry. The menu is extensive and no fuss, but the kind wait staff is happy to amend any dishes to your likings. For instance, I always prefer to skip out on having carrots, cucumber, or potatoes in my meals.
What you must try: Any of the curries or papaya salads, and munch on the fried seaweed snacks as a starter.
What to skip: The fried tempeh wasn’t fantastic and neither was the roti (seen above).
Worth noting: One of the few places that’s open late, last order is at 8:45 PM. They don’t serve alcohol and have a 5-star rating on HappyCow. Don’t be a jerk and work here as they only have a few tables.
AMA VEGAN KITCHEN
Ama Vegan Kitchen (Google Maps) is quite far from town, especially for those of us that can’t drive a motorbike) so I only made it here once in my last few days and I seriously regret it. The staff here are incredibly kind, the portions are massive, the prices reasonable, the ambiance soothing, and there were about 10 tiny kittens napping on the couch–what’s not to love? Dishes are made to order and prepared with organic veggies and don’t overuse oil.
What you must try: All of the Burmese and unique veggie salads were amazing! I’ve heard great things about the cauliflower steak from other guests but they were all out on the day I visited.
What to skip: I’m not the biggest fan of noodle soups and didn’t love the one I tried here but it was massive. They have vegan ice cream but it looked the same as the cartons I tried at Mild Kitchen and Blue Diamond which were both incredibly underwhelming.
What you need to know: Ama Vegan Kitchen is located on the ground floor of iCheck inn Trams Square Chiang Mai so if you’re doing a workcation consider staying here. Don’t let the distance scare you, Ama Vegan Kitchen has a 5-star rating on HappyCow!
KHUN KAE JUICE BAR
Khun Kae Juice Bar (Google Maps) is the most budget-friendly place in Chiang Mai to get a smoothie bowl, and they’re fantastic! There are about 5 options to choose from and each is 80 baht, about $2.50. You can swap out ingredients in the smoothie bowl and even add in boosters such as spirulina, cacao, and turmeric. They also have an assortment of healthy elixirs and fresh-pressed wheatgrass shots.
What you must try: Anything! I’ve had the chocolate, berry, and green smoothie bowls and each was delicious.
What you need to know: Almost all of the fruit is locally sourced but some ingredients, like berries, are frozen and may contain extra sugar. The juice bar is small and it’s not appropriate to work from one of their few tables. Khun Kae started as a juice stall and has expanded due to their dependable healthy juices and fantastic service.
CHIANG MAI BREAD
I typically don’t even bother with eating bread in Asia as it’s usually disappointing but Chiang Mai Bread (Google Map) is just as good as any bread I’ve had in Europe or the U.S. All of the bread at the bakery is vegan and they also sell an assortment of other treats such as hummus, peanut butter (oil and sugar free), vegan butter and cheese, kombucha, and vegan soy candles! There are a variety of breads baked daily (Chiang Mai Bread is closed on Sunday and Monday) including sourdough, whole wheat, rye, raisin, and more. They sell out fast so be sure to order in advance (delivery is 50 baht) or arrive at the bakery around noon when they open. Although Chiang Mai Bread is a bit out of the way it’s worth going to pick up your bread in the shop as the owner is absolutely lovely.
VEGAN-FRIENDLY CAFES, RESTAURANTS, AND FOOD STALLS IN CHIANG MAI
CLAY STUDIO COFFEE IN THE GARDEN
Clay Studio Coffee in the Garden (Google Map) is part of what made me first fall in love with Chiang Mai in 2015. Back then it was still a small cafe in a terracotta arts garden and workshop overrun with bits and pieces of Buddhist statues. I came here after receiving my first Sak Yant tattoo blessing. Fast forward and the garden has been completely renovated and expanded to The Faces next door. I still find this cafe to be the most peaceful in Chiang Mai. The numerous Buddhist imagery scattered around the lush garden settings makes it incredibly beautiful.
Not only is Clay Studio stunning, but they also make the very best rendition of satay sauce in the world. Seriously, every time I go I ask if I can buy a jar of the peanut sauce and they always just laugh. Get the veggie fresh spring rolls and ask for extra sauce. I also love the mango sticky rice which is probably the most beautiful rendition of this dish I’ve ever seen with the personal sized portions. Clay Studio is not strictly vegan but they do have soy milk and make an excellent iced soy green tea matcha.
What you must try: THE PEANUT SAUCE. It will not disappoint.
What to skip: The veggie curry with rice is quite underwhelming.
