Thailand

12 things I’ve learned about Chiang Rai (food shopping edition)

Mae Kok Noi, 2014
Mae Kok Noi, 2014

When we first moved here and I took a look at our neighborhood, I thought, “Dear God, we are going to have to go far to look for food.” But as it turned out, this was not the case. Where ever you live in Thailand, a local market or store is never too far away. Often times though, the store is run out of a house or in front of a home and this is where you can find some basics like produce, dry goods, drinks, etc.

It was convenient to hop on our bicycles and ride over to nearby shops and pick up whatever we needed for cooking that day. Although, we did regularly have to take a taxi into town to go to Central to buy foods we couldn’t get in our little neighborhood. But as I mentioned before, taxis are great and affordable in Chiang Rai.

So where do we go grocery shopping here? In Chiang Mai there are countless options, but in the ‘Rai, don’t let its small size fool you, there are varied options here, too.

1. There are a couple of mini Tesco Lotus that I’m aware of. The first one is near the main bus station (if the bus station is behind you, and you are facing Baan Chivit Mai Bakery, it will be further down on the right) and the second one is at the Denha intersection (there is a large picture of the King’s mother).

2. The best supermarket is Tops located on the bottom floor of Central Plaza. (I’m not counting Makro, it’s out of town, in my opinion, and not everyone wants to buy in bulk) Tops pretty much has most of the “Western” groceries that you’d want.

3. Although, for my produce I go to the Royal Project which has a store in the mall across from Tops. When avocados are in season, you can get 2 or 3 for 50 baht, big salads, and fresh vegetables like zucchini (!) for great prices. Last time I was there, I tried their fresh pasta. When is the last time you’ve had fresh pasta in Thailand? Exactly!

Royal Project at Central Plaza.
Royal Project at Central Plaza.

4. The “big market” or kad luang on Uttarakit is certainly the obvious choice, but not everyone likes a smelly outdoor market. If you do, then you’ll be in pig head heaven here. It’s not as clean as CM’s Warorot, not as expansive or touristed, but it’s as raw as the produce being sold by the large yellow dumpster.

tomatoes
You were hoping for a yellow dumpster shot, huh? Well, the smell is over-powering, let me get back to you.

*In the late afternoon and evening, the big wet market sells more prepared foods for a quick pick up meals.

5. CP Fresh Mart has a shop near the big market on Trairat Road where you can pick up frozen meats to your carnivore’s loving delight. For those too chicken to get your raw meats from an outdoor market. Affordable.

6. Big C is like the American Wal-Mart of Thailand, and located on the other side of the Superhighway. It’s good for cheap shopping, but cheap doesn’t usually equate to quality. (Don’t ever buy a bicycle from Big C. You might as well run your baht through a paper shredder.) So if you want A/C and to feel extra Thai then head on over for some KFC and “Wal-Mart” rollover shopping.

7. Bread. You want it, but you don’t have time to bake it nor do you have the desire to sit with a hot oven in hot Thailand. What’s a farangatan to do? You are in luck as there are several loaf options in Chiang Rai.

Most expats like the Tourist Inn and Bakery on Jet Yod Road. You’re kind of like, what? and then you walk in and see that they have bread.

8. Healthy Plus Homemade near Wat Chetuphon on Rajyotha Soi 3 also bakes bread. They are tiny half loaves, but I really like them. I also think they are a good restaurant, too.

Healthy home bread
Healthy homemade bread

9. Polar Boulangerie and Patisserie opened up about a year ago by Bangkokian Aye who sells all sorts of goodies like bagels and English muffins, too. Very modern décor. He bakes every Tuesday afternoon.

10. There are also bakeries in the mall /Central Plaza like Yamazuki’s, Little Bee and Tops, but I like supporting the smaller shops. I also think the bread tastes better.

11. I know I’m not supposed to tell you this, but I think Yui’s cookies and brownies are the best. She’s at the Golden Triangle Café across from CR Mall and next to the Golden Triangle Inn.

My favorite is the "gtc favorite" brownie goodness.
My favorite is the “gtc favorite” brownie goodness. Thanks Yui for the pic!

12. Or you could head over to the oldest bakery in Chiang Rai on Thanalai Road. I particularly like their carrot bread and the sweet old ladies are so helpful and kind. I’m looking forward to having more time and eating there. Until then, I grab some baked goods and I’m on my way…

chinese-bakery
You can’t miss it. Very Chinese looking.

Bonus: The Saturday (and Sunday) Walking Streets are also great places to pick up fresh produce. They also have OTOP products, too. I love it because CR’s Walking Street is so local (not touristy), but hey, depends on what you want.

What am I missing? I know I’m missing a lot because I’ve only lived here for 7 months. Please tell me and my readers! Thanks so much. xxoo, lc

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18 thoughts on “12 things I’ve learned about Chiang Rai (food shopping edition)

  1. You’re in Chiang Rai? That’s wonderful! I am also in Chiang Rai. I wanted to visit
    Polar Boulangerie and Patisserie but I don’t know how to get there. Map is not helping me because I’m not familiar with streets or road names. And even if I know their names, road signs all over Chiang Rai are written in Pasa Thai.

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    1. Do you know where that big Chinese temple is being constructed on one of the main downtown roads? Well, if you are at that temple, at the corner, as if you are visiting, you will be on Trairat Road and Polar is just half a minute from there.

      Good luck! And nice to meet you 😀

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  2. The never ending quest to find half-decent bread in Asia. BKK has a few places which do a pretty decent job but it’s still not as good as home.

    No som tam sandwiches for us…

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    1. 555+ Actually, if you are ever in CM, let me know. Good bread because a lot of farangatans reside in them trees.

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  3. Grocery shopping sounds convenient in CR. A short bike a drive, not bad, Haha, I also like it that you took the time to share the sweet treats with us 😀 “not everyone likes a smelly outdoor market” I don’t like outdoor markets when they have water everywhere all over the floor – unhygienic and it’s so easy to slip.

    I’ve always liked buying bread in Asia as they have the smaller loaves. Most of the bread in Australia come in very long loaves – hard to finish it for one person 🙂

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    1. Yes, I’m clumsy, too. So, I take these mincing steps whenever it rains or the floors are wet with goo or other fluids.

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  4. Hi Lani,
    In addition to your list you should try the deli store at the end of the small street on the right of Da Vinci Italian restaurant. They sell fresh bread, European cheeses and different kinds of meat. They also have organic food from their farm like salad, Greek yogurt, goat cheese, mozzarella and so on..

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    1. You seem to be everywhere! Thanks for the reminder. A friend recommended that place, but I have yet to go. Now, I’m excited. Thanks again!

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  5. Fun! I love the fresh markets they have in Asia, I wish it were that way in the states. There used to be a market on weekends about a 15 minute walk from my apartment, and they had Asian vendors who I could bargain with for veggies-made me feel like I was in Asia and I loved it! Going grocery shopping at an American style grocer just isn’t the same.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No, they are definitely not the same. I miss farmer’s markets back in the US because they are outdoor, but much cleaner and sanitary. I don’t miss the prices though.

      So many things can be grown locally so going to the fresh market is cheap and easy!

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    1. Thais love noodles. In fact, whenever I ask my students what their favorite food is, often it is noodles or noodle soup.

      But pasta is a different animal. They do like it and have incorporated it with Thai dishes and flavors, but fresh pasta in Thailand is rare. Of course, in Bangkok or Chiang Mai you can find restaurants that have it.

      I’ll check out your post, thanks!

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      1. Think of noodles as Asian noodles in their various forms for cooking: boiled, fried, soup…You know, noodles!

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