When you are in Thailand, the most difficult thing is to select what you want to eat first. Thai street food is an allure to all wandering travelers. From the popular mango sticky rice to sweet green curries with beef or chicken, the incredible street food in Thailand will take you to a whole new world of flavors.
What Is Special About Thai Street Food
Traditional street food in Thailand is influenced by Chinese cuisine to a greater extent. The quality and flavor of classic Thai street food are well-renowned. The appetizing smell of the sizzling meat, hot bowls of noodle soups, and colorful rice dishes are sure to make your mouth water.
Thais also eat a lot of flatbread. Some of the most common are bananas and roti, and Thai dumplings popularly sold by Muslims in Thailand. The famous Thai curries are also an important part of street food in Thailand.
You can see there is an enormous variety as local food stalls and roadside shops form a big part of the gastronomic experience that Thailand is famous for.
Most Popular Street Food In Thailand
Pad Thai (Thai Noodles)
Pad Thai is one of the best street foods in Bangkok and is appreciated globally. It is the national dish of Thailand and holds a significant place in Thai cuisine. These Thai noodles deliver an incredible combination of sweet and sour flavors.
The traditional recipe for this classic Thai street food includes the rice noodles Asia is known for. These noodles are stir-fried with eggs and tofu, and seasoned with tamarind juice, fish sauce, dried shrimp, garlic, onion, pepper, and palm sugar.
Thai street market vendors served these noodles with bean sprouts, lemon slices, and roasted peanuts. These roasted nuts give a fragrant nutty flavor to the dish. Some hawkers also add fresh shrimp, chicken, or pork to enhance the taste.
You can enjoy this divine Thai street food in Bangkok with a variety of meats. There are also many vegetarian options like tofu and mushrooms. Whether you choose meat or veggies, the dish gives an authentic taste with both.
Most Famous Thai Street Food Salad
Som Tam (Green Papaya Salad)
Som tam is a popular snack, you can find in Thai street markets. The salad is a light and refreshing dish for a hot day in summer.
The salad is prepared with shredded green papaya, tomatoes, and carrots. It also contains lime juice, garlic, sugar, peanuts, and chilies for additional flavoring.
The authentic Thai street food recipe includes a lot of spices and sourness from the lime juice. But the sellers tend to ask about customers’ preferences for all the ingredients and flavors. So you can have your salad prepared as you like it.
It is a very famous Bangkok street food as visitors take a break from all the shopping.
Laab Moo (Spicy Pork Salad)
The blend of flavors and aromas of this meat salad gives you an experience of authentic Thai street food. The salad includes red chilies, shallots, and spring onions. It is garnished with cabbage, bean sprouts, and sweet basil.
The combination of sour lime, spicy chilies, and fresh mint is a real treat for food lovers. Just like many other Thai street foods, you can enjoy it with sticky rice and some tum.
Delicious Thai Street Food Curry
Khua Kling Moo Saab (Southern Thai Dry Curry Pork)
A classic street food in Thailand, Khua Kling Moo Saab is a popular Thai dry curry. The primary ingredients of the dish are Thai-style red curry paste and roasted meat. The meat is directly seasoned in dry Thai curry instead of being cooked in a spicy sauce.
The dry curry contains a lot of spices so it is not for people who cannot handle too much spicy food. Nonetheless, it’s these extra spices adding heat to the dish that makes it one of the best Thai street foods.
Moo Hong (Phuket Pork Belly Stew)
Moo Hong is a Phuket street food admired by all Thais. The dark stew influences Chinese cuisine. It is a Southern Thai specialty with irresistible flavors and tempting aromas.
The stew is made with chunks of pork belly, garlic, black peppercorns, and coconut sugar. The meat is cooked slowly to make it soft, tender, and juicy. Some variations of Moo Hong also include stewed pork leg.
The stewed pork is so tender that it melts in your mouth. It has a thick and sticky consistency just like honey. The dish is garnished with coriander and served with freshly cooked sticky rice.
The Best Thai Street Food – Thai Noodles
Guay Teow (Thai Noodle Soup)
Guay Teow is another popular street food in Thailand, commonly used to refer to a variety of noodle soups. Therefore, this satisfying dish comes in a variety of delicious forms. It delivers a distinct burst of flavors in different regions.
