What to eat and drink in Thailand

Published on: Feb 02, 2021
Jade Lamb
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Fresh, fragrant and flavourful – trying food in Thailand is a must on the bucket list of any serious foodie. Creamy satay skewers, warming tom yum soup, bold panang curry…all renowned the world over and best enjoyed in Thailand.


Head to one of the night markets for fresh fruit, vegetables and spice blends, as well as different vendors tantalising your taste buds with tempting aromas. Watch pad thai noodles tossed together on a griddle pan in front of your eyes or hear the sizzle as a piece of crispy chicken hits the oil.


From the northern temples to the busy neon-lit streets of Bangkok, Thailand is the ultimate destination for food-lovers. Taste your way through Thailand with our complete guide below.


What to eat in Thailand

Sour, spicy, salty and sweet are the essentials of Thai cooking, though each region has adopted its own styles and takes on famous dishes.

The north, home to the temples of Chiang Mai, is well-known for its hot and spicy cuisine, while the flavours of the southern beach towns tend to be milder, borrowing inspiration from nearby Malaysia.   

Below are some of the most famous of Thailand’s traditional foods.



A rich, red curry, panang packs a flavourful punch. Perfectly balancing both creaminess and spice, this is a dish best enjoyed next to the lapping waves of a Phuket beach resort.



A mild-mannered curry, massaman is a southern Thai specialty with roots in neighbouring Malaysia. Creamy and coconutty, this delicious dish arrives as a steaming bowl flavoured with cardamom, coriander and star anise. Best served with plenty of rice to soak up the moreish sauce.

Pad Thai

If Thailand has a national dish, it’s pad thai. Walk through Bangkok or Chiang Mai on a warm evening and you’ll find someone tucking into a steaming plate of this world-famous dish on almost every street corner. Flash-fried noodles are cooked quickly on a large, flat griddle and served with shrimp, chicken or tofu. This staple favourite is often topped with crushed peanuts, a fried egg and finished with a squeeze of lime.


Som Tam Salad

A wonderfully refreshing yet surprisingly spicy dish, this is just what you need after a long day of sightseeing in northern Chiang Mai. Shredded papaya is combined with crushed chilli and plenty of lime juice and is often served with rice or freshwater crab.


Mango Sticky Rice

Indulge your sweet tooth with a generous helping of Kao Niew Ma Muang you’ll likely know it as mango sticky rice. This classic dessert is something of a national treasure and can be found at most restaurants and markets throughout the country. Most commonly served on a banana leaf, the beloved dish consists of fresh mango and sweet sticky rice balls drizzled in condensed coconut milk for a moreish treat. 


Thai Iced Coffee

Combine freshly brewed coffee with condensed milk and a touch of spice, and you have a Thai iced coffee. This treat is thicker than your average coffee and milk combination, and sweeter too, and is our favourite 3pm pick-me-up after a day in the Thai sunshine.

Thailand street food

Real Thai cuisine is served on the street. As evening falls, Thailand’s cities come alive – follow your nose and you’ll arrive at street food heaven. Settle down on a stool on an unassuming street corner and watch as an old family recipe is prepared for you as you wait.

From the sprawling markets of Bangkok’s Chatuchak district to the stalls lining the beaches of the eastern islands, street food in Thailand is the best way to experience the local cuisine. Some of our favourite spots include:


  • Bangkok – Raan Jay Fai in Samran Rat is the star in the crown of the capital’s street food scene. You’ll want to book in advance as this little eatery is incredibly popular and has a Michelin star to show for it. Order the crab omelette (khai jeaw), the signature dish.
  • Chiang Mai – The relaxed atmosphere in northern Chiang Mai lends itself to long lunches in street-side cafes. Head to Khao Soi Islam in the old city for Islamic-inspired Thai cuisine.
  • Phuket – Gateway to the azure waters of the Andaman Islands, Phuket is packed with stunning resort restaurants and street food pop ups. Grab a skewer of chargrilled meat or prawns from one of the many outdoor barbecues that line the Old Town streets.
  • Koh Samui – The paradisiacal island of Koh Samui is the perfect place for beachside sunshine. After a day’s relaxation, wander into the town in search of fresh spring rolls or the catch of the day, flash-fried with chilli, sugar and lime.


