My favourite vegan eats in Chiang Mai

Vegans are spoilt for choice in Chiang Mai. My favourite part of our trip to Thailand was that we were able to eat out so much because of all the healthy, vegan options available!

My favourite meal (and Kuba’s) in Chiang Mai had to be papaya salad with a side a rice. My second favourite meal was pad Thai with a side of rice. And our favourite dessert was mango sticky rice. I’m hungry just thinking about it!

Taste From Heaven (and sister restaurant Vegan Heaven)

This was our favourite restaurant in Chiang Mai HANDS DOWN. Taste From Heaven is an all-vegetarian restaurant conveniently located a short walk from the Tha Pha Gate. The menu includes Thai food in addition to Western dishes like veggie burgers, sandwiches, and wraps.

We ate at Taste From Heaven nearly every day because we loved their pad thai and papaya salad. I recommend trying the papaya salad with a side of rice if you want something lighter or the pad Thai (also with a side of rice). These were my favourite meals because they were fresh and healthy since they didn’t contain too much oil.

And they make the best fresh spring rolls! The tamarind dipping sauce is light and sweet. The mango sticky rice is okay but the portion is small. (Go to Dada Kafe for mango sticky rice instead!)

I also tried the banana blossom salad and the mushroom larb (a chopped dish with mushrooms, tofu, and plenty of mint) which were nice but too rich for my stomach. Definitely try a vegan Thai tea (ask for coconut milk) to wash it all down.

Vegan Heaven is Taste From Heaven’s new sister restaurant and is located right down the street. Vegan Heaven is 100% vegan (in case you couldn’t guess that!) with basically the same menu as Taste From Heaven with a few tasty deviations (like veggie sushi!).

Our typical meal of two papaya salads, three servings of rice, Thai tea and water cost around $8 just to give you some perspective on how affordable eating out can be!

It’s worth mentioning that Taste From Heaven is open late until 10 pm. Some other cafes close early, so swing by Taste From Heaven if you need a later dinner. 🙂

Dada Kafe

Dada Kafe is vegan-friendly and located a few shops down from Taste From Heaven. In addition to Thai food, the menu includes plenty of sandwiches, toasts, salads, and pasta, so you’ll have plenty to choose from.

Dada Kafe has the best mango sticky rice! Not only do they give you a large portion, the plating makes the most sense with the rice in a wee shallow dish. This way the rice soaks up all the coconut milk. Delicious!

Dada Kafe has the 2nd best papaya salad in my opinion. Unlike the papaya salad at Taste From Heaven, Dada Kafe’s doesn’t come with tofu but the portion is large. It’s best eaten with a side of rice. Yum!

Their fresh spring rolls were our 2nd favourite following those at Taste From Heaven. These come packed full of veggies, sprouts, with a little tofu. The tamarind dipping sauce is light and a little spicy.

I also tried the spicy tofu salad here and enjoyed it, but it wasn’t as good as the papaya salad by a long shot. Their Toast Yahweh (avocado, tomato, and lime) was nice too.

Our favourite beverage here was the passion fruit, orange, pineapple juice. They also make smoothies and other drinks if you fancy them.

The downside is that it closes early, around 845 pm if I remember correctly, and it closes around 245 pm on Sunday.

Morning Glory

Morning Glory is nearly all-vegan with the exception of two dishes which come with an option of honey or yoghurt. Everything else is vegan and tasty.

The pad thai, fresh spring rolls, and Thai tea were excellent, though the spring rolls were served with sauce poured on top. The sauce is noticeably heavier than the dipping sauces at Taste From Heaven or Dada Kafe but tasty nonetheless. I also ordered a massaman curry and it was amazing! Sadly, my stomach didn’t feel well afterwards…it must have contained too much fat. 😦

Kuba tried the mango sticky rice and enjoyed it, though it comes with red/darkish rice instead and is served with mango and banana. I still prefer Dada Kafe’s mango sticky rice, though!

