Thailand is probably the worlds favourite tourist destination. From amazing white sand beaches, tropical islands, international shopping, to luxury hotels at bargain prices, Thailand has it all. But it there is one thing that sets Thailand apart from other popular tourist destinations, and that is the food!
Thai food is a diverse cuisine with hundreds of different dishes available that one trip to Thailand is not enough to try out every speciality. In fact even twenty trips to the land of smiles would leave you on the tip of the iceberg. As a long time resident of Thailand I have sampled most of the dishes on offer (although I still discover new dishes, or combinations every few months). While some on the list are more obscure or regional, let this guide be the definitive guide to foods you must try while visiting Thailand!
Som Tam (Papaya Salad) – There is nothing else quite like Som Tam. A fruit salad made from unripe green papaya, mixed with peanuts, chilli, dried shrimp, tomatoes and a dash of lime. Both refreshing and filling, Som Tam is best eaten alongside sticky rice.
Green/ red/ yellow curry – Thailand’s curry’s are nourishing, colourful and packed full of vegetables and coconut milk. The colour scale can relate to how sweet or spicy the dish is (with red being the hottest of course). These go great with freshly steamed rice, nan or even pancakes in the south of Thailand.
Grilled fish with sweet lime sauce – If you end up near a beach in Thailand then you must try the fresh fish there! Usually served as a large whole fish, grilled and marinated in a delicious Thai sauce, this dish is great to share between two or three people and is the highlight of any beach meal.
Massaman curry – a hearty, thick curry packed with coconut milk, cashew nuts, potatoes and your choice of chicken, pork or beef. The dish has been adapted from a traditional Muslim dish and includes cinnamon and star anise which gives it a unique flavour not found in other Thai foods.
Kao Soi – If you head to Chiang Mai then this local speciality will blow your tastebuds away! A rich, spiced soup packed with egg noodles and topped with crunchy, fried noodles and a leg of chicken, you won’t find this dish anywhere but Chiang Mai. Possibly the best local dish in the whole country, it is truly one of a kind!
Spring rolls – yes, another firm Thai favourite that the world knows and loves, they taste better in Thailand that anywhere else. You can find them in all Thai restaurants but if you happen to see them on a street stall order some – they will be made fresh in front of you and are fun (and messy) to eat while walking.
Finally, and this might count more as a drink (or fruit) than a meal, a fresh cocounut is the perfect breakfast or afternoon snack. Not only is coconut water nutritious but the flesh is also extremely filling and healthy. Carving the coconut flesh even counts as a work out for the arms!
After trying these seven amazing Thai dishes you will be able to say you have truly sampled the best foods Thailand has to offer! Don’t forget to order some dessert too – try out ice cream with fresh fruit or mango and sticky rice – are you hungry yet?