When asked what they like
most about Thailand, visitors often answer the
food. The creation of Siam servings is a masterful
mix of salty, sweet, sour, spicy and bitter.
The spice factor, often too
much for most westerners, is used for medicinal purposes,
combined with the use of market fresh vegetables and
the choicest local herbs for bursting flavours and prevention
of common ailments.
The food is low in fat and
high in fibre and most dishes, considering they taste
so good, are surprisingly nutritious.
But it is not only the unique
and pleasantly pungent tastes that visitors love, the
cost of eating in Thailand is as satisfying as the pleasure
experienced by the palate. One of Thailands major
industries is agriculture. Grains, meats, vegetables
and most importantly rice are all locally produced at
The country also has rich
waters filled with fresh and sea water creatures, which
are shipped across the land, making seafood and fish
dishes some of the most popular choices. Add to this
the natural innovation and long standing techniques
used by Thais in food preparation and there are few
who visit who cannot be satisfied.
Fresh Oysters Thai style
Thai cuisine is characterised
by strong spices, especially lime juice, lemon grass
and fresh coriander, the combination of which gives
Thai food its distinctive taste. In addition, Thai food
has a reputation for being spicy, with hot little torpedo-shaped
chillies called phrik khii nuu (lit. "mouse shit
chillies") making their way into many a dish. Thais
are well aware that these can be more than Westerners
can handle and will often ask if you like it hot; answer
"yes" at your own risk!
Thai dishes can be roughly
categorized into central Thai food (around Bangkok),
northern Thai food (from the northern region around
Chiang Mai, with Burmese and Chinese influence), northeastern
Thai food (from the Isaan region bordering with Laos)
and southern Thai food (with heavy influences from Malaysia).
Thailand is the only country
that eats food with a spoon and fork and soup with chopsticks
:-) . You will catch on to this when you are in Thailand
The cost of living varies
throughout Thailand and is largely governed by the amount
of tourists in the area. in general a cheap basic meal
of one dish and a soft drink will cost around 40 - 150
baht. In the mid range prices are approximately 150
- 300 baht.
At the top end you could
pay up to 2000 baht for a 5 star seafood buffet. If
you are on a tight budget roadside stalls are a good
More about Thai food by region
Food By Region
Passing through different
regions of Thailand, you may notice that the dialect
and sound of the language changes abruptly. When you
think you have learned how to say sawdee kha in exactly
the right tone, you move to another place and find that
they have a completely different method of utterance.
The same goes for the food.
There are four main regions
offering cuisine adventurers a unique experience.
Shark Fillets with Pineapple
Food in the northeast
Thailand is influenced by neighbouring Laos.
Dishes are highly seasoned and among the most popular
specialities are larb, a spicy, seasoned salad made
with pork or chicken; somtam, spicy papaya salad, and
gai yang, barbequed chicken. All are served with glutinous
rice, a northern favourite widely known as sticky rice,
or khao neow.
North & West Thailand Burmese influences
have bearings on the dishes of the central northern
regions. Northern cooks generally are less heavy handed
with the chilli and the use of ginger, tamarind and
turmeric is common. Khao soi, a curry with egg noodles
and pickled cabbage, is only found in the north and
should be number one on any visitors list of dishes
Tourists to the north should
not miss the opportunity to dine at a traditional Khantoke
dinner, combining the best of northern specialities
and traditional performances in a reconstructed wooden
Throughout the central
plains of Thailand, the food combines mixes
from all regions, and many Chinese-Thai fusions are
south of Thailand is the place to get down
to spicy treats. Chilli-filled soups and curries are
common dishes and fresh seafood is abundant. Influences
are also found in dishes taken from Indonesia, such
as chicken kebabs with peanut sauce (gai sate), an international
favourite, and rich curries such as kaeng masaman from
Mussaman Curry and Spicy Sausage Salad
Eating in Thailand is very
much a family affair. It is often thought of as odd
to see someone eating alone and most Thais will wait
to the point of starvation until they find a dining
A typical meal will include
a soup, fried fish, spicy salad known as yam, a curry
dish and a dip with vegetables. Each member of the party
will be served a bowl of rice and can take a bite from
the main dishes in the centre of the table. Meals are
eaten with a spoon and fork, while chopsticks are generally
only used for noodle soups or Chinese food.
Thai fast food
is known as such, not because of its enticing greasiness
or fat content as with the western equivalent, but instead
as a range of dishes that can be cooked up in a matter
These dishes such as phad
thai, or fried noodles, khao phad, or fried rice, or
phad khrapao, or fried basil with pork or chicken, are
commonly ordered as a quick lunch, breakfast or evening
meal, and often served with a fried egg plonked on top.
Fried Soft Shell crab
Those interested in more
than just sampling the food fare on offer while travelling
in Thailand will be pleased to know that in any mildly
touristy area you are sure to find a local cooking school.
Courses include trips to local markets, ingredient preparation,
cooking and best of all, an eating party after all the
hard work. Thai recipes
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10 Thai dishes among tourists
Tom yam goong: a spicy
shrimp soup made with coconut milk, lemongrass, lime
leaves, galangal and shallots.
Kaeng khio wan gai: green
chicken curry made from green curry paste and coconut
Phad thai: noodles
fried with tofu, spring onions, bean sprouts and ground
Phad khrapao: chicken,
pork or prawns stir-fried with basil.
Kaeng phet pet yang:
roast duck curry.
Tom kha gai: chicken
in coconut soup with galangal and lemongrass.
Khao phad: boiled
rice fried with meat, egg, onion, cilantro, garlic and
Moo/gai sate: pork/chicken
kebabs served with peanut sauce.
Gai phad met mamuang:
stir-fried chicken with cashew nuts.