Visiting Thailand for the first time is sure to set your senses on fire as you take in the sounds, sights, and of course, the delicious smells and flavors across the country.
From street food markets in Bangkok to seaside restaurants in Phuket to world-class dining in Chiang Mai, hopefully you brought along your appetite! There are endless must-try delicacies to taste and enjoy in the Land of Smiles.
Late fall and winter weather can be beautiful and cooler than summer, but unpredictable until monsoon season ends in early November. Pack accordingly for Southeast Asia in a wheeled duffel that will hold everything you need, and get ready for an adventure!
As you can imagine, Thailand is a large and diverse country, and the same goes for its food. While each region you visit will have its own specialties and flavors, there are a few must-try dishes to add to your list. The top ones are below, but there are many, many more dishes that represent Thailand. Don’t be afraid to try something new!
Your first stop after you land in Bangkok should be to hit up some street food—whether a stall you find near your hotel or a famous night market. Before heading out, place all your belongings in a waist pack or money belt instead to keep everything handy and safe in the crush of locals waiting for street food.
Wherever you stop for street food, you’re sure to find some gloriously delicious noodles to fill you up. While pad thai is always a standby, when you’re ready for something new, go for pad kee mao (drunken noodles), egg noodles with prawns, or even a beef noodle soup. If there’s a line, it’s bound to be both good and fresh.
Larb—a ground meat salad flavored with fish sauce, lime juice, and shallots and served on sticky rice or lettuce—isn’t usually on the menu at Thai restaurants in the Western world. But it’s definitely worth a try if you find yourself in Northern Thailand or Laos, where it’s mega popular. Look for different varieties made with beef, pork, chicken, and duck.
Mango Sticky Rice
Got a sweet tooth? This traditional Thai dessert, which is literally sliced mango served over sweet sticky rice, can be found all over the country. It might sound like an odd combination, but trust: You’ll be hooked after a few bites.
Fresh papaya salad (som tam) is another must-try dish that can be found everywhere across Thailand. Made with shredded unripe green papaya, this flavorful salad may be a little different than the papayas you eat at home. Most versions are marinated in fish sauce, lime, garlic, and hot chilies, but some are also topped with nuts, shrimp, crab, or egg.
If you’re traveling across Thailand, you’ll probably notice some regional differences in the food in different parts of the country. Khao soi, a spicy curry noodle soup dish, for example, is a Northern Thai specialty that you’ll find all around Chiang Mai. It’s hearty and can quickly fill you up if you’re on a budget. Or, you can indulge in a high-end version in some of the city’s top restaurants.
Invest in a lightweight backpack or waistpack for your trip so you always have your essentials close while you track down the best street eats in Thailand.
Wayfinder Waist Pack S
Wayfinder Backpack 20L
Silk Undercover Money Belt
Related Links (from Eagle Creek blog):
The Do’s and Don’ts of Thailand
Photo Journal: A Taste of Southeast Asia
How to Pack for Southeast Asia: The 5 Step Solution