The first time Kuba and I visited here we went for a late lunch. The service was super quick since only one other person was in the restaurant at that time. Then we had dinner here with two friends, much later, and the service was terrible. The food was still delicious but just keep that in mind. If you are in a hurry, plan to eat lunch here instead of dinner.

Even though the food at Morning Glory was tasty, we decided that the food was just too oily for us so we stuck to Taste From Heaven and Dada Kafe.

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Pad Thai, fresh spring rolls, Thai tea and mango smoothie
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Pad Thai, fresh spring rolls, and Thai tea
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Fresh spring rolls

Salad Concept

We only ate at Salad Concept once but I’m glad we stopped by. We had smoothies at all the restaurants but our favourite smoothie was from Salad Concept. Try the mango strawberry smoothie because it comes with half a mango on the side.

They also have other food on the menu but we didn’t make it past the smoothie pages. We also had excellent banana passion fruit smoothies at Imm Aim, but it’s quite out of the way and we didn’t like the menu or vibes there. We settled on a smoothie since we walked all the way over and we weren’t disappointed. (I’m sure you could easily order a banana passion fruit smoothie elsewhere, though.)

Bodhi Tree Cafe

We visited Bodhi Tree Cafe only once because we didn’t like it so much. The panang curry was tasty but not that exciting. They have spring rolls on the menu with the option of ‘fried’ or ‘not fried,’ so we ordered them ‘not fried’ assuming they would be fresh. Unbeknownst to us, ‘not fried’ spring rolls means ‘baked.’ Baked ones are fine, I guess, but the filling wasn’t so good. It mainly consisted of rice noodles and tofu with minimal veg.

Also, this cafe is surrounded by trees so the mosquitos were terrible!

Apparently, there are two Bodhi Tree locations, labelled Bodhi Tree Cafe and Bodhi Tree Cafe 2 on Google Maps. We went to the first one but my friend Angelina tried out the other one and enjoyed it! So the second one might be worth scoping out after all. 🙂

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Panang curry with baked spring rolls

Have you visited Chiang Mai before? What are your favourite vegan-friendly restaurants?

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Why we’re not moving to Thailand…

Kuba and I wanted to visit Thailand to scope it out because we were considering moving there this summer. In the fruit vegan community, people speak about Thailand as though it’s a magical place full of fresh fruit and sunshine, and Chiang Mai is THE place where one can live as a vegan in a tropical paradise for very cheap.

So of course we were interested in moving to Thailand! The fact that you can rent flats (or live out of hotel rooms) for cheap is alluring, in addition to the abundance of affordable fruit.

 

We spent the majority of the three weeks in Chiang Mai with only two days in Bangkok. First I’ll go into the things we liked about Thailand and then I’ll explain why we’ve decided that we don’t want to live in Thailand long-term and where we are moving to instead.

What we liked about Thailand

Cheap accommodation.

We found accommodations for decent prices though we should have booked them in advance. We stayed in four different hotels in Chiang Mai. The prices per night ranged from $6 to $25, though the $6 per night hotel was terrible so we ended up booking a second hotel on top of it for three nights (one for $25 per night) and it was much nicer. Including our hotels in Bangkok (for the two nights we spent there), we only spent $365 on accommodation for 3 weeks.

Granted, we would have been able to find something for cheaper if we had booked our rooms in advance, but nearly everyone we spoke to about Thailand advised us to just wait until we arrived. The problem with waiting until we arrived was that we were travelling to Chiang Mai during a peak time (New Years weekend) so everything was booked up already.

Healthy vegan options when eating out.

This was my favourite part of our trip to Thailand. We were able to eat out often, usually twice per day without breaking the bank. Usually, we’d spend between $11 – $28 a day on eating out. That isn’t much for two people, especially when we’d order anything and everything we wanted on the menu! Our typical meal of two papaya salads, three sides of rice, Thai tea, and water cost around $8 for the entire meal, just to give you some perspective.

