The best vegetarian guide for Chiang Mai is made by Ath (Phongsathon Kitchawet), who is a webdesigner, artist, photographer, writer and idealist.
When Ath moved to Chiang Mai in 2000, he found the Vegetarian Restaurant Guide to Chiang Mai, Thailand map by David Freyer (15 March 2000). This map showed 39 vegetarian restaurants and 8 veggie-friendly restaurants, giving a total of 47 restaurants.
Chiang Mai Municipal city’s area is 40.216 square kilometer, so in 2000 the average was almost one restaurant per square kilometer…true heaven for vegetarians like myself.
Chiang Mai definitely has the most vegetarian restaurants in Thailand.
Surveying in September 2007 by Ath, there were more than 28 vegetarian restaurants in Chiang Mai City Municipality area. Less than 2000 because of closure or change from vegetarian to vegetarian-friendly (also meat) restaurant.
However, the Chiang Mai vegetarian scene is still vibrant, with more than 18 new vegetarian restaurants opening since 2000 (half the restaurants currently open) and the average is 1 restaurant per 1.43 km2, which is still high.
Chiang Mai’s broad cultural mix also plays a large role with Thai, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Indian, Muslim and western influences evident in Chiang Mai’s vegetarian restaurants.
Local culture seems to be less of an influence with some notable exceptions. The famous Northern Thai monk Khruba Sriwichai became a vegetarian in 1903. However this seems to have had only a limited effect on local people.
Even though there are more vegetarian restaurants in Chiang Mai than other Thai cities there is still only 1 vegetarian restaurant for every 5,356 people in the municipal area (population of 149,959, March 2006).When you consider the social, ethical and environmental factors, this is still very few.
Besides all of this very interesting information that Ath could give me, the website also has Thai language learning (with audio), a great map of vegetarian restaurants, and sight seeing information for Chiang Mai etc.
To visit the website – go to: http://www.geocities.com/chiangmaivegetarian/indexeng.htm