I recently spent seven weeks in Chiang Mai, and I didn’t make it to all the vegan eateries. Yep, that’s right. Forty nine days – a total of 147 meals (ahem, plus snacks) – and there was still a bunch of untapped vegan temptations. Admittedly I didn’t eat out for nearly all of my 147 meals, and a few places were so good I went back multiple times. But even so, for a city of around 200,000 people, Chiang Mai has a seriously impressive number of vegan and vegetarian cafes and restaurants.
These were my highlights. Note that I’ve mentioned whether they’re open for breakfast, lunch and/or dinner, but I haven’t included exact hours or days they’re closed – these can change quickly and may vary depending on season.
My first visit to Amrita Gardens involved vegan lasagne and a few bites of my partner’s hot soba noodles… and I knew I’d be back. After lots of stir fries and Thai curries I’d been craving a western meal and the lasagne was perfect: tomatoey, gooey, deliciousness.
On subsequent visits, I also sampled the vegan bolognese (pictured below); my partner’s vegan quiche (pictured above) and tempeh ribs. There’s a focus here on macrobiotics, and the food goes beyond being tasty – it felt nourishing for both my body and soul.
The setting contributes to that feeling of nourishment. Located down a quiet (by Thai standards) laneway, it features a lush garden courtyard complete with a water feature. It’s the kind of cafe I could spend half a day in , eating slowly, drinking kombucha, possibly doing some work, or maybe just soaking up the ambience.
It’s located just a few minutes’ walk from Suan Buak Haad Park, in the corner of the old city. On most days the park is home to an acroyoga jam, massage exchanges, contact dance, maybe some slack-lining, and great people-watching. Lots of ways to build up an appetite before wandering over to Amrita Garden!
A couple of final notes: Amrita Garden is vegetarian, but not strictly vegan. Some meals include dairy. There are several GF options.
The wifi is good when it works but it’s not always working. All the better to put your work aside and enjoy the atmosphere.
Open for lunch and dinner; find it at: 2/1 Samlan Road Soi 5, T prasing, Amphoe Mueang, Chiang Mai.
A relatively new addition to Chiang Mai’s vegan scene, GoodSouls Kitchen has a slick interior and an expansive, entirely vegan menu including western and Thai dishes. It’s home to possibly the best vegan burger I’ve ever eaten. Allow me to introduce you:
This here is a beetroot chickpea burger. There’s also a mushroom burger and a quinoa eggplant burger, both of which are also fabulous. The chips that come with them are chunky, potatoey perfection. But if you’re not quite hungry enough for all those carbs (I’m often not) you can get a mushroom steak or beetroot chickpea steak – essentially, the burger patty served with salad.
I can also personally verify that the spring rolls, eggplant wrap, and cucumber beetroot salad are excellent. Yes, I ate here a few times.
However, my partner is something of a Khao Soi connoisseur, and he was underwhelmed by GoodSouls’ Khao Soi – okay, but unexciting. Maybe sticking with western meals here is the way to go.
GoodSouls offers a few vegan desserts, including the coconut cheesecake pictured below. Good, not amazing. In general I wasn’t blown away by any of the raw cakes I had in Chiang Mai (I guess that’s the downside to being pretty good at making something yourself… no-one else’s quite matches up).
GoodSouls Kitchen is in the north west corner of the Old City. Wifi is reliable and pretty quick. Service is generally good; occasionally you wait a while.
Open for breakfast (from 9am), lunch and dinner; find it at: 52/2 Singharat Rd, Chiang Mai.
Aum Vegetarian Restaurant
While I’d recommend GoodSouls if your feel like a western food fix, Aum Vegetarian Restaurant is one my top picks for Thai food. They also have some great sushi.
There’s a good selection of appetisers including fresh spring rolls (below) and yummy gyoza.
Then go crazy on stir fries. This is good, traditional Thai food that’s a little healthier than most. In my experience, the staff were happy to answer questions and modify dishes upon request. There are also some western dishes available. I didn’t try them; my gut feeling was to stick with the local cuisine here.
The vibe is very casual – think low tables and floor cushions. Aum Vegetarian Restaurant is located just south of the Old City.
As the name suggests, this restaurant is vegetarian, but most dishes are vegan and they’re clearly marked on the menu.
Open for lunch and dinner; find it at: 8/8 Suriyawong Alley, Tambon Hai Ya, Amphoe Mueang, Chiang Mai.
Happy Green is a couple of kilometres south of the city, on the banks of the Ping River. It might be out of the way, it’s well worth a visit. The highlight is the buffet lunch – a huge selection of organic, vegan Thai dishes for a ridiculously cheap price.
Apparently you can also order specific dishes, but the buffet always seemed too good to pass up. It was also so tasty that I always dug straight into my meal without taking any photos.
The fruit shakes are also great – using seasonal, local fruit, some of which is grown on the property.
The location is beautiful – the dining space is outdoors (under cover) over looking a garden full of papayas and butterflies and the river.
Open for lunch and early dinner (closes at 7pm); find it at: 4/3 Moo 3, Pa Daet, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai.
Other special mentions…
Bird’s Nest Cafe
Bird’s Nest Cafe operates as a social enterprise, with profits supporting refugees from Myanmar. There’s also a charity shop (second-hand clothes etc) out the back. I love the ethos; I love the cosy vibe; I wanted to love the food. Some of it was great (best samosas I’ve ever eaten; great chai) The pad Thai and Khao Soi were nice but unremarkable. Still worth a visit!
Open for breakfast (from 9am) and lunch; find it at: Manee Nopparat Rd, Tambon Si Phum, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Mai.
I didn’t get around to having a meal here, but did try their vegan cinnamon scrolls. Decadent as anything (I’m assuming they’re made from white flour and a whole lot of sugar) but if you feel like a treat they’re well worth it.
Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner; find it at: 270 Ratchapakhinai Rd, Thesaban Nakhon Chiang Mai, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Mai.
Wrap Master has an outlet in the food court at Maya shopping centre, and a food truck. While they’re not vegan or even vegetarian, they make amazing vegan burritos – the Maya outlet has one vegan option; the food truck has a few.
Open for lunch and dinner; find it at: Maya lifestyle shopping center FL B1, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai, and the truck on Nimman (sometime called Nimmanhaemin) Rd between Soi 4 and Soi 2.