Chiang Mai is a mecca for vegan food in Thailand. The country’s Rose of the North — and the second largest city behind Bangkok — has no shortage of vegan options and eating gin jai. Sure, you can eat fish-sauce-free curry and stir-fried veggies all day. But, what about other options? We’re so glad you asked.
As part of our research for our upcoming vegan tour of Thailand, we’ve been spending more time devouring all the food Chiang Mai has to offer. Where to get the best vegan food in Chiang Mai? Check out this round-up of some of our top vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants in Chiang Mai (please note, prices are not street food prices unless noted, they are between $5 – $10 for most dishes).
PS — before you head to Thailand, take a minute to learn about how the elephants are treated. We spent years working with Save Elephant Foundation learning about the realities of elephants used for tourism.
TL;DR: here’s a map with our favorite vegan food in Chiang Mai.
Pure Vegan Heaven
This open-air restaurant features a full vegan menu packed with options for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Chow down at Pure Vegan Heaven on western eats like sweet potato pancakes or a heaping falafel pita or order up one of their fresh fruit juices (we dig the turmeric ginger lemonade). Don’t forget to save room for dessert — their chocolate pudding is divine.
Pure Vegan Heaven also has Thai food, as well as raw eats. We ate here a lot. And could have eaten here every day if it wasn’t for the fact that there were so many other places to discover. This spot is a gem and features one of the most creative and flavorful whole plant food menus in the city. Opened in December 2017, make sure to swing by here at least once. If not a million times. Nimmana Haeminda Rd Lane 11
By Hand Pizza Cafe
Need a break from Thai food? By Hand Pizza, located down a tiny soi in the Old City is your answer. Arrive early — although it’s got quite a few seats, By Hand Pizza is a popular spot. The artisan pizza restaurant taps into a wood-burning over to churn out these delicacies, including four vegan pies. Choose from the Vegan Veggie pizza with tomato sauce, artichokes, onions, eggplant, mushrooms and a crust sprinkled with pink Himalayan salt, the Red Alert with tomato sauce, sun-dried tomatoes and cherry tomatoes, grated garlic, crushed red pepper and crushed cashews, the Green Vegan with pesto, eggplant, ‘shrooms, capers and salt on the crust or the Umami Vegan Dream covered with mushrooms, eggplant, tomatoes, pesto and tomato sauce, plus truffle oil. They don’t offer non-dairy cheese, but the flavors are pretty decent, so there’s no need. Plus, they have spicy 0live oil, which gives it a gorgeous little kick. 25 Moon Muang Rd Lane 7
Reform Kafe, a part of the vegetarian Green Tiger Guest House, is an entirely vegan restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. They’ve got western food like bruschetta, creamy fettucine, amazing fries, burgers and more, but what steals the show is their vegan take on the Northern Thai soup, Khao Soi. Nearly impossible to find vegan, this spicy coconut milk soup is a must-try. We also dig that their eats are largely organic and don’t have MSG (which is a thing in Thailand). 1/4 Sripoom Rd. Soi 7
While you can swing over to Cat House for breakfast (they’ve got oatmeal and homemade bread), what you really need to try at this cafe is the lentil burrito available for lunch or dinner. Filled with black rice and salsa (tell them you’re vegan so they hold the cheese) and covered in a lentil curry, this is one of the more unique vegan dishes you’ll discover in Chiang Mai. Other vegan options here include hummus and falafel (there are better spots in town to get this, though, like the Falafelist), spaghetti and Tea Leaf Salad (we’ve got a different spot for this though that is around $1 to enjoy), as well as curries. 8/5 Chaiyapoom Soi 1
Good Souls Kitchen
Owned by the same folks at Reform Kafe, Good Souls Kitchen serves basically the same menu. But, offers something many restaurants in Chiang Mai don’t: walls and air-conditioning. Swing over for breakfast and grab a traditional Thai soup (love!) or tofu scramble, or chow down for lunch or dinner and enjoy their extensive offerings from soups, salads, curries and more to Western favorites like burgers and fries. Side note: their fries are amazing. Eat them. 8/5 Chaiyapoom Soi 1
Blue Diamond Breakfast Club
Blue Diamond Breakfast Club isn’t a vegan restaurant, but it’s ridiculously vegan friendly with heaps of veg options. Head here for a mix of Thai and Western vegan food, plus a large selection of vegan homemade breads, pastries, superfoods and other assorted vegan products like soaps and more. Known for its western breakfasts, our pick is the pancakes with cashews and carrots. Followed by a vegan croissant. Or vegan pastry. They’re a rarity in Thailand, so get ’em while you can! 35/1 Moonmuang Rd. Soi 9
It may be on Loi Kroh (infamous for the bar girls and lady boy scene), but Alice’s Organic is a vegan treasure. It’s menu focuses largely on vegan and raw vegan eats including desserts and chocolates. They’ve also got a heavy focus on health foods and super foods and offer kombucha, veggie proteins and more. Order up the raw zucchini spaghetti with walnut sauce or a super food salad. While others have mentioned a less than stellar experience, we never had a problem and loved the raw options. 74/1 Loi Kroh Rd.
