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Best street food in Thailand to try

Best street food in Thailand to try

Thailand is world famous for its cuisines, especially Pad Thai and the many curries.

One of our favourite culinary discoveries in our travels is street food, particularly in China and Myanmar. However, the Thais simply take this to a whole new level.

street food in thailand - Sticky rice prizes in the Krabi night market
Sebastien enjoying many sticky rice prizes in the Krabi night market

We rarely ate Thai food in restaurants, finding them to be over priced and extremely touristy. The locals are usually found eating in the streets where they gather in their numbers for a freshly made curry, som tam salad, a sticky rice coconut prize and many more.

The street food in Thailand probably ranks as one of our favourite culinary experiences in our travels, if not the best – up there with Sri Lankan food.

best streetfood in Thailand Papaya salad at Trang night market
Papaya salad freshly made at the night market in Trang

Street food Pad Thai

Pad Thai is a stir fried rice noodle dish cooked with eggs, fish sauce, garlic, shallots, bean sprouts, coriander leaves, tofu or chicken, tamarind pulp and served with spring onions, crushed nuts and lime juice. It was popularised during the Second World War and has become one of Thailand’s national dishes.

best streetfood in Thailand fresh Pad Thai at Krabi night market
Woman making fresh Pad Thai at Krabi Town’s excellent night market

Once the ingredients are all ready, it’s really quick and easy to prepare. We learnt the recipe for vegetarian Pad Thai at our cooking class in Chiang. As well as being nutritious, it’s absolutely delicious and very cheap.

A serving of Pad Thai cost on average around 50 bahts (around £1 / $1.50) in the market.

best streetfood in Thailand Stefan with freshly made Pad Thai
Stefan about to go face down in this delicious freshly made plate of Pad Thai

Street food papaya salad (Som Tam)

Som Tam is spicy green papaya salad, which is another staple in Thailand. It is made from shredded papaya, pounded in a pestle and mortar with lime juice, palm sugar, chilli, garlic, shrimp, nut, tomatoes, lime juice, fish sauce, bean sprouts and green beans.

best streetfood in Thailand Sebastien with a tasty Som Tam
Sebastien with a tasty Som Tam spicy papaya salad

Som Tam is another healthy and yummy Thai prize costing around 40 bahts (around 80p/$1) a serving in the street.

Unfortunately this little gem taught us that we still have a long way to go with spice tolerance: when you crush chillies, they become even more deadly. So this is now the only dish on the planet we request it to be as non spicy as possible! We’ve also shied away from trying it with a live crab:

best streetfood in Thailand crab for som tam
Seb saving this crab from being pounded in the pestle and mortar for the som tam

The Thai curries

Thailand is popular for its rainbow of coconut milk based curries, named according to the colour the ingredients give it, particularly the chillies used.

Green curry gains its colour from the green chillies and also the variety of herbs used like fresh coriander, kaffir lime leaves and basil leaves.

Yellow curry has more of a South Asian influence, using yellow chillies traditionally and also turmeric, which gives it its colour.

Red curry takes its flavour from the large number of red chillies used – traditionally around 20! We’ve yet to recover from this one…

best streetfood in Thailand Thai red curry best food of Thailand at cooking class
Watch out Seb – that Thai red curry’s got no fewer then 20 chillies in it!

Street food coconut sticky rice

No visit to Thailand is complete without discovering the many sticky rice treaties available. They are usually sweetened with coconut and palm sugar and make some really tasty deserts.

best streetfood in Thailand Seb with sticky rice coconut treats
Sebastien with sticky rice coconut prizes in the market of Udom Suk in Bangkok’s suburbs

Fruits are also used to sweeten the sticky rice, particularly mango. Mango sticky rice (usually served with coconut milk) was a big highlight to any street food market for us!

best streetfood in Thailand sticky rice mango
Enjoying sticky rice mango on the Walking Street in Koh Lipe

Favourite Thai fruit: tamarind

This seems quite random, but was a food discovery we made and quickly became a popular treat of ours in Thailand. In Sri Lankan and south Indian cuisine, tamarind is mixed with water and then used as a souring agent in a curry. We therefore associated tamarind as a curry ingredient.

We were pleasantly surprised to learn that in Thailand, you can buy tamarind to eat as a tasty, sweet fruit and then spit out/disregard the stone.

best streetfood in Thailand tamarind selfie
We were surprised to see tamarind used as a fruit and not as a souring agent for a curry

Thailand was the first country we visited in Asia several years before this trip and one of the reasons we fell in love with the idea of eating our way through Asia.

Returning to Thailand on this trip, we fell in love with the wide array of street food available and is one of the many things we will miss about this beautiful country.

Watch our video Thailand travel video and enjoy our underwater adventures as we island hopped through this beautiful country:


Read more about our favourite Thai street food for Mr Hudson Explores and get inspired with this Thailand travel guide.

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Sebastien is the co-founder, editor and author of He is a tech geek, a total travel nerd and a food enthusiast. He spends the majority of his time planning Nomadic Boys' travels meticulously right down to the minute details. Sebastien has travelled to over 80 countries with his partner in crime and the love of his life, Stefan. He regularly shares his expertise of what it’s like travelling as a gay couple both on Nomadic Boys and on prominent publications ranging from Pink News, Matador, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Guardian and many more. Originally from France, Sebastien moved to London in the early 2000s where he pursued a career as a computer programmer for Thompson Reuters and Bloomberg. He subsequently left it all to explore his passion for travelling around the world with Stefan to hand, and thus Nomadic Boys was born.

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