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I love Thai food, but then again so does most of the world. Fresh and fragrant, famous for its balance of sweet, sour, bitter and salty, a visit to Thailand is as much about the food as it is about the country.

There is enough variety and food experiences from buzzing local markets to posh culinary schools, restaurants and street markets to keep every kind of person sated. In fact there is a lot of merit in following your nose and the rumbles of your tummy and discovering Thailand through its food.

Street Food

Thai street food is well-known and an experience that really shouldn’t be missed. It’s a chance to enjoy authentic food at incredible prices, to eat what the locals eat, and soak up an experience that is at the heart of the country.

Don’t hesitate or be put off by the inelegant surrounds, just dive in and breathe the heady aromas of frying meats, steaming soup and noodles and let your taste buds decide the rest.

What to Eat

Street vendors will have all the classics from Som Tam or raw papaya salad, Kaprao Moo Grob or crispy pork belly and holy basil, Isaan sausage (pork with sticky rice), Pla Pao or grilled fish stuffed with pandanus leaves, lemongrass and grilled over charcoal, and of course a variety of pad or noodles, pork and chicken skewers and soups, including the fragrant and fiery Tom Yum or hot & sour soup. For dessert there is the delicious mango with sticky rice flavored in coconut milk, sugar and salt and cold coconut milk to wash it all down.

Bangkok’s Old Town also known as Banglamphu is a treasure trove of famous vendors and old-style Thai street food specialties, and of course no homage to street food is complete without a visit to Chinatown. Another option is saphan luang or the Yellow Bridge neighborhood which has long been known among locals as a street food highlight.

A loud outcry followed news the Bangkok government was banning the city’s beloved street food, but happily, the Tourism Authority of Thailand say it’s staying put.

Floating Markets

A visit to the floating markets on the ‘klongs’ (canals) of Bangkok offers a glimpse into a slice of local culture that is centuries old. The trick is to get there early before the crowds begin to watch the traders barter their produce of fresh fruit, vegetables and flowers.

It is also an opportunity to sample traditional food including ‘boat noodles’, desserts like deep fried bananas and crispy pancakes. There is loads of seafood to be had including scallops, shrimp, crispy noodles with tamarind sauce or spicy fish cakes. Not to mention the fresh fruit, especially local delights like durian, rambutan and the divine mangosteen. It’s easy to go overboard because the food is so delicious and inexpensive.

Some of the weekend floating markets in Bangkok are Kwan Riam on Saen Saeb Canal, while The Damnoen Saduak floating market is one of the biggest and most famous floating market in the country, and makes for an excellent addition to travel through Thailand. Throughout the week there is also the Wat Sai floating market in Bangkok’s Chom Thong district.

Damnoen Saduak, west of Bangkok, Thailand

Can Tho Floating Markets by Hugh Derr

Cooking Schools

Thai hospitality is world renowned and the country boasts some truly opulent five star and boutique accommodation attracting the discerning traveler in search of an amazing experience.  Many of these establishments offer cooking classes where the finer nuances of Thai cuisine and presentation are taught by top-of-the-line chefs.

Most Thai cooking classes begin with a tour to purchase the many exotic ingredients that are used in Thai cooking. Leaders from reputable Thai cooking schools will also explain the ingredients and the substitute ingredients you can find in your home grocery store!

Increasingly travelers seeking food tours are combining holidays with Thai cooking courses.  From Bangkok to Chiang Mai in the north and Koh Samui and Phuket in the south there are a number of cooking schools that offer personalized courses for individuals and groups, ranging  from a day to a few days. From the Four Seasons Cooking School in Chiang Mai, or the Blue Elephant Cooking School in the heart of Bangkok to smaller independent establishments like Thai Orchid Cookery School in Chiang Mai there is a school for every aspiring chef or gourmand.

Pining for a personal and tailor-made luxury Asia tour to Thailand? Get in touch with an Enchanting Travels Consultant today!

OUR FAVORITE THAI RECIPES: CLICK PHOTO ↓

Amazon book thai food

Thai Street Food: Authentic Recipes, Vibrant Traditions

Amazon book thai food

Simple Thai Food: Recipes from the Thai Home Kitchen

Amazon book thai food

Thai Slow Cooker Cookbook: Classic Thai Favorites Made Simple

 

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Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; a website dedicated to opening your eyes to the wild & natural world.

Committed to bringing you the best in adventure travel from all around the globe, there is no mountain too high, and no fete too extreme! They haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on their list.

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Photo credits: Featured photo by Wayne S. Grazio. Street food from above & cooking Pad Thai by Nicolas Mirguet. Street food on khao san road by Roslyn. Floating market by Wayne S. Grazio. Can Tho Floating Markets by Hugh Derr via Flickr

    37 Comments

  1. Great article as always. Filled with great info! Thai cuisine is one of my favourite, with a “guiltful” love for Pad Thai.

    And thank you for sharing the popular cooking recipe books.

    • Thanks Trisk! Don’t blame you there on Pad Thai … my guilty pleasure too :D!

