Food Guide in Thailand
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Street food in Thailand
If you are visiting Thailand as a "package" tourist, then the variety of food at the hotel should be enough for you. However, if you want more, you can try everything by walking along the tourist streets, or by visiting markets-food courts, buffets, or restaurants.
Thailand is famous for its bright and aromatic cuisine, which is a fusion of different cultural influences. Here are some popular dishes and ingredients you can taste in Thai cuisine:
- Pad Thai: This is a classic Thai stir-fried noodle dish made with thin wide rice noodles, eggs, bean sprouts, peanuts, and often meat or seafood.
- Tom Yum Gung: A hot and sour soup made with lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, chili peppers and shrimp.
- Green Curry: A coconut milk-based curry made with green chilies, garlic, lemongrass and Thai basil.
- Som Tum: A spicy papaya salad made with shredded green papaya, tomatoes, chili peppers, lime juice, fish sauce, and peanuts.
- Massaman Curry: A rich, creamy curry made with beef, potatoes, peanuts, and spices like cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves.
- Mango Sticky Rice: A popular Thai dessert made with sticky rice, fresh mango and sweet coconut milk.
Thailand's street food is known for its variety, affordability and incredible flavors. Street vendors can be found all over the country, from bustling cities to small settlements. Everywhere you will be offered a wide variety of delicious snacks and meals, such as grilled seafood, meat on skewers, crispy fried chicken, sweet pancakes with bananas or other fruits, chocolate spread, condensed milk and much more.
Some popular street food dishes in Thailand
- Grilled Meat Skewers: These can usually be found at night markets. They are prepared from marinated pork, chicken, beef or seafood, fried on hot coals and served with spicy sauces.
- Pad Kra Pao: This is a classic Thai street food dish made with minced pork or chicken stir-fried with basil, garlic and chilies. It is often served over rice with a fried egg on top.
- Khao Man Gai: This is a simple but delicious poached chicken dish served with fragrant rice cooked in garlic chicken broth. It is usually served with a side of cucumber slices and a spicy ginger sauce.
- Mu Ping: This is grilled pork skewers marinated in a sweet and savory sauce made from garlic, soy sauce, oyster sauce and sugar.
- Roti: This is a popular snack that originated in southern Thailand and can now be found all over the country. It is a crusty, puffy bread that is usually served with condensed milk, chocolate sauce or bananas.
- Kanom Krok: These are small round coconut pancakes that are crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside. They are usually made from rice flour, coconut milk and sugar. Serve hot.
Whether you're a seasoned foodie or a curious traveler, exploring Thailand's street food is a must-do experience that offers a taste of the country's vibrant culture and culinary heritage.
What exactly sells on the street? And how much it costs
Corn boiled/grilled/grains 25 - 40 Baht per piece;
Sushi 10 - 20 Baht per piece;
Bugs, worms and insects 30 - 100 Baht per portion;
Pieces of chicken/heart/liver grill 10 - 20 Baht per skewer;
Pork, lard grill 10 - 20 Baht per skewer;
Grilled chicken 160 Baht per one;
Dried squid 70 - 100 Baht a portion;
Grilled squid 70 - 100 Baht per portion;
Pieces of salmon with carrot "litter" 150 - 300 Baht per package;
Seafood, fish grill 100 - 200 Baht per portion;
Young coconuts 25 - 50 Baht a piece;
Watermelon 20-30 Baht a piece;
Fruit sets 30 - 60 Baht;
Fresh fruits 25 - 40 Baht per pack;
Sausages, meatballs, crab sticks 10 - 30 Baht for a skewer;
Pancakes 40 - 60 Baht. An additional filling is 15 - 25 Baht;
Milk, fruit cocktails 60 - 80 Baht;
WOK noodles (vegetables, chicken/seafood) 40 - 80 Baht;
Fried rice(egg, vegetables, chicken/seafood) 60 - 80 Baht;
Langoustines 200 - 250 Baht for 10 pcs.
Most street vendors buy food from supermarkets in bulk and reheat it in their trays and sell it individually for an average of 20 Baht. So don't expect real culinary masterpieces when buying such food. However, there are benches with real food cooking, where you can eat deliciously and taste interesting dishes.
Thai buffets stand out
Buffets are usually restaurants but with buffet tables, where visitors serve themselves a variety of dishes laid out on a table or counter.
Thai buffets offer a unique experience as customers can create their own meals from the ingredients available at the counter. The entrance fee for these buffets typically ranges from 250 to 500 Baht per person and is dependent on the assortment and choice of seafood, meat, and sweets. They usually open after 5 pm and have a time limit of 2-3 hours. Additionally, there is an extra cost for charcoal if customers want to grill their food. On average, charcoal costs 100 Baht.
