The best thing about traveling is experiencing new cultures and trying all the local delicacies, and Thailand has some of the most flavorful dishes. From noodles to curries and spicy soups, you will never be bored with the variety of flavors that Thailand has to offer. The food in this country is so flavorful and delicious. So, if you are looking for authentic Thai cuisine while visiting this tropical destination, I’ve compiled a list of the 21 Best Dishes to Eat in Thailand. They are available all over the country and made with fresh ingredients.
1. Som Tam (Spicy Green Papaya Salad)
Som tam is one of the most popular and well-known dishes to eat in Thailand that is particularly enjoyed in Isaan, Northeast Thailand. It is made from shredded green papaya, which is then mixed with tomatoes, peanuts, chili peppers, lime juice, palm sugar, and fish sauce. Some variations on the dish include including dried shrimp or salted crab to add more flavor.
This dish can be made sweet or sour, depending on the vendor’s preferences, but most stalls will have a combination of both. Som Tam also makes an excellent side dish that can be eaten at any mealtime.
2. Pad Thai (Thai Fried Noodles)
Pad Thai is another of Thailand’s most popular dishes that you are likely to find almost anywhere. This dish consists of stir-fried rice noodles, which are then served with a selection of other ingredients, including tofu, shrimp, tamarind sauce, fish sauce, chili peppers, and palm sugar.
Pad Thai is a very tasty dish and can be customized to your own liking with the different sauces provided. I would definitely recommend trying it during your visit to Thailand.
3. Khao Pad (Fried Rice)
Khao pad is one of the best dishes to eat in Thailand and can be found in almost any restaurant and most street stalls. It is a simple dish made from cooked rice, which is then stir-fried with eggs, onions, tomatoes, tamarind sauce, fish sauce, and soy sauce.
I loved that the dish usually comes with a small serving of vegetables on the side, such as cucumbers or bean sprouts. Khao pad is best eaten with a selection of Thai chili sauces so that you can adjust the dish to your own taste.
4. Yum Nua (Spicy Beef Salad)
Yum Nua is a spicy beef salad that is popular all throughout Thailand. The dish is made from thinly sliced beef that is mixed with onions, tomatoes, fresh herbs, and a spicy dressing. It is usually served cold or at room temperature and makes a great light meal or appetizer. I loved the combination of flavors and textures in this dish, as well as the fact that it’s not too heavy. Yum Nua can be found at most restaurants in Thailand and street stalls.
5. Kao Niew Ma Muang (Mango and Sticky Rice)
Khao niew ma Muang is one of the most iconic dishes to eat in Thai and a must-try for any visitor. It is a simple dish made from sticky rice, which is then steamed and served with fresh mango slices and a sweet coconut milk sauce. What I loved about this food was the combination of flavors and textures in this dish. The sticky rice is soft and chewy, while the mango is sweet and juicy. The coconut sauce adds a lovely creamy richness to the dish. Kao niew ma Muang is best enjoyed as a dessert or snack.
6. Tom Kha Gai (Chicken Coconut Soup)
This is one of the most popular soups in Thailand made with chicken. The broth is then cooked with galangal, lime leaves, kaffir lime rinds, lemongrass stalks, shallots, coriander roots, dried chilies, and coconut milk. It comes in a creamy broth, but the various spices give the soup different levels of heat. The soup usually includes thin slices of mushrooms and red chilies to give the dish more flavor.
This dish can be found in most restaurants in Thailand, but I recommend trying it at a street stall or local eatery for the best experience. Best eaten with steamed rice to balance out the spicy flavors, this was one of my best dishes to eat in Thailand.
7. Yam Pla Dook Foo (Fried Catfish with Green Mango Salad)
This dish is a must-try for any visitor to Thailand. It is made with freshwater catfish that has been deep-fried and served with green mango, onions, chilies, and herbs. The combination of sweet, sour, salty, and spicy flavors makes this dish an explosion of flavor in your mouth. It can be found at most street food stalls throughout Thailand.
8. Gaeng Daeng (Red Curry)
Gaeng Daeng is a red curry made with coconut milk, chicken, shrimp, or beef. It is one of the most popular curries in Thailand and can be found at most restaurants. The dish usually has a strong red chili pepper flavor and is moderately spicy.
I loved the creamy richness of the coconut milk combined with the heat from the chili peppers. The dish can also be made with vegetables such as bamboo shoots, bell peppers, eggplant, or sweet potatoes. Gaeng Daeng is best eaten with steamed rice.
9. Pad Krapow (Fried Basil)
Pad krapow is another of the best dishes to eat in Thailand made from fresh basil, chili peppers, garlic, and minced chicken or pork. The ingredients are stir-fried together and then served over steamed rice with a fried egg on top. This dish is particularly aromatic and flavorful with a wonderfully spicy kick. I highly recommend giving it a try if you’re looking for something new and exciting to eat in Thailand.
10. Yam Talay (Spicy Seafood Salad)
Yam Talay is a spicy seafood salad that is popular all over Thailand. It can be made with a variety of different seafood, but most commonly includes shrimp, squid, scallops, and crab. It is then served with fresh vegetables such as onions, beansprouts, tomatoes, cucumber, and rice noodles. It’s best enjoyed with some steamed rice on the side.
11. Pla Nueng Manow (Steamed Fish with Spicy Lime Sauce)
Pla nueng manow is a simple plate of steamed fish. The dish is made by marinating the fish in garlic and other ingredients such as lemongrass and lime juice before covering it with a chili sauce and thinly sliced limes. The chili sauce can be quite spicy, but I loved that you could eat the sour limes to bring your palate back to balance. Pla nueng manow can be found throughout Thailand and at most Thai restaurants. It makes an excellent healthy yet tasty meal which is why I recommend it.