      Glad we could help with cook book recommendations :)

  2. I’m not able to open the cookbooks

  3. I don’t think I know anyone who doesn’t like Thai food. The flavours are so subtle and aromatic. The Thai food you get in Thailand is streets better than the Thai food you get in a restaurant outside the country. I love the floating markets for its atmosphere and the interesting variety of food you can get.

    • Absolutely agree with you on all points – I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who has turned down Thai food. But definitely, once you taste it in Thailand nothing outside of the country ever compares!

  4. STOP! I’m salivating … I LOVE Thai food, but I’m way too lazy to make it myself when I can get the real thing – Aussie style – so readily. On the other hand, if I was getting the real thing Thai style, I might be tempted to learn!!

    • For some reason I can never replicate international cuisine and whenever I try it tastes like a disaster lol! But yes there are incredible cooking schools in Thailand, and it’s a great way to spend a day!

  5. This looks so delicious. I hope I can try the “real” thing later this year.

    • Nothing beats the real thing! Have an amazing trip :)

  6. I love love love that food!! I can’t wait to get back there this year and fill my tummy with Thai goodness

    • Nothing beats the real thing!! Have an amazing trip :)

  7. We went to Thailand for the first time last December and the food was perhaps the best part of the trip. Thai restaurants are everywhere but so much of the cooking is based upon the spices and ingredients of the region. If you want to experience true Thai food you have to go to Thailand. Great piece.

    • So glad you enjoyed your time in Thailand Jenn & Ed, and enjoyed our post :) Totally agree with you that for true Thai cuisine, you need to travel to the country itself :)

  8. You really brought me back there. And it’s so relieving to know that street food in Thailand will stay put…when I read they want to shut it all down, I started searching for another flight just to have a last memory of wander around streets picking what to eat!!

    • I know! I was shattered when I heard that they were trying to shut down the street food scene – obviously not the only one though!! It’s the heart and soul of Thai cuisine! So glad it’s here to stay :)

  9. Nothing better than the street food of Thailand. The spicy, pungent aromas of the various carts and stands. I love it. I did hear recently that the Bangkok government is trying to restrict street food vendors, and remove them from sidewalks. It would be a shame if one of the best things about Bangkok gets watered down by the government. It will be interesting to see what happens.

    • Yes so thankfully there was a loud international outcry following the news of the government trying to ban the city’s beloved street food, but happily, the Tourism Authority of Thailand has come out with a statement to say it’s staying put :)

  10. I love Thai food! I’ve had the pleasure of learning Thai cooking at a great restaurant in Vancouver, and it was fun and delicious. I’m glad to hear that the street food is staying put – now I really have to visit.

    • Hope you have the chance to visit soon! Once you taste Thai food in Thailand itself it blows everything else you’ve tasted away :D!

  11. Wow~ great capture on the floating markets. I have always thought of street markets, and have never given thought to a floating market. Thanks for introducing me.

    • Thanks Sara! The floating markets shots we actually sourced from Flickr, by Wayne S. Grazio and Hugh Derr – I agree though, they’re great shots! Glad we could give you an overview :)

  12. Thai food is so good and especially street food. By eating local food you get to know the country better and feel more like a local. I have only regretted not taking a cooking course yet. Can’t wait to get back to Thailand for this.

    • Totally agree with you Chrysoula – local food is the best way to immerse yourself. Hope you have the chance to include a cooking class on your next trip :)

  13. I am Thai but live in Europe now I always cooked Thai food at home everybody like Thai food , I really missed street food there it is really incredible you must visit Thailand and try street food you will fallen in love with Thai food

    • Definitely the one thing I think every expat misses when they relocate is their local food – totally there with you on the street food – it’s the heart and soul of Thai cuisine!

  14. Sounds delicious! I love Thai food and everything looked completely yummy. I really enjoyed reading this.

    • SO delicious! Thanks Alice! Glad you enjoyed the post :)

  15. Very tasty post, lol. I look forward to visiting Thailand one day. In the meantime, we visit local Thai restaurants and enjoy tom yum soup. So good. Thanks for sharing.

    • Glad you enjoyed it Samantha! Hope you have the chance to visit Thailand soon, in the meantime, Thai food from your local is a great way to experience the cuisine :)

  16. I love Thai food! Pad Thai, green curry, papaya salad..yum!

    x

  17. Thai food is all about Spicy, Sweet & Sour 🍲

    • Same here & its affordable for anyone coz its not expensive ☺ I can even cook a lil bit hehehe 😂😂😂

  18. First of all thanks for sharing information which had you. Food is relatively cheap in Los Angeles, and there are plenty of great budget choices among the various ethnic cuisines you’ll find in most areas. Sometimes, it’s quite difficult to find a suitable place to eat at nearby and you can spend quite a lot of time to manage this task.

    • You’re welcome, I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I haven’t ventured into the Thai food scene in Los Angeles, but glad to hear there are plenty of places to choose from :)

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