To participate, customers must choose a table, preferably not in direct sunlight, and order drinks and a grill/coal if desired. Once the lit coals are delivered to the table, customers can choose their desired ingredients from the buffet counter, including vegetables, meat, seafood, sauces, and ready-made rice or noodles. Afterward, customers can either grill their food or cook it in water or steam depending on the chosen method. There are no limits on the amount of food consumed, but taking out or taking food with you is prohibited. Additionally, some buffets charge a fine of 100 to 200 Baht for food left uneaten. It is important to note that all drinks, including water, are an additional fee and priced higher than in stores. The cost of drinks usually ranges from 20 to 50 Baht per glass. Payment is usually cash only.
The amount of food consumed is not limited, but taking out or taking food with you is also prohibited to bring food or drinks.
Supermarkets of Thailand. Products for self-cooking
Main grocery stores
7 Eleven, Family Mart, Lotus, BigC, Makro, Tops
Stores like 7-Eleven and Family Mart follow a "close to home" format, offering a limited selection of products but with the convenience of being open 24/7 and widely available. Payment options include both bank cards and cash and in some provinces, customers can even pay in dollars at 7-Eleven and receive their change in Baht.
Chain Tops offers a range of formats, from boutique to hypermarket.
Hypermarkets like Lotus and Big C have a vast selection of products, and customers can pay with bank cards or cash. These networks also offer loyalty cards.
Macro is a supermarket that offers a broad range of products and related items but only accepts cash as a form of payment.
Use the Costless app to find your nearest supermarket
List of basic products available in supermarkets
Here is a sample list of ingredients that a family in Thailand might use to prepare a meal:
- ground meat
- a variety of fresh fish
- sweet pepper
- Thai basil
- dragon fruit
- noodles (rice noodles, egg noodles)
- coconut milk
- fish, soy and other sauces
- various sauces and soups
- drinkable yogurt
Some notes about the product in supermarkets
- It's important to be aware of various marketing tricks when shopping in Thailand, such as fish in plastic packages that may be repackaged and even dyed with beet juice.
- Additionally, most milk is either skimmed or lactose-free, so customers should take note if they prefer regular-fat milk.
- Although there are few options for sour cream, some yogurts without additives or sugar can provide a similar taste.
- Kefir and ryazhenka have not existed in Thai supermarkets.
- Meiji milk with a dark blue label is similar to Ukrainian milk with 2.5% - 3.2% fat, while Meiji milk with a blue label is skimmed.
- Cheeses and sausages tend to be pricier than in Western European countries.
- For meat, it's recommended to purchase from Makro due to their specialization in fresh products and high turnover of goods. However, Big C and Lotus also offer good quality and selection.
- For seafood, customers can use special baskets for collecting and weighing, and can even order cleaning and slicing.
- Most fruits are sold unripe and need a few days to ripen, while ripe fruits should be eaten within one or two days. Home-grown bananas may contain seeds and worms, so caution is advised.
- Customers can find delicious bread at Big C or Lotus' own bakeries, although not all stores carry them.
- Tomato juice, along with other juices, can be expensive, so a recommended alternative is to dilute Mutti tomato paste or an analog in water (1.5L-2L) to make tomato juice.
Of course, these are just some examples of products found in Thai supermarkets, as there are countless other options and ingredients available. This list serves as a helpful starting point for those looking to cook and eat in Thailand.
Universal list of products for the week
Meat and fish
- Meat. You can choose the meat yourself, based on your taste preferences. But we recommend giving preference to white meat without skin. For example, chicken fillet is considered the healthiest due to its low content of saturated fat. To diversify your diet, you can buy some red meat. It can be steak or beef tenderloin, they are available in Thai supermarkets, but they are imported and quite expensive. When buying meat, start from the calculation of 150 g per person per day.
- Fish. Nutritionists recommend that every person eat fish twice a week. It is desirable that the fish is fatty and contains many useful trace elements. For example, tuna, mackerel or sturgeon varieties. In Thai supermarkets, there is a large amount of fresh fish of various kinds. The minimum portion per person is 100 gr.
- Meat cut or sausage. It is an indispensable product for breakfast or as a quick snack for unexpected guests. It is better to choose natural meat products. For example, bacon, ham, prosciutto or pork.
- Pasta. Pasta of any kind is an excellent dish that is easy and quick to prepare. A pack of spaghetti, cones, noodles, funchose or another type of pasta, depending on your preferences, should always be in reserve in every home. We recommend choosing pasta made from durum wheat, buckwheat, corn or rice flour. They are suitable for any diet and do not contain harmful trace elements.
- Rice. This is a universal cereal, from which you can prepare many delicious and simple dishes. The choice of rice is also diverse: white rice, long grain, basmati, jasmine, brown and wild rice, and Arborio. In Thai supermarkets, there are whole rows with a variety of rice, so if you wish, you can choose exactly the one you want.
