There are plenty of reasons to visit Thailand, and you make any trip there, you must try Thai foods. Each Thai province is enriched with its rich treasured cuisines.
The flavors and textures of their dishes are so vast that, it will take several days just to try a few of them. Not just salads and noodles, they got plenty of variations!
That may not be possible for many people. So, I have made a shortlist of popular Thai dishes so that you can try most of them!
List of Thai Cuisines
- Khao kluk kapit
- Kai jeow moo sab
- Pad Kra Prao
- Yum pla muk
- Suea rong hai
- Pad Phuk Tong
- Som tam phu pala
- Khao soi
- Pad See Eiw
- Kuay tiew phet
- …and many more!
Let’s have a detailed look at each of them and I will try to guide you too!
KUAY TIEW PHET (Duck Noodle Soup)
Just like the Chinese noodle dishes, you will find the Thai noodle soups incredibly delicious and mouth-watering. Most of the noodle soups in Thailand have beef or pork in them.
But you have got to try this duck noodle soup!
The duck alone is perfectly balanced with fat to meat and slurping up the broth alone is incredibly satisfying. The broth has the perfect blend of star anise, five-spice, and cinnamon.
NAM PRIK NOOM
It’s a Northern Thailand specialty where fresh vegetables and chilis grow in plenty. The veggies and chilis are the ingredients to make these delicious Thail meals.
But it’s less spicy than other traditional Thai chili dips!
Among other ingredients of the meal, they use garlic, cilantro, shallots, lime juice, and fish sauce. In the end, you get a garlicky and smoky flavor Thai meal!
This Thai dish complements boiled eggs, sticky rice, steamed veggies, and pork rinds.
PLA KAPUNG NEUNG MANAO (Steamed Lime Fish)
You can enjoy the steamed lime fish anywhere in Thailand including in Thai restaurants abroad. It’s wholesome when eaten with jasmine rice.
They keep the fish steaming until it becomes fluffy and moist and then soak it in lime soup. Finally, the Pla Kapung Neung Manao is served with chilis, diced garlic, and cilantro.
PAD PAK BOONG FAI DANG (Red Light Morning Glory)
It’s a vegetable made of fermented soybean, soy sauce gravy, and oyster sauce.
People in Thailand eat this with rice porridge as their breakfast. They cook this on a wok and the word ‘red light’ refers to the red Thai chilis and the leaping up flame while cooking this dish.
Khao soi is a regional specialty. You have to try this northern Thailand noodle soup and I can promise you that it will be a life-changing experience for you!
With crispy egg noodles, they use creamy coconut broth, raw shallots, mustard greens, etc. As for toppings, they use chicken legs or minced pork. That’s what made these noodle soups special!
You should squeeze fresh lime over the soup to have the most comforting meal ever! From roadside kitchens to top-notch Thai restaurants, you can find Khao soi in various styles!
PAD WOON SEN (Glass Noodles)
If you are in Thailand, you need to try these stir-fried glass noodles. It’s not as flashy as the pad Thai but still tasty to enjoy nonetheless.
The Thai glass noodle is made from mung beans and it’s paired with other ingredients like scrambled eggs, shallots, prawns, garlic cloves, etc.
It does require a lot of oyster sauce seasoning. Finally, it’s garnished with chopped coriander or mung bean sprouts.
TOD MUN PLA (Thai Fish Cake)
They serve this fish cake with nam jim. Nam jim is a refreshing and sweet dipping sauce made of chilies, shallots, peanuts, and chopped cucumbers.
But the truth is… Tod Mun Pla is not a full dish. Rather it’s a tasty appetizer that you should try anyhow. It’s made from fish paste and long beans.
Lastly, it’s flavored with makrut lime leaves (for aromatic and citrusy fragrance) and red curry paste. Yes, it’s just a starter. But if you add a bowl of rice with this, it will be a complete meal!
PAD KRA PRAO
It’s a go-to food in Thailand and if you are not sure what to try, give Pad Kra Prao a shot! You can eat this minced pork and rice dish any time of the day! It’s their local specialty!
They first stir-fry the fatty minced pork with Thai holy basil. Then they use chopped chili and fish sauce for seasoning.
The beauty of Pad Kra Prao is that you can try other variations like chicken, beef, or even seafood!
KHAO KLUK KAPIT
This delicious Thai dish is not your typical fried rice. This special fried rice dish is tossed with fermented shrimp and salt known as Kapit.
