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The Best Cooking School In Chiang Mai Thailand

Grandma’s Cooking School in Chiang Mai

As soon as our trip to Chiang Mai was booked I knew the next step was to reserve space in a cooking class. Both Jason and I have always adored Thai food and were eager to learn to make it at home. 

After doing some research I saw that Grandma’s Home Cooking School was highly rated and included a trip to a local market. And at just $32 a person, it was also a great deal. 

The cooking school offers a morning session with a market tour or an afternoon session without the market. The price is the same, so I highly recommend the morning. Additionally, the entire experience is outdoors, so with slightly cooler temperatures in the morning, it was the obvious choice.

We have long asserted that food tours and cooking classes are an ideal way to experience another culture and have made these experiences part of our travel in New York, Vietnam, Italy, Spain, and beyond. If this isn’t something you’ve done before, I highly recommend it.

And spoiler alert, both Jason and I absolutely loved this class. It has gone straight to the top of our favorite travel experiences. Even if we had paid double or triple the price, we would still have felt like it was an excellent deal.

Vegetables in a market in Chiang Mai Thailand
Vegetables in a market in Chiang Mai

Visiting a local market

After pick-up from our hotel we went straight to a market where we were introduced to our guide and cooking instructor, Tay. She led us through the market providing information about traditional spices, fruit and veggies, and other classic Thai ingredients. We had some time to explore on our own before returning to the van and driving to Grandma’s Cooking School.

If you’ll be spending a few days in Thailand after the cooking class, I’d definitely recommend picking up some fruit and snacks at the market. This experience was close to the end of our stay, so we didn’t do this, but we did bring home some spices.

Pavilion at Grandma's Cooking School in Chiang Mai Thailand
Lanna Pavilion at the cookng school

Cooking school set-up

Once arriving at the school we were directed to our outdoor classroom which they describe as Lanna Pavilions. Each pavilion has cooking stations for about ten students along with a central station for the instructor. At the back are two long tables where students will enjoy each of their entrees.

There is no air conditioning at the school, but each pavilion does have large ceiling fans which did help lower the temperature. There are also shades which could be lowered if the sun was too intense. 

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A tour of the garden at Grandma's Cooking School in Chiang Mai Thailand
A garden tour with our guide and instructor, Tay

Touring the gardens

Tay instructed us to each find a cooking station where we could leave our bags or backpacks. Then she pointed out the wide brim hats we could borrow so we could tour the organic garden. She also encouraged us to put on the provided apron.

Then we were off to the chicken coop. Most of the ingredients for our class would come straight from Grandma’s garden, including the eggs for the pad thai. After each student gathered one egg, we followed Tay through the garden as she picked a variety of vegetables and herbs commonly used in Thai cuisine. Students were encouraged to smell and taste any of freshly picked produce from the garden.

The garden tour was brief, but hot, so come prepared with sunscreen. Bottled water is provided which is wise to drink frequently.

Jason cooking at Grandma's Cooking School in Chiang Mai Thailand
Jason cooking

Let’s get cooking

We returned to our outdoor classroom and found at each of our stations a small menu. Students could choose a beverage and then specify the type of soup, curry, and pad thai they wished to prepare. These orders went to the prep station behind our pavilion and soon we each received the ingredients needed for our first entree.

Each cooking station had everything we would need for the next few hours. Before each entree all the necessary ingredients were delivered to us and after the entree was complete the station was cleaned and organized by some amazingly quick, quiet, and efficient staff–I really need this kind of help at home!

Pad thai with shrimp
Pad Thai with shrimp made by Jason

 

Tay walked us through each step of the meal prep. And with just eight students in our group it was always easy to ask questions. Anytime she needed to demonstrate something we would gather around her central station. After an entree was complete we took the plate to the long tables and enjoyed our creations. 

Over the course of the morning I made chicken coconut soup, green curry with chicken, and vegetarian pad thai. Everything was seriously delicious. After we finished eating our final dish we were presented with mango sticky rice for dessert. 

 

A bridge over a pond at Grandma's Cooking School in Chiang Mai Thailand
The lovely grounds of Grandma’s Cooking School

The lovely grounds

The grounds of Grandma’s Cooking School are large and lovely. About twenty Lanna Pavilions are spread across the property. In the middle a rolling lawn surrounds a pond flanked by a few sprawling trees providing shade. There is a fair amount of downtime during and after the class, so definitely take the time to enjoy the grounds. If you’re into social media, you’ll find several picture perfect spots. 

Students are always welcomed to stroll through the gardens if they want more time to explore it than the brief tour provided. I personally found the chickens to be entertaining and returned to watch them after we had finished eating. 

This was by far the loveliest setting I’ve ever seen for a cooking school.

Everything you need to know about the best cooking school in Chiang Mai

Now for the practical stuff. 

Including time for hotel pick-up and drop-off, you’ll need to allow five to six hours for this experience. And if you ate as much as we did, you’ll also need to allow time for a nap when you return to your accommodations.

While there are no age minimums listed on the website, I would not recommend this for children under twelve years of age. You’ll be working with open flames and sharp knives during the entire class.

The class–and the entire experience–move at a leisurely pace. You could probably cook all three entrees in half the time provided, but this is meant to be relaxed and easygoing.

Cold bottled water is available throughout the class and is included in the price. Soft drinks and beer can be purchased.

Can you actually cook these items at home? Yes! I’ve now made coconut soup and pad thai several times. The only caveat is that some of the ingredients may be hard to find. My local grocery stores do not carry the type of rice noodles commonly used in pad thai, so I ordered them on Amazon instead. If you don’t have a house stocked with many Asian ingredients like we do, you’ll want to find an Asian market like H Mart. But once you begin to acquire these items, it will become easier and easier to make delicious Thai food at home.

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