Last Updated on June 12, 2022
Chiang Mai is the largest city in northern Thailand, and it feels like a village out of a Pixar movie. The place is full of friendly people from all over the world and the cuisine is most definitely unique. Here we’ll be listing the best places to visit when you want to treat yourself to some delicious khao soi in the city, which is something you should definitely do to fully submerge yourself in the Chiang Mai experience.
What is Khao Soi?
A beautifully seasoned, coconut milk-based chicken or beef broth with crispy noodles on top… If you like what you’re hearing, you won’t be able to help drooling over this dish. Khao soi is Chang Mai’s classic noodle soup that’s a true hit among both locals and foreigners.
Khao soi is a very popular dish in Chiang Mai. So much so that it’s almost synonymous with the city, and it comes on top of every local’s list of things to do in Chiang Mai. It’s spicy, savory, creamy, zesty, and very rich, and we’re already sure you’re going to love it even if you haven’t tried it yet.
The traditional soup is made of egg noodles, meat broth, coconut milk, and lots of spices, from ginger to curry. The end result is a filling and rich spicy coconut noodle soup with a thick broth and crispy noodles on top.
When you order khao soi in a restaurant, you’ll notice that the dish is almost always served with a couple of relishes on the side — pickled cabbage, red onions, a squeeze of lime, and some roasted chili flakes. You can add these to your plate as you please to adjust the dish to your palate — there are so many flavor combos to try.
Khao soi also comes in 3 different versions: beef, chicken, and pork. We recommend you try all of them since each one offers a slightly different interpretation of the same complex flavor profile.
Khao Soi is an Authentic Dish
Khao soi is sometimes called the Thai version of laksa — the spicy noodle soup widely popular in Southeast Asia. Although khao soi has similarities with laksa, like its creamy broth and the signature spiciness, khao soi, with its egg noodles rather than rice noodles, is a bit more robust, while laksa is a rice noodle soup that includes fresh garnishes like cilantro, bean sprouts, and cabbage. Plus, the noodles on top in khao soi are fried until crispy, which adds a unique contrasting texture to the dish. Yum!
What to Look for in a Good Khao Soi?
The most important indication of a good khao soi is the color of its broth. If the broth is made correctly it’ll take up the color of meat — a murky darkish rather than milky color, thanks to the addition of curry. The paste that makes the base of the soup is made of chiles, shallots, garlic, ginger, coriander, turmeric, and curry powder. That base is then enriched with coconut milk, meat broth, meat pieces, egg noodles, and other ingredients, depending on the chef.
The Best Khao Soi Restaurants in Chiang Mai
So now you know what khao soi is and what you should expect when you order a portion. Now it’s time to talk about where you can get the best. There are literally thousands of places to eat khao soi in Chiang Mai, but here is a list of places that we love and would like to share because, as they say, sharing is caring, especially when good food is involved.
Khao Soi Mae Sai (ร้านข้าวซอยแม่สาย)
If you ask around about the best khao soi in the city, you’re most likely to be directed to this restaurant located in the Mueang district, close to Wat Lok Moli (วัดโลกโมฬี), a Buddhist temple around a thousand years old, and Wat Suan Dok, another Buddhist temple with a distinctive golden dome and tranquil surroundings.
You can reach the restaurant from both of these destinations by foot in less than half an hour, so this restaurant is also a great place to fill your tummy after long hours of sightseeing and visiting some of the historical landmarks.
They serve khao soi here with fresh herbs on top. If you order the chicken khao soi, it’ll come with full chicken drumsticks that are cooked so well that the meat just falls off the bone. The curry broth is really smooth and fragrant and all of the aromas blend perfectly.
If you’re an early bird, or if you’re looking for a way to avoid the scorching heat during the day, this place is perfect as it’s one of the few restaurants that’s open early in the day. Khao soi Maesai is very famous, both among locals and foreigners, so if you go during rush hour, you might have to wait for a table for an hour or so, though, we say it’s totally worth it. On top of that, the khao soi here is reasonably priced — 50 baht for a portion, and it’s top quality. You can also get some lemon or rosella ice tea on the side which is also confirmed to be amazing.
Operating Hours: 8:00am – 4:00pm (Closed on Sundays)
Address: 29/1 Ratchaphuek Alley, Tambon Chang Phueak, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50300, Thailand
Phone Number: +(66) 53-213-284
Khao Soi Khun Yai (ข้าวซอยคุณยาย)
Khao Soi Kun Yai or the grandmother’s khao soi is also situated in between two historical Buddhist temples — Wat Chiang Man (วัดเชียงมั่น) and Wat Lok Moli (วัดโลกโมฬี). It’s very conveniently located, but if you still have a hard time finding it, you can just ask a tuk-tuk driver to take you there.
