A Foodie’s Guide to Eating and Drinking in Thailand

Thailand is a country that boasts a rich and diverse culinary heritage, making it a food lover’s paradise. From the bustling street markets to the high-end restaurants, Thailand offers an array of delicious dishes and refreshing drinks that are sure to tantalize your taste buds. In this article, we will explore the fascinating world of Thai cuisine and quench our thirst with some of their most popular beverages. Get ready to embark on a gastronomic journey through Thailand’s vibrant food culture!

Food in Thailand

Thai cuisine is renowned for its unique blend of flavors, spices, and herbs. From street food stalls to high-end restaurants, there are countless options to explore in Thailand. Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect when it comes to food in Thailand.

Traditional Thai dishes

Thai cuisine is known for its bold flavors, fragrant herbs and spices, and colorful presentation. Traditional Thai dishes are a feast for the senses that reflect the country’s diverse cultural influences. Here are some of the most popular traditional Thai dishes that you must try when visiting Thailand.

Tom Yum Goong: This hot and sour soup is a classic Thai dish made with shrimp, lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, chili peppers, and mushrooms. It’s a perfect balance of sweet, sour, salty, and spicy flavors that will awaken your taste buds.

Pad Thai: This stir-fried noodle dish is one of the most famous Thai dishes around the world. It’s made with rice noodles, tofu, bean sprouts, eggs, peanuts and flavored with tamarind paste and fish sauce. Pad Thai can be customized to your liking by adding meat or seafood.

Green Curry: This creamy curry is made with coconut milk infused with green chili peppers and fresh herbs like basil and coriander. It’s usually served with chicken or beef along with vegetables like eggplants or bamboo shoots.

Som Tam: This refreshing salad is made with shredded green papaya mixed with tomatoes, green beans, garlic chili peppers in a tangy dressing made from lime juice and fish sauce. Som Tam is a popular street food in Thailand.

Mango Sticky Rice: For dessert lovers out there this sweet treat is a must-try! It’s made by steaming glutinous rice mixed with coconut milk then served alongside fresh mango slices topped off with toasted sesame seeds.

These are just some of the many traditional Thai dishes that you can find all over Thailand. Each region has its own specialties that reflect their unique culinary traditions so make sure to explore them all!

Street food culture

Thailand is famous for its vibrant street food culture that offers a wide variety of delicious and affordable dishes. From savory to sweet, spicy to mild, there is something for everyone in the bustling markets and streets of Thailand.

One of the most popular street food dishes in Thailand is Pad Thai. This stir-fried noodle dish is made with rice noodles, shrimp or chicken, bean sprouts, eggs, and peanuts. It’s often served with a lime wedge and chili flakes on the side so you can adjust the flavor to your liking.

Another must-try street food dish in Thailand is Som Tam. This spicy green papaya salad is made with shredded unripe papaya, tomatoes, garlic, chilies, dried shrimp, fish sauce, lime juice and palm sugar. It’s a refreshing and flavorful dish that will awaken your taste buds.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also try some insect snacks like fried crickets or grasshoppers. They are crunchy and surprisingly tasty!

Apart from these traditional dishes, there are many other options available in the street food scene of Thailand. Some popular snacks include grilled meat skewers (satay), deep-fried spring rolls (poh pia tod), and steamed dumplings (kanom jeeb).

In addition to the amazing food options available on the streets of Thailand, it’s also important to note that they are incredibly affordable. You can have a full meal for under $5 USD!

Overall, experiencing the street food culture in Thailand should be at the top of every traveler’s bucket list. Not only does it offer an authentic taste of Thai cuisine but it also provides an opportunity to immerse oneself in the local culture and connect with locals over their love for good food.

Regional specialties

Thailand is a country with a diverse culinary scene, and each region has its own unique specialties. Here are some of the regional dishes that you should try when visiting Thailand:

Vegan and vegetarian options

Thailand is known for its delicious and flavorful cuisine, but what about those who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet? Luckily, Thailand has plenty of options for plant-based eaters.

Many traditional Thai dishes can be made vegan or vegetarian by substituting meat with tofu, mushrooms, or vegetables. For example, Pad Thai can be made without shrimp or chicken and instead include tofu or simply more vegetables. Green curry can also be made without meat and still maintain its signature spicy flavor.

In addition to traditional dishes, there are also plenty of restaurants and street food vendors that cater specifically to vegans and vegetarians. One popular chain is May Kaidee, which has locations in Bangkok and Chiang Mai. Their menu includes a variety of vegan Thai dishes such as stir-fried basil with tofu and green mango salad.

