What I Ate in Thailand: The Best Food in the World

Thailand map itinerary

{This is part of an occasional series, “What I Ate In …”}

Thai Food

Thai food is delightful–an amazing variety of intensely flavorful fruits and vegetables, seafood, curries, soups with complex broths, noodles, rice, and spices, spices, spices.

Giant prawns Thailand

Giant prawns

I visited Thailand with my family in 2009. All of the food was prepared fresh, and it was usually cut into bite-sized pieces. Food was very inexpensive compared to America. There was so much variety, and we saw changes in the cuisine as we moved from Bangkok to the “Golden Triangle,” the region where Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar (Burma) meet, to a tropical island. For most of our trip, we were on a tour with G Adventures.

Whole fish Thailand

Whole fish with vegetables

Papaya salad Thailand

Papaya Salad

Curries and Noodles

Curries and noodles Thailand

Curries and noodles, from sweet to spicy

Five curries sweet to spicy Thailand

Five curries, from sweet to spicy

One of my most fun food experiences was when my guide, “Tommy on Tour,” brought our small group to a noodle restaurant for lunch.

Tommy lined up the curries from least to most spicy and told us a little about each one as we sampled them.

We also had Pad Thai at this restaurant.


Pad Thai Thailand

Pad Thai

Curry and rice Thailand

Curry and rice

Hot pot Thailand

Thai hot pot

Curried rice Thailand

Curried rice with egg

Street Food

Street food Bangkok Thailand Chicken and vegetables spicy chilies

Melt your face off chilies accompanied this chicken and vegetables dish. I bought it for 60 cents on the street in Bangkok, Thailand.

There were many cheap, delicious choices of quick snacks or full meals on the streets of Thailand.

The chicken and vegetable dish pictured above was delicious, but I ignorantly added a generous spoonful of a chili condiment. It was the most spicy thing I ever ate in my life! I think in the restaurants, the owners knew that most tourists could not handle spiciness like the locals, and they would serve tourists food that was relatively mild even if they ordered it spicy. That little bowl of chilies was definitely for the locals.

Streetfood Thailand chestnuts

Street food: hot chestnuts

Streetfood Thailand dumplings

Street food: dumplings

Street food Bangkok Thailand Squeasel Balls

Lost in translation: My son David had squeasel balls on the street in Bangkok, Thailand

My son David had squeasel balls on the street in Bangkok. Don’t know what squeasel is? We didn’t either. (Years later, I saw an Anthony Bourdain episode where he was served a “forest creature” called squeasel in Vietnam, and it turned out to be porcupine.)

Bangkok, Thailand

Freshly squeezed dragon fruit juice and orange juice from a street vendor in Bangkok, Thailand

Hilltribe Village

Northern Thailand hilltribe village guesthouse

A village guesthouse in northern Thailand

We hiked to a hilltribe village where we spent the night in a rural guesthouse. The cooks put us to work wrapping spring rolls while they prepared an amazing meal that we ate gathered in a circle on the floor. They also kindly prepared some “KFC,” fried chicken drumsticks for my younger son, the picky eater (not in the picture below).

Make springrolls northern hill tribe village Thailand

Wrapping spring rolls in northern Thailand

Rural village feast northern Thailand

Village feast in northern Thailand

Restaurant on street Singha beer Thailand

Singha, an inexpensive local beer, enjoyed at a restaurant with tables on the street, Thailand

Smelly Fruit

I had to try durian, a notoriously smelly fruit. It was smelly, but I have an oddly weak sense of smell, and it really didn’t bother me as much as it bothers others. It had a mild flavor and a creamy texture.

Durian in Bangkok Thailand

The notoriously smelly fruit durian

Night market fruit vendor Thailand durian

A fruit vendor at a night market in Thailand

Barracuda on the Beach

Food choices on the beach Thailand

Food choices on the beach, Ko Samet, Thailand

On Ko Samet, a small island a few hours from Bangkok, fresh ingredients for various dishes were assembled and wrapped in plastic. I would point to my selection, and the chef would barbeque it right on the beach. I was able to fulfill my decades-long desire to have “barracuda on the beach.” (It’s a long story. I wrote about it here: Barracuda on the Beach.)

