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Food Travel Guide: Top 20 Must-Try Thai Dishes

Welcome, fellow culinary adventurers! Prepare your taste buds for a tantalizing journey through the vibrant and explosive flavours of Thailand. When you embark on a culinary pilgrimage to this Southeast Asian paradise, make sure to indulge in the following 20 mouthwatering dishes that will leave you yearning for seconds (and thirds… and fourths…).

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Pad Thai

Thai food pad thai
The Thai icon

A national treasure and one that’s roots are quite mysterious. One theory is that it was a purposeful creation by the Thai government in order to promote a national identity!

The perfect blend of chewy rice noodles, zesty tamarind sauce, crunchy bean sprouts, succulent shrimp, and a sprinkle of crushed peanuts creates the definitive Thai dish!

Green Curry (Gaeng Keow Wan)

Thai food green curry
Green bath of pleasure

If there was one dish everyone envisions when talking Thai food, this is it! This creamy, aromatic, and slightly spicy concoction all play a part in creating a classic curry.

Tender chicken or beef is immersed in a verdant pool of coconut milk, green chillies, and fragrant herbs. Ah and of course, all accompanied by a heaving portion of sticky jasmine rice.

Tom Yum Goong

Flavoursome. Photo by Takeaway, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Yet another iconic Thai staple, it’s both Yum in name and nature! This famous spicy and sour soup base is accompanied by plump shrimp, fragrant lemongrass, fiery chillies, and tangy lime juice. It hits the spot on all the taste buds!

Mango Sticky Rice

Thai food mango sticky rice
Sticky and succulent

As any good foodie knows, rice isn’t exclusive to a main meal! Thick, juicy slices of golden mango and accompanying creamy coconut milk and of course, sticky rice, transport you to a world of tropical flavours and oral nirvana with each bite.

Massaman Curry

Thai food massaman curry
Spice spice baby

Thai cuisine knows how to walk the line between different flavour profiles to perfection! This velvety, slow-cooked curry is a masterpiece of blending sweet and savoury!

Tender chunks of beef or chicken bathe in a rich, peanut-infused sauce with hints cardamom, cinnamon, and nutmeg to boot. A far more comforting meal with a kick!

Som Tum (Papaya Salad)

Thai food som tum
A vibrant kick

If you’re looking for the perfect side dish, then this is it! This combination of shredded papaya shreds, tangy lime, maddening chillies, and a umami fish sauce and palm sugar cocktail dance together to create an explosion of flavour!

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Grilled Satay Skewers

Thai food satay
Street food at its finest

Can you beat meat on a stick? Certainly not in the case of satay skewers! These chunks of marinated meat, often chicken or pork, are charred to perfection.

Served alongside a tantalizing peanut dipping sauce and a refreshing cucumber relish, they are the ultimate street food snack.

Khao Soi

Thai food khao soi
Dig in

There are three things that Thai cuisine can do well – curry, noodles, and soup, so why not combine all three?!

Hailing from the northern regions, this fragrant and creamy coconut broth infused with aromatic spices is topped with crispy fried noodles and served with lime wedges and pickled greens. It’s a flavour symphony that will leave you craving for more.

Tub Tim Grob (Red Ruby)

Sugary goodness. Photo by Chensiyuan, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

As valuable as the gem they’re named after, dive into a sea of crunchy water chestnuts dressed in a vibrant red robe of sweetened coconut milk and topped with a sprinkle of crushed ice. Each bite is like discovering hidden gems of refreshing bliss.

Pad See Ew

Nutritious and delicious. Photo by Jose Nicdao, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Stick some silky rice noodles into some thick soy sauce, and garlic, and add a touch of sweetness to a red-hot wok, and you’ve got yourself a mouth-watering meal! Along with succulent slices of chicken or beef, and tender greens, it will be love at first bite!

Pad Krapow Moo Saap (Thai Basil Stir-Fry)

Thai food basil
A personal favourite

By far my personal highlight, this flavourful dish of stir-fried dish made with minced pork, Thai basil leaves, chilli, garlic, and soy sauce served with rice and a fried egg on top, this is comfort food at its finest!

Gaeng Keow Wan

Time to eat

So you think you like spicy food? Well, time to put that to the test! Consider this your “Green Curry Challenge!”

This fiery green curry boasts an invigorating blend of Thai eggplant, bamboo shoots, sweet basil, and the notorious bird’s eye chilies. Be warned, you might feel this for days to come!

Thai Tea Ice Cream

The perfect summer treat. Photo by Joy on Flickr

Now that your mouth, stomach and sphincters are volcanically hot, time to find the perfect ailment!

This frozen treat is a glorious blend of East meets West. This creamy, velvety Thai tea-flavoured ice cream is as smooth as silk and soothing as a warm blanket. With every spoonful, you’ll be savouring the perfect balance of robust tea flavour and sweet indulgence.

Roti Sai Mai

Nom nom. Photo by Takeaway, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Sweet and savoury, a winning combination. Roti Sai Mai is a marriage of crispy, flaky roti bread and delicate strands of colourful, cotton candy-like floss.

With its varying textures and bursts of sweet delight, this dessert is a carnival of flavours that will transport you straight to dessert wonderland.

Gaeng Daeng (Red Curry)

Thai food red curry
Tuck in… if you dare

While green curry may be the most recognisable, red curry is followed quickly behind! And unlike its creamier, tangier sibling, this one is far spicier!

A crimson concoction of aromatic herbs, red chilli paste, coconut milk, and an assortment of meat or vegetables, this is Thai culinary enchantment at its finest.

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Tom Kha Gai

Thai food at its finest. Photo by THOR, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A familiar trend in Thai cuisine, this is yet another dish made with a coconut broth base, resulting in a creamy yet silky blend of deliciousness. This one is far more of a comforting meal with a combination of chicken, mushrooms, lime leaves, lemongrass, and some stomach-frying chillies.

Fragrant, velvety, what else do you need?!

Kanom Krok

How many do you want? Photo by Streets of Food on Flickr

Crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside – enough said. The undisputed gem of Thai street food is these tiny little bites of sweetness!

These delightful little pancakes are made from coconut (shocking right?) and rice flour to create the perfect little package. Whether it’s to top of a great meal or to gorge on until you can’t take any more, it’s a one-way trip to dessert delight.


Each mouthful better than the last. Photo by Alpha, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Food isn’t just about the flavours, it’s about the textures! There’s no greater example of that than larb – a spicy and tangy salad made with minced meat (or tofu), toasted rice powder, zesty lime juice, fish sauce, and a sprinkling of refreshing mint and cilantro.

It’s yet another spectacular example of how each mouthful perfectly defines Thai cuisine and culture!

Pla Rad Prik (Fried Fish with Chili Sauce)

Thai food fish
Fishy fish

The vast coastlines of Thailand provide ample sources of fresh ocean creatures, so naturally, they should find themselves on your plate!

This tantalizing dish features a crispy deep-fried fish, perfectly fried and doused in a harmonious blend of tangy chilli and spices. As with most Thai food, it perfectly walks the line between heat and zestiness, making this a sure highlight for any culinary tour!

Moo Ping (Grilled Pork Skewers)

Thai food skewers
Never enough skewers

If there’s one thing we can all agree on, you can never have too much meat on a stick! These delectable skewers are made of pork marinated in a sweet and Savory combination of garlic, soy, and smoky goodness.

Thank you so much for reading Food Travel Guide: Top 20 Must-Try Thai Dishes! Now check out these other helpful articles!

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