Mae Salong is a remote hilltop community of Chinese immigrants in Chiang Rai province. The majority of people who live here are the descendants of KMT fighters who, after the communist victory in 1949, fled to Burma and then Thailand. Despite having been away from China for so long, their culture is still very strong, and you’ll hear the Yunanese dialect of Chinese spoken much more than Thai (those who can speak Thai tend to do it with a funny Chinese accent). It goes without saying then that Chinese food, in particular dishes from Yunnan province, are also big here.
One of the best places to sample local food is at the morning market. It’s a tiny affair and starts early; it’s best to get there before 7am.
Beakfast at Mae Salong’s morning market means two things: soy milk and deep-fried fingers of dough (pictured at the top of this post). Unlike virtually every Thai person, I’m usually not a fan of this combo, but they were done so well here I had the same breakfast two days in a row. The paa thong kho (the Thai name for the deep-fried dough) were crispy without being oily, and the soy milk was thick and rich.
Other than shoppers, you’ll find the daily parade of monks at the market:
and members of the various local hill tribes:
Another breakfast option, if you’re a late riser, is a bowl of the town’s excellent egg and wheat noodles:
They’re topped with a mixture of thin slices of boiled pork, a homemade chili paste and deep-fried garlic. The dish is very popular and is available at several shops around town. This bowl was taken at a shop on the main stip called ‘Yunanist Noodle Shop’.