Vendors daily serve hundreds of bowls of noodles with meat and broth. It is usually enjoyed with rice noodles, egg noodles, chicken, pork, or beef. You can also try it with wontons, vegetables, or meatballs.
This warm noodle soup is the best street food in Bangkok that you can enjoy in the winter season. The soup pairs best with the topping of fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, and dried chilies. It will give you the flavor of authentic Thai street food.
Kuay Chap (Rolled Noodle Soup With Braised Meat)
Thailand’s cuisine is globally renowned for its noodle variations. Kuay Chap is a Teochew or Chinese-inspired Thai noodle soup. It is not only a popular street food in Thailand but also sometimes prepared at home by locals.
The rice noodles used in this Thai street food are thick and rolled into tubes. They look like thick and flat rice sheets.
The noodle soup is consumed with a plate of braised sides, which typically contains pork belly, pork offal, pork intestines, ears, duck meat, and hard-boiled eggs. The rolled noodles are sometimes served with crispy fried pork belly for enhanced flavor.
Yen Ta Fo (Pink Noodle Soup)
Yen Ta Fo is a strong and tangy noodle soup. It is a very delicious Thai street food with an identifying pink color. The fermented red soybean is what gives this peculiar pink color to the noodle soup.
The authentic Thai street food recipe includes simple pork stock broth and thick Sen Yai rice noodles. Some vendors also serve Yen Ta Fo with pork balls or shrimp wonton dumplings. It has a distinct flavor of meat and spices with different delicious toppings.
Jim Jum (Hot Pot)
Jim Jum is a Thai-style hotpot that is very popular in the country. As hotpot is getting famous all around the world, Thai natives also love them. Although Jim Jum is an unlikely Thai street food, you can easily find it in many small roadside restaurants.
This dish is served in little clay pots with signature sides of Thai cuisine. The most common additions you can find in Thai Jim Jum are shallots, lemongrass, garlic, sweet basil, and chilies. It is served with glass noodles, meat, and sticky rice.
Thailand Street Food – Grilled And Fried Food
Mala Kebab Skewers (Grilled Pork Skewers)
Although Mala Kebab Skewers are not authentic Thai street food, the dish is getting popular among locals. It is perhaps unsurprising as the strong taste resonates with the rich, spicy flavors in Thai cuisine.
Mala is a mixture of some spices including fiery red chilies, Sichuan peppercorns, and cummin. The tender and juicy pieces of meat on skewers will melt in your mouth.
The classic street food in Thailand features mainly pork kebab skewers. But as Thai cuisine is all about diversity and variations, you can find various meat cuts and vegetable skewer options. The most common vegetables used for Mala kebabs are morning glory, mushrooms, and okra.
Sai Oua (Northern Thai Pork Sausage)
Sai Oua is a popular and tasty Thai street food in the northern regions. It is a grilled pork sausage with a blend of hot and sour flavors.
The name comes from Sai, and Ua means “intestine” and “to stuff.” Locally, it is also known as Chiang Mai Sausage or herbal sausage.
This delicious Thai street food is prepared with minced pork meat, spices, herbs, and red curry paste. The sausage also contains lemongrass, galangal, shallots, kaffir lime leaves, and dry chilies. It is served with chili sauce and sticky rice.
Gai Tod (Fried Chicken)
Gai Tod is simply fried chicken, which is popular everywhere in the world. However, fried chicken in Thailand is known for its extra spiciness and distinguished flavor.
Chicken wings and small drumsticks are preferred for deep frying in Thailand street food. The chicken parts are marinated with a lot of local spices and aromatic herbs. It is then coated with rice flour before frying.
Rice flour gives extra crispiness to the chicken skin. Gai tod is served with sweet and sour chili dips and sticky rice.
Thailand is considered the leading country that eats a range of edible insects. You will find lots of vendors on the streets selling edible insects. This is one of the interesting facts about Thailand.
While it may sound peculiar, edible insects can be full of proteins and flavors. People enjoy this Thai street food as a whole or with chili paste.