The best part about eating out like this was that we had so many healthy vegan options to choose from. Kuba and I have never eaten out together in the UK because you simply can’t find healthy high carb low fat options in restaurants or cafes here (at least none worth the expensive cost). Our meals in Thailand included fresh veggies, fruit, and rice or rice noodles. Yum!

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The fruit (was okay).

We assumed the fruit in Thailand would blow us away. I liked the passionfruit and bananas there, and Kuba LOVED the mangoes, but we didn’t care too much for the watermelon or other fruits. I was so disappointed in the watermelon! The mediocre fruit is one of the reasons why we ate out so much. We did visit Thailand in the winter so obviously, the fruit situation would be different in the summer months, but none of the fruit spoke to me in the same way that fruit spoke to me when I was in Spain, Slovenia, or Croatia.

The fruit markets didn’t impress me either. I’d rather shop at the markets in Ljubljana or Zagreb, to be honest!

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And the hot, sunny weather!

Enough said!

And now, why we don’t want to live in Thailand long-term:

Intense air pollution!

The smog was so thick! It covered the city in a haze. When we first arrived in Bangkok, we wondered why so many people wore masks, then we realised these masks are necessary if you want to minimise the amount of exhaust you breathe in! At the end of the day, my skin was covered with a thin film of grime from all of it floating around in the air. It was absolutely disgusting.

Air pollution of this magnitude is a deal breaker for me. Even if the fruit were stellar, we still couldn’t live in Thailand long term because breathing heavily polluted air like this for a long period of time isn’t healthy. We didn’t even think about air pollution being a determining factor when it comes to travel…but now I know it’s something we need to consider in the future.

Lack of waste management.

Rubbish bins are difficult if not impossible to find in public. People just leave bags of rubbish anywhere they please. There’s rubbish laying around everywhere and the city isn’t clean at all. And of course, there’s no recycling. I can’t live in a place where waste management isn’t taken seriously, no matter how cheap the accommodations are.

Not being able to use the tap water.

You can’t drink the tap water because of waterborne parasites, so we had to drink and brush our teeth with bottled water only. This got old real quick. Not only is not being able to drink or cook with tap water annoying, it’s wasteful because we’d end up using so many plastic water bottles and containers. If I have the option of living in a country where I can drink the tap water without getting terribly sick, that’s what I’ll choose.

Also, in most of the hotels we stayed at, we weren’t able to flush toilet paper because the plumbing couldn’t handle it. Keeping soiled toilet paper in a bin in our room doesn’t work for me.

The cities aren’t pedestrian friendly.

The sidewalks in the Chiang Mai are tiny, taken over by food stalls and scooters, crumbling apart or non-existent. Instead, the city is scooter friendly. Chiang Mai doesn’t have a pedestrian-only area, so it doesn’t matter where you go, scooters and tuk-tuks are right behind you.

The traffic is insane! Roads have lanes but these are only suggestions. We found a few pedestrian street crossing signals but again, these were only suggestions. The only way to cross the street is to just cross in front of traffic and hope they slow down. And all this traffic creates lots of noise. Luckily, our last hotel in Chiang Mai was in a quieter part of the city so we were able to get some rest.

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We were able to handle these things for a few weeks because of all the pros of visiting Thailand (namely the amazing vegan Thai food and hot weather!). But by the end of the trip, I was SO READY to return to the UK. We could have cut the trip short by a week and I would have been fine with that. I’m not sure how anyone could live in Chiang Mai for months…we met some people who regularly live there for five months at a time!

We were only in Bangkok for two days but we have no desire to explore it further. Chiang Mai is nice and more chill than Bangkok for sure, but it’s just another tourist city to me and not a very pleasant one at that. It only had one small park in the south-west corner of the city (and no surprise, it was always busy!). We did do one day trip outside the city which was fun, but I still wouldn’t want to live in rural Thailand because of the water and rubbish situation. I’d assume the air would be cleaner, though.

If we had to visit Thailand again, we’d probably stick to the islands because the air would be cleaner. I’m not so sure the rubbish or water situations would be any better. Or we could visit Chiang Mai again for a week or so, just to have another eating out holiday. (I really do love Thai food!)

