The best street food Thailand has to offer

PHOTO: Eating street food by Torwaiphoto via AdobeStock

Whether you’re in Bangkok, Phuket, or Chiang Mai, the street food in Thailand is sure to be a star attraction. The street food culture in Thailand is major- the locals and foreigners alike love street food since it’s cheap and delicious. Thailand, especially Bangkok, is dotted with street foods on almost every of the soi (streets). Just walking down a street or a local market will have your stomach growling to be fed. And, upon trying some of the top street foods, you will soon be back asking for more.

From grilled pork marinated in its own, uniquely sweet sauce, to sticky rice being paired with mango, one thing about Thai dishes is that they incorporate all flavours from sour to spicy in most of their recipes. As some foods are indicative of their origins, from Isaan to the South, foodies will surely find no shortage of things to try. Here are some of the popular street foods in Thailand!

1. Moo Ping (Grilled Pork Skewers)

Thailand is brimming with delicious street food
PHOTO: Moo Ping via iStock

This delicious street food is one of the tastiest to try, found almost everywhere as it is very popular for Thais and locals alike. Literally translated to “grilled pork”, know that this is no ordinary grilled pork. The meat is marinated in crushed, coriander roots, garlic and peppers and then slowly grilled to bring out the essence and juices.

Although the recipe can be amended, coconut milk is one ingredient that cannot be left out. That’s because the milk tenderises the pork to make it soft and juicy. For those who try this delicious meat on a stick, it is almost always paired with sticky rice. Regardless of how you consume it, Moo Ping is famous for its ability to fill you up while giving you a mouthful of flavour. You’ll definitely be hooked!

2. Pad Kra Pao (Stir-fried Basil)

The best street food Thailand has to offer | News by Thaiger
PHOTO: Pad Kra Pao (Stir-fried Basil) by jcomp via Freepik

Pad Kra Pao is possibly the most famous Thai dish besides Tom Yum and Pad Thai. It is definitely a go-to dish among the locals, and travellers cannot help but crave it! Comprised of Thai holy sweet basil, garlic, sugar, chillis, and oyster sauce, this dish combines all flavours to create an explosion of taste. The dish uses Chinese influenced stir-frying methods to make the spices melt together in one amazing meal.

When eating Pad Kra Pao, ask for the condiment tray as you can add more taste by sprinkling sugar, or a vinegar chilli mix as well as more spices. Furthermore, the dish is best when you add a Thai-style fried egg, as it offsets some of the spice and adds a bit more of a muted flavour. But if you cannot handle spice, don’t forget to say ‘mai phed’ because you’ll surely find the original taste spicy.

3. Kluay Tod (Fried Bananas)

Thailand is brimming with delicious street food
PHOTO: Fried Banana via iStock

In Southeast Asia, fried bananas are a common dessert and snack. Thailand has also adopted the food into its street food markets as its taste is undeniably delicious. The recipe can be a bit hard to imitate as only natives to the area seem to have mastered its taste.

The yummy snack is often matched with coconut ice cream, which can be hard to find if you aren’t in Asia. However, vanilla ice cream can also be used as a substitute. If ice cream is a bit much for you, just try it hot off the pan, as this option will surely amplify the banana taste. Found almost at every street vendor cluster, fried bananas are a classic example of a dessert done right.

4. Thai Coconut Ice Cream

Delicious coconut ice cream in Chinatown night market in Bangkok, Thailand street food
PHOTO: Coconut ice cream in Chinatown night market in Bangkok by Oleh_Slobodeniuk via iStock

If you haven’t travelled to Thailand yet, you may not know that its desserts are light and fluffy. Thai coconut ice cream is no exception as it is like a fusion of ice cream and sorbet, creating a lighter taste in your mouth. Brimming with coconut flavour, the dish is definitely healthier than most Western ice cream.