The restaurant is like a shed without walls, protecting you from the hot sun, and the place is breezy enough to not overwhelm you with the strong aroma of different Thai dishes being cooked on the spot. The atmosphere isn’t as fancy as other places, but it’s relaxed and really pleasant and friendly. You might have to share a table with others, but this is how you make friends abroad.
The khao soi served in Khao Soi Khun Yai is perfectly balanced. It’s not too sweet and the spice is just the right intensity, whereas the price is more than reasonable, only 35 baht. The plate contains a generous amount of meat that melts in your mouth, complementing the smooth curry soup with chewy noodles.
Operating Hours: 10:00am – 2:00pm (Closed on Sundays)
Address: Sri Poom 8 Alley, Tambon Si Phum, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand
Khao Soi Samer Jai (ข้าวซอยเสมอใจ)
Khao Soi Samer Jai is another highly recommended place to get yourself some delicious creamy noodle soup. The restaurant is one of the earliest khao soi dine-ins in the city and their food really shows their experience. It’s located in the Mueang District, close to the Ping Riverbank, but don’t expect a typical restaurant atmosphere, as Khao Soi Samer Jai is more of a fast-food dine-in. However, don’t judge the book by its cover as the place is among the Michelin selection. The place is cozy enough and you’re likely to find space for a big group of people.
Apart from khao soi, you can treat yourself to a fine selection of northern Thai dishes like Khanom jeen or bamee-nam moo. Khanom jeen is a plate of fresh rice noodles, but they are very thin and served in some type of stock such as fish curry, coconut milk, or chili. Bamee-nam moo is also an egg noodle dish with al dente noodles seasoned with chili pepper, sugar, pickled peppers, fish sauce, and pork tenderloin on the side.
Operating Hours: 7:30am – 5:00pm (Open on Sundays)
Address: 391 Fa Ham, Chiang Mai 50000, Thailand
Phone Number: +(66) 81-764-8723
Khao Soi Islam (ร้านข้าวซอยอิสลาม)
Khao Soi Islam is a pretty famous and equally big restaurant. When you go inside, you may find it hard to wait patiently for your meal, because of the delicious curry broth smell that engulfs the place. You can watch how your dish is being prepared as everything pretty much happens in front of your eyes. They have big pans and pots full of broth, noodles, and coconut milk which are mixed in your plate when your order so you get a really non-homogeneous plate that will hit you differently with every bite and gulp.
The khao soi here is very milky, complemented with mild and earthy spices, which is great for those who don’t like spicy food. But if you like your khao soi spicier, you can always add more roasted chili sauce, which we recommend you do, because the chili sauce here is especially delicious.
P.S. If you’re feeling extra hungry, give their famous biryani a try too.
Operating Hours: 7:30am – 5:00pm (Open on Sundays)
Address: Charoen Prathet 1 Alley, Tambon Chang Moi, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50000, Thailand
Phone Number: +(66) 82-392-0142
Khao Soi Loong Prakid Kad Gom (ข้าวซอย ลุงประกิจกาดก้อม)
This restaurant is another top-recommended khao soi place that might give you a flavor overdose (in a good way, of course), with all its smells of delicious curry, broths, and coconut milk. You get a big portion of khao soi, prepared upon your order in front of you, and topped with fresh cilantro. The broth is extra rich and fragrant and goes great with both soft and crispy noodles. Unlike some other khao soi you might have in the city, this one is not sweet at all, so even if you’re a spicy food aficionado, you might want to slurp it all without adding any extra chili.
One thing about Khao Soi Loong Prakid Kad Gom is that it’s as hard to find as it is hard to forget. You can also search for it as Khao Soi Lung Prakit Kad Kom. The place is very famous, and it was even featured in many Thai TV shows, but it looks so unremarkable from the outside that you can easily miss it when you walk by.
Operating Hours: 9:30 am – 4:30 pm (Open on Sundays)
Address: 53 Suriyawong 5 Rd, Tambon Hai Ya, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50100, Thailand
Phone Number: +(66) 83-209-9441
Enjoy Your Time In Chiang Mai!
Chiang Mai is a great city where everyone can find something to enjoy — be it its fantastic nature, authentic streets, history, and of course, cuisine, and khao soi is among the city’s most prized dishes.
But, there are literally thousands of places where you can have a plate of chewy coconut-curry noodle soup, so deciding on just one that makes the best khao soi in Chiang Mai is an almost impossible task. That’s why we listed some of the most raved-about places in town to help you find your way to this Thai delicacy, in all its variations. If just tasting isn’t enough for you, you can always join our khao soi cooking classes in Chang Mai to share the experience of learning to cook this spicy noodle soup with your family and friends.