5 Foods You Need to Try in Northern Thailand

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5 Foods You Need to Try in Northern Thailand

One of the main branches of Thai cuisine, the food in the north is often vastly different from what you'll find around the islands and coastal towns of Southern Thailand. The unique and delicious dishes found around Chiang Mai and the surrounding area are mouth-watering enough to warrant taking a trip here for the food alone. Here are some of the foods you just can't miss out on in Chiang Mai and Northern Thailand.

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5 Foods You Need to Try in Northern Thailand

Sai Ua (Spicy Thai Sausage)

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While most don't usually see sausages as distinctly Southeast Asian, this version is bursting with Thai flavors. Originally hailing from the north of Thailand, its fame has quickly spread and you'll find these delicious eats all around the country. Sai ua usually contains red curry paste inside, giving it a fiery kick, along with various other Thai herbs and spices.


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Often mistranslated as a salad, laab is made with various fresh herbs, spices and meat, usually minced. While it's traditionally eaten raw, nowadays most vendors will stir-fry it before serving, due to various health risks. While it might be pushing it to call it a salad, the array of herbs and lightly fried minced meat does make it a relatively healthy choice.

Khao Soi

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Often the number one foreigner favorite for those traveling around this beautiful region, khao soi is a noodle dish made with a delicious curry sauce. It's quite different although often compared with laksa, famous in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. The northern Thai version uses a mix of boiled and deep-fried egg noodles, the latter often placed on top to preserve the crispiness. The curry sauce is similar to Thai massaman curry, though more soup-like and paired with shallots, lime wedges, pickled mustard greens and usually served with beef or chicken. It's hard to stop eating once you've had one bowl, you'll find specialist khao soi eateries all over Northern Thailand to tempt you.

Hang-le Curry

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The classic curry dish from Northern Thailand, Kaeng hang-le or hang-le curry is a delicious mash up of Indian spices and Thai ingredients that creates a unique dish unlike most Thai curries. Hang le has its origins in India, brought to Thailand by the neighboring Burmese, while modifying it along the way. While it might have come from India, the dish you'll find in the north of Thailand is uniquely Thai and found all over restaurants in the region.

Nam Prik Ong

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While nam prik (Thai chilli sauce) is usually used as a condiment, this Northern Thai version is a dish in itself. This spicy dip is made with tomatoes and minced meat, and usually served with vegetables and other ingredients to dip in. It's delicious, though it can vary in spice level hugely between different stores, once you taste it you'll want to add it to everything.


With some of the most delicious dishes in Thailand, trying this subsection of Thai cuisine is a must when traveling to the Land of Smiles. If you won't have chance to make it up north however, there are plenty of great Northern Thai restaurants in the capital, Bangkok.