12. Tom Yum Goong (Spicy Shrimp Soup)
Tom yum Goong is probably one of the best dishes to eat in Thailand. It is widely available throughout the country and can be found in almost every restaurant. Tom yum Goong differs slightly depending on which region you are eating it.
However, in general, this delicious soup consists of prawns mixed with chili peppers, lemongrass, galangal or kaffir lime leaves, lime juice, and fish sauce. The dish is then topped with fresh coriander leaves and served with a wedge of lime so you can add as much flavor as you want. The final product normally has mild spiciness to it so that everyone can enjoy the meal regardless of their personal preferences.
Tom yum Goong is perfect for cooling down on hot days due to its refreshing taste. It’s also one of the most popular Thai dishes that you should try if you ever visit Thailand.
13. Laab (Spicy Salad)
This is a spicy salad that is popular all over Thailand. It can be made with pork, chicken, beef, or shrimp and is typically flavored with mint, lemongrass, fish sauce, and lime juice. The salad can also be made with different types of vegetables such as onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, and greens. The salad can be eaten either cold or at room temperature and makes a delicious side dish or appetizer. I recommend trying laab if you’re looking for something different to eat in Thailand.
14. Pad See Eiw (Thick Noodle Dish)
Pad see eiw is a popular Thai noodle dish that is made with thick rice noodles, pork, chicken, or beef, and Chinese broccoli. The dish gets its name from the soy sauce (see eiw) used in the recipe.
The noodles are stir-fried with the meat and vegetables until they are cooked through and then served hot with a side of gravy or sauce. I found this to be excellent comfort food and would definitely recommend it if you’re looking for something hearty and tasty.
15. Gaeng Keow Wan (Green Curry)
Gaeng keow wan is one of my favorite dishes to eat in Thailand, and I think it probably has the most intense flavor out of any dish on this list. It is made from fresh green chilies, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, eggplant, and garlic that are ground into a smooth paste. The paste is then cooked with coconut milk. The best way to eat gaang keow wan is with a side of rice and some extra chili sauce so that you can adjust the heat level of the dish to your own taste.
16. Gai Tod (Fried Chicken)
This is a popular Thai dish that is enjoyed everywhere across the country. Gai tod is made from small pieces of chicken (or occasionally duck) that are marinated in garlic, pepper, and coriander. The meat is then dipped in rice flour before being coated with bread crumbs. Finally, it is deep-fried until crispy on the outside but still tender inside.
I recommend eating the chicken with steamed rice and sweet chili sauce. If you are looking for something different, try adding some cucumbers and purple cabbage to the plate of rice. They give the dish a crunchy freshness that will change your mind about Thai food forever!
17. Pad Phak (Fried Vegetables)
Pad phak is a simple stir-fry dish made with vegetables of your choice. The vegetables are typically cut into small pieces and then stir-fried with either a light sauce or no sauce at all. This dish can be made with any variety of vegetables, but some of the most common ones include bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, bell peppers, carrots, and mushrooms.
I found this to be an excellent vegetarian-friendly option when eating out at Thai restaurants. Pad phak can be eaten as a main course or as a side dish. It’s also a great way to get your daily serving of vegetables.
18. Khao Soi Gai (Spicy Chicken Noodle Soup)
Khao soi is a popular dish from the northern region of Thailand. The soup is made with chicken, egg noodles, and coconut milk. It is flavored with curry paste, ginger, and garlic. Khao soi is often served with pickled cabbage, shallots, lime wedges, and chili sauce on the side.
This dish is perfect for those who love spicy food as it can be quite hot. I recommend adding some of the chili sauce to your bowl to really bring out the flavors. Khao soi is one of my best dishes to eat in Thailand, and I’m sure you will love it too.
19. Kai Med Ma Muang (Chicken with Cashew Nuts)
Kai med ma Muang is one of my favorite Thai dishes to eat. It is a stir-fry dish made with chicken, cashew nuts, honey, onions, mushroom, and peppers. The dish is usually served with steamed rice. I loved the combination of flavors and textures in this dish. The chicken is cooked with a slightly sweet and sour sauce that goes perfectly with the crunchy cashews. This dish is also relatively healthy, making it a good option if you’re trying to watch your waistline.
20. Kai Jeow (Thai Omelette)
Kai jeow is one of Thailand’s simplest dishes to eat, but it is also one of the tastiest. The dish is made from only three ingredients, which are beaten eggs, fish sauce, and red chili pepper flakes.
The egg mixture is then fried in oil until crispy at the edges and served with a side of garlic rice. It is common for vendors to offer an assortment of other spices in their recipe. However, you can request that they make it without any modifications.
My favorite version of kai jeow is the one that is filled with green onions and served with a sweet chili sauce on the side. This dish can be eaten at any time of day, but I recommend it as a breakfast or lunch option.
21. Poh Pia Tod (Thai Spring Rolls)
Poh pia tod, also known as Thai spring rolls, are a popular appetizer made from wrapping up spring roll wrappers around a mixture of cooked shrimp, ground pork, and vegetables such as bean sprouts, carrots, and cabbage. The rolls are then deep-fried until they are crispy. They are best served with a sweet and sour dipping sauce made from soy sauce, vinegar, and chili peppers. Poh pia tod makes a great light starter or snack for any meal.
This list of 21 best dishes to eat in Thailand may not be comprehensive, but it is a fantastic way to get started exploring the world’s most delicious country. I hope that you’ll find some new favorites among these choices and enjoy them yourself or share them with friends.