It’s different than other Thai fried rice dishes in the sense that they use lots of items as toppings like marinated pork, dried shrimp, sliced omelet, shallots, chilis, unripe mango, etc.
That’s the reason why Khao kluk kapit is so delicious and colorful too.
TOM YUM GOONG (Spicy Shrimp Soup)
You should only try this if you can tolerate the excessive presence of spice! But I must tell you, they call it the steaming goodness for some reasons.
To make this iconic bowl of shrimp soup, they use plenty of fish sauce, lemongrass, galangal, shallots, lime juice, kaffier lime leaves, chili, and other Thai ingredients.
As for more filling, they use mushrooms and fresh prawns. You can have a creamy version of the soup where they use coconut cream.
How about a Thai salad? It’s a green papaya salad but very spicy! Som tam is one of the most popular dishes in Northeastern Thailand and you can enjoy its various variations.
To amplify the flavor, they use a mortar and pestle to mix all the ingredients.
For many of its styles, the classic one has green papaya, runner beans, dried shrimp, peanuts, carrots, garlic, tomatoes, fish and lime sauces, and an insane amount of chilis!
TOM KHA GAI
It’s actually the lighter version of tom yum for people who can’t tolerate a strong spicy flavor. But you still enjoy the same flavor and taste of tom yum.
Instead of lots of spicy ingredients, they use plenty of creamy coconut milk to make this sweet-tasting soup.
GUAY TEOW (Noodle Soup)
Like the Chinese or Vietnamese food culture, Thailand has a rich food culture of noodle soup too. Guay Teow is the most popular of them and you can have it anywhere in Thailand.
You can eat it any time of the day including it as your nighttime snack!
The best part is you can enjoy several variations of the Guay Teow. You can have the beef, pork, or chicken version (it’s hard to find any vegan version though).
Most of the time, the street food stalls add meatballs or wontons to the broth. More so, they top it with fish sauce, dried chili peppers, lime sauce, etc.
YUM TALAY (Seafood Salad)
For those who are visiting Thailand and looking for healthy meals only, Yum Talay should their choices. It’s healthy alright but very spicy!
Of course, it will vary depending on where you are in Thailand but they mainly use a combination of shrimp, squid, crabmeat, mussels to make this incredibly delicious salad.
To make the seafood healthy, they use tomatoes, rice glass noodles, and onions.
PAD PHUK TONG
Fancy name for a pumpkin dish! But I must admit that the Thai people have taken the pumpkin dish to the next level. Not just for vegans, you can also try this dish too.
While in Thailand, enjoy this stir-fried pumpkin dish with a bowl of rice!
PAD SEE EIW
Not just for different salads, Thailand is prominent for noodles like the Chinese too. The good thing about this noodle dish is that it’s ideal for tourists who can’t handle too much Thai spice!
You can enjoy this rice noodle with beef, pork, or chicken along with cabbage or broccoli. If you need a little extra kick, you can add vinegar or chili flakes too.
GAENG KEOW WAN
What’s the point of visiting an Asian country if you don’t try their curries, right? Hmm… That’s where this green curry comes in!
Among all the Thai curries, Gaeng Keow Wan is the spiciest one! But you will still get the sweet flavor from coconut milk.
Apart from the coconut milk, they use fresh green chilies, eggplant, ginger, etc. you should add steamed rice to bring down the spice level.
YAM NEUA (Beef Salad)
Here comes another Thai salad and it’s also spicy and zesty! This refreshing salad is made of thinly sliced beef strips.
That beef is then tossed in fresh spearmint, onions, chopped shallots, chilis, garlic, etc. These ingredients then seasoned with fish and lime sauce to make the salad exotic.
KANA MOO KROB
An ideal Thai dish for those who love healthy yet tasty vegetables! They stir-fry the broccoli with pork belly, chili, and garlic over high heat.
To make it sweet and tasty, they toss the mix in oyster sauce gravy, and soybean. To fill your belly, enjoy this veggie with steamed jasmine rice.
In case you don’t know, Pad Thai is one of the most popular Thai dishes and you should try this one day. You have tried many noodles but you should have this Thai-style stir-fried noodle.
They use all the classical and tasty ingredients like tofu, egg, bean sprouts, and peanuts to prepare this noodle. If you can’t tolerate too much spice, this is a good dish to try!
You will get a separate serving of chili and you can mix as much as you like according to your taste.