What you need to know: Clay Studio Coffee in the Garden isn’t vegan or vegetarian as it also has meat options. Be sure to ask which items are friendly for a plant-based diet. I was not impressed with the expansion of The Faces, although it’s beautiful it lacks the charm of Clay Studio and is significantly more expensive. If the weather is lovely then you can certainly get a few hours of work done in the peaceful garden but there aren’t many charging ports outside.
LADA VEGGIE STREET FOOD STALL
My absolute favorite way to have dinner in Chiang Mai is to order a dish or two from the bright yellow Lada Veggies street food stall at the Chiang Mai Gate night market. Everything on the menu is 50 baht which is about US$1.50 which is a steal for some dishes, and a bit pricier than average than others. Nonetheless, this stall is a locally owned family business, prepares dishes made to order, has generous portion sizes, and they use plant fiber bowls and take away boxes rather than styrofoam or plastic which the majority of other night market vendors use. These containers aren’t cheap and I applaud the owners for investing in them and our environment. They do still use plastic forks and chopsticks wrapped in plastic so bring your own bamboo cutlery.
What you must try: Mushroom khao soi and green curry. There is a massive menu considering it’s a street stall!
What to skip: They have a few omelets so those wouldn’t be vegan.
What you need to know: Lada Veggies is located in one of the most popular night markets among tourist so the area is usually very busy. This can work to your benefit if you’re traveling with someone who isn’t vegan as they can order whatever meat dish they’d like elsewhere. Beyond the crowds, I should warn you that there are quite a few rats running around the area, but such is part of the experience of eating street food in Southeast Asia. Lada Veggies is open from 5-10 PM Monday-Saturday, they’re closed Sunday and tend to take a week off around various holidays such as Christmas and Songkran.
Morning Glory (Google Map) is a tiny hole-in-the-wall vegetarian spot near the Chiang Mai gate that’s run by a local family. I ended up here whenever the Vada food stall was closed. The prices here are comparable to food stalls with most dishes costing about US$2. The food is prepared fresh and has a spicy kick, so be sure to request mi pet if you don’t want an abundance of chili in your meal. Can you tell I eat khao soi for dinner most nights yet?
What you must try: The vegan khao soi is excellent here as are the curries and the healthy purple rice. I also really like their pad thai.
What to skip: The deep-fried seaweed was too oily to eat and the pumpkin hummus wasn’t great. Stick to ordering traditional Thai dishes.
What you need to know: Morning Glory is almost all plant-based but they do use honey yogurt. Some of my favorite inexpensive massage parlors are on the same street as Morning Glory so be sure to get an US$8 massage before you eat. Morning Glory is closed on Sunday but is open until 9 PM which is late by Chiang Mai standards every other night of the week. They also offer a vegan cooking class.
Pun Pun (Google Map) is the incredible vegetarian restaurant located within the peaceful grounds of the Buddhist temple and burial yard of Wat Suan Dok. The open-air cafe is locally owned and frequented by Buddhist monks and spiritual tourists. They grow their own produce on their organic farm to serve in the cafe making everything fantastic and fresh. Part of their philosophy is to encourage other local farmers to grow produce organically without hormones or pesticides. I had trouble finding Pun Pun the first few times I tried to visit as the Wat Suan Dok area is huge. The restaurant is actually just around the corner from the monk chat building, but if you go inside the monk chat building a monk will be happy to point you in the right direction.
What you must try: I only made it here once but absolutely loved the Pad Thai with cashews although it was quite small and the tempura mushrooms were just right–not too oily and light batter. They also have a fern dish I wanted to try and I’ve heard the curries were great.
What you need to know: Not everything on the menu is plant-based. Pun Pun closes early, at 4 PM. Come around 3 PM for lunch and then explore the temple area before joining the Wat Suan Dok Monk Chat that usually starts around 5 PM. Pun Pun is always closed on Wednesday.
MAYA MALL FOOD COURT VENDORS
In the basement of the Maya Mall (Google Maps) is one of the best food courts in Chiang Mai which is easily the most affordable place to eat in Nimman. Near the entrance where motorbikes can be parked is a nameless vegetarian food stall that has a variety of ready prepared vegan dishes. It costs less than $2 to fill up a plate with a few of the different renditions of the day. My favorite are the jackfruit curry, pad see ew, and morning glory. While I absolutely love jack fruit and couldn’t find it on many menus in Chiang Mai I didn’t frequent this spot too often as their food is incredibly oily. Albiet olive oil, but still too slimy for my taste. They also have an assortment of snacks.
