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No trip to Chiang Mai is complete without tasting at least one bowl of legendary local curry noodle dish khao soi. Devouring a delicious dish of khao soi is a culinary rite of passage and one of the top things to do in Chiang Mai (and taste obviously).
There are many dedicated Chiang Mai Khao soi noodle restaurants which literally just sell khao soi, plus many others that include it as part of their menus (the Chiang Mai night markets have copious amounts of khao soi – like oodles of khao soi noodles).
We tried around 20 different khao soi places on our last visit to Chiang Mai and these were our favourite places (and to note we like our khao soi on the slightly spicier side). Some of these best Chiang Mai khao soi noodle restaurants are loved by locals, some aimed squarely at tourists but all taste goood in our opinion. Generally we found that those Chiang Mai restaurants that only serve khao soi or variations of it were the better places but there were a few exceptions to prove the rule.
Here is our guide to the best khao soi restaurants in Chiang Mai, all of which were open as at November 2022.
What are khai soi noodles?
Firstly, before we delve into the Chiang Mai khai soi scene, what are khao soi noodles?
Khao soi (or khay soy) is a popular Northern Thailand dish with its origins in Burma (the Burmese word for noodle is khao swe).
Khao soi’s core ingredients are usually a curry soup base (usually medium spiced), served with curry and deep fried noodles. The most common version in Chiang Mai is usually chicken khao soi, but many Chiang Mai khao soi restaurants also serve pork and beef versions. The noodles in Khao soi are generally made from rice flour batter and then eaten with chopsticks and a soup spoon.
All the versions of khao soi we tried in Chiang Mai were served with a side bowl of pickled greens, chopped onions and a slice of lime for seasoning.
How much is khao soi in Chiang Mai?
On average, most khao soi noodle dishes in Chiang Mai are priced around the 50 baht to 70 baht mark (£1 to £1.60 / €1 to €1.9 / $1.1 to $2 USD) per bowl although one of the best khao soi dishes we tried in Chiang Mai was 40 baht a bowl served by a family out of their garage.
All of the khao soi dishes we feature are 40 baht to 80 baht price range but expect to pay more in tourist focussed restaurants, especially in hotels.
The ‘best’ khao soi restaurants in Chiang Mai map:
Our guide to the ‘best’ khao soi restaurants in Chiang Mai:
1. Khao Soi Islam Noodles
ADDRESS: Charoen Prathet 1 Alley, Tambon Chang Moi, Chiang Mai 50100
One of our favourite khao soi dishes was at Khao Soi Islam, located to the east of Chiang Mai old town, a short walk from the Ping River. Note that the restaurant location on Google maps is currently incorrect having moved across the road to bigger premises, such is its popularity.
When we visited Khao Soi Islam noodles, we luckily grabbed the last available table (it can get very busy – expect to queue during busier periods). We also noticed an overseas film crew doing a shoot here filming copious amounts of noodles – so we were hoping to be in for a khao soi treat. We were not disappointed – the Khao Soi Islam noodles were amazing with a rich and creamy curry base.
We opted for chicken khao soi and it was served as a chicken leg, with the succulent meat literally falling of the bone – amazing.
The service at Khao Soi Islam Noodles can be a little chaotic (all part of the experience) and it was also the loudest restaurant we visited – however we’d definitely return.
A bowl of chicken khao soi at Khao Soi Islam Noodles cost 60 Baht as at November 2022. We’d also recommend going to the roti stall/ restaurant across the street afterwards for dessert; one of the tastiest rotis we had in Chiang Mai.
2. Khao Soi Arak
ADDRESS: Arak 7 Alley, Tambon Si Phum, Chiang Mai 50200
Run by the sweetest old couple and their family, Khao Soi Arak is quite unlike any other khao soi restaurant we’ve been to in Chiang Mai – and all the better (and more unique) for it. I mean, we’ve never ate in anyone’s garage before but this was all part of the charm – and at only 40 baht per khao soi portion, this was one of the best (and most delicious) curries in town.
