Every destination in the world comes with its own experiences and Thailand is no exception. We’ve all tasted Thai food at some point in our lives, but there is so much more to it than just the standard curries.
Thailand is a food lover’s paradise and the best part is, budget street food eats are always close at hand everywhere in the country. In fact, if you haven’t had your fill during the day, there are abundant night markets for you to satiate that raging appetite!
If you’re planning a visit to Thailand, sampling street food amidst the locals is an important element of its culture. Bangkok is one of the most notable food hubs in the country and serves up a variety of classic and modern Thai dishes that locals and visitors line up for.
We’re helping you out on your food journey with this curated list of some of the best local street food items and where to try them in Thailand.
1. Som Tam: Green Papaya Salad
The one dish you’ll find at almost every street food cart in Thailand is Som Tam. A popular dish that is the perfect balance of sweet, sour, and spicy, this salad is based around the primary ingredient of green Papaya.
The fruit is unripe and shredded, and then tossed with sugar, lime juice, chilli peppers, shrimp, peanuts, and veggies like tomatoes and green beans to create a juicy, tongue-tingling mixture. It’s truly worth a try!
2. Pad Thai: Stir-Fried Noodles
Another one of Thailand’s popular culinary inventions is the mouth-watering Pad Thai. It has been named the country’s national dish for a reason!
Stir-fried noodles are wok-tossed with an array of vegetables, choice of meat, and additions like tamarind pulp, crushed nuts, egg, bean sprouts, and lime. The dish is cheap and filling, and pretty healthy too.
3. Satay: Grilled Meat Skewers
As you walk around the streets of Thailand, you’ll find a ton of people eating on-the-go. A popular takeaway item is satay, which are basically skewers of meat served with peanut sauce. The marinade differs with every street vendor, but it’s usually a good balance of sweet and spicy.
You can pick from chicken, pork, beef as well as buffalo meat, fish balls, and even intestines. A variety of hot sauces are slathered on the meat while it’s grilled, making it extra juicy. Just grab a stick and go.
4. Guay Teow: Noodle Soup
A common, easy to eat street food item is Guay Teow or Noodle Soup. The base is common – noodles, but everything else can vary. Rice or egg noodles are served in a thick, aromatic stock with meat, wontons or vegetables.
The standard components of chilli, lime juice, sugar, and fish sauce are a given. Don’t forget to chew and slurp as you work your way through this dish.
5. Pad See Ew: Soy Sauce Noodles
A darker variation of Pad Thai, Pad See Ew is a dish of flat rice noodles doused in soy sauce for a bold, punchy flavour. It’s mixed with meats, veggies like Chinese cabbage and broccoli, and a hit of chilli, and vinegar. The flavour is titillating and thoroughly enjoyed by visitors and locals alike.
6. Khao Pad: Fried Rice
Thai fried rice is a commonly eaten dish in India, but the Thai street version is something else. The base is a cup of fragrant jasmine rice which gives it a strong, heady aroma when cooked with vegetables. As with every Thai dish, it starts with a bubbling mix of salt, sugar, fish sauce, and soy sauce, and the cooked rice is then tossed with vegetables, and sometimes shrimp and egg.
7. Pa Pia Sod: Steamed Spring Rolls
The street version of Thailand’s Pa Pia Sod is guaranteed to put a ‘spring’ in your step! These freshly rolled appetisers come in bite size pieces with a dipping sauce. A sheet of wheat or rice dough is filled with crunchy vegetable and soft marinated meat strips, and then rolled.
Different vendors may offer different stuffings for the roll, including vegetarian options. This is another great pick if you’re in a hurry and need a quick bite to eat.
8: Kai Jeow: Thai-style Omelette
Breakfast is served! Thailand’s street-style omelette is a soft fluffy version served with rice and a chilli sauce. It’s made using only eggs, fish sauce, chillies, and herbs.
It is one of the cheapest among the street food items. It’s the perfect way to start your day.
9. Gai Tod: Fried Chicken
Although not a traditional Thai dish, the locals have made it their own with a dash of spices and of course, chilli. This popular street item is crispy on the outside and tender and juicy on the inside, and is served with a spicy dipping sauce. The wings are coated in flour and spices and then deep-fried until golden brown and crunchy.
10. Khao Man Gai: Steamed Chicken and Rice
Simple yet packed with flavour, Khao Man Gai is comfort food for the soul. The chicken is poached with sugar and spices and this unadorned flavour-infused piece of tender meat is served with steamed rice, Chinese broccoli, and chilli sauce.
It’s a humble dish that’s light and easy to eat.
11: Gaeng Kiew Wan Gai: Thai Green Curry
Thai Green Curry is internationally popular and reasonably so. However, the concoction is extremely spicy on the streets of Thailand.
A coconut milk-based curry, this item get its vibrant hue from a bunch of green chillies, green peppers, coriander, kaffir lime leaves, and basil. The result is a smashing delicacy usually served on a bed of rice.
12. Kluay Tod: Fried Banana
An appetizer, a dessert, or even a breakfast dish – make what you want of the Klauy Tod. This popular snack has a crunchy outside and a gooey centre, owing to unripe or just ripened bananas that are coated in coconut batter and sesame seeds, and deep-fried.
A sprinkling of powdered sugar adds a touch of sweetness, but you can go all out with a drizzle of chocolate sauce too.
13. Khao Niew Ma Muang: Mango Sticky Rice
Thailand’s most popular dessert item, Mango Sticky Rice is a street food highlight. Sweetened sticky rice is served alongside slices of sweet mango, and drizzled with coconut cream, and a smattering of sesame seeds.
The dish is sweet and heavenly and a good variation from the more standard, chocolate dessert options.
14: Kafae Yen and Cha Yen: Iced Thai Coffee and Tea
Cool iced coffees and teas, Thai style, are a popular drink in the country, especially during the hot summer months. Tourists can be seen relishing these drinks, which are made using a blend of cream and condensed milk. Consequently, the drinks can be extremely sweet, but they do help when you need to cool off after a spicy green curry or Pad Thai.