What you must try: Jackfruit curry.
What to skip: The food stall is mostly vegan but they do use egg noodles for their khao soi. They’ve also got a selection of mock meats, I tried the mushroom one but couldn’t eat it as it literally taste and had the texture of pork fat. I’m not a fan of real or fake meat.
What you need to know: The staff are some of the kindest people I’ve had the pleasure to chat with in Chiang Mai. The veggie stall at Maya Mall isn’t open daily and I can’t recall which days of the week it’s closed but not to fret, whenever it’s closed you can get an amazing vegan burrito right next door!
Across the way is the best burrito you can get in Asia at Wrap Master! Thai people can make great Mexican food as they’re used to using lime, cilantro, and chili. Just a year ago Wrap Master was a tiny food truck and now they’ve just renovated their space at the Maya Mall! Order one of the pre-designed burritos for around $3 or create your own with toppings such as tofu, beans, mushrooms, tea leaf salad, corn, and of course, guacamole! Be sneaky and order it take away to take to the movie theater upstairs at Maya Mall.
What you must try: Vegan tealeaf burrito
What you need to know: Wrap Master is not purely vegetarian and they do serve meat. However, they make the tortillas, salsa, and veggie toppings in the house and guarantee that these are vegan.
RUSTIC AND BLUE
Rustic and Blue (Google Maps) is the most aesthetically pleasing cafe in Chiang Mai, and also one of the most expensive. They get away with the costly prices due to the fact that everything they serve is prepared with their ingredients fresh from their farm. But don’t be fooled, many restaurants in Chiang Mai (and a lot of Southeast Asia) are farm to table establishments. You’ll easily spend US$15 or more on a meal here, but it’s well worth it. Once you’ve gotten over the western prices (some smoothie bowls are over 300 baht!) you’ll be able to settle in and cherish this darling spot. Trust me, you won’t be able to resist snapping a few shots to share on Instagram. The back room is a great spot to work for the day, so if you do dine here be sure to get your money’s worth! This is where the cover photo of the Responsible Travel Challenge Series was taken.
What you must try: The veggie burger and smoothie bowls.
What to skip: I didn’t love the vegan matcha latte. Note that they have vegetarian and vegan dishes, but be sure you specify which preparation you need.
What you need to know: They also arrange dinners from time to time on their farm but they usually go for over US$100 a spot.
Mild Kitchen (Google Maps) became one of my go-to spots for affordable and healthy Thai food. The beautiful garden setting was an extra perk and they seem to always be open, even during holidays. They also sell an assortment of beauty products here and also international bottles of wine.
What you must try: I loved the morning glory with garlic and the curried pumpkin with silken tofu and sweet basil. Most dishes are quite small but at about 50 baht each I’d usually order two.
What to skip: I tried many of the vegan cookies and they were all rock solid and tasteless, as was the ice cream. Give the sweets here a pass and instead pick up vegan baked goods from Blue Diamond nearby.
What you need to know: Mild Kitchen is not vegan or vegetarian but they have loads of plant-based options. This is a great place to go with a group as everyone (meat and veggie) is sure to find something they like on their massive menu.
Cooking Love has some of the biggest serving sizes in town and the kindest staff. They actually have two locations, skip the one that’s marked on Google Map (it’s usually full anyway) and ask the staff to show you across the street to the other Cooking Love outpost which an open-air cafe within a hotel. It’s the same exact food, but a much better ambiance! You’re welcome for the tip.
What you must try: The vegan mango curry is so insanely good here that I hardly ate anything else. They also make a great papaya salad but I typically just get these from the market. Cooking love is a great place to take guests and visitors, my mom and sister also loved it!
What you need to know: This isn’t a vegan restaurant so there’s plenty of meat options too. Cross-contamination is likely.
VEGAN-FRIENDLY COFFEE SHOPS
The Baristro in Nimman (Google Map) is my favorite coffee shop in Chiang Mai due to their vegan milk options and crisp ambiance. All of the coffee here is excellent, as is the 5G WiFi. Be sure to try the unique coconut coffee which calls for a shot of espresso to be dropped into fresh coconut juice–it’s pine!
Overstand Coffee is a lively joint with excellent coffee. They have soy milk and also make a similar espresso and coconut water concoction as mentioned above. Overstand Coffee is small and quite popular so head out early if you want to snag a table and forget your laptop, it’s not an ideal spot to work. At the time they had an ongoing promotion where you’d get a free coffee if you posted a picture on social media, you’re welcome for the insider tip! Overstand has locations in the walled Old City (Google Maps) and in Nimman (Google Maps).