Barracuda on the Beach

Barracuda on the beach, Ko Samet, Thailand

Ko Samet, Thailand

Barbecuing on the beach, Ko Samet, Thailand

 The World’s Best Bus Depot Food

Thai soup at a bus stop

Thai “fast food”–a delicious soup from a bus depot

Even the “fast food” was delicious. We stopped in a bus depot for a quick bite. My kids headed for American fast food, but my husband and I chose one of the most delicious soups I have ever had. We pointed to the noodles and meat that we wanted, and before we knew it a steaming bowl of rich, flavorful soup was being slurped down by us. If only they had fast food like this in American bus depots.

American Fried Rice?

American fried rice in Thailand

American Fried Rice in Bangkok, Thailand

One of the stranger meals I saw was called “American Fried Rice,” a dish my husband ordered out of curiosity at our Bangkok hotel. (I wrote about it here: American Fried Rice and Mother’s Day Brunch.)


Breakfast porriage Bangkok Thailand Chok

Jok, a thin rice porridge, in Thailand

During my first few days in Thailand, I had a traditional breakfast of jok, a thin rice porridge topped with a variety of condiments. It was delicious, but I was eating a lot of adventurous meals, and I ended up giving my system a little break by eating a simple American-style breakfast at each hotel. (I did, though, make a savory oatmeal inspired by jok when I got home.)

Snake Whiskey: Chok De!

Snake whiskey

Getting the strength of a cobra in Laos: Snake whiskey

Finally, I had to summon up my courage, but I was excited to try snake whiskey when I went across the Mekong River into Laos for a quick visit to a tourist shop. (I wrote about it here: Getting the Strength of a Cobra in Laos.)

I’ve had some incredible meals all over the world, but if I had to pick my favorite cuisine during my travels, Thailand’s was the best.

What was your favorite meal while traveling?

Related Thailand Posts:

What I Ate In…:

Temple in Bangkok Thailand

Timid No More front cover Read about my quest to complete 101 things in 1001 days: Timid No More.

About Marcy

I blog about trying to get out of my comfort zone, completing 101 things in 1001 days (and beyond), and writing my memoirs. My book: Timid No More.
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26 Responses to What I Ate in Thailand: The Best Food in the World

  1. Shailaja V says:

    You seem to have had a very fun-filled, gastronomical trip and an adventurous one at that! I love Thai food and although I am vegetarian, I think it’s the coconut flavours that appeal to me the most 🙂
    Shailaja V recently posted..Taking a break from bloggingMy Profile

    • Marcy says:

      I had thought I hated coconut, and I was worried about it before we went to Thailand, but it turned out that I love coconut. I think it’s just the texture of coconut in candy bars that I dislike.

  2. Daniel Nest says:

    That stuff looks delicious! I love most Asian food in general.

    When we were in Vietnam, you could also trace the difference in cuisine the further South you went. Up North the food is more China-inspired: fish sauce and more bland. In Central Vietnam you have some Indian inspiration, plus the food’s a lot more spicy. I love spicy food, so I was happy.

    Thailand’s definitely on our list, too. Now if you’ll excuse me, all those pictures have made me hungry…
    Daniel Nest recently posted..What Renee Zellweger’s new face means for you. A helpful guide.My Profile

  3. Nate says:

    You’ve reminded me to try the Korean place around the corner that always has a line. It’s good to try new foods!
    Nate recently posted..Here We Are AgainMy Profile

    • Marcy says:

      Yes, and food is always a big part of my enjoyment of each place I visit. I just had Korean barbecue for the first time last night.

  4. I love Pad Thai. I can’t imagine eating it in Thailand!
    Great photos.
    that cynking feeling recently posted..table mannersMy Profile

  5. Asha says:

    …and now I’m hungry! I do miss great Thai food, and your post with all its glorious photos reminded me of all the wonderful flavours and aromas. It’s also terrific to see how adventurous you are with food!

  6. Vanessa D. says:

    The food all looks so delicious. I love the way you get to choose your plate and watch them grill it for you on the beach.

  7. TNKerr says:

    Poor squeasels.
    You brought back a lot of memories with this post. Good food for sure!

  8. TriGirl says:

    I love Thai food! I hope to go to Thailand one day too, because it looks like an amazing country, so different from this one!
    TriGirl recently posted..OOFOS OOAHHSMy Profile

  9. Amber says:

    Looks tasty–except for the seafood. I am not a fan of seafood.
    Amber recently posted..6 Ways My Son Is Like Sheldon From The Big Bang TheoryMy Profile

  10. Jen says:

    This looks amazing!! I love Thai flavors but have never had the real thing. It’s so interesting what other cultures serve and eat on a regular basis. And their take on the American rice… that’s unique.
    Jen recently posted..My Freakin’ Book is on Amazon!My Profile

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