How to Find and Order Vegan-Friendly Food in Chiang Rai
Last updated on September 27th, 2023
Are you a vegan traveller planning a visit to Chiang Rai, Thailand, and wondering how to navigate the local food scene?
Chiang Rai may not be as well-known for its vegan cuisine as some other Thai cities, but there’s no need to worry; you can still enjoy a tasty plant-based adventure here.
In this guide, I’ll walk you through how to find and order vegan food in Chiang Rai.
Please note that this page contains affiliate links. While I only recommend products that I believe in, I may benefit financially, at no extra cost to you, from any purchases you make.
Is Chiang Rai Vegan-Friendly?
Before we dive into the details of locating vegan food, you might be wondering if Chiang Rai is vegan-friendly. The answer is yes! While it may not be as overtly vegan-friendly as some other cities in Thailand, Chiang Rai still has plenty of options, a lot of Thai food can be pretty vegan-friendly if you know the minor changes needed.
What Are the Most Vegan-Friendly Areas in Chiang Rai?
If you’re looking for vegan-friendly restaurants in Thailand, I generally recommend heading to the areas with a bit of a chilled back and yoga vibe. These areas tend to be more vegan-friendly.
However, Chiang Rai is a pretty small place so if you’re in the centre near the Clock Tower, you’re not far from most of the vegan-friendly spots. If you’re not too hungry, take a leisurely stroll, and you’re likely to come across menus with vegan offerings.
How to Find Vegan Food in Chiang Rai
1. Online Resources
Using online resources is probably the easiest way to find vegan food options in Chiang Rai.
The Happy Cow app or Tripadvisor can be a simple way to find vegan and vegetarian-friendly restaurants in the area. And don’t forget a simple Google search can also be super useful.
2. Walk the Street
Exploring the streets of Chiang Rai is definitely a great option because it’s a small city. So, don’t hesitate to walk around and check out local restaurants. You may stumble upon hidden gems that aren’t easy to find online.
3. Ask Locals
Speaking with locals is a great way to discover authentic vegan options. Don’t be shy to ask for recommendations; Thai people are known for being friendly and happy to help. Not only could you find some great places to find vegan food, but you could also get recommendations for some delicious local dishes.
4. Ask Other Travellers
Fellow travellers can also offer some great ideas. Start a conversation with other tourists, share recommendations, and you could even explore vegan-friendly spots together.
Must-Try Vegan Dishes in Chiang Rai
When you’ve found a vegan-friendly restaurant, it’s time to get stuck into some delicious Thai dishes. Here are a few must-try vegan options in Chiang Rai:
Khao Soi: One of my favourite Thai dishes and it’s hard to find outside northern Thailand. It’s a coconut curry noodle soup with crispy noodles on top and pickles on the side.
Papaya Salad (Som Tum): A refreshing salad featuring shredded green papaya, chillies, lime, and peanuts. Make sure to ask for it without fish sauce and shrimp.
Fruit Shakes: Chiang Rai offers an abundance of fresh tropical fruits. Sip on a refreshing fruit shake for a taste of Thailand’s natural sweetness.
How to Order Vegan Food in Chiang Rai
“Jae” (เจ) / Jay: Look out for this word, although it doesn’t guarantee vegan food, it signals that the restaurant is familiar with vegan options. As you can see the Thai word “Jae” (เจ) looks a lot like the number 17, so it’s easy to spot, it’s usually on a sign with red writing on a yellow background.
Ordering vegan food in Chiang Rai doesn’t need to be as scary as you may think with a few key phrases in your arsenal. Here’s how to communicate that you want vegan food in Thai:
- “I am vegan”: ฉันทานเจค่ะ
- “I don’t eat meat”: ฉันไม่ทานเนื้อสัตว์ค่ะ
- “I don’t eat”: ฉันไม่กิน
- “Meat”: เนื้อ
- “Chicken”: ไก่
- “Eggs”: ไข่
- “Fish”: ปลา
- “Fish Sauce”: น้ำปลา
- “Shrimp”: กุ้ง
- “Milk”: น้ำนม
- “Honey”: น้ำผึ้ง
Take a screenshot or print out a copy of these phrases so you always have them ready.
If you’re feeling adventurous and want to connect with locals, you can use Google Translate to help you learn to say these phrases yourself.
Additionally, if you have internet access, Google Translate can even assist you in real-time translation.
Can I Find Vegan Street Food in Chiang Rai?
Absolutely! While Chiang Rai might not be as famous for its street food as some other Thai cities, you can still discover delicious vegan options at street stalls. Look out for fruit vendors, noodle stands, and grilled corn vendors for some vegan street food delights. But remember, even if the ingredients look vegan, ask anyway because some Thai chefs just love their fish sauce.
Is There Vegan-Friendly Accommodation in Chiang Rai?
Yes, you can find vegan-friendly accommodation in Chiang Rai. Many hotels and guesthouses offer vegan options upon request. While I couldn’t find any hotels in Chaing Rai that really focus on veganism, if you communicate with the hotel before you stay you’ll have a better chance that they will do their best to accommodate you.
Take a look at hotels in Chaing Rai on Booking.com.
In conclusion, Chiang Rai may not be a vegan paradise, but with a little research, some key phrases, and an open mind, you can easily enjoy the flavours of this beautiful Thai city while staying true to your vegan lifestyle.
Want more vegan travel tips? Check out my page on Vegan Food on Tour.
Meet the Author
Meet Sinead O’Carroll: Vegan explorer, sustainability advocate and the founder of The Wondering Wandering Vegan. Embracing veganism since 2018 and vegetarianism since 2005, Sinead is armed with a Vegan Health, Nutrition and Lifestyle qualification, and is on a mission to share her passion for cruelty-free living.
With a taste for adventure and a heart for eco-conscious choices, she’s here to prove that vegans never miss out on flavour, fun or style. Join her in enjoying the delights of a vegan-friendly world! 🌱✈️🌍
Want to know more? Check out Sinead’s About page here.
Follow me on Instagram to see all the delicious vegan food I find, the vegan and cruelty-free products I use and what I get up to as a travelling vegan.