If you’re craving something light and western (they’ve got Thai eats, too, but you’ll pay more Western prices for them), then Salad Concept is the spot. With two locations — Nimman and on the east side of the moat towards the NE corner — Salad Concept offers a lot of vegan options in Chiang Mai. You can create your own salad, order one of the ones they feature on their menu, or try one of their few vegan dishes like the tofu steak with mac and cheese. They also have juices, super food shots and more. 49/9-10 Nimmanhamin Rd. Soi 13, 94 Chai Sri Poom Soi 1
Juicy 4 U
We have a super soft spot for Juicy 4 U since we ate there nearly every single weekday while working for Save Elephant Foundation/Elephant Nature Park with our dear friends Bounding Over Our Steps. The vegetarian/vegan restaurant offers gorgeous build-your-own sandwiches, smoothies, juice shots, desserts and more. And we love them all. They’ve even got a vegan khao soi. Also, check out their wall of juices they offer and the numerous health benefits for each. Ratchamanka 5
Vegan Heaven/Taste From Heaven
Owned by the same company, Vegan Heaven (multiple locations in Chiang Mai) and Taste From Heaven inside the moat offer similar menus that are heavy on the mock meats and veganized versions of non-vegan food. They’ve also got Thai eats, smoothies, teas and more goodness. There’s nothing incredibly special about the food, but if you’re looking for a vegan restaurant in Chiang Mai and some western vegan eats, these fit the bill. Taste From Heaven, 34/1 Ratmakka Rd.
Ice Love You Cafe
Make sure you make it over to Ice Love You at least once in Chiang Mai. This very vegan-friendly ice cream joint offers the largest variety of vegan ice cream we’ve ever seen with some exotic flavors (sadly, they won’t let you sample them). Order up the roti to go with it, and you’ve got a dessert meal. 5 N Rachadamnoen Rd. Soi 7
Nong Bee’s Burmese Restaurant and Library
This tiny little spot in Nimman has our favorite dish: the Burmese Tea Leaf Salad. And, unlike many of the other spots in town serving it up, this one is Thai prices so you’re looking at under $2 for this delicious salad. The restaurant cooks up Burmese and Thai food, but honestly, this is the only thing we ever order from there and a place we frequent. 28 Nimmanhaemin Rd. Soi 13
Free Bird Cafe
The first time we ever went to Free Bird Cafe, it was located in an adorable teak house. Times have changed and the non-profit restaurant aiding Burmese refugees has thankfully grown. Part shop, part workshop space and part restaurant, Free Bird Cafe serves all vegan food (with the exception of honey in a drink) and specializes in Burmese eats like our beloved Tea Leaf Salad. Breakfast is the sweet spot for this cafe, so head there and indulge in pancakes with a smoothie. 116 Maneenopparat Rd.
We can’t have a vegan guide to Chiang Mai and leave out one of the OG’s of vegan dining — Anchan. The award-winning veggie restaurant features a rotating menu of Thai dishes and taps into local vendors. Make a reservation here, Anchan books up and the space isn’t huge. It’s worth the Western prices to treat yourself to a delicious vegan Thai meal here. Nimmana Haeminda, between soi 6 – 10
Bee Vegan – We didn’t get a chance to make it to this Thai spot, but have heard great things about it. It’s Thai prices, so if you’re on a budget and want vegan Thai food in Chiang Mai, it should be on your radar.
Chinese Vegetarian Shops – Located around town, look for yellow flags with red Chinese script. These Chinese vegetarian shops offer up budget-friendly vegan food like mushroom jerky that is one of the best things we’ve ever put in our mouths. For under $2 you can get a plate of vegan food. Our go-to is located in the Old City just up from Chiang Mai Gate.
Food Carts – The main food cart market is located at Chiang Mai Gate and is becoming increasingly vegan-friendly. Stop by Mrs. Pa’s fruit smoothie stand (she’s the best!) and then check out the carts with vegan options.
JJ Market – Every Sunday JJ Market takes place. Aside from the amazing shopping, they also have a massive food market with inexpensive produce (a heaving bag of passion fruit for under $2!!), as well as prepared foods that are vegan ranging from purple potato bread to spicy jackfruit and more.
Bonus: Where to Stay
Away Chiang Mai is one of the only vegetarian/vegan resorts in the city. Tucked into a soi off of Loi Kroh (where all the lady boy bars are and a quick walk to the Night Bazaar) and across from the Old City, Away Chiang Mai is a lush oasis featuring an organic restaurant, sparkling pool and gorgeous rooms with comfortable beds — a sleeping delicacy in Thailand!
Where’s your favorite place to eat vegan food in Chiang Mai? Let us know!
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Diana Edelman is the founder of Vegans, Baby. She previously lived and worked in Thailand where she spent years working for an elephant sanctuary and has traveled around the world speaking about the realities of elephant tourism. She is a public speaker who has appeared at SEED Food + Wine, VegFest Puerto Rico, VegFest Toronto and more, a journalist and entrepreneur. Diana is also behind the Vegas Vegan Dinners at James Beard Foundation’s James Beard House.