Travel tips

Free time suggestions: Foods to try in Thailand

From curry that’ll make you sweat to juicy exotic fruits, Thailand has it all. Overwhelmed by all the choices? We are here to help. These are the five mouth-watering foods you’ve got to try on your tour to Thailand. (Just don’t forget the napkins.)

Pad Thai
A can’t-miss dish, pad thai is made with rice noodles and usually topped with tofu, shrimp, and all sorts of spices. This is an immensely versatile dish that can be made with pretty much anything you’d like. Literally translated to “fried Thai,” the history of Thailand’s national dish goes back to the 1930s when it won a country-wide competition for the title.

From the downtown Bangkok street vendors to the restaurants of Chiang Mai, pad thai is everywhere, so be sure to pick up this dish before you leave.

Mango sticky rice
Made with rice, coconut milk, and fresh mangos, mango sticky rice is a dessert staple. Known as khao niew ma muang in Thai, the dish resembles a sort of tropical rice pudding. If you’re not the biggest fan of mangos, don’t fret, you can pair sticky rice with a host of other toppings.

For dessert or to satisfy a mid-afternoon craving, you can find this sweet treat at any street vendor, especially in peak mango season (April and May).

Chicken Khao Soi
Essentially curry soup with noodles, Chicken Khao Soi is guaranteed to be good. Packed with flavor from the mustard greens, shallots, coconut milk, lime, ground chiles, and chicken, this dish will rock your tastebuds. Most popular in northern Thailand, head out to a restaurant in the Chiang Mai region and you’re likely to see it on the menu.

Annie Spratt/ via Unsplash

Exotic fruit
With Thailand’s tropical climate comes a lot of fruits that are hard to find in the U.S.

Picked from the white-fleshed pitahaya plant, dragon fruit is a must. A cross between a kiwi and a pear, this colorful treat tastes good by itself or in a smoothie.

Pomelo is a gigantic citrus fruit that is best handled by knife-wielding professionals. Sweeter than a grapefruit, find this acidic snack at a roadside stand.

And you might think you know everything there is to know about bananas, but you’ve probably been eating the same variety since you were born. In Thailand, there are over 100 varieties of banana to choose from—so expand your palate and try a few.

Pineapple fried rice
Pineapple fried rice is everywhere in Thailand, and for good reason. Lighter than your typical American takeout fried rice, the dish is served directly in a carved-out pineapple and filled with flavorful pineapple pieces, nuts, and sweet curry. So when hunger strikes, remember this yummy Thai take on fried rice.

Thai food is known for its spice. But if that’s not your thing, ask for your dish to be “mai phet” or not spicy, in Thai. If you’re okay with a little spice, say “phet nit noy,” or a little bit spicy. And while tipping isn’t customary, if you loved the food, leave some change behind and be sure to tell your waiter “aroy,” which means delicious.

In the end, you can’t go wrong with Thai cuisine. And if you follow this guide, you’re in for delicious meals that are sure to elevate your tour experience.

Melanie Fonville

Melanie Fonville is a content marketing co-op from Northeastern University. She loves drafting chapters of that novel she’ll never publish and watching video essays. Her favorite destination is London, where she spent three and half months on a study abroad and was then informed she couldn’t stay forever.

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