From Pad Thai to Fruit Shakes! – What food to eat in Thailand
Whether you are a lifelong committed Vegan or a bug eating backpacker, Thailand will satisfy your taste-buds & cater for your culinary wishes.
You will not be disappointed by what’s on offer, from street food to top restaurants at peanut prices, there really is something for every occasion.
Many people have something they don’t like, or choose not to consume for health reasons,
so learning the key Thai phrases will serve you well.
Being able to request none (or a little) sugar, milk or MSG for example, for some, is really important for nutritional needs.
‘Nik Noi’ is Thai for ‘a little’, ‘Mai Sai’ means ‘none in/on’.
If you are sensitive to spice, you may want to speak up when you order!
Even requesting no spice can often lead to a face flushing hot rush of a dining experience!
Oh boy do the Thai’s like to spice things up in the kitchen!
Combined with the hot & humid weather, be prepared to sweat!
Again, for some, spice is a big no, so just brush up on those basic words,
a little phrasebook or just a few notes with key words can go a long way.
It’s great etiquette to at least attempt to speak in the native tongue when you are a visitor, the attempt, no matter how terrible, will be appreciated
& you are much more likely to be granted your request!
The appreciative face of a Thai local when you ask for something in their mother tongue is so worth the effort,
communication speaks volumes, it really does.
The little things, like asking where the toilet is, is much better received in broken, newly learnt Thai, than a foreign language.
Hong Naam’ means toilet!
Just like spice is added to all savoury meals as standard, with additional pots on the side to turn up the heat even more,
sugar is also added in abundance to most sweet dishes. As if mango sticky rice wasn’t sweet enough, don’t be surprised when the syrup comes out!
If you are watching the calories or just don’t want to keep consuming excessive amounts of this refined sweetness, be sure to speak up when ordering!
You wouldn’t necessarily expect a truck load of sugar & syrup to be added to a fruit smoothie as standard, but in Thailand it generally is,
so to avoid crunching down on those sugars with your first gulp, voice your preference & you’ll be satisfied with your purchase!
The Thai word for sugar is ‘Nam Tam’, so asking for no sugar in your fruit shake would be like so; ‘Mai Sai Nam Tan’, be polite & add ‘Ka’ to the end,
it’s kind of like thank you, it softens the request!
Fruit in Thailand
The Mango’s in Thailand are amongst the tastiest in the world, so incredibly fresh & flavoursome. There are plenty of opportunities to taste the classic dessert that is Mango sticky rice, be it on the side of the street or served up after a massage!
It’s sweetness a real delight, a dessert gratefully received!
The fruits available in Thailand are so weird & wonderful, with so many unrecognisable kinds on the markets, the sides of the streets, or growing freshly in the gardens of restaurants. Tasting as many as possible can become a bit of a game,
the biggest dare is to taste the local delicacy, the Durian fruit,
you’ll smell it from a distance, it’s potency lingers in the air for minutes after is wafted past in a strangers bag.
It’ actually banned in some establishments, this isn’t just down to its foul smell.
It’s known to attract giant ants, so as a caution,
its sometimes strictly banned!
Locals are known to love it, tourists will generally be half & half, love it or hate it. If you hate it, even brushing your teeth won’t rid the taste from the back of your throat, you’ll forever remember the pungent aroma!
A safer & perhaps more refreshing fruit to indulge in, would be a fresh coconut! The top is cracked open for you & replaced with a straw,
the juicy fluids can be drunk, full of electrolytes, fantastic for rehydrating!
Then once you are finished drinking, use a spoon to scoop out the coconut flesh inside, full of healthy fats,
a coconut can actually turn into a meal if you eat it too!
Depending on your preferences, be sure to explore & seek out the hidden gems serving up the very best authentic Thai food!
There are so many dining experiences to be had, quite literally from one end of the scale to the other, from the cheapest street food you’ll ever have, to the tastiest unidentified dish that you’ll never know the name of,
Thailand is effortlessly catering for most requirements & giving the ultimate food heaven indulgences!
Some of the very best authentic dishes will be found on the streets, usually by accident,
whilst going about your day.
With only Thai being spoken, you’ll have no idea what to expect, but the seats are full of regular local customers, all perched on plastic chairs,
little spoon in one hand, wooden chopsticks in the other,
water being served in metal cups from a giant container & scoop your own ice.
Does Thailand use Chopsticks?
Using chopsticks, is all part of the experience, but forks are usually available too! It’s a skill worth practicing, one just like riding a bike, once learnt, it’ll never be forgotten.
You’ll be in for a treat, whatever the dish! The tastes will linger with you all evening and you’ll swear to be back,
only never to find it again!
Top tip; Use an app like MapsMe to pin drop favourite locations.
This could see you returning to your favourite spots at ease! Become a local with repeat custom & you’ll be treated like one in no time.
When your face is recognised, a friendly greet is given. Thailand has a very strong sense of community, looking out for one another, being kind & generous.