How much is food in Thailand?

The price of food in Thailand varies from region to region and restaurant to restaurant. You can eat well for a few hundred baht at most street food stalls and night markets. Most individual plates will cost less than 100 baht (around £2.50). If you’re planning a romantic dinner for two by the waves or toasting your trip with the family, then you might want to spend a little more at one of our fantastic resort restaurants.


The best restaurants in Thailand

Thailand’s fabulous restaurant scene is more than a match for the flavours showcased on the nation’s streets. Watch a sunset, discover your new favourite drink and relax in a welcoming atmosphere with your family and loved ones. Some of our favourites restaurants in Thailand include:


  • SEEN Restaurant & Bar Bangkok – Located in the Thonburi district, watch the sun set over the Chao Phraya River from this atmospheric rooftop spot. Try the red tuna tartare and toast the evening with a cocktail from one of the award-winning mixologists.
  • The Grotto, Rayavadee – Enjoy an open-air barbecue in a unique setting. The Grotto sits within an ancient limestone cliff, overlooking Krabi’s spectacular Phranang Beach.
  • Mix Restaurant – for a trendy take on Thai cuisine, head to Mix in Chiang Mai. Colourful red curry crab cornets make for a moreish (and photo-worthy) choice. Boutique Akyra Manor Hotel Chiang Mai is located just minutes away.


The best resorts in Thailand for foodies

There are plenty of fantastic resorts in Thailand, whether you’re planning an action-packed city break among the neon buzz of downtown Bangkok or escaping to the white sands of western Krabi. Here are our picks of where to stay – and eat well – on your south-east Asian adventure.


  • The Sarojin – Feast on flavours from across Thailand at this luxury boutique beach resort in Khoa Lak. Be sure to try one of the private dining options, from candlelit dinners beside a waterfall to beach barbeques under the stars.
  • Soneva Kiri – Dine among the treetops in your private bamboo-constructed pod, surrounded by birdsong and jungle flowers. Meals are delivered by a ziplining waiter – as daring as it is delicious.  
  • Banyan Tree Bangkok – Nestled on the edge of Lumphini Park, you’ll find the contemporary Saffron on the 52nd floor of this five-star hotel. Tuck into tasty banana blossom salad and seared salmon while you gaze across the city’s skyline.


Apps for finding a place to eat

Bangkok is packed with great places to eat, from street corner noodle shops to high-end rooftop restaurants delivering fine-dining alongside a skyline backdrop. To make the most of this cosmopolitan dining scene, we recommend turning to your smartphone.


  • Eatigo – this app helps hungry diners find empty tables and offers time-based discounts, sometimes up to 50%.
  • Goloco – reserve restaurants and find classy cocktail bars with this handy app. You’ll also find regular discounts and deals from dining spots throughout the capital.


Cooking classes in Thailand

Book on to a cooking class in Thailand and take some new skills home with you. Many of our most popular resorts offer the chance to master your massaman and perfect your panang. You’ll be taught by the best in the business, learning tips and tricks you can try in your own kitchen. 

The secret to Thai cooking is a liberal use of herbs and spices. Galangal, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves are firm fixtures in national dishes, and you’ll have a chance to gather these ingredients fresh on a morning market visit to kick off your class. Some of our favourite cooking courses are:


  • Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort Get up close to majestic elephants in the morning then whip up a crispy fish and mango salad or creamy coconut chicken soup in the afternoon, at the Spice Spoons restaurant.
  • Manathai Khao Lak Spend a slow-paced afternoon recreating regional and national classics, including deep fried fish cakes and fiery green curry, on this masterclass.  


Food in Thailand is best discovered by diving straight in. Take a look at our luxury holidays and begin planning your culinary adventure in the Land of Smiles.

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