If you live in Chiang Mai, Thailand or will soon be traveling to the city and doing so on a budget, you might be looking for cheap places to eat out.
After all, even though eating out in Thailand is generally cheap, there are even cheaper places to eat if you know where to find them.
These places are heavily populated by Thais, in out of the way places and so only discovered now and again by the odd westerner, and often sell tasty food at rock bottom prices. Food courts in Thailand are generally such places.
One such place is the food court at Kad Suan Kaew Mall. Interestingly, the first place I ever ate in Chiang Mai while there on a holiday with my parents 17 years ago, and a place where we thought the food was excellent, especially for the low price.
Where is the Kad Suan Kaew Mall food court?
Looking back now, it is amazing to me that my parents and I ever discovered the Kad Suan Kaew Mall food court, as it is tucked away at the back of a large mall that is nothing more than a maze. We found it, however, as our Thai guide directed us there, as there is no way we would have discovered it on our own.
As you will see from the video below, the easiest way to get to the food court is to enter the mall by the KFC on the ground floor and then walk all the way to the back of the mall. When you see the Kad Muang Traditional Bazaar, you are in the right location.
Cut through the Bazaar, and you will see the food court on the right hand side.
How much is food per serving at the Kad Suan Kaew Mall food court?
As food courts in Thailand go, the one at Kad Suan Kaew is one of the cheapest ones.
Food starts at 25 baht per plate (approximately 78 cents with today’s exchange rate), and that will get you a serving of rice and one curry or another topping like a vegetable, pork or chicken dish. If you want two curries or two toppings, the price is 30 to 35 baht per plate (94 cents to $1.10) depending on what you get and at which stall you buy it.
Most Thais do not eat huge portions of rice, so some western men think the rice they are served on a typical plate at Thai food court is not enough. No worries, though, as any stall will sell you another portion for just 10 baht (30 cents).
Throw in a drink for 10 to 15 baht, and you have a full meal for just over a dollar.
The food itself is traditional Thai food, often extremely spicy, made from fresh ingredients and delicious. As the food court is also heavily populated by Thais, you know just how good the food is as Thais love their food, and simply will not eat in food courts or restaurants where the food is bad.
The negatives to Kad Suan Kaew Mall food court
One of the negatives to the food court at Kad Suan Kaew Mall is you must get there early. I have been there a couple of times after 1.30pm, and there really is not much food left at all.
The food court is also only open for a late breakfast or lunch so, if you like it, do not expect to be able to go back for dinner and eat more.
11am is prime time, or at least before noon, as after it the place is picked clean quite fast. If you like a late lunch, you may want to go elsewhere.
Another negative is much of the food at Kad Suan Kaew Mall is prepared elsewhere and then brought in, so it is usually served lukewarm or cold. You may not mind cold food, but I always prefer my food hot, so that is a downer for me.
There are a couple of stalls that sell hot curries and rice, however, and one that has Khao Kha Mu (rice with steamed pork). The pork and the boiled eggs you can get with it are usually cooking there when you walk by. The Khao Kha Mu is often the dish I buy as it is hot and very tasty and, at 35 baht, still incredibly cheap.
For more on how to get to the Kad Suan Kaew Mall’s food court, watch the video below. It was filmed by an American vlogger who, last year at least, was in Chiang Mai.
Now, I don’t listen to or agree with much of the advice these ‘vloggers’ give about living in Thailand, as most of them are here for only a few weeks, don’t speak Thai, don’t understand Thai culture and are still setting themselves up as so-called ‘experts’ about all things Thai.
That being said, he does have a decent video about how to get to Kad Suan Kaew’s food court, and the type of food you can buy when you get there. Enjoy!