GAENG KEOW WAN GAI
This Thai green chicken curry is incredibly popular in Thailand. However, don’t be afraid of the spice just because it’s an Asian curry. It’s actually sweet because of the coconut milk they use.
Apart from the coconut milk, they use herbs and spices to cook this delicious chicken curry. To make it a fulfilling dish, you can have kanomjeen noodle or steamed rice along with this dish.
It’s another Thai noodle with gravy you should try this Popular Thai street food once you are there. The flat rice noodle comes with thick gravy and healthy vegetables.
You will also see seafood, chicken, or pork in the noodles. They will give you fish sauce, sugar, dried chilies on the side while serving it.
If you are a picky eater, Pad Krapow is not for you. Because it’s spicy and they use plenty of chilies! Of course, you can always ask the vendor to make it a little less spicy.
It’s actually fried basil made of minced pork or chicken that is stir-fried with Thai basil and chilies. The peppery flavor dish is topped with egg and usually served with white rice.
Yes, you have already tried many fried chicken already but I strongly recommend having a taste of this extremely popular Thai dish.
The vendor makes a mixture of marinated chicken wings or drumsticks, rice flour, and spices. Then he deep-fries the whole mixture. Finally, they serve it with a dipping sauce called ‘nam jim’.
To fill your stomach with something good, eat this dish with sticky rice.
Sure, it’s just a pure Thai fried vegetable but even the carnivorous find it delicious! Like all the mouth-watering Thai dishes, Pad Pak has the flavor of so many ingredients!
This fried vegetable has the tasty flavor of spices, sugar, and salt. And their blend is perfectly harmonious!
SUEA RONG HAI
Another exciting Thai dish from the northeastern side of Thailand not suitable for every tourist! They call it the crying tiger because of the excessive spice they use.
They serve it with sticky rice but suea rong hai is so strong, salty, and spicy that you can’t tolerate it unless you are a spice lover.
The spicy sauce named nam jam jao is served with this grilled steak. The sauce is so hot and spicy that it brings tears to the eyes.
But if you can tolerate it, you will love it!
PAD KRA PAO
This is something you need to order if you are not sure exactly what to order. For the local Thais, it’s a very popular food. Local vendors make this delicious stir-fry Thai basil quickly once you order.
They cook this food with pork, beef, chicken, tofu, seafood, or as per the customer’s order. They will serve it topped with egg if you want. Also, they usually serve it with rice.
Laab (Spicy Salad)
Ever wonder why the people in Thailand are so slim? You guessed it! They eat plenty of salads and they have various types of salads.
But the most common variation comes with pork, chicken, and mushroom. As it comes with a hefty kick due to the spice, it’s not recommended for everyone.
They call it the unsung Thai national hero. Every kid in Thailand grows up eating these fried omelets. You can stuff the Kai Jeow with many ingredients but only two fillings are most popular.
The first one is ground pork that is both peppery and garlicky which they call moo sab. The other is nam – a fermented Thai sauce.
When cooked over high heat, Kai Jeow becomes crispy on the outside but very fluffy on the inside.
YUM PLA MUK
Welcome to a delicious Thai salad. It contains meat and has a vivacious flavor of traditional Thai dishes. They serve it with fresh herbs, Thai chilies, lime juice, and fish sauce.
KAI MED MA MUANG
Both the tourists and locals love this chicken dish with cashew nuts. Along with these two prime ingredients, they use soy sauce, chilies, onions, honey, mushrooms, and other vegetables.
The end result is you get a sweet and tasty stir-fried dish!
A Thai curry suitable for tourists who cannot tolerate spice. Thailand has a rich culture of curry but panang is milder than the rest of the variations.
But just because it’s not so spicy does not mean it’s any less tasty! They usually serve this dish with shrimp. But if you are a vegetarian, they will serve you only this curry with only veggies.
KAO NIEW MA MUANG
Your food exploration in Thailand will be incomplete if you don’t try this delicious Thai dessert.
The sticky rice and mango combination of this dessert will simply blow your mind. They use sweet condensed milk along with mango and rice too to make this simple yet highly delicious dessert.
Not just for the exotic Thai massage, visit Thailand for these above-mentioned incredibly delicious Thai foods too. Your visit to Thailand will be more fulfilling if you can try most of these cuisines.
Let me know in the comment box if I missed any favorite Thai dishes you have tried there. I will add them to my list in my next update.