One of the most memorable aspects of a visit to Thailand is its delicious cuisine which is as rich and diverse as its culture.
Like many other southeast Asian cooking traditions, Thai food is lightly prepared and spicy but there is a real emphasis on strong presentation and balancing the various flavours of hot, sour, sweet, salty, and bitter in each dish.
Wherever you travel in Thailand you’re sure to have amazing food. Thailand’s four main regions -North, Northeast, Central Plains, and South – have characteristic dishes each influenced over the centuries by neighbouring countries as well as by trade with Europe, China, Japan and India.
In the north you’re likely to find steamed glutinous rice and generally milder curries. The northeast (I-san) is less visited by tourists but those that do venture there are not disappointed to find such dishes as Som Tam (green papaya salad), and freshwater fish and shrimp, often fermented.
Fresh seafood features prominently in southern cuisine and you’ll find coconut plays an important role in many dishes. Malaysian and Indonesian influences can be seen in such dishes as Mussaman curry, Kaeng Lueang (yellow curry) and Satay (barbecued meat with spicy peanut sauce).
In the central plains region, fragrant steamed rice is preferred and noodle dishes are very popular. This is the home of Kaeng Khiao Wan (green curry) and Pad Thai.
Here’s a few ideas to whet your appetite and help you heighten your experience of food while on holiday in Thailand…
1. Sample the delights of Thai street food
Wherever you go in Thailand you will see humble food stalls set up in the street. Street food is plentiful, delicious, cheap and the stalls are open day and night. It’s an experience that really shouldn’t be missed.
Don’t be put off by the inelegant surroundings; be adventurous! You are likely to be served amazing and authentic food at hard to beat prices. In fact, last year, Bangkok was voted the number one destination for street food in Asia by Virtual Tourist.
Interested? Then you might want to check out this great blog post in Wanderlust Magazine by Bangkok resident Allan Wilson on his Top 10 Bangkok Street Food and Cheap Eats.
And for those who are short on time or who prefer some expert guidance, then a guided tour might be worth considering. Bangkok Food Tours offers guided foodie walks in Bangkok, Ayutthaya and Central Thailand.
2. Learn to cook Thai food
Even though many Thai restaurants have sprung up in the UK and Ireland in recent years, if you love Thai food you’re going to want to try cooking it yourself.
So, why not combine a holiday in Thailand with a Thai cooking course? From Bangkok to Chiang Mai in the north and Koh Samui and Phuket in the south, you’ll find a good choice of cooking schools offering personalised courses for individuals and groups. Many are suitable for children too – learning to cook as part of a holiday can be a wonderful experience for all the family.
The Tourism Thailand UK website provides a list of cooking schools which might help you get started. Many of the larger hotels in Thailand also offer cooking courses, so it’s a good idea to search online for details when planning your holiday.
3. Learn to carve fruit & vegetables the Thai way
A large part of the appeal of Thai cuisine is the beautiful, detailed presentation of the food. You can book a course on how to carve fruit and vegetables in the classical Thai style at places such as The Siam Carving Academy or The Carving Institute in Bangkok. Again, many of the major hotels offer such courses too – so it’s worth checking when you book your accommodation.
4. Visit a floating market
No visit to Thailand would be complete without a visit to a floating market – a riot of colour, smells and tastes. But be warned! Get there early to avoid crowds and try some boat noodles. We’ve blogged about Bangkok’s floating markets here.
Other floating markets to check out:
- Damnoen Saduak, Ratchaburi is the most famous of the floating markets and is located 100 kilometres southwest of Bangkok en route to Hua Hin/Cha-am
- Amphawa Floating Market, Samut Songkhram. Open in the afternoons and situated next to a temple
- Taling Chan Weekend Floating Market, Bangkok. Only recently discovered by tourists, the market is entirely authentic and frequented by locals.
5. Enjoy a rural farm stay holiday in Thailand
Finally, if you’re interested in seeing at first hand how rice is grown in Thailand, or how other crops and livestock are raised, then a rural farm stay holiday may well be a good option for you. You can get to see how sustainable agriculture is making a difference for local people.
These types of holiday can be booked through reputable operators such as Responsible Travel or you can book direct. Other options include staying at a winery such as the PB Valley Khao Yai Winery, and visiting a coffee farm.
So…are you salivating at the thought of your next trip to Thailand? We hope so!
This short video from our Thailand Reunited YouTube Channel should give you a ‘taste’ of what Thailand has to offer:
If you’ve had an amazing food experience in Thailand, we’d love to hear all about it. Remember you can share your stories on our Thailand Reunited app on Facebook – we even award prizes from time to time for the best ones!