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Thai Street Food

Many travelers feel a little nervous and apprehensive about trying street food in foreign countries. This fear is entirely understandable because an upset stomach can make for a miserable few days when traveling. However, we think that if there is any place where trying the street food is a must, it’s Thailand.

Walking through the streets of any major Thai city, you will see plenty of carts selling deliciously smelling treats and meals. Street stalls are quick, easy, and offer visitors an authentic Thai experience.

In this article, we will talk about some of our street food favorites and some tips for eating street food safely.

What makes thai street food special?

Often served from a simple cart surrounded by plastic stools, Thai street stalls don't offer an elegant restaurant experience. However, what Thai street food vendors do offer is great food from a cook who has spent years mastering one dish for an incredibly cheap price.+

There's a reason why you will see lines of locals and foreigners at certain stalls and that's due to the convenience and also the flavor that street food vendors are able to provide. They don't waste any energy or money on extra staff or the ambiance of their facility, thus allowing them to offer the lowest prices for quality food.

Because of the low prices and snack-sized options, grabbing street food for dinner gives travelers the opportunity to try many different dishes for an affordable price. It’s the cheapest and most efficient way to try some classic Thai cuisine.

Is it Safe?

Although in the eyes of many foreigners, roadside stalls with hanging meats can look like a bad idea, most street stalls in Thailand serve clean and safe food. Competition between street stalls is very high and vendors depend on returning customers and their good reputation.

Another comforting aspect of Thai street food is that in Thailand the vendor will cook the food right in front of you. Not only can you get a glimpse of the magic behind the food, but you also have the security of knowing that they aren't cutting corners in their cooking.

If you are still nervous about trying street food in Thailand, one of the best ways you can ensure the safety of your meal is to try the most popular and crowded stalls. The locals also like stalls that serve safe food with fresh ingredients.

Street foods that everyone should try

There are so many street food options in Thai cities that sometimes it can be overwhelming for people just to get started. If you aren't sure what to try first, here is a list of some of our favorite dishes that are easily found at street stalls throughout Thailand.

Pad Thai (Sweet and Spicy Noodles)

Internationally famous and available on every street corner, Pad Thai is a delicious option to start your street food journey. The perfect balance of spicy and sweet, this stir-fried noodle dish is often made with shrimp or chicken and a combination of chilis, palm sugar, tamarind, and lime juice, with egg noodles and some fried peanuts on top.

Poh Pia Tod (Spring Rolls)

Spring rolls are always a reliable snack in Thailand and can be found pretty easily in most markets. Spring rolls can be made with a variety of fillings, including meat, vegetables, and rice noodles. They are often either deep fried or served fresh and covered in chili sauce.

Spring rolls are often served in a plastic bag and are super easy to eat on the go.

Kai Jeow (Thai Omelette)

Kai Jeow is a simple dish but it is a great way to get some energy in the morning before an early start to a tour. Kai Jeow is typically served over rice with some sweet chili sauce. You can also have vegetables added to your omelet by asking for Kai Jeow Pak.

Som Tam (Green Papaya Salad)

This very popular and tasty Thai snack originates in northern Thailand but is now available all over the country. Usually, the dish contains a mixture of shredded green papaya with some tomatoes, carrots, peanuts, string beans, garlic, fish sauce, and chilies.

Som Tam is a must-try due to its delicious balance of sour and spicy. It's the perfect snack to get before or after any meal.

Pad See Eiw (Thai Thick Noodles)

Made with wide rice noodles that are stir-fried with soy sauce, meat, and broccoli or cabbage, Pad See Eiw is a very hearty and delicious Thai comfort food. This dish is typically not served spicy, which is perfect for travelers who prefer milder cuisine. For people who like a little more of a kick, dried chili flakes or vinegar can be easily added.

Gai Tod (Thai Fried Chicken)

Although Gai Tod looks just like any ordinary fried chicken that can be bought in the west, many visitors are surprised by just how good it tastes. Dipped in a mixture of shallots and oil, Gai Tod has an incredible light and fluffy batter without any of the grease that is common in western fast food fried chicken.

Gai Tod is a Thai street food fusion classic.

Guay Teow (Noodle Soup)

This is a very popular dish amongst locals and can be any type of noodle soup. It is often made with chicken, beef, or pork and either rice noodles or egg noodles. Some vendors may even add meatballs or wontons to give it some extra flare. Like American mashed potatoes and gravy, Guay Teow is an everyday dish that is served in many homes.

Pad Kra Pao (Thai Basil Chicken/Pork)

Pad Kra Pao is usually made with minced chicken or pork that is stir-fried with basil and chilies. Then the mixture is served over white rice. While Pad Kra Pao is a popular Thai dish, the flavors of the dish are very strong. Thai basil has a harsh peppery flavor and this dish typically calls for a lot of chilis.

If you aren't sure that you will enjoy the strong flavors of this dish, you can always ask the vendor to make it only a little spicy.

Kluay Tod (Deep-Fried Bananas)

Kluay Tod are small deep-fried bananas which are deliciously crunchy on the outside but warm and creamy on the inside. They are easy to eat on the go and make a great quick snack or dessert. They are also quite popular with children.

Tips for trying street food in Thailand

  • Markets are a great place to start looking for street food and to find some of the most popular stalls.
  • Go where the locals go because no one knows how to find better food than the people who live in the area.
  • To try and find the stalls that offer the safest food, it's a good idea to observe them make a few dishes for other customers to see their methods and to find out how they store their ingredients.
  • Street food meals are very inexpensive, so you should try and bring some small change in Thai Baht. Vendors are often unable to break large notes.
  • Street vendors usually have an English menu or a picture menu to help visitors order food. If you aren't sure what to get you can always ask to see it.
  • If you have food allergies, it is important to bring a food allergy card that says what you are allergic to in Thai and English.
  • Orders are customizable and if you ask the cook not to include something, they will happily take it out of your order.

Visit Thailand with Asia Highlights

Do you want to try all the delicious street food Thailand has to offer, but need more advice on how to plan your trip? Contact us, and one of our Thailand travel experts will help you find what you're looking for!

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