A Foodies Guide to the Best of Thailand

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Southeast Asia is a food lover’s paradise, and Thai is one the most popular cuisines in the region. The food is fresh, delicious and cheap. With a wide selection of street food, cheap and cheerful restaurants and fine dining, there is no end to the places to eat to find tasty, authentic, local food. So for you the traveler and fellow food lover, this is a foodies guide to the best of Thailand. Use it to plan your food tours, cooking schools and eating!

A Foodies Guide to the Best of Thailand Exploring the Food in Thailand

If you want to add a whole new dimension to your understanding of the local food, we highly recommend you take a cooking class. It is a great way to spend a half or a full day and will provide a more in depth insight into the food and culture of the area. Many will include a trip to the local market and having a guide along can provide some great details that you just don’t notice on your own. Plus you can ask all the questions you want about some of the more exotic things you will find in the markets of Southeast Asia.

With little refrigeration, most people shop at least once a day if not more. For street food and local restaurants this means the food is fresh! It was most likely bought only several hours ago at the market. Fruit and vegetables tend to be picked and sold within a day or two at the most.

Look for busy food stalls and restaurants and look for where the locals eat. Both are signs the food is good. Both Bangkok and Chiang Mai have fantastic street food. Many evening markets are set up just for the locals to eat and they feature a huge variety of choices for your evening meal.

So without further ado, here are our suggestions for where to go and what to do to find the best of food in Thailand.

A Foodies Guide to the Best of Thailand www.compassandfork.com.

Foodies Guide to the Best of Thailand: Chiang Mai

If you love food, don’t miss Chiang Mai. In the northern highlands of Thailand. Chiang Mai is the place you’ve been looking for. Much smaller than Bangkok, it is easy to move around and find everything. It is also located in the heart of Thailand’s agricultural area, and the variety of fruit and vegetables available reflects this.

Warning: It is one of those places you might not want to leave.

A few recommendations for food lovers:

Street Food Tour

Chiang Mai has some serious street food, the whole town eats on the street (seriously lots of homes and apartments do not have kitchens). The variety and availability is just incredible. And it is cheap- eating for $2 per person per meal for good fresh food is common.

If you’d like to learn more about where and what to eat, you can take a street food tour.

Cooking SchoolChiang Mai Dancing - Spotlight on the Secrets of Beef Wrapped in Betel Leaf www.compassandfork.com

There are a lot of Thai cooking schools in Chiang Mai and I am sure you can find one to suit your needs. You can take a half day, full day, hands on, group, private or just watch a demonstration. Some include a trip to the local market as well.

We enjoyed a Thai cooking class with one of the local providers and can’t recommend it enough.

You can find other travelers reviews of cooking schools in Trip Advisor.

Old Chiang Mai Cultural Center

You may wonder why this makes the list, but this is a great opportunity to enjoy a traditional Thai banquet and learn about Thai culture. It features dancing and music. The background to the dance and the stories of the songs are interesting. The local hill tribes dance and play their traditional music as well. The Old Chiang Mai Cultural Center is the best bargain in town and a most enjoyable evening.


Foods to Try in Thailand

For all you adventurous eaters, here is a list of classic dishes to try in Thailand. The links contain more information about the dish and the food culture and customs in Thailand.


A Foodies Guide to the Best of Thailand Authentic Thai Fish Cakes www.compassandfork.com

A Foodies Guide to the Best of Thailand tom yum soup www.compassandfork.com

Thai Fish Cakes

Tom Yum Soup

 A Foodies Guide to the Best of Thailand Thai Spring Rolls www.compassandfork.com  A Foodies Guide to the Best of Thailand Beef Wrapped in Betel Leaf www.compassandfork.com

Thai Spring Rolls

Beef Wrapped In Betel Leaf

 A Foodies Guide to the Best of Thailand Stir Fried Vegetables www.compassandfork.com  A Foodies Guide to the Best of Thailand Thai Green Chicken Curry www.compassandfork.com

Stir Fried Vegetables

 Green Chicken Curry


And if you are still looking for more ideas, Click on the FULL STORY button on the link below for a more extensive list of all the things you should eat when you visit Thailand.

Check out All the Things You Should Eat When You Visit Thailand

by Compass&Fork at Mode

A Foodies Guide to the Best of Thailand A Traveler’s Guide to the Flavors of Thailand

FREE Asian Cooking Essentials 2nd edition, What you need to know to make great Asian at home www.compassandfork.comWe have written a guide to all the flavors and ingredients common in both Thai and Vietnamese food. It includes pictures of the ingredients, history and background as well as the common uses. If you are traveling to Thailand and want to explore the food, it is an essential guide. Download it and take a copy with you on your tablet or e-reader. You can download a FREE copy by subscribing to the newsletter.


