Local cuisine cooking classes are very popular activities the people do while travelling. Being the awful cook that I am, I’ve never really looked into doing one, as I’d rather eat out and be sure to have a nice meal than attempt to cook a cuisine very different from mine and massively mess it up. This changed drastically after I did a Thai cooking class in Chiang Mai.
We did a half-day cooking class at Grandma’s Home Cooking School and I loved the experience. We cooked four traditional Thai dishes and they were all amazing (if I can say so myself), all while receiving explanations about Thai cuisine, ingredients and culture. If you’re thinking of doing a cooking class in Chiang Mai, this is the guide for you! I wrote this guide for those a bit sceptical about cooking classes like me, including all the basic information like costs, what’s included, where to find one, what type of food you will cook and more. Hope you find this Chiang Mai cooking class guide useful!
Why should you do a cooking class in Chiang Mai?
Because there is no better way to learn about a country’s culture than through its food! Tasting the local food is one of my favourite things to do while travelling, but I’d never thought of cooking it myself as a way to learn more about it and appreciate it more. It’s also interesting to see what ingredients actually go into making these foreign and exotic dishes, once you break them down, they’re not so crazy after all! And what better way to share your travel experiences once you return home than by inviting all your friends to try some local dish you learnt to cook while on your travels?
Chiang Mai is an especially good place to do a cooking class since there are so many cooking schools to choose from. It’s one of the most common tourist activities to do so naturally, lots of local, family run restaurants joined the trend and have set up their own cooking schools. We did our class at Grandma’s Home Cooking School and can highly recommend the experience, both for the quality of the food, friendliness of the staff and beauty of the school.
Basic information about doing a cooking class in Chiang Mai
Before we jump into the details about doing a cooking class in Chiang Mai, such as the menu, how to choose one, where to book it and more, I figured we should look at some basics. I tried to answer all the initial questions that I also had about booking and doing a cooking class in Thailand.
How much does a cooking class in Chiang Mai cost?
The prices vary from school to school but generally speaking range from 1,000 THB for a half-day cooking class to 1,500 THB for a full-day cooking class per person.
What does the price include?
The price will generally include all the ingredients you will be cooking, all the necessary cooking gear, drinks, the explanations of a guide and chef throughout the class. Depending on where you’re staying and where the cooking school is, the price can include also hotel pick-up and drop-off. There are usually around 10 people per cooking class.
How long is the cooking class?
The half-day cooking classes are between 4-5 hours, with pick-ups around 8AM for the morning sessions and 3PM for the afternoon ones. These usually end around 1PM for the morning classes and 8PM for the evening ones. The full-day classes go from around 8AM to 4PM and last around 8-9 hours in total.
Where are the cooking classes in Chiang Mai?
All over the city and also beyond it! There are cooking schools literally all over Chiang Mai and in the surrounding countryside. The location however isn’t in my opinion a huge factor to consider when selecting a school, since most of them will offer pick up and drop off services from your accommodation.
How do you book a Chiang Mai cooking class?
You can book in person once you arrive in Chiang Mai, or you can book online beforehand. Depending on the time of year some cooking schools can get booked up way in advance so you might want to book online before to save your spot. You can book your class at Grandma’s Home Cooking School either here on GetYourGuide or here on Klook.
The menu for our Thai cooking class in Chiang Mai
As part of the class and included in the price you pay you will be cooking four Thai dishes; a soup, a curry, a Pad Thai and a dessert. For most of these four dishes you will be able to choose amongst a variety of ingredients or types of dish.
For example for the soup you will be able to select if you want a Hot & Sour Soup or a Coconut Soup, and whether you want it with shrimp, chicken or vegetarian.
Similarly when it comes to the curry you will be able to choose between a Green Curry, Red Curry, Kao Soi (the typical curry from the Chiang Mai area) and a Paneang Curry. One thing to note is that green and red curries are usually quite spicy so don’t forget about that when you choose what to eat! While you’ll be cooking yourself so you’ll be able to decide how many chillies to add, they will still have a spicier starting base than the other curries. For each of these you can decide whether you want it with chicken or vegetarian.
The Pad Thai is the same for everyone; the only choice you have to make is whether to have it with shrimp, chicken or vegetarian. Dessert will also be the same for everyone; the traditional mango sticky rice. You will also be able to choose a drink between Thai Milk Tea, Thai Lemon Tea and Butterfly Pea Flower Tea.
What to expect from a Thai cooking class in Chiang Mai
We’ve covered the basic questions, but what actually happens during a cooking class? How is it carried out? This varies a little bit if you do the half-day or full-day course but generally speaking offer similar experiences. If you do the full-day class this will often include also a trip to the local market where you will be selecting the ingredients to cook with, with the help of your guide that will tell you what to look out for. Some of the cooking schools are on farm grounds (Like Grandma’s Home Cooking School) and the class will include a tour of the farm. Unfortunately it was raining the day I did it so we missed this part of the class.
When it comes to the actual cooking most schools will have one main central cooking station where your guide will be showing you how to cook and giving instructions from, and there will be other cooking stations displayed in a horseshoe shape in front of it for the students. Most ingredients will be presented to you already in the right amount and already chopped, but there are some that you will have to prepare yourself or chop up a bit more.
Your guide will talk you through every dish step by step, outlining exactly when you need to do what and what heat you should be cooking things at (this was my biggest concern, that I’d just burn everything)! Even if you’re an awful cook like me, it’s pretty hard to mess it up. For some dishes she will make them alongside you as you cook, for others she will show you first how to do it so you get a better idea and then talk you through all the steps again as you do it yourself. Our guide and chef JoyZaa did this for Pad Thai and mango sticky rice as they are the dishes that require a little more preparation.
Our experience at Grandma’s Cooking School in Chiang Mai
This post was created in collaboration with Grandma’s Cooking School in Chiang Mai, but all thoughts and opinions are my own. It was a genuinely fun experience that I can highly recommend to anyone who is travelling to Thailand. I’ve been to Thailand three times and only managed to do a cooking class on my final trip, but wish I’d done one sooner, as it allowed me to learn more about Thai cuisine, which in turn made me appreciate it more when I was eating out. If it’s your first time to Thailand it’s also a great way to get introduced to the cuisine so you know what to order when you’re eating out or exploring a street market.
The staff were extremely friendly and helpful, helping along the slower cooks like me. We started off by cooking two dishes (the soup and Pad Thai), then once these two were ready we took a break to eat them before we started cooking the remaining two dishes (curry and mango sticky rice) which I found worked very well. It gave us enough of a break in between dishes so that we could actually enjoy what we had created, and time to the staff to sort out our cooking stations. The products were all organic and high quality, which resulted in mouth watering dishes!
So have I convinced you? Are you ready to attend your own cooking class in Chiang Mai? If yes then click here to book your class at Grandma’s Home Cooking School. If I haven’t convinced you yet, check out these food shots a few more times and then you might change your mind! Just kidding, but for real, cooking classes are great fun and an awesome way to spend a day while travelling around Thailand.
Have you done a cooking class on your travels before? How did you find it? Let me know in the comments below! For me it’s something that I often overlooked or considered not that exciting, but after doing a cooking class in Chiang Mai I am convinced otherwise! It was lots of fun, the food turned out really good and I learnt some new things about Thai culture and cuisine. I can highly recommend Grandma’s Home Cooking School for your Chiang Mai cooking class.
Looking for more Thailand travel advice? Check these posts:
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