You may think you know and love Thai food but a trip to Chiang Mai in northern Thailand will leave an amazing taste in your mouth.

As Australians we love Thai food and are lucky to have some terrific Thai restaurants.We have award-winning chefs like David Thompson of Long Chim fame travel to Thailand where he dedicated himself to studying the art of Thai food; a journey that has won him the award of the best restaurant in Asia and one Michelin star for his recently sold Thai eatery in Bangkok called Nahm.

Thai food is full of flavour, full of spice, full of that sweet-sour-salty-bitter-hot combo that has us going back for more.

But it is no surprise that the best place to dive right into Thai cuisine is on a trip to Thailand – but what may surprise you is that the northern city of Chiang Mai is a culinary hotspot to rival the capital of Bangkok.

Pack your fork and spoon and hit the road on a culinary trip to Thailand:

 

Northern delights

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Most foodies head for Bangkok but Chiang Mai has more to offer travellers than the perfect peaks, ancient Buddhist temples and fantastic markets. Chiang Mai has been rated as one of Asia’s coolest creative cities and this vibe extends from the arts to a vibrant food scene.

You can choose from a range of eclectic dining options that are nothing like the Thai food you know from back home, but will soon become your new favourite dishes of all time. Try some khao soi (egg noodle in curry soup), a plate of sai oua (grilled herb sausages) or the spicy delights of nam prik ong and nam prik noom (red & green chilli dip).

 

Quirky eats

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The best thing about Chiang Mai is the unusual eateries. If you are after molecular gastronomy, visit Cuisine de Garden, seasonal local produce pimped into world-class cuisine. If you love rice, try Meena Rice-Based Cuisine whose motto is “all things rice” and they make all your favourite rice dishes. Another quirky restaurant is The House a heritage Thai house converted into a restaurant and shop. It serves Asian fusion food and runs the Ginger & Kafe Bistro next door.

 

 

Coffee shops and bakeries

Hotel des Artists, Chiang Mai

Cafe des Artists

Northern Thailand produces some of the world’s best Arabica coffee beans, so a hip new café culture has sprouted up in Chiang Mai. Café des Artists is set in the back garden of Hotel des Artists. While Woo Café has an art gallery on its second floor and a beautiful home décor shop next door.

 

The best souvenir

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The greatest thing you can do in Thailand is learning to cook Thai food. Surrounded by the exotic smells, the fresh produce and the artisan cooks of Thailand you can achieve results that no recipe book can. Nothing compares to a hands-on lesson from a great Thai chef, who can teach you the nuances, and the tricks, to the perfect Thai dinner party.

Some of the best cooking schools are Thai Farm Cooking School, Siripanna Cooking School and Pantawan Cooking School – but you will still have to go back and learn some more.

Tourism Authority of Thailand is proud of its country’s Thai heritage, so much so that it has partnered with Michelin Travel to published a Michelin Guide Bangkok. For more information on Thai food and travel visit Amazing Thailand.

READ: The corner of Thailand you didn’t know existed

READ: How to make your Thailand holidays more authentic

What is your favourite Thai dish?

Written by Paul Chai, KarryOn contributor

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