YELLOW CRAFTS CAFE
Yellow Crafts Cafe (Google Maps) is a modern coffee shop nearby the Wat Suan Dok temple. Although their pastries aren’t vegan and it’s not a great space to work from they do make their own fresh soy milk daily. The coffee is quite small and expensive here but if you’ve never had homemade soy milk it’s worth stopping by for at least one coffee while you’re in Chiang Mai.
Art Roastery (Google Maps) is easily one of the most picturesque cafes in Chiang Mai with its gorgeous tiles, outdoor seating area, indoor greenhouse cafe, and small koi pond. They have almond milk but vegans be warned that they have several caged birds here. Because of this I only visited once.
If you prefer to work from a cafe where you’ll be surrounded by flowers then head across the Ping River to the beautiful Woo Cafe (Google Maps). The gorgeous restaurant has indoor and outdoor seating adorned with a massive bouquet of vibrant flowers, decadent cakes (sadly not vegan), and a lifestyle boutique that will seriously break the bank. They have soy milk and during the week you can set up camp here for a few hours at one of the communal tables to get some work done. The menu doesn’t have many veggie dishes so plan to eat lunch elsewhere.
The cafe at Trace Hotelistro (Google Map) serves a pine soy milk latte but what’s even more memorable is their assortment of five vegan smoothie bowls. Sure, you can get your typical berry or green bowl, but why not really live it up and indulge in the decadent vegan snickers smoothie bowl complete with chocolate, peanut butter, and other gooey goodness. They’ve also recently opened a cocktail bar in their gorgeous outdoor patio and occasionally have outdoor movie screenings!
AKHA AMA CAFE
Akha Ama Coffee doesn’t have plant-based milks, but if you love coffee don’t disregard this social enterprise. They sell their excellent fair trade, locally grown sustainable coffee and can grind it to whatever consistency you’d prefer. Responsible travelers will also be thrilled to learn that they have banned single-use plastic straws and serve all chilled drinks with metal straws which are also available for purchase. I loved the Italian blend and used a French press to make this fantastic coffee at home every morning. As I made coffee from home most mornings I didn’t frequent that many coffee shops in Chiang Mai. Fortunately, I lived around the corner from the Santintam (Google Map) outpost for the month of April but they also have a location within the Old City (Google Map).
HONORABLE MENTIONS WITH VEGAN FOOD OPTIONS
I only made it to Bodhi Tree (Google Map) once towards the end of my last stay in Chiang Mai and regret not going more often! The pad thai (pictured above) and morning glory was great, they also have yoga classes and other events here. I love the vegan fried rice options at Tikky Cafe (Google Maps) and the gorgeous ambiance at the cafe, they even adorn dishes with orchids. The Falafelist (Google Map) and By Hand Pizza Cafe (Google Map) are both owned by Dutch expats and serve incredible vegan eats when you’re in the mood for something other than Thai food. Both restaurants are notoriously slow, so don’t show up when you’re starving. By Hand Pizza Cafe is the best pizza I’ve had in Asia, even though they don’t have vegan cheese, the wood fire oven pesto vegan pizza is so yummy! If you’re craving Indian cuisine head to Accha in Nimman as they have an assortment of vegan dishes such as chana masala and roti, without ghee of course. Vegan food is known as Jain in Hindi based on the Jain religion which calls for no living creature to be harmed. For Mexican food other than burritos head to Salsa Kitchen (Google Map) where they have a full-page of vegan options including nachos with vegan cheese!
OTHER SPOTS WITH VEGAN FOOD THAT I JUST DIDN’T LOVE (SORRY)
There are so many incredible places to eat in Chiang Mai that there’s no reason to have a lousy meal. Sadly these places didn’t make the cut for me. Let me explain…
MY SECRET CAFE IN TOWN
Although this is one of my favorite spots to work for a morning and indulge on vegan lemon poppy seed cake the remainder of the menu isn’t very vegan-friendly, there’s a sandwich and a noodle dish but they’re super lackluster. They do have live music here on Tuesday nights and sell my favorite local beer, Chiang Mai Weizen. Don’t write this place off altogether, just don’t come here for a meal.