Blend in with these unwritten rules & you’ll be accepted right away!
I’ve never come across an unhappy customer when it comes to food in Thailand.
Except those unlucky enough to pick up bacteria or parasite infections, which can often be down to poor hygiene standards or contaminated water.
It’s part of the territory & you can only do so much to air on the side of caution.
My advice would be to avoid ice, buy bottled water or use the fill up drinking water stations.
Food wise, use your own initiative, trust your gut instinct,
not the one that’s making your mouth water, but the one that’s scanning out the cooking area & drawing conclusions!
If you are eating meat, ensure its hot & cooked thoroughly, be it in a restaurant or street food, undercooked meat plays a big part in bacteria getting into your gut, causing nasty issues.
Not something you’d like to experience on your travels, or anytime!
Bacterial infections can lay dormant for months.
Raw fish also has a lot to answer for, every individual will have their own judgement, but generally, sticking to higher end restaurants for raw fish is a smart way to play it safe.
Many cafes will sell Kombucha, this is a great way to add good probiotic cultures to your gut, so snap up a glass or a bottle if you get the chance,
its bitter taste (coming for Apple Cider Vinegar) is often quite strong the first time you taste it, but worth it. Pick a powerful flavour that’ll override the punch!
Vegan Restaurants in Thailand
Vegan & Vegetarian options are usually pretty easy to come by, switching meat or fish to Tofu or vegetables in most sit down food places & restaurants is standard practice.
There are many sole Vegetarian & Vegan restaurants in Thailand, catering for its thousands of passers-by & residents that have such requirements.
These specific restaurants can often be a little more expensive but you get what you pay for, the quality is usually very high,
being served fresh, organic & premium ingredients, comes at a cost.
Typically, non-meat dishes are cheaper in meat & veggie food spots, but stand-alone Vegetarian or Vegan establishments will bump up the price a little,
often using higher quality produce.
Street foods have plenty of veggie choices too, from grilled corn to sweet potato, deep fried bananas & stir fried morning glory!
It’s usual for Oyster or fish sauce to be used in stir fry’s, so if that’s an issue, let them know before cooking commences!
When walking the street markets, be prepared for a LOT of meat on show,
from freshly butchered flesh, to sticks of all sorts being barbequed, intestines, feet, you name it, its being used. No parts are wasted!
If your meat is chewy, or has a taste you don’t recognise, chances are, it’s something you’ve never eaten before,
a part of an animal you’d never consider using or even an animal you’d never consider cooking!
As for bugs, barbequed scorpions, meal worms, even spiders, will be presented on sticks, especially in the lively areas at night, luring in tourists to challenge their friends to chomp down on the crunchy delights.
Packed with protein & a chargrilled taste, what’s not to like?!
The bug life isn’t just for the party scene, these little mites are a traditional Thai delicacy,
so stalls of various bugs, filled into paper bags as if they were sweets, is a normal sight.
Locals will even scoop up the hundreds of termites that flock into buildings when the rain falls, grazing on them & offering them to passers-by.
Pad Thai is possibly one of the most well-known dishes in Thailand, served on most streets, in various ways,
you can fill your tummy on these tasty noodles, beansprouts & egg, tofu or meat for as little as 30Baht.
Squeeze on the lime & add extra spice if you like it, this dish is one that people miss like home once they leave!
An exclusively northern dish is Kao Soi, you are presented with a bowl of noodles, cooked in a tomato & coconut based sauce, with a chicken leg,
all topped with divine crunchy fried unidentified pieces of taste heaven!
Again, a squeeze of lime on this & tuck in.
One of the most popular authentic Thai dishes, only to be found in the most Northern parts of Thailand!
This will set you back around 30-50Baht in most places.
Once you’ve tasted Kao Soi, you’ll be on the hunt for more! Guaranteed!
Quick, tasty & cheap food can be found readily in Thailand, as can high end restaurants with mouth-watering offerings.
So whether it’s a street food market or a top Sushi spot, you won’t be disappointed.
It’ always good to leave reviews on the likes of Trip Advisor or in local online social media groups, it’s nice to leave good publicity for the places you particularly enjoy,
although, the backstreet food carts where you find the most incredible Pad Thai, is unlikely to have
running water, let alone a Facebook page.
Some things are just destined for the moment, for the immediate enjoyment & satisfaction! The rest of the world will have to find it for themselves.
Tipping for food is a discretionary choice. This really comes down to the individual & the personal experience.
It isn’t expected to tip (in most places) unless you’ve had a particularly good meal.
Tipping for street food will often get a very odd reaction, although it IS appreciated,
it’s clearly not the normal etiquette to do so.
But it’s nice to be nice & tipping can be a lovely gesture, for someone selling a dish for 30Baht, a tiny tip, of say 10Baht, is a 30% mark up on the profit.
If you can do it, do it.
Show your appreciation for the incredible Thai food your taste buds get to experience in this food haven Country!