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Finding a Good Thai Restaurant in Chiang Mai – Chiang Mai, Thailand

Finding a Good Thai Restaurant in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai Thailand

Do you ever wonder why there are so many Thai restaurants and food stalls in Chiangmai? I did, and my Thai wife explains it like this. Why stay home and cook when you can get ready-to-eat food that is cheaper than cooking at home?

Eating out with friends along the river in Chiang Mai
Eating out with friends along the river in Chiang Mai
Most Thais do not cook at home unless they have a big family. By the time you go to the market for fresh ingredients, prepare and cook and eat the food, hours have been wasted. Most of the ingredients last only a day or so, so much gets thrown out. The price of cooking gas just to cook for two persons is not worth it. So Thais get their food from vendors to take home or go to a restaurant. If you look into a refrigerator in a Thai home you would probably find only water and drinks.

I would like to explain how to find and choose very good Thai restaurants or food vendor so you don’t get sick or ill. Once you have been in Thailand a while, your body will adjust and you will be able to eat almost anything, anywhere. Even my Thai wife gets stomach problems from eating bad food at times and she admits she is not as picky as I when it comes to choosing a food vendor or restaurant but she’s learning.

When choosing a good Thai restaurant, the first thing we think about is taste. During the lunch hour or dinnertime, we look for a restaurant that is full of Thai people. If the restaurant is full of tourists and no Thai people, we know the food is prepared for the foreigner’s taste buds and not real Thai food.

Is the food prepared fresh or is it sitting out like a buffet? Is meat hanging in a glass box or in a covered heated pot? Next I look at the tables and floor – are they clean with no flies? Are paper napkins thrown all over the floor? This is where most people get stomach problems. The food looks great sitting out, but how long has it been there? If the food has been prepared an hour or more ahead of time, you can get very ill. If it is not prepared fresh, stay away from it.

Favorite Dish:

One of our favorite places to eat -The Chiang Mai Floating restaurant
One of our favorite places to eat – The Chiang Mai Floating restaurant
Service at a small Thai restaurant or food stall is much different than what most foreigners are used to. Many places do not have a menu and specialize in a certain type food. Some may just serve noodle dishes and some just rice dishes. Their menu will be written on a poster on the wall.

After you have told your waiter or waitress your order they will probably repeat it back to you and ask the question “One”. This means do I have the order correctly not the number one. You will also notice that they do not write your order down but just tell the cook.

As you eat your food and drink your drinks you will notice that they do not remove empty plates or bottles from your table even if you order a second helping or additional dishes.

This does not mean they are lazy. Because they don’t write your order down on paper they need to keep all the dishes and drink bottles at your table. When it is time to pay your bill the staff will count the plates and bottles on your table and add the total.

Pay attention as they do this so you don’t get over charged. That happens very rarely but it does happen. They will then tell you the total price. Please don’t split up the table order and say “I am only paying for my food” not his or hers or theirs. This is very confusing for the Thais and takes up a lot of their time and change for larger bills. In Thailand one person pays for everyone and they figure it out who owes who how much later.

Our friend Mel on the left and my wife Ning on the right
Our friend Mel on the left and my wife Ning on the right
Another thing is tipping. If you plan to come back to this restaurant it is a good idea to leave a nice tip. My wife and I always leave at least a 20 baht for a simple lunch. Everytime we return we are well taken care of and first.

One important thing to remember is that ice that is round with a hole in it is OK. Stay away from shaved or block ice. I have seen many people sitting drinking hot bottled water or soft drink when they didn’t have to because they don’t trust the ice.


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