We arrived at Khao Soi Arak late one lunchtime at around 3pm (they close at 4pm) so their seating area (which also doubles as their garage and home) wasn’t too busy with only pork khao soi available (the chicken and beef had sold out).
As well as a cute cat, the old couple who served us were adorable – they even grabbed an extra chair to put my bag of dirty washing on, so it wasn’t on the floor.
Our pork khao soi was hearty with bags of flavour. It was served with pork balls but we have read it sometimes comprises a mix of both pork balls and actual pork. We also really liked the pickled greens here the most; very sweet and reminiscent of American style gherkins.
We emptied our bowls and then wiped clean the curry splashes on our Winnie the Pooh table cloth – a very, VERY satisfying khao soi and unique experience. We highly recommend Khao Soi Arak (their iced Thai tea was also tremendous – 20 baht a glass).
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3. Khao Soi Mae Sai
ADDRESS: 29, 1 Ratchaphuek Alley, Tambon Chang Phueak, Chiang Mai 50300
We first discovered Khao Soi Mae Sai several years ago, whilst on a Chiang Mai food tour with A Chef’s Tour. That time, it was early in the morning and we were the first in the restaurant, having the whole place to ourselves.
Fast forward to 2022 and when we arrived at Khao Soi Mae Sai at around 12.30pm, we were greeted by a huge queue of eager khao soi beavers snaking out the door. A bit like a deli supermarket counter, you grab a numbered electronic buzzer from the restaurant staff and then wait to be called.
The queue moved quickly and we were seated within 10 minutes – you write down your order on a piece of paper (try your best at recreating your table name in Thai) and then put it on the huge spike on the counter where they serve the food.
Khao soi chicken and pork at Khao Soi Mae Sai were 50 to 55 baht a portion, with cold drinks (coke, Thai iced tea etc) costing 15 Baht. A huge vat of cold water and ice is also available for free.
Even though the service was a little chaotic (we noticed a few people not getting exactly what they ordered or having to chase their pickled greens etc), we loved the food at Khao Soi Mae and the curry was a little spicier than most which we liked. The chicken leg in the chicken khao soi was also very moist – more please!
4. Coconut Shell Thai Food
ADDRESS: 42, 4 Ratchamanka Road, Phra Sing, Chiang Mai 50200
We first heard about Coconut Shell Thai Food in Chiang Mai several years ago, when someone on our Doi Suthep tour kept banging on about how good their khao soi was.
Whilst the Coconut Shell Thai food restaurant is undoubtedly aimed at tourists (it is close to many hostels and hotels), it is one of the better tourist hotspots that serve khao soi, with reasonable prices (60 baht for a chicken khao soi). The restaurant seating area is quite small with around 5 or 6 tables so get there early / late if you can.
The Coconut Shell khao soi was actually one of the hotter / more spicier khao sois we tried, with a thicker curry soup base which we really liked. The portion size at Coconut shell was also one of the larger khao sois we had in Chiang Mai (if you are feeling hungry!).
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5. Huen Phen, Chiang Mai
ADDRESS: 112 Phra Sing, Chiang Mai District, 50200 (3 minute walk from Wat Chedi Luang)
Although not specialising in just khao soi (Huen Phen is famous for its Northern Thai menu), the khao soi is very good here and the restaurant is bright and airy with good air conditioning. It appeared to be frequented by both locals and tourists (we also saw a food tour group) and our chicken khao soi cost 60 baht and our beef khao soi cost 70 baht.
Huen Phen khao soi was memorable as not only was the chicken moist with a good level of curry spice, the side dishes of pickled greens, onions and lime wedges was easily the largest khao soi side portion of anywhere we’d tried in Chiang Mai – make sure you arrive at Huen Phen hungry!