For those looking for international options, there are also many Western-style cafes that offer vegan options such as smoothie bowls and avocado toast. One notable cafe is Blue Dye Cafe in Chiang Mai which offers a wide range of vegan options including burgers, wraps, and even vegan desserts.

Thailand’s street food culture also offers plenty of options for vegans and vegetarians. Some popular street food dishes include mango sticky rice, which is a sweet dessert made with coconut milk, sticky rice, and fresh mango slices. Another popular option is grilled corn on the cob which can be found at many street food stalls throughout the country.

Overall, while Thailand may be known for its meat-heavy cuisine, there are still plenty of delicious options available for those following a vegan or vegetarian diet. From traditional Thai dishes to international cafes to street food stalls, plant-based eaters will have no problem finding something tasty to eat in Thailand.

Drinks in Thailand

Thailand is a country known for its delicious and refreshing drinks. From traditional Thai tea to local fruit juices, there are plenty of options to quench your thirst while exploring this beautiful country.

Thai tea and coffee are popular choices among locals and tourists alike. Thai tea is a sweet and creamy drink made with black tea, condensed milk, sugar, and spices such as star anise and tamarind. It is usually served over ice, making it the perfect refreshment on a hot day. Thai coffee, on the other hand, is a strong and bitter drink made with dark roasted beans. It can be served hot or cold, with or without milk.

If you’re looking for something fruity and refreshing, try some local fruit juices. Thailand has an abundance of tropical fruits such as mangoes, pineapples, papayas, and coconuts that are used to make delicious juices. One popular option is watermelon juice which is often sold by street vendors during the summer months.

For those who enjoy alcoholic beverages, Thai beer and spirits are worth trying. Singha Beer is one of the most popular beers in Thailand and can be found in almost every bar or restaurant. Another popular option is Chang Beer which has a slightly sweeter taste than Singha. In addition to beer, Thailand also produces its own spirits such as Mekhong whiskey which is made from rice.

If you prefer non-alcoholic beverages, there are still plenty of options available. Coconut water is a popular choice which can be found at most markets or street vendors. Another option is Cha Yen which translates to “cold tea” in English but it’s actually a sweetened iced tea made with black tea leaves mixed with sugar syrup.

In conclusion, whether you’re looking for something sweet or strong, alcoholic or non-alcoholic, Thailand has a drink for everyone to enjoy. Don’t hesitate to try something new and discover the unique flavors this country has to offer.

Thai tea and coffee

Thai tea and coffee are popular beverages in Thailand, enjoyed by locals and tourists alike. Thai tea is a sweet and creamy drink made with black tea, condensed milk, and sugar. It is often served over ice and can be found in many cafes and restaurants throughout the country. The vibrant orange color of the tea comes from adding food coloring or natural ingredients like turmeric or butterfly pea flower.

On the other hand, Thai coffee is a strong brew made with dark roasted beans that are often mixed with other ingredients such as cardamom or chicory to give it an extra kick. It is usually served hot but can also be found iced.

One of the most famous places to try Thai tea and coffee in Thailand is at the Chatuchak Weekend Market in Bangkok. Here, you can find numerous stalls selling both beverages along with other local snacks and desserts.

Another popular spot for Thai tea lovers is Cha Tra Mue, also known as Number One Tea Plantation. This chain has locations all over Thailand and specializes in traditional Thai-style milk tea.

For those looking for a unique twist on traditional Thai tea or coffee, there are many cafes throughout the country that offer creative variations such as adding boba pearls or infusing flavors like lavender or rose into their drinks.

Overall, Thai tea and coffee are must-try beverages when visiting Thailand. They offer a delicious taste of local culture while providing a refreshing break from the heat and humidity of the country.

Local fruit juices

In Thailand, it is not only the food that is diverse and delicious; the local fruit juices are equally refreshing and flavorful. With an abundance of tropical fruits grown in the country, it’s no surprise that fresh fruit juices are a popular thirst-quencher for locals and tourists alike.

One of the most popular fruit juices in Thailand is nam som, which is made from tamarind. It has a tangy and slightly sour taste, making it a perfect drink to cool down on a hot day. Another favorite is nam dok mai, which is made from mangoes. This sweet and fragrant juice is best enjoyed during mango season, which runs from April to June.

