In December 2015 John and I went on the Taste of the North & Old Town Chiang Mai Walk.
This four hour walk through the old city combines the historical and architectural charms of Chiang Mai, as well as the local cuisine.
We met our guide, Aoi, at Wat Chiang Man:
And then strolled down a charming alley with many small businesses and restaurants.
Our first stop was the local market where we learned about ingredients and spices used for Northern Thai cooking.
Then we walked to Aunty Pen’s sausage shop where they served one of the best things I ate all day: Northern Thai Sausage.
It was smoky and perfectly spicy.
We also tried pig brains with egg and herbs that had been wrapped in a banana leaf and grilled.
We both enjoyed it but the texture was difficult for me.
Before leaving, the family gave us a tour of the kitchen where they make 70 kilos (154 pounds) of sausages everyday.
And the sell out everyday!
From there we hopped into a red songthaew, the local public transportation around the centre of Chiang Mai.
The truck is open in the back so passengers can easily climb in and out. A ride costs about 25 Baht (less than 1 USD) which is way more affordable than a taxi or tuk tuk.
After about 15 minutes, the driver stopped in front of this open air noodle stall.
This is where we tasted the local favorite, Khao Soi Khun Yai or ‘Grandma’s Khao Soi’.
Khao soi is said to be one of Chiang Mai’s most famous contributions to Thai cuisine.
Grandma’s Khao Soi is a rich and creamy coconut broth with perfectly cooked egg noodles, chicken, and crispy noodles on top.
We washed it all down with incredibly sweet tea.
Grandma’s khao soi was my second favorite food of the day and almost tied with the sausage for first place.
By now, John and I were overstuffed and were thankful for the 15 minute walk before our next taste.
Although there is always room for creamy coconut ice cream.
Our third restaurant was Huen Phen which was the same restaurant recommended to us on our first day in Chiang Mai.
We enjoyed our lunch that day:
But we definitely ate better having Aoi order for us.
We sampled several popular Northern Thai dishes while Aoi taught us a little more about the various cuisines of Thailand.
In Bangkok and central Thailand, the food is mild and sweet. In the south and northeast, the food is very spicy. The food of the north, Chiang Mai, is somewhere in between. She explained that it is rich and spicy, but not fiery.
Our final taste was at the gorgeous Makka hotel for tea and traditional Thai dessert.
We thoroughly enjoyed tasting several popular dishes from northern Thailand, but we loved the tour even more because it included several of the Old Town’s popular sights, pagodas, and temples.
The price of the tour is 1,050 THB (30 USD) for adults and 850 THB (24 USD) for children.
This includes over 10 food samples (enough for a large lunch) and a historical walk in the old city of Chiang Mai.
Click HERE for tickets.