I’m still glad we visited Thailand this time because now we know it isn’t for us. We still had fun, ate loads of delicious food, and had the chance to meet up with some friends I met during my 6-month trip around Europe. And for a three week holiday in a country on the other side of the globe, we didn’t spend that much either. Money well spent!

Since Thailand is off the table, we are moving to Torremolinos, Spain in June. We’ll be there for three months and then we’re off to Zagreb, Croatia. We already sorted our accommodations and flights. I’m so excited to travel the world with Kuba by my side! This summer will be way more fun than last summer when I travelled around Europe by myself. Can’t wait!

For the rest of my Thailand photos (mostly food!), check out my gallery.

Air China and a layover: what to expect.

Hello all!

Thailand’s been a blast so far! We are just about one week into our 3-week trip and I’ve been crazy busy with vlogging lately. Here’s my Thailand playlist from my YouTube channel if you’re curious how we’re getting on. The playlist starts with my packing list and then goes into my (almost) daily vlogs:


The 30-hour journey from Dundee, Scotland to Bangkok was no doubt tiring but we didn’t have any issues apart from Air China’s strict hand luggage weight requirements and dealing with China’s airport security.

Unbeknownst to us, hand luggage on Air China must weigh 7 kilos or less. This isn’t much if you’re used to packing everything you own in one backpack, and especially if you’re carrying laptops and cameras! Fortunately, they allow you to carry on an additional small bag as long as it weighs 4 kilos or less. We had to unpack and rearrange our belongings to take up four bags between us instead of just two before checking into our flight. This doesn’t make sense to me because our bags ended up taking up more space on the plane, but that’s how Air China operates!

We also had a minor issue with our vegan meals aboard our flights. We requested vegan meals in advance (when we initially booked our flights) because Air China had vegan meals listed as an option. We were served three meals total: two on the 10+ hour flight taking us from London to Beijing, and one on the 5+ hour flight from Beijing to Bangkok. The first meal was completely vegan (as far as I’m aware) and tasty in my opinion. The second meal included a non-vegan croissant and yoghurt cup (both labelled with non-vegan ingredients), so clearly there was a misunderstanding about vegan vs. vegetarian food. Our third meal was also vegan but not as tasty as the first.

Even though the food was tasty enough for me to eat on the plane, I’d much prefer to have my own food. We brought homemade veggie sushi with us the morning we headed to the airport but ended up eating them all before we boarded the plane. Next time, I’ll make more so we don’t need to rely on airline food alone.

We also brought some fruit with us, but since we had a layover in China, we had to eat all of it before landing in Beijing. China restricts imported produce (as well as other materials and substances) so make sure you research this in advance!

Our layover in China was annoying since we had to go through airport security again. Security wasn’t a breeze at all since we had to wait in a long queue to get our passport checked and then Chinese security personnel wanted to examine every metal and electrical object in our bags, including spoons, spare change, and camera chargers. We had to practically empty our bags and everyone was patted down. They considered confiscating my rechargeable battery as well but after some deliberation, they returned it. It took us an hour before we were at the departure gate for our second flight. Luckily, we still had an hour before our flight departed.

So lesson learned! Even though I can’t really complain about Air China as an airline since our seats were comfortable, the flight attendants super friendly and attentive, and our flights were on time, I don’t think I’d want to fly through China again just because I wouldn’t want to risk missing my connecting flight. We have the same layover on our return to the UK except we only have an hour to spare. Hopefully, we can make it through security without a hitch!


Next on my blogging agenda: our arrival in Bangkok and the day we spent there, the overnight sleeper train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai fruit markets, and my favourite vegan eats! I’m planning on posting up reviews for all the vegan places we’ve tried in addition to any other useful travel info for Thailand as soon as I get a chance.

Until then, I hope you check out my videos! As always, feel free to keep in touch with me on social media.

Thanks for reading!