For those who prefer something more exotic, try nam manglak, made from rose apples. This juice has a delicate floral flavor with a hint of sweetness. Or if you’re feeling adventurous, try nam bua bok, made from lotus flowers. This juice has a unique taste that can be described as slightly bitter with a hint of sweetness.

Aside from these unique flavors, there are also more common fruit juices available such as pineapple, watermelon, and orange. These fruits are readily available throughout the year and make for great refreshing drinks.

When ordering local fruit juices in Thailand, be sure to specify whether you want it with or without sugar (mai sai namtan). Thais tend to have a sweet tooth so many vendors will automatically add sugar unless requested otherwise.

In conclusion, exploring the local fruit juices in Thailand is a must-do for any foodie or traveler visiting the country. The diverse range of flavors will leave your taste buds wanting more!

Thai beer and spirits

Thai beer and spirits are an integral part of the country’s drinking culture. Thailand has a long-standing history of brewing beer, with the first brewery established in 1933. Since then, Thai beer has become increasingly popular both domestically and internationally.

The most famous Thai beer is Singha, which is a lager that has been brewed since 1933. It has a light and refreshing taste that pairs well with spicy food. Another popular beer is Chang, which is known for its slightly sweet taste and higher alcohol content compared to other beers in Thailand.

Apart from beer, Thailand also boasts a wide range of spirits. The most famous one is undoubtedly Thai whiskey, which is made from rice and molasses. Sangsom is the most popular brand of Thai whiskey and can be found in almost every bar across the country.

Another popular spirit is Mekhong, also known as “The Spirit of Thailand”. It’s made from sugarcane and rice and has a smooth and sweet taste with hints of herbs and spices. Mekhong can be enjoyed on its own or mixed with soda or fruit juice.

For those who prefer something stronger, there’s Ya Dong, which is a type of Thai herbal liquor. It’s made by infusing herbs such as lemongrass, ginger, and ginseng into alcohol. Ya Dong is believed to have medicinal properties and is often sold by street vendors who mix it on the spot according to your preferences.

In conclusion, Thai beer and spirits offer a unique drinking experience that should not be missed when visiting Thailand. Whether you prefer light beers or strong spirits, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. So sit back, relax, and raise a glass to the vibrant drinking culture of Thailand!

Non-alcoholic beverages

Non-alcoholic beverages are an essential part of Thai cuisine and culture. They are refreshing, delicious, and perfect for cooling down in the hot and humid weather. Some popular non-alcoholic drinks in Thailand include Thai iced tea, coconut water, and lemongrass tea.

Thai iced tea is a sweet and creamy drink made with black tea, condensed milk, sugar, and spices such as star anise and cinnamon. It is usually served over ice and garnished with mint leaves. This drink is perfect for those who prefer their beverages on the sweeter side.

Coconut water is a popular drink in Thailand due to its hydrating properties. It is a clear liquid that is found inside young green coconuts. Coconut water is rich in electrolytes like potassium, magnesium, and calcium which makes it an excellent choice for rehydration after spending time outdoors.

Lemongrass tea is a fragrant herbal tea made from fresh lemongrass stalks. It has a citrusy flavor that can be enjoyed both hot or cold. Lemongrass tea has many health benefits such as aiding digestion, reducing inflammation, and relieving anxiety.

Other non-alcoholic drinks that you can find in Thailand include fruit smoothies, fresh fruit juices, and sodas. Fruit smoothies are made by blending fresh fruits such as mangoes, bananas, pineapples with ice or yogurt to create a thick and creamy drink that’s perfect for breakfast or as a snack. Fresh fruit juices are also widely available throughout Thailand; some of the most popular ones include orange juice, pineapple juice, watermelon juice, and dragon fruit juice.

In conclusion, non-alcoholic beverages are an integral part of Thai cuisine that offers a wide variety of refreshing options to choose from. Whether you’re looking for something sweet like Thai iced tea or something hydrating like coconut water, you’re sure to find a drink that suits your taste buds in Thailand.


In conclusion, Thailand is a food lover’s paradise. From traditional Thai dishes to the vibrant street food culture and regional specialties, there is no shortage of delicious options to try. Whether you’re a vegan or vegetarian, there are plenty of options available for you as well. And let’s not forget about the drinks! Thai tea and coffee, local fruit juices, beer and spirits, and non-alcoholic beverages all offer unique flavors that will tantalize your taste buds. So if you ever find yourself in Thailand, be sure to indulge in all the gastronomic delights this country has to offer. Your taste buds will thank you!