Photography Corner: Street Food of Chiang Mai

ATMA SEVA generally uses our Photography Corner as a way to highlight smaller and lesser known places around Thailand, usually including temples and cultural sights.  These are all wonderful insights and amazing places to see and I am so glad to have seen them through the Photo Corners.  However, I have seen a noticeable lack of the wonderful, amazing, beautiful…. delicious street food that Thailand has to offer!

As an on-site intern in Chiang Mai I have been partaking in many of the street foods and food stalls that can be found around the city and have found many hidden (or not so hidden) gems.  The foods range from fresh fruit and smoothies to grilled meats and fried snacks.  There are noodle stands with the ever famous pad thai and noodle soups to salad stands with deliciously fresh papaya and other fruit salads.

The options are endless! And cheap!  With a smoothie running you about 20-30 baht (less than a dollar) and salads and noodle options in the dollar to two dollar range I have been able to try so many items and yet feel like I have barely scratched the surface.  I generally go to a few main places near my house but you can find food on just about any corner in Chiang Mai at any time of the day (or night!).

Some of my favorite locations include a market for students right across from Chiang Mai University, the Sunday night walking street, the Chiang Mai Gate Market, and a night markett off of Huay Gaew on the way to Chiang Mai University.  One of my absolute favorites is at Chiang Mai gate where you can find Mrs. Pa’s smoothie stand.  She makes the most ridiculously delicious smoothies I have ever tasted!  She lets you chose any amount of different fruits from her smorgasbord of options, sugar or no sugar, and then blends them up to perfect consistency while smiling, chatting and working on the next smoothie in line at the same time.  And all for 20 baht! Her smoothies are SO good that she has had several articles written about her including one on CNN’s travel site which you can see here:

A huge part of what makes Mrs. Pa, the smoothies, noodles, soups and all of the other food so great is that I am always greeted with a smile 🙂 and even though we may not understand each other completely every person has been so gracious and so willing to make sure that I walk away happy with some delicious food in hand.  It is a win-win situation: great food and great experience!  Needless to say I am quite in love with the street food of Chiang Mai and its vendors!

So without further ado, here are some pictures of my favorite foods and places to get them in Chiang Mai!

WARNING: All pictured foods are very delicious.  Drooling on your keyboard may ensue.  We take no responsibility for damaged keys.  Thank you and enjoy!

Amy Kaylor, on-site intern


Bhutanese Food

Bhutanese culture today stands up to be one of the most unique cultures in the world. Talking of its distinctiveness, especially the well-bred Bhutanese food culture has always been an auxiliary force.

5Almost all Bhutanese meals consist of boiled (or steamed) rice along with one or more curries. Rice can be either white polished rice called Ja Chum, which usually is imported from India, or locally grown red rice called Eue Chum. Three meals a day is typical and it is not uncommon for these three meals to all consist of rice and curry. Suja (butter tea) is also an integral part of the meals. Locally prepared alcohols like Ara and Singchang, distilled from rice, maize, wheat or barley depending on which crop is grown in that place, is generally served during /after dinner.

Aema Datshi, chilli pepper and cheese

Aema Datshi, chilli pepper and cheese

However, these local alcohols are redundant in villages while for the people dwelling in urban place the imported ones are more soothing. In Bumthang however, the staple food of rice is often substituted by buckwheat pancakes (Khuli/ Kepthang) and noodles (Puta) although consumption of rice is subsequently increasing because of its easy access. Buckwheat foods almost sound quaint having them often but people do heed them for their delicious taste.

3Bhutanese dishes are known for its simplicity and taste. They are easy in preparing and yet delicious. One of the distinguishing traits of Bhutanese dishes is the ubiquitous chilli. Chillies too have varieties such as fresh green chilli, dried red chilli and chilli powder. Among all the dishes, the hot chilli pepper and cheese, ‘Aema Datshi’, has always taken its toll in defining Bhutan’s sole culture to a new perch. It is often considered to be the national dish of Bhutan. Aema Datshi has propelled many other variations such as kewa datsi (stewed potato, chilli and cheese), and Shamu Datsi (stewed mushroom, chilli and cheese).

Mealtime often means loosening oneself up, a way or a perfect time to socialize with other family member amidst their busy schedule. Family members sit with their knees folded, in an arrangement that resembles more or less a circle. The mother/wife usually sitting in the middle takes the initiative in serving the rest. Maintaining a sturdy sense of dinning etiquette forms an essential part in Bhutanese culture.

Click here to see travel options for Bhutan!

Jigme Namgyel, research intern