If you’ve heard how amazing it is to travel Thailand, I can almost guarantee it was backed up by an explanation on how incredible the food is! Indulging in all of the country’s mouthwatering dishes (and gosh, there are a lot) is an absolute must when visiting Thailand! 🤤 Just be prepared to make the most out of that gym membership when you return home if you’re anything like me!
Whether you are picking it from a local vendor, sitting on a plastic chair on the busy streets of Bangkok or dining in a traditional restaurant with insane views… the food is always cheap, tasty and delivered to you with a smile.
Is the street food safe?
A very common question I get asked is, “is it safe to eat the street food in Thailand?” and genuinely, my first and honest instinct is to scream HELL YES! 😂
Of course you want to be cautious when choosing what street vendor to go for but that’s not to say you shouldn’t eat it. At busy vendors, the ingredients being used are probably some of the freshest you’ve tasted but just make sure you use your common sense; follow the crowds, eat where the locals eat and just make sure your food is cooked thoroughly before demolishing those delicious flavours. Don’t do yourself out of the tastiest and cheapest food you can get your hands on!
With so much variety from noodles and curries, to meat and vegetarian options, it is very difficult to choose the ultimate Thai dish so that’s why we’ve come up with a variety of 8 local dishes that are perfect for you to try for the first time!
#1 Pad Thai
Arguably the travellers favourite; Pad Thai is an absolute classic when it comes to Thai cuisine so whether you’re ordering it in a restaurant or picking it up from a local street vendor… it is the perfect dish to try for your first time! Stir fried rice noodles served with a meat of your choice, peanuts, a scrambled egg, bean sprouts and plenty of other fresh vegetables… simple but very, very tasty! Be careful though, after that first taste you may just get hooked and find yourself ordering it for breakfast, lunch and dinner!
#2 Tum Yum Soup
For those who like a little more kick, this dish is the epitome of Thai flavours. Bursting with lemongrass, chilli, galangal, kaffir lime leaves and lime juice; this bold bowl of steaming goodness will certainly get your senses going with its hot & sour taste and distinctive aromatic fragrance. Traditionally served with fresh prawns and mushrooms but that’s not to say the veggies have to miss out on this popular dish… tofu is a popular meat substitute here in Thailand.
#3 Pad Krapow
“Fried Basil” is another very popular one-plate dish that you’ll find in every restaurant and vendor. You may have guessed by the name, Thai Basil is the main ingredient in this flavoursome dish, stir fried with green beans, soy sauce and A HELLA LOT of hot chillies if you’re a local. Pork is a popular meat to accompany these flavours but again, whether it be chicken or tofu it’s delicious either way! Usually served with a side of rice and a fried egg on top 👌
A little tip… don’t be afraid to ask for “pet nit noi” which means “little spice” if you’re wanting to turn down the heat a little!
#4 Pak Boong
(Morning Glory 😉)
And yes, we are still on the topic of “Best Food Dishes in Thailand”! 😅
Morning Glory is in fact a very popular green vegetable in Thailand and is certainly one of my absolute favourites. This spinach like vegetable is actually pretty healthy… or it was until they fry it with soy sauce, garlic and chillies maybe? But honestly, although it may sound simple there is something about the spicy, salty and crunchy flavours of this dish that always leave my taste buds tingling for more! Enjoy this dish on it’s own or as I tend to do… order it as a side with every single main! 🐷
#5 Som Tum
(Spicy Papaya Salad 🌶)
WOW! Who knew a “salad” could be so tantalising on those taste buds! If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, I would 100% recommend this very popular dish amongst the locals. Originating from Isaan in North Eastern Thailand, it consists of shredded green papaya, tomatoes, carrots, onions, peanuts, dried shrimp, runner beans, sugar, tamarind, fish paste, lime juice, garlic and chillies. However, the secret to this dish is in its method. In order to amplify the flavours of these fresh ingredients, they mix them all together using a pestle and mortar to leave you with a taste you’ll never forget!
#6 Khao Soi
Another Northern delight, but one that is alot milder than that of the Papaya Salad! Khao Soi is certainly one of the most popular dishes in Northern Thailand and should 100% be on your must try list when visiting Chiang Mai. This mouthwatering coconut curry, noodle soup is most commonly served with chicken (but again, as you’ve guessed it, just opt for another meat or veggie option should you prefer) with a mix of both soft and dried egg noodles, shallots and a squeeze of lime juice to finish! Sweet, creamy, a little bit spicy and DAMN RIGHT DELICIOUS 👌
#6 Panang Curry
So when you think of Thai cuisine, no doubt the words “Thai Green Curry” or “Thai Red Curry” come to mind? Of course they are popular dishes here but let me introduce you to a new guy. The reason I say this, is that for an introduction into Thai curries, I would be confident saying Panang is the perfect choice and very popular amongst travellers. It may have something to do with it being a little more “safe” when it comes to its spice but this thick creamy curry is delicious with any meat or vegetarian option and a side of rice to soak up those tasty traditional Thai flavours.
#6 Mango Sticky Rice
Moving onto the most important meal of the day… DESSERT! 😍
Mango Sticky Rice is the ultimate way to finish any Thai meal and trust me when I say, once you’ve had it once, you won’t be able to stay away! Made with steamed rice, lashings of sweet condensed milk and the freshest mango you ever did taste… This simple dish hits that little spot made just for pudding, perfectly!
WOW! Is anyone else hungry now or just me? 🤤
Once you’ve tasted these delicious dishes for yourself and you’ve fallen in love with the flavours of Thailand, it’s almost a given you’re going to want the recipes to cook up a storm when you get back home.
Check out our 15 day Thailand trip to find out more about our authentic cooking class with a local legend in the heart of the Chiang Mai jungle.
Whether you are joining us on a tour or travelling alone to Thailand, make sure you indulge in as many of those epic dishes as you can while you are there and let us know your favourite by tagging us on Instagram @feelfree.travel