A Foodies Guide to the Best of Thailand www.compassandfork.comPlanning Your Trip

Looking for reasons to visit Thailand? Check out our guide to books, cookbooks and movies about Thailand.  You are sure to find something on the list to inspire you.

For more information about things to see and do in Thailand you might enjoy:

Leave a Comment About A Foodies Guide to the Best of Thailand for Your Fellow Foodies!

We hope you enjoyed our Foodies Guide to the Best of Thailand. Have you been to Thailand? Are you planning a trip? Let us know if you have other Thai favorites or tips for fellow foodies in the comment below! We would love to hear from you.


If you would like to Save a Foodies Guide to the Best of Thailand for later- pin it now.

A Foodies Guide to the Best of Thailand www.compassandfork.com


24 Responses

  1. Leo Tat
    | Reply

    We are planning to move to Thailand to live in around two years time. Food is one of the major reasons why I am moving there. We spend so much time grocery shopping, preparing the ingredients, cooking and cleaning up. When we move over, we can simply get good quality already prepared food without hurting our wallets. It’s a much fulfilling life without the trouble of cooking ourselves. BTW, Chiang Mai is our number 1 location to move to as it’s much less hectic than Bangkok. I like the that it’s a traditional town.

    • Editor

      You are certainly right about Thailand being easy on the wallet for already prepared food. We couldn’t believe how cheap it was in Bangkok and then when in Chiang Mai, it seemed half as cheap again. Chiang Mai is almost sleepy compared to Bangkok, so I think you are making a wise decision looking to move there. Good luck with your move. Having said all of that, I still enjoy making my own food.

  2. stephanie
    | Reply

    The thai green curry is definitely my favorite thai dish!

    • Editor

      So many good dishes to choose from. That’s a tough choice.

  3. I have yet to visit Thailand:)

    • Editor

      Tanja, Do you like Thai food?

  4. Voyager
    | Reply

    When in Thailand, our options were limited, but we enjoyed stir fried vegetables, noodles and fried rice. They had a distinctive
    taste of their own.

    • Editor

      All good options. Thai food does have some rather unique taste. I love how the mobile cooking stations on the street.

  5. Ami
    | Reply

    Thailand street food looks so tempting and Tom Yum soup is my favorite. Besides the food, I love the variety of fruits that you get here. For a part vegan like me, that is bliss.

    • Editor

      The street food is brilliant isn’t it? Good and cheap! I agree with you about the fruits. Plentiful and so different to fruits we see in the west.

  6. nonsoloamore
    | Reply

    I totally love Thailand’s food. Did you ever had problems eating food from street kitchens? Just wondering…

    • Editor

      No problems encountered with the street food in both Bangkok and Chiang Mai (maybe even better than Bangkok and cheaper again).

  7. Klipdrifters
    | Reply

    Thailand’s food always looks so tasty and full of flavour. Those spring rolls and fish cakes looks delicious!

    • Editor

      The spring rolls and fish cakes were highlights. Thai food is certainly not lacking in flavor that is for sure.

  8. Carlie
    | Reply

    All of this food sounds amazing! I love Thai food so I’m sure I would love it even more in Thailand 🙂

    • Editor

      Carlie, visiting Thailand is a food highlight and we highly recommend it. But cooking the great Thai cuisine is the next best thing. I hope you enjoy the recipes.

  9. Shobha
    | Reply

    I love Thai food and this has made me hungry (even though I just ate). I’d love to do a cooking class in Thailand.

    • Editor

      The cooking classes are definitely worth the money. So many great hints and techniques.

  10. Tarah Vongbouthdy
    | Reply

    Yes, we love the curry and the spring rolls! We didn’t get to do a cooking class when we visited so will have to do that next time! Yummy!

    • Editor

      The cooking class was so worth it! Those spring rolls are just a crunchy delight.

  11. Kevin Wagar
    | Reply

    I’ve been hearing so much about the great sights and food in Thailand, you’ve certainly echoed that! I would love to take my kids here!

    • Editor

      Such a great place to visit. The food, the people, the sights.

  12. Rob Taylor
    | Reply

    Yes! I’ve heard from several people that Chang Mai is the place to do a cooking class, and I’d love to experience that! I’d love to understand Asian spices and techniques more.

    • Editor

      It is well worth it Rob. Chiang Mai is a magical place and easy on the budget.

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