Travel Advice: Food

Food in Thailand is famous worldwide. The taste of Thai food boasts an ancient history of the country. As early as the thirteenth century, the Thai people established the heart of Siamese cuisine as we know it today. It is also a subtle and complex blend of Chinese and Indian influences and those of other countries near or surrounding Thailand. Such plentiful and vast influences combine to create the complex taste of present day Thai cooking which is one of the fastest-growing and most popular cuisines today.

Thai food has a variety of meat and seafood dishes often in combination with local vegetables, herbs and spices. These are often seasoned with garlic, ginger and chillies, lime juice, lemon grass, fresh coriander, basil, galangal root (Siamese ginger), tamarind juice, ground peanuts and coconut milk creating a distinctive Thai taste. Dishes range from pungent curries, spicy salads, barbecued meat and seafood, to mild noodle dishes that can be made spicy by adding different sauces. Its surprises are in its mix of meat and seafood in the same dish and in the way it is served. There is a very big variety of desserts and a great range of tropical fruits wildly available in almost every place in Thailand.

Eating in Thailand is a communal activity. A Thai meal is served with all the dishes placed in the centre of the table to be shared. The staple of Thai meal is rice. Serving spoons are not always provided. Thai food is eaten with a spoon in the right hand and a fork in the left hand. Chopsticks are used for noodle dishes.

There are several possibilities of eating out in Thailand. There are food stalls, small restaurants on the sides of the street, cafeterias and bigger restaurants. In general, food served in bigger restaurants is safe. One should be judicious when eating food from street vendors and food stalls.

In big cities like Bangkok, there are plenty of food stalls and small restaurants on the sides of streets. The quality and prices of these food stalls and restaurants are diverse. The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has issued certificates on cleanliness to those qualified food stalls and restaurants in the city whereas the Department of Health of the Ministry of Public Health has issued certificate on “clean food good taste” to those qualified food stalls and restaurants in all provinces. The green-colour signs in these shops can be observed. Whenever dining out, cleanliness of food, food containers, plates, forks and spoons should be major concern. Not all food stalls and restaurants are safe. It depends on individual decision.

It is advised that people consider the following when dining out:

  • Be sure that the food you are eating are freshly cooked, be mindful of the indications (warm food, food cooked in front of you, etc.).
  • Fish, seafood, meats (especially chicken and pork) and eggs should be well cooked.
  • Fresh vegetables and fruit should be washed thoroughly or peeled where possible to avoid contamination and pesticides.
  • Please ensure that plates, spoons, forks, glasses and cups are clean. In some cases, the foods are cooked safely but the serving containers are not clean.
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