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! (*As of October 2018 it is closed for renovation. It should open up again in December.)
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.
*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.
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. (*The Golden Triangle Cafe is no longer there. So sad.)
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…
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