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The 12 Most Popular Local Breakfasts in Thailand

The 12 Most Popular Local Breakfasts in Thailand

By Chris QuanUpdated May. 21, 2021

There are no set rules for what to eat for breakfast in Thailand. Thais eat the same dishes at night as they would in the morning. That being said, there are a few dishes that are more widely eaten at breakfast time so we"ve made a handy list of the best Thai breakfast dishes so that you can eat like a local on your next trip to the kingdom.

1. Jok — Rice Congee

Jok or rice congee is probably the most common Thai breakfast dish. Jok is a comforting dish of rice porridge that’s boiled until it’s soft and gooey. It is usually served with freshly made pork meatballs, boiled or poached eggs, and fresh ginger slices and spring onion on top.  

Traditionally, the congee is cooked over a charcoal grill, giving it a smoky charred flavor. Jok is a dish that you will see being enjoyed by entire families, from young children all the way up to their grandparents. Everyone in Thailand loves jok!

  • Taste: savory
  • Price: 30–80 baht a bowl depending on the toppings
  • Thai people eat jok at any time of the day but it is especially famous as a breakfast dish.
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2. Pa Thong Ko — Deep-Fried Dough Sticks

Pa thong ko are long, golden, deep-fried sticks of dough. When eaten as a sweet treat, they are usually served with some sankaya (pandan and coconut sauce) or condensed milk to dip into. You"ll also find pa thong ko as a savory snack as an accompaniment to jok as mentioned above.

  • Taste: sweet or savory
  • Price: 5 baht per stick

3. Pad Kaprao — Stir-Fried Meat or Seafood with Holy Basil

Pad kaprao is the unofficial national dish of Thailand. Think of a sandwich in the UK or a burger in the US — it"s Thai people"s go-to quick meal. Pad kaprao is made of meat or seafood and stir-fried with holy basil, soy sauce, oyster sauce, garlic, and chili. It is served on rice and is always topped with a crispy fried egg.

You"ll find pad kaprao everywhere in Thailand, from street stalls to train stations and everywhere in between, making it the perfect quick Thai breakfast on the go.

  • Taste: savory
  • Price: 35–80 baht
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4. Sala Pao — Thai-Chinese Steamed Buns

Originally from China, salapao or bao buns as they are known in the West are steamed bread buns stuffed with various fillings. The most popular savory fillings are moo daeng, which is barbecue pork, or moo sap, which is minced pork. Sweet fillings include cream, pandan, taro, and sweet bean. Salapao is a delicious, inexpensive snack that is perfect for taking on an early morning trip.

  • Taste: sweet or savory
  • Price: 10–20 baht per bun

5. Kai Jeow — Thai Omelet

Kai jeow is essentially an omelet but it is cooked differently in Thailand compared to the West. Eggs are beaten with light soy sauce and usually minced pork, then fired vigorously over a high heat with plenty of oil. The result is a much crispier version than you"d find in the West but no less delicious. Kai jeow is usually eaten with plain jasmine rice and drizzled with Sriracha chili sauce.

  • Taste: savory
  • Price: 20–40 baht
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6. Khao Neow Moo Ping — Grilled Pork Skewers with Sticky Rice

Moo ping can be found in every market and on every street corner in Thailand. These quick, cheap snacks are packed full of flavor and are very inexpensive, making them extremely popular with Thai workers. Moo ping are grilled fatty pork skewers that are marinated in sugar and soy and cooked over coal. To complete this quick breakfast, you can grab a bag of sticky rice, which is always on hand at a moo ping stall.

  • Taste: savory
  • Price: 5–10 baht

7. Khao Tom — Rice Soup 

Khao tom is congee"s quicker cousin. Similar in taste to congee but with a lighter taste and consistency, it is made of precooked jasmine rice in pork or chicken stock with minced pork, shredded chicken, or seafood. It"s topped with ginger slices and spring onions in the same way as jok and served with soy sauce, chili vinegar, and dried chili flakes so you can tweak it to suit your own taste.

  • Taste: savory
  • Price: 30–100 baht
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8. Khao Rad Gaeng — Curry on Rice

Khao rad gaeng translates to curry on rice and is one of the most popular breakfasts in Thailand. Shophouse restaurants and street stalls will cook curries, stir-fries, and salads on mass in the morning and serve them until they run out.

Depending on where you are in the country, the dishes on offer will vary but the system stays the same. You get a plate of rice and then choose between one, two, or three different toppings and the price goes up by 10 baht per additional topping.

  • Taste: savory
  • Price: 40–60 baht depending on how many curry toppings you choose

9. Khanom krok — Grilled Coconut Balls

Khanom krok is one of the most popular Thai street snacks. They are made from a batter of rice flour, coconut milk, and palm sugar and cooked in a cast-iron pan with round indentations. They are crispy on the outside and gooey on the inside.

Khanom krok are served as half-spheres and popular toppings include spring onion slices and sweetcorn. They are something different to try from your average Western breakfast snack!

  • Taste: sweet
  • Price: 20 baht for six pieces
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10. Roti — Thai Pancakes

Roti, or Thai pancakes as they are often labeled, made their way into Thailand from Malaysia and are a flipped bread rather than a batter pancake that you would find in the West. Traditionally, roti in Thailand would be stuffed with banana and topped with sugar and condensed milk.

These days, however, if you are in the popular tourist areas of Phuket and Krabi, roti are stuffed with anything you can think of, such as mixed fruit, peanut butter, chocolate spread, and even ham and cheese. You name it, they"ve got it!

  • Taste: savory or sweet
  • Price: 10–60 baht

Southern Thailand

Although these next two dishes can be found relatively easily in Bangkok, they are much more widely available in the southern provinces from which they originate.

11. Khao Yam — Southern Thai Rice and Herb Salad

Said to be Thailand"s healthiest dish, khao yam is a rice salad that is made using an array of different ingredients. Sour mango, pomelo, carrot, long bean, makrut lime leaf, lemongrass, ground dried shrimp, and ground toasted coconut are all used to make this delicious salad.

The main ingredient, which can make it hard to replicate in Bangkok, is budu, which is a pungent, fermented anchovy that is most commonly found in Thailand"s southernmost areas. Khao yam is everything a Thai dish should be — salty, sweet, sour, and herbal. If you are heading south, stick it on your list!

  • Taste: savory
  • Price: 40–100 baht
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12. Dim Sum

Dim sum came over from South China centuries ago and has now become a mainstay in Thailand. Although you can get dim sum in Bangkok and other parts of the kingdom, it is far more prevalent in the southern provinces of Phuket, Krabi, and Trang than anywhere else.

Dim sum in Thailand has evolved over the years to suit local tastes better and you may find it"s a little sweeter than the dim sum you are used to in Cantonese restaurants back home. That being said, the variation of different dishes is quite remarkable — you could eat a different dish of dim sum every day for a week and not eat the same thing twice!

Breakfast in Thai Hotels

In Thailand, most hotels offer a buffet breakfast with a mix of Thai and Western items, usually rotated on a daily basis. No matter whether you are in a guesthouse or a five-star hotel, you will always find fresh local fruit, rice soup or congee, and an egg station.

À la carte breakfasts are found in some smaller guesthouses or boutique hotels and usually comprise of an English or American fried breakfast, a continental breakfast, and a Thai option, such as rice soup or pad kaprao, which will be served with fresh fruit and some juice.

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