Thai food is famous all over the world for good reason! On your Thailand Mini Semester, make sure to push yourself out of your comfort zone and try some of the local delicacies.
When we first arrive in Thailand, we will be immersed in a melting pot of smells and colors - especially in the local markets! The secret to Thai food is the balance between the sweet, sour and salty elements. We will do a cooking course on program to learn more, but every day is truly a food journey on this program. There are stacks of fresh fruit and veg in market stalls, and you can consistently fill up on fresh juices. Different areas specialise in different dishes, so it’s fun to travel the length of the country and see the variety on offer. Food is also really affordable, so you will get the chance to try it all! The following are our favorite foods from the Land of Smiles.
If you have dietaries or food limitations, its great to write them in Thai on a little card (our Thai guide can help with this) so that whenever you go to the markets you can still join the fun!
1. Thai Iced Coffee
What a way to start the day! General rule of thumb; the more condensed milk, the better! Every local market whips up delicious iced coffees that pack a punch! Make sure you combine it with some food so you don’t have the jitters all day long!
2. Sticky Rice
So this isn’t meant for a meal on its own, but most of our students love snacking on it whenever they see it! This glutinous rice comes in different flavors, and is normally wrapped in banana leaves. It’s not easy to unwrap the little parcel of sticky rice, but it’s worth getting inside! If you’re a human with a big appetite, this is your new best friend whilst in Thailand.
3. Tom Yum Goong
A punchy, orange broth filled with tomatoes and mushrooms (and seafood if you like it). This one captures the sweet/salty/sour essence of Thai food. The most famous Tom Yum is made by Jai Fai. Watch the Netflix series Street Food Asia before going on a program to Thailand and check out the episode on Jai Fai in Bangkok. This tiny Thai woman started as a street vendor, cooking wonderful creations while wearing ski goggles. Her food became an international sensation and now she has a humble restaurant - with a Michelin star! If you can get in, you’re lucky!
4. Green Curry
There are lots of colors of curry to try, but this one is quintessential! Be careful, it probably packs a lot more heat than the ones you’re used to at home. Ask them to start low on the chilli, but by the end of the program you’ll surprise yourself by adding more spice than ever before!
5. Fried Bugs
Perhaps we will all be eating more insects in the future, but for now this option is still pretty out there! At markets in Thailand, there are many species of bugs, spiders and caterpillars on offer. They are normally fried and seasoned. Although they look wild to eat, they sort of taste better than potato chips so we reckon you should give it a go!
6. Pad Thai
Become a connoisseur of pad thai whilst in Thailand. It’s a staple dish, so we invite you to try it across markets and restaurants and find your favorite version. It’s a bit of an art form while it’s being made in front of you. Each dish is made individually in a huge wok, with lots of vigorous flicking and hints of this and whiffs of that been add. It’s served with crunchy bean sprouts and a wedge of lemon. YUM!
7. Fresh Spring Rolls
The coriander in Thailand is different from home. It’s like a cross between coriander, basil and lemon. It makes the fresh vermicelli noodles, crunchy carrot and succulent cucumber pop even more. Don’t even get us started on the dipping sauces! They compliment the spring rolls so perfectly, it’s a match made in heaven.
8. Pad Kra Pao Moo
This might not be one you’ve tried at the local Thai restaurant, but its one of the favorite local dishes in Thailand. It’s really fragrant mince, that’s predominately meat but chopped up with lots of garlic, chilli and basil.
9. Noodle Soup
This is a generic one, because there are so many varieties of noodle soup. The broth is cooked with love and time, and then various vegetables and protein are added according to your preference and topped with lots of that delicious Thai coriander. If you wanted, this could be your staple lunch while on program in Thailand. It’s a winner.
10. The Strangest Looking Thing at the Market
We reserved this place for number 10 because there will be so many things at the market you've never laid eyes on. Take some small denominations of cash and just try a little bit of everything. The pink jelly looking stuff, the deep fried doughnut balls, the mysterious spiky purple fruit. Get curious and be open minded! The Thai people love their food, so you can trust you’re about to eat something interesting - and potentially delicious!
Top tip from our sustainable travel tips blog: BYO large takeaway cup and a set of tupperware and utensils so that you can eat from markets without adding to the global plastic problem! If you don’t BYO in these parts, everything is delivered in bags! Ie: if you order a juice at the markets it will often come in a liquid filled bag wrapped in another bag inside a holding bag with a plastic straw jammed in the side to drink from! You can even buy water in bags! That lightweight plastic is cheaper to make, but it's even worse for the environment because of its highly disposable nature. So yes, BYO and do your bit for the world! It tastes more delicious to eat with a real fork, too.
Learn more about our Thailand Mini Semester here.
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