A tip if you are visiting Huen Phen at lunch and arriving there from the east side of the old town or from Thae Pae gate – Huen Phen koi soi restaurant actually has two entrances / restaurants next to each other; the larger of which is closed during the day. If it wasn’t for a helpful taxi driver who saw us turn around when we saw the first entrance closed, we wouldn’t have been able to devour their delicious khao soi.
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6. Khao Soi Khun Yai
ADDRESS: Sri Poom 8 Alley, Tambon Si Phum, Chiang Mai 50200
Arrive early! No doubt one of the khao soi restaurants you may have heard about before you arrived in Chiang Mai or via a Google search, there is a good reason Khao Soi Khun Yai ranks so highly – it is freaking delicious.
Khun Yai means ‘grandmother’ in Thai and this is a family run operation which means you get a warm welcome and delicious home style khao soi.
On our visit, we arrived at 1pm and there was already a huge queue – and we mean HUGE (easily the biggest restaurant queue we saw of any restaurant in Chiang Mai). Shortly after we joined the queue, one of the Khao Soi Khun Yai ladies chained up all the gates saying ‘sold out’, such is the popularity.
It took us about 15 minutes of queuing to order then another hour or so until we got our food served. We would recommend arriving at early as possible to avoid these queues and long wait times.
At Khao Soi Khun Yai, you order your food first at the counter to get a ticket / number – you then join another queue to get a table.
Although it was the smallest portion of khao soi of any we tried in Chiang Mai, it was soooo good – full of flavour, good quality noodles. We literally licked our bowls spotless.
Also, Khun Yai Khao Soi was also one of the cheapest khao soi dishes in Chiang Mai – 50 baht per portion (given how popular it is, they could easily charge more). The crispy noodles here were the best we’ve tried in Chiang Mai. Our only regret is that because the food took so long to arrive, we wished we had ordered two bowls each!
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7. Three Kings Boat Noodle, Chiang Mai
ADDRESS: 6, 4 Intrawarorot Road, Tambon Si Phum, Chiang Mai 50200
The newest Chiang Mai restaurant on this list (it opened in October 2022), we stumbled across the Three Kings Boat Noodle restaurant quite by chance as it was close to one of our hotels.
Unlike other khao soi restaurants, Three Kings Boat Noodles restaurant specialises in beef dishes so we opted for the braised beef khao soi (plus pork khao soi was also available but not the usual chicken khao soi).
Compared to other restaurants, the khao soi at Three Kings Boat Noodles was a little more expensive than others (89 Baht as at November 2022), but in the grand scheme of things, still very cheap. The set-up in this small restaurant was delightful – classical music, white walls and one of the cleanest restaurants we’ve been to in Chiang Mai. And the staff were super friendly and helpful.
The portion size of khao soi was huge at Three Kings Boat Noodles and one of the more spicy ones – we really enjoyed it (plus as it is relatively new and unknown, we didn’t have to queue to get a table).
8. Jok Sompet
ADDRESS: 59 3 Sri Poom Road, Si Phum Sub-district, Chiang Mai 50200
Of all the Chiang Mai khao soi on the list, this was our least favourite but we’ve included it because the portions were huge and good value so it is fine if you are on a tight budget but hungry as – chicken, pork and beef khao soi were all 70 baht a portion at Jok Somet and it was mainly locals who were there which is usually a good sign.
Jok Sompet’s khao soi was not as spicy as the others on this ‘best khao soi restaurants in Chiang Mai’ list but this may be a good thing for some. We also thought the chicken leg in our khao soi tasted cold, like it was just dropped in (it wasn’t hot, like all the other khao sois we tried).
… and the bad khao soi in Chiang Mai
We tried around 20 khao soi places in the 2 weeks we were in Chiang Mai and whilst the above were our favourites, we generally didn’t have a bad khao soi, apart from the one at the Its Good Kitchen which was the only one we couldn’t finish – very watery and salty AF – we just don’t understand the tourist queues to get in here.
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