To make the ice cream, you don’t even need to use an ice cream maker as it can be made by hand. Just gather some eggs, sugar, heavy whipping cream, full-fat coconut milk, flaked coconut, and vanilla or coconut flavouring. These ingredients are easy to find and once you are all set, the ice cream will be melting in your mouth in no time. Don’t forget to add some mango or other fruit to top it all off — or enjoy it with some delicious fried bananas!

5. Som Tam (Papaya Salad)

Som Tum, a popular Thailand street food
PHOTO: Som Tum by
sirasit gullasu via Unsplash

Som Tam or Papaya Salad is definitely the most famous dish in Northeastern Thailand. Cheap and mostly healthy, Thai people make this dish by pounding chillies, tomatoes, papaya, and other ingredients together with a mortar and pestle. Despite the hard work of crushing together different ingredients, this Thai salad is known for its extremely spicy taste.

But, don’t worry if you don’t like spicy food, as when ordering, you can simply ask for it to not be spicy or for the cook to only use 1 chilli. It may sound like using 1 chilli is not going to make your eyes water, but when it is ground up, the spiciness of the chilli multiplies, making it much stronger than simply cutting it and may even leave your mouth on fire. Regardless, finding Som Tam is easy as almost everyone who hails from Isaan or Northeastern Thailand eat it. Many Thais from this area, in fact, seem to crave the spiciness of Som Tam, with nothing taking its place.

6. Khao Niao Mamuang (Mango Sticky Rice)

Thailand is brimming with delicious street food
PHOTO: Mango Sticky Rice by jcomp via Freepik

Who hasn’t heard of Mango Sticky Rice? Considering how popular Thai food has become all over the world, it’s likely that you’ve thought about this refreshing and fruity dessert at some point. And when you’re in Thailand, it’s hard to pass up the chance to try this refreshing street food. This dish is simple and only requires a few ingredients. The mix of coconut milk, mango, sticky rice, and sugar results in an unrivalled, sweet treat.

Popular all over Thailand, even the capital of Bangkok is known as “The Big Mango”. Therefore, finding mangoes in Thailand is as easy as looking up at a tree, where the yellow fruit is sure to be hanging. Moreover, for that refreshing sweet taste, look no further than your local market or street vendors.

7. Kai Jiao (Thai Omelette)

Thai Omelette
PHOTO: Thai Omelette via Freepik

The Thai Omelette is possibly one of the least expensive and most fulfilling dishes. This egg and rice recipe, which is popular for helping people stay full longer, uses fish sauce to give it the flavour that most Thais prefer. Thai people fry the omelette using a lot of oil to make it crispy and delectable.

For a more tasty option, you can make the omelette with whatever meat you want (minced pork is the most popular). Even Thai eggplant definitely adds a unique flavour to the dish. But, the best thing about the meal, is that you can make it quickly if you are in a hurry and it costs next to nothing for the ingredients. Put some chilli or tomato sauce with it and you have a meal that is ready to fill you up while you are on the go!

8. Banana Roti

Thai Roti
PHOTO: Thai Roti via iStock

A popular snack and dessert, the Banana Roti’s ability to incorporate all different kinds of fillings makes it a winner. And since both locals and visitors favor it, you can find it practically everywhere. Moreover, if you visit a large market, the fillings to choose from is overwhelming.

From Nutella to chocolate sauce, be sure to get creative when choosing a filling. Most foodies choose banana and chocolate, but many younger kids typically choose more candy-like tastes. After choosing a filling, watch the vendor magically fry it up. And, don’t forget to enjoy the fragrance that will soon translate onto your tongue!

The abundance of delectable food in this stunning nation is arguably its best feature. With many options of street foods to choose from, this list will not do justice to all the amazing street foods. Follow locals to locate award-winning food vendors, or ask seasoned expats for directions to the most enticing street food stands.

And if you want to learn how Thais make these magical cuisines, why not join a cooking class! Here, you can learn the art of pounding a mortar and pestle while taking spiciness to a whole new level. One thing’s for sure, leaving Thailand with a newfound love of street food will have you yearning to return for more.

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