Chiang Mai – the place of dreams . I had heard amazing things about this city and was so excited to find out that they were all true. Travelling through new places can be taxing as a vegan. Using Google Translate to explain my plant based diet leaves most people on the receiving end with a bewildered look on their faces….but not in Chiang Mai.
During our week in Chiang Mai my goal was to visit as many plant based restaurants and cafes as we could. That was a tall order as there are so many to choose from.
Since we were staying on the eastern side of the Old City – next door to Vegan Heaven it quickly became our go to place to eat. Looking at the menu I squealed with delight, “OMG I can eat everything!” only to have other patrons smile and nod in agreement. The Kah Soy soup is out of this world as are the Spicy Cauliflower Wings. Honorable mention goes to the Vegan Chicken Burger and the Spring Rolls. The menu is huge and extensive – if I wasn’t enjoying life as a NOMAD, I would seriously consider moving to Chiang Mai just to be close to Vegan Heaven! They also offer cooking classes. There are 2 locations:
Walking into Goodsouls Kitchen felt more like entering a regular hip cafe than a vegan restaurant (there is air conditioning) . There were displays of pastries and mouth watering cakes, a beautiful modern setting with most of the seats being occupied (on a late weekday afternoon). We quickly ordered the recommended Mushroom Stakes and Green Curry. The Green Curry was good but the Mushroom Stakes blew our minds – this was Rob’s favorite dish in Chiang Mai. Although we did not taste the deserts, most tables around us were devouring them. We chose the iced latte with coconut milk which was amazing! Here is the menu.
Aum is one of the oldest vegetarian/vegan restaurants in Chiang Mai. Although it is not fully vegan, the options are well marked and there are many choices for the plant based diet connoisseur. I have to say that the Wonton Soup was divine as were the Spring Rolls. There are dumplings and even vegan sushi. The best seating is upstairs, although be prepared to sit on a cushion on the floor.
The Nimman neighborhood where this vegetarian/vegan restaurant is located is a lovely place to stroll and people watch. Anchan is mostly vegan and the options are clearly marked on the menu with * for the vegan dishes. Even on a Monday night the place was packed so we were happy that we made a reservation. Seated along the rail of the balcony overlooking the busy street below we were able to watch the lively street scene. Our favorite dish here was the absolutely mouth watering Crispy Banana Flower Thai Salad. There is a fixed menu and some additional dishes that are added on a weekly basis.
The Bodhi Tree is also a vegetarian/vegan restaurant with many vegan options. Seating is on the floor with cushions inside or you can sit outside at a table with chairs- which is what we chose. The food is mostly of Thai influence and is fresh and organic. My favorite part of the meal here was the incredibly nutty and delicious brown rice – yes I know this is just the staple side dish but the taste was the best in town.
Free Bird Cafe
Free Bird has just recently switched from being a vegetarian restaurant to a vegan one – Yay! What I love about this cafe is that all proceeds support the Thai Freedom House, a non-profit organization helping Burmese refugees and minority groups in Thailand. On site there is a zero waste shop and a second hand shop for clothes and household items – again all profits from all of these enterprises go to the Thai Freedom House.
The place has a really good vibe to it – it feels good to contribute to those less fortunate. As far as the food, both Rob and I were underwhelmed but reading so many great reviews perhaps the student cooking our food had an off day – we would certainly be willing to give it another chance.
Mild Kitchen is a restaurant that is not fully vegetarian/vegan but has landed on this list because it has some good vegan options. They source their ingredients from the local organic farmers market and it is fresh and delicious. The organic fresh pressed juices and smoothies are very tasty. The setting inside their garden is lovely as well.
As an aside – since this place is virtually next door to the second location of Vegan Heaven, I would come here for a fresh juice first and then go to Vegan Heaven for the meal.
Taste from Heaven
If only I had more time….
A list of restaurants and cafe’s that were recommended but we didnt have the time to visit:
- Pun Pun – Organic Vegetarian/Vegan Restaurant.
Punpun is also a small organic farm and learning center, where they practice sustainable living through seed saving, natural building and appropriate technology.
- Amrita Garden – Organic Vegan Restaurant. Many vegan cheeses are offered and the flare is organic, probiotic and macrobiotic.
- Bee Vegan – Vegan cafe which is considered inexpensive and is well known for it’s fermented mushroom starter.
- Morning Glory – Vegan cafe which also offers cooking classes.
- Juicy4U – Organic Vegan cafe which offers great organic juices and smoothies (most of the food from their organic farm) + some food items.
- Happy Green – Organic vegan cafe serving most vegetables from their garden (grown on site). Discount if you arrive on a bicycle.