Famed for its glittering temples, friendly locals and jaw-dropping scenery, no self-respecting traveller will leave Thailand without discovering its world-famous cuisine. On my trip to Northern Thailand, I’ve been blown away by the sheer volume and variety of local dishes on offer.
Chiang Rai in particular provides a vast range of authentic dishes that burst with colour and flavour; satisfying even the most discerning foodie. Feeling spoilt for choice? Here are the top five foods you can’t afford to miss on your Northern Thailand trip.
1. Chicken Khao Soi
Noodles in a creamy coconut broth? Check. Tender chicken thigh? Check. A crispy egg noodle topping? Check. Top it off with some greens and just a hint of chilli and you’ve got yourself the perfect chicken Khao Soi. Can’t handle the heat? Ask for “nit noi” (a little bit of spice) and add more as you go.
If you find yourself in Chiang Rai, head to Khao Soi Wijitra to enjoy a top-quality bowl on the terrace.
2. Akha Omelette
Forget everything you think you know about omelette – the Akha version is anything but plain. A firm favourite among this Northern Thai hilltribe, Akha omelette makes use of local ingredients such as garlic leaf, fresh spring onion and ginger, cooked in egg. Bursting with flavour and texture, Akha omelette is perfect for both breakfast and lunch.
3. Akha Chilli Paste
Akha cuisine is all about using fresh, seasonal and local ingredients. Here, home-grown spring onion, grilled chilli and local tomatoes combine to create this famous Akha side dish. Simply dip crispy lettuce leaves or cucumber in the sauce, to enhance the spicy and tangy flavour.
4. Crispy Tempura
From coffee leaves, to jasmine flowers, Northern Thailand offers a wide range of unique tempura options. Simply dip it in sauce and enjoy!
5. Arabica Coffee
Think Thailand is all about tea? Think again! The Chiang Rai region is famous for growing Arabica coffee, often cultivated by the area’s hilltribes. At the Akha Mudhouse (Chiang Rai), you can start the day with a cup of local coffee, whilst enjoying the deep smoky flavours of a smooth blend which was grown and roasted in the surrounding valley.
This is just a small selection of Northern Thailand’s culinary highlights, but the region has something to offer anyone eager to experience authentic Thai cuisine.
Which of the five dishes would you try first?