One of our favorite places to eat in Chiang Mai was the Chiang Mai Gate Market. We ended up choosing the apartment we stayed at because we wanted to be within walking distance of a market, and we were very happy we were close to Chiang Mai Gate. Just a 10 minute walk brought us to an amazing all vegetarian food stall (!!), a smoothie lady and the best rotee (dessert) stand in Thailand. This was one of the only street markets in Chiang Mai that had a stall that catered only to vegetarians, the rest were heavily meat based. The Chiang Mai Gate Market is located right at South Gate inside the moat. It’s open every night and is the starting point for the Saturday night market. On Saturday night it’s quite hectic, but the rest of the week is more relaxed, though still bustling; people like their street food! We also enjoyed that they had tables set up behind the food stands. You place your order and then they bring you to a table to sit at. After you eat you go back to the stand and pay your bill.
As you have probably figured out, we loved to frequent this market. First, we would typically get three dishes at the vegetarian stand, each dish costing us about $1.25. The portions were smaller so we usually got two noodle or rice dishes and one vegetable dish. Sometimes the wait was long, she had a long list of orders and she made it all fresh, but it was worth the wait. We also enjoyed that she would load each dish up with vegetables, many dishes in Thailand have minimal vegetables.
After our scrumptious meal we headed over to the rotee stand to indulge in a sweet, oily dessert. Rotees are kind of like crepes that are deep fried, typically with a banana inside and chocolate sauce drizzled on top. This desert is “melt in your mouth” amazingness! The outside is slightly crispy and oily with the banana caramelized and warm inside. This stand had by far the best Rotee we could find in all of Thailand (including the islands). We think it was the amount of time they cooked it and the amount of heat used on the grill. By frying quickly on high heat, they would finish the outside without the banana getting scalding. The outside would also be fully cooked, but not burnt. After trying different rotees at other places, we eventually stopped ordering them because nothing compared, probably a good thing for our health.
After our dessert we couldn’t pass up a famous Pai smoothie. When I mean she is famous, I literally mean famous; she has been featured on CNN travel and is in all of the guidebooks. We usually went with the passion fruit and mango combination. Like all of the other venders she makes the smoothie in front of you. You can pick from the display of cut up fruits or she will create something for you. Whatever you choose, it will cost you only 20 baht ($.65)!!! By the end of the night, with our bellies full, we would have spent a grand total of $6-7. Make sure not to miss this market if you ever go to Chiang Mai!
I forgot to mention all of the wonderful fruit. On the way home we would always pick up some fruit for our breakfast, our favorites were: tangerines, pineapple, mango, papaya, and others.