ALICE’S ORGANIC VEGETARIAN
This is one of those sneaky places that advertise that they’re vegetarian but really the majority of their menu has meat. It’s also extremely overpriced which is likely because they use 100% organic ingredients, but as you can tell from this list, that isn’t so hard to come by in Chiang Mai. It’s also owned by an American who maybe forgot that he’s in Thailand and instead decided to sell dishes for the same price that they’d go for back home? I had vegan tom yum here which was beautifully presented in a coconut but it was triple the cost of the same dish elsewhere. I didn’t taste a difference, so it didn’t really justify the price in my opinion. Do come here at some point though to treat yourself to their vegan brownie.
The farang in Chiang Mai won’t like me for this one but I find Food4Thought to be completely overrated. They do have a few vegan dishes, but you’ll pay more to make vegan substitutes, even if the ingredients are less expensive. The few dishes I tried weren’t fantastic which is too bad as they are much more expensive than other places that serve similar fare. If you have a bagel craving though this is the place to go, just plan on spending a pretty penny to curb your carb desires. The coffee here is excellent though as is the kombucha. They also have an array of events geared towards nomads so it’s wise to keep this place on your radar, just eat elsewhere.
Another place that long-term travelers in Chiang Mai love is Blue Diamond but this place always disappointed me, even though it’s quite a beautiful garden setting. The management staff is so rude and I always saw at least five rats every time I ate here. They serve plenty of meat options but also a few veggie-friendly ones. I tried their salads and avocado toast but it was a real waste of money as I make these dishes better myself, and for a fraction of the price. Once, we were given frozen avocado, even though there was a crate of almost too ripe avocado right out front. Customer service is clearly not important here. You also have to pay to charge your computer, which is fine, but there are other places where you can work for free as long as you eat and have some drinks and snacks. The only worthwhile reason to go to Blue Diamond is for the pastries, the vegan cupcake, cookies, and cinnamon rolls are fantastic. Don’t buy the bread here, it’s sad in comparison to Chiang Mai Bread. You can also pick up some organic and locally produced beauty products and various dry ingredients here but they’re much cheaper elsewhere.
Another well-loved spot that I didn’t enjoy is Aum Vegetarian. To me, the food here is what meat eaters assume vegan eats are like, blanched and flavorless. If you’re on a raw diet perhaps this would be a good spot for you.
To be fair I’m not really one to crave a salad when I’m traveling, hence my epic weight gain in Asia. I just can’t bring myself to eat a plate of raw veggies every day when there are so many traditional foods to taste. I designed my own salad, tried the fried tofu, and the vegan mac n cheese and all were pretty terrible and tasteless.
PURE VEGAN HEAVEN
This is one of the only spots in Nimman to get vegan food so I was eager to love it here but I just didn’t. The vegan pasta dishes pale in comparison to the similar offering at Goodsouls, and at Pure Vegan Heaven their almost double the price. I have heard the Mexican food is pretty good here and will give it a try next time I’m in town as I find it hard to resist vegan cheese! I saw a massive rat here which I don’t think is acceptable at an upscale spot.
TASTE FROM HEAVEN, VEGAN HEAVEN, AND VEGAN HEAVEN 2
I don’t think Taste From Heaven is related to Pure Vegan Heaven/Vegan Heaven/Vegan Heaven 2, but I could be wrong. The best thing about Taste From Heaven/Vegan Heaven/Vegan Heaven 2 is that they’re locally owned by a Thai woman. However, the vegan dishes at all three spots (yes, I ate at them all) just aren’t as great as the vegan Thai food you can get elsewhere in Chiang Mai. I tried several dishes and the food was always mediocre. Note that Taste From Heaven isn’t purely vegan but is vegetarian. The vegan coconut ice cream is great here but the portion is tiny and one scoop costs more than US$1 if I remember correctly! I also saw a lot of rats at Taste From Heaven.
Sadly this is another vegetarian spot in the Old City that just didn’t excite me with their food. It’s often crowded but I think it’s just due to the prime location near many budget-friendly accommodations and not because of their cuisine.
IMM AIM VEGETARIAN CAFE
The owner of this cafe is so incredibly lovely that I hate to say my meal was disappointing here, but it was. The portions were also super duper small. I had tasted a few of the Indian dishes but to be fair I was comparing them to the incredible vegan food I had in India. I’d give this place another chance and instead try some of their Thai dishes. They’re very well known for their vegan pad thai which sadly I didn’t know about at the time! They use egg here so not everything is vegan so if you do dine here be sure to ensure your meal is plant-based. Otherwise, they use all-natural locally sourced fruits and veggies and prepare food in a clean way with minimal oil. At Imm Aim Trash Hero reusable water bottles are sold and can be filled up with filtered drinking water free.
