Thailand is famous for its rich cuisine and bustling street food markets. The country offers a diverse range of street food dishes from sweet to savoury flavours (and sometimes even combined). I had 10 days to eat as much Thai food as possible, this simply wasn’t enough time which led to me ordering more than 3 dishes in one round just so I wouldn’t miss out on anything tasty (I’m a fat pig, I know).
When it comes to eating in Thailand, especially Bangkok and Chiang-Mai, the majority of the restaurants/street vendors sell AMAZING food. You don’t need to constantly consult TripAdvisor – just look around and see which street vendor has a bit of a queue forming around it or which restaurant is busy.
Here is a list of my top 7 must-try dishes in Thailand:
*It is important to note that my ‘recommendations’ are not limited to the places listed below – they’re just places I really enjoyed the dishes at
1. Khao Kha Moo (Braised Pork Leg with Rice)
I devoured more pork dishes in Thailand than I ever have in my whole life. It became an addiction after my first bite in Chiang Mai with the Cowboy Hat Lady. Once you try Khao Kha Moo with the Cowboy Hat Lady, you too will become addicted and subconsciously find yourself queuing up in the line daily with others who are addicted.
The pork leg is braised for hours in an amazing sauce, which makes it ever so tender and melts effortlessly on your palate. This meal is cheap, tasty and a winner in my eyes.
Average price: 30 – 60 baht
Recommendations: Khao Kha Moo Chang Phuek – Cowboy Hat Lady (Chiang Mai), MAYA Lifestyle Shopping Centre (Food court 4th floor, Chiang Mai)
2. Som Tum (Papaya Salad)
PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: This is not your average struggle salad. I repeat this is not your average struggle salad!
Som Tum (Papaya Salad) is another common dish found at local street markets and restaurants. It’s made from unripe Papaya which gives it that crunch (don’t be startled if you order this, and you don’t see bits of orange in your salad – the Papaya is there, just unripe and a different colour). Other ingredients include shredded carrots, tomatoes, beans, nuts and the dressing which is the STAR of the show.
The salad is spicy by default and some vendors can make it extremely spicy. If you’re more of a ‘lemon and herb’ person at Nando’s then I suggest you ask for it to be made without chillis.
Average price: 30 – 80 baht
Recommendations: Lard Yai (Phuket Sunday Walking Market), One Chun (Phuket)
3. Khao Moo Tod Gratiem (Fried Garlic Pork)
Remember how I said I’ve never eaten so much pork in my life until I came to Thailand? This dish was one of the reasons why! You can’t go wrong with deep-fried pork bits seasoned with garlic. It’s a glorious match made in Heaven.
This dish can be found at every food market in Thailand and it pairs well with a dark Thai chilli sauce (which resembles Shitto, a spicy Ghanaian condiment)
Average price: 30 – 60 baht a bag
Recommendations: Sam Yaek Market (Chiang Mai), Warorot Night Market (Chiang Mai)
4. Pad Thai (Stir-fried noodles)
I’m going to make a wild statement here, but Pad-Thai is like the national dish of Thailand (I went there, shoot me). The popular Thai dish is a blend of freshly fried rice noodles, pad-thai sauce, eggs, chicken and/or prawns (can also have it without). It is often garnished with bean sprouts, peanuts and then drizzled with some lime.
This dish is a perfect beginners meal for someone completely new to Thai Cuisine and not quite sure of what to start with. It’s not spicy or overpowering, but simple, sweet and bursting with flavour. It can do no wrong!
Average price: 40 – 80 baht (from street vendors). You’re likely to spend more on Pad Thai when you purchase it in a restaurant.
Recommendations: Lard Yai Phuket Sunday Walking Market (Phuket), Pad Thai Lung Pa & Pad Thai Thip Samai (Bangkok, right next door to each other)
5. Khao Niaow Ma Muang (Mango Sticky Rice)
Mango Sticky Rice is a yummy traditional Thai dessert which can be served both hot and cold. It consists of sliced mango’s, sticky riced doused in coconut milk and sprinkled with toasted mung beans. As odd as the combination may sound, it WORKS! The sticky rice has more of a sweet taste rather than savoury (similar to that of rice pudding).
This dish is very popular during April – May when Mango’s are in season.
Average price: 30 – 70 baht
Recommendations: Every vendor I tried tasted BOMB!
6. Tom Yung Goong (Hot & Sour Prawn Soup)
Tom Yung is a hot and sour soup which is usually served with prawns. The broth is packed with fresh ingredients including mushrooms, tomatoes, lemongrass, lime, Thai ginger, and onions.
I didn’t expect to enjoy the soup as much as I did! It’s perfect in summer and will also be fitting for the winter.
Average price: 80 – 100 baht
Recommendations: Not to blow my own trumpet but the best Tom Yung Goong I tried was made by myself at Sammy’s Organic Thai Cooking School
7. Moo Ping & Gai Yang (Grilled Pork and Chicken Skewers)
Moo Ping & Gai Yang are well sought after street food snacks, as it’s very easy to grab and go. You will find these Thai-style skewers on almost every street grill sizzling away waiting to be devoured. As the grilled meats are on skewers they make it convenient to pick up. Both skewers are normally eaten for breakfast, as a snack, or a full meal served with rice.
Eating grilled pork and chicken skewers for breakfast without being judged? A dream come true!
Average price: 5 -15 baht
Recommendations: Maha Chai Road (Bangkok), Warorot Market (Chiang Mai), Karon Temple Market (Phuket)