- Bread. Bread is necessary in the diet of every person. We recommend choosing whole-grain varieties of bread so that you will get a huge portion of the fiber.
- Flour should always be in the house. It is not only the main ingredient for pies, cakes and other baked goods. You can also use it as a thickener for sauces and for breading meat to give it a crispy crust when roasting. Supermarkets sell a huge variety of flour - you can buy regular wheat flour or gluten-free types such as rice, buckwheat, almond, and soy flour.
- Dry breakfasts. This is a quick option for breakfast, which can also be useful. Choose muesli, granola or cereal without sugar and high in fiber.
- Vegetable oil. You will need it for cooking most dishes. If you follow a healthy diet, choose olive oil or flaxseed oil, which are rich in omega-3s.
- Butter. Another universal product that should be in any refrigerator. Butter is perfect for toast for breakfast, as well as useful for cooking various dishes and pastries.
Dairy products and eggs
- Milk is an indispensable ingredient. You will need it for dry breakfast, in coffee, for preparing delicious sauce and for baking. Vegans and people who care about their health are advised to pay attention to alternative types of milk, such as soy or almond.
- Eggs are the main source of protein that everybody needs. Eggs can be used in any dish, this is an excellent option for a quick breakfast or a late dinner. An adult should eat at least 2-3 eggs a day. Those who follow a sports diet should increase the portion to 5-7 eggs.
- Cheese can improve any simple dish. 40 g of cheese per day will saturate your body with useful trace elements. Choose cheese to your taste. However, before buying make sure of the quality of the cheese, it should not be a cheese product.
- Yogurt. We recommend taking classic Greek yogurt 3-5% and adding fruit and honey to it yourself. So you will get not just a tasty, but also a healthy dessert. In addition, Greek yogurt is an excellent base for any sauce or salad dressing.
Fruits and vegetables
- Onion. It is difficult to imagine a homemade dish without using it. It can be stored for a long time in a cool, dark place. Therefore, you can safely have a few heads of onions in reserve at home.
- Garlic. Another important ingredient in many dishes, including for flavoring. It is also stored for a long time in a dark, cool place.
- Fruits. They contain many useful vitamins and minerals that will help you be healthy and maintain a good immune system. They can be used as a snack between main meals. Give preference to seasonal fruits so that you will get all the necessary trace elements and you can not worry about the quality of the products.
- Vegetables are another excellent source of vitamins. We recommend mixing as many different colored vegetables as possible, as each color of vegetable usually contains different essential vitamins. Therefore, you should not focus only on green vegetables. Buy seasonal vegetables and use them in all meals.
- Bean. If you're vegan, vegetarian, or just on a diet, you need to eat legumes to get extra protein in your body.
- Tomatoes in their own juice. Chopped tomatoes are incredibly convenient, as it saves you from blanching and slicing fresh tomatoes yourself. In addition, they are included in many sauces and dishes. Need a quick bite to eat? Saute onions, garlic and add a can of chopped tomatoes to make a simple tomato pasta sauce.
- Fruits, seeds and nuts. They are great for filling or healthy snacks. Add dried apricots, dried fruits, and various nuts without flavor additives to your diet. It is a natural source of amino acids and protein.
- Salt. Almost all dishes require salt. However, you should observe a balance and not oversalt the dishes, but only emphasize their taste in this way.
- Pepper. It can be ground pepper or granules.
- Herbs and spices. Dry natural herbs give a special taste to your food and do not affect its quality. Choose herbs that suit your culinary tastes and preferences. If you're leaning towards Italian and Mediterranean cuisine, buy basil and oregano. If you prefer oriental cuisine, stock up on coriander and cumin.
- Honey - use it as a natural sweetener for yogurt and cereal.
- Vinegar - adds piquancy to food. You can mix it with butter for a simple and healthy salad dressing.
- Sugar will add sweetness to your tea, coffee or dessert. Opt for artificial sweeteners if you're concerned about your health or counting calories.
You can get a complete list of products with brand names and prices by following the link: Food list for a week in Thailand
To add your own or remove products, download the Costless app, by the link voila! You can now edit the list. And also, create unique lists of products for all occasions.
And finally, our recommendations that you must try while in Thailand
Tom Yum 70 - 300 Baht (the price depends on the quantity and variety of seafood and the quality of other ingredients)
Pad Thai 70 -150 Baht
Mango Sticky Rice 40 - 80 Baht
Young coconut 25 - 50 Baht
Squid is quite cheap and very tasty even just boiled, 116 - 136 Baht per kilo in the supermarket, or grilled 70 - 100 Baht per portion from street vendors.
Australian green mussels or the local analog of green mussels 250 Baht per kg if bought in a supermarket and cooked yourself, or 150 Baht for 5 pieces from street vendors
Langoustines from 250 Baht per kilogram in a supermarket, or from 200 Baht for 10 pieces at street vendors.