Cat House is known for their unique menu that combines Burmese, Mexican, and Thai cuisine. I found the atmosphere to be a bit crowded for such a small space and was really disappointed with the tea leaf salad I had here so I didn’t go back to try anything else. They do serve black rice which is very nutritious!
Again, this is another popular spot that I’ll probably get ridiculed for not liking but I found Amrita Garden to be completely overrated. The seating arrangements are awkward, the massive menu is confusing and they were sold out of three different things I was keen to try. I ended up getting a mango quinoa salad and veggie burger but both were gross for a lack of a better word. They do have plenty of macrobiotic foods and kimchi so if that’s your thing you’ll probably love it here but be prepared to pay more here than other pretty cafes set in gardens. Trash Hero reusable water bottles can be bought at Amrita Garden and filled up with potable water for free.
CHIANG MAI RESTAURANTS WITH VEGAN FARE I DIDN’T TRY, YET!
There are so many amazing places to eat in Chiang Mai and after being properly turned off by all of the spots listed in the section above I began to stick to my favorite places to ensure I’d enjoy a yummy meal. There are quite a few places that are highly recommended that I hope to try next time in Chiang Mai. Let me know if they’re worth it or not in the comments, please!
Anchan Vegetarian Restaurant (Google Map) in Nimman seems like an exciting spot as their menu is always rotating based on the mood of the chef and seasonal produce–apparently, 80% of the menu is vegan at all times. I also can’t stop laughing at their awesome slogan, which will resonate with anyone who has had to explain to meat eaters than they have plenty of options without eating animals–“Vegetarian food so delicious you won’t miss the meat.” Fuang Vegetarian (Google Map) is a locally owned vegan-friendly restaurant in the Chiang Mai Old City that I’ve been told is tasty and cheap. I was so bummed I didn’t make it to the beautiful Pink House Garden (Google Map) with its bungalow seating and vegan cakes. I actually stayed right next door to Happy Green (Google Map) at Maraya Resort (which is lovely but not vegan-friendly) and I really missed out! Happy Green is a vegetarian all-you-can-eat buffet for 140 baht with most of the dishes being vegan.
WHY NOT STAY IN A VEGAN-FRIENDLY ACCOMMODATION IN CHIANG MAI?
If you book a room at Green Tiger House on Booking.com you get breakfast included from Reform Kafe and access to their small yet gorgeous swimming pool talk about a win-win.
Another vegan-friendly place to stay is the vegetarian retreat, Away Chiang Mai Thapae Resort which can be reserved on Booking.com. This spot also includes breakfast and has a swimming pool.
Trace Hotelistro not only serves the most spectacular vegan smoothie bowls in town, but they also have accommodation options, which I’m sure you could guess from the name. Breakfast isn’t included but you’d be really illogical not to have a vegan smoothie bowl and soy latte from the gorgeous Trace cafe before heading out to explore Chiang Mai!
iCheck inn Trams Square Chiang Mai has serviced apartments in the same building as the lovely Ama Vegan Kitchen as well as a swimming pool. It’s far enough from the city to be peaceful, but close enough to get to town in less than 10 minutes.
If you’re keen to experience a yoga retreat as you travel around Thailand don’t miss out on the Suan Sati vegan eco-friendly retreat. Located just 30 minutes outside of Chiang Mai Suan Sati. Prices vary based on your room choice between dorm rooms or private bamboo bungalows. A week in a dorm room including three home-cooked vegan meals, twice daily immersive yoga practices, twice daily vipassana meditation sessions, unlimited coffee, and tea is just US$261.
Bodhi Tree Cafe has a few a private stand-alone rooms that they rent out to travelers. A month rental in the most basic bungalow will only set you back $108 so I’m seriously considering living here next time I’m in Chiang Mai. Guests also get a great deal on yoga classes, just 200 baht for 90-minute classes. Breakfast is not included.
Amrita Garden operates a modest traditional Thai-style homestay above their cafe with two guestrooms. Breakfast isn’t included and to check in outside of set hours incurs an extra fee.
Headed to Chiang Mai from overseas? Book flights two months in advance to get the best fare. If you’re already in Thailand you can book bus and train tickets to Chiang Mai from other cities with foreign credit cards without hassle on Baolau or 12Go.
Have you had any vegan foodie experiences in Chiang Mai that I missed? Share them below in the comments.
Thank you A Chefs Tour and Take Me Tour for hosting me. This post contains affiliate links. Please read the Miss Filatelista disclosure policy for more information.