Some deep-fried insects might be bland, but others taste incredible. The water bug, Lethocerus indicus is said to give a taste similar to a ripe gorgonzola cheese. Most fried insects taste like crunchy nuts or popcorn.
You can easily find deep-fried grasshoppers, crickets, bee larvae, silkworms, ant eggs, and termites in every Thai street market. Ants and silkworms are served boiled in soup or egg. Adventurous foodies can give them a try and find out their preferred insect.
Pla Pao (Thai Grilled Fish)
Pla Pao is a Thai-style grilled fish. For making pla pao, fat red tilapia fish is used. It has a lot of meat which makes it an ideal Thai street food.
The fish is dipped in spicy chili sauce. It is then filled with lemongrass and rolled in sea salt many times to form a thick crust. The marinated fish is grilled over hot charcoal and cooked well.
The salt coating preserves the moisture in the fish and keeps it juicy and soft. The stuffed lemongrass gives a tempting aroma and herbal flavor to the fish.
Tod Mun Pla (Fish Cakes)
Tod Mun Pla are very famous fish cakes in Phuket street food. It is great as an appetizer and snack with its spicy and savory taste.
These soft Thai fish cakes contain pounded fish paste, red curry paste, and long beans. The cakes are then fried in hot oil.
You will see giant woks of boiling oil with sizzling fried fish cakes in every Thai street market. This Thailand street food is best served with sweet and spicy sauce.
Pad Kapi Sataw Goong (Stir Fried Prawns With Stink Beans)
Pad Kapi Sataw Goong is a delicious street food in Thailand with a spicy and sour flavor.
Sataw is a type of stink beans that grows well in the South of Thailand, and they have a pungent smell. But don’t let that fool you. As the beans grow abundantly in Thailand, it features in many Thai dishes. They are a common addition to curry pastes and stir-fried chicken or pork.
For Pad Kapi Sataw Goong, fresh prawns are stir-fried with pungent green beans and shrimp paste. Although it sounds like an unusual combination, this Thai street food is remarkable.
Goong Pad Makham (Stir-Fried Tamarind Shrimp)
Goong Pad Makham is not only a delicacy and street food in Thailand, but natives also cook it in their homes. You can find this stir-fried seafood in all cities across the country.
Goong Pad Makham includes fish sauce, prawns, palm sugar, and tamarind sauce. The fried prawns have a crunchy texture with soft and tender meat. The prawns are drenched in a sauce giving a juicy feel.
This succulent dish has a combination of sweet, salty, and sour flavors. It is typically served with steamed jasmine rice.
Pla Muk Yang (Grilled Squid)
Barbecue is a common addition to Thai cuisine. Pork and chicken are some of the most popular barbecue meat options in Thai street food. However, you can also find many seafood barbecue points in Thailand.
Roadside vendors serve barbecued squid on wooden skewers. Grilled squid is one of the best street food in Bangkok, usually enjoyed as an appetizer or with alcoholic drinks.
The squid is grilled over hot charcoal to give it a smoky and roasted flavor. Before serving, it is covered with a tangy and spicy sauce, roasted peanuts, and cilantro.
Poh Pia Tod (Thai Spring Rolls)
Poh Pia Tod is a Thai-styled spring roll. Although spring rolls are famous all around the world, you will get a unique taste in Thai street markets.
Poh Pia Tod can be easily found all over the streets and in restaurants of Thailand. The vendors usually cut long rolls into small bite-sized pieces and soak them in sweet chili sauce. The rolls are served with a toothpick to eat.
The most common spring rolls you can find in Thailand are pork, shrimp, cabbage, tofu, and scallions. Thai spring rolls are the perfect appetizer and kids-friendly meal.
Street Food In Thailand – Thai Bread And Dumplings
Salapao (Steamed Buns)
Steamed buns are one of the best Thai street foods and snacks. This convenient street food of Thailand is similar to the “baozi” (buns) in Chinese cuisine. The delicious steamed Salapao has a soft texture.
Salapao is either stuffed with sweet or savory stuffings. The classic recipe for these white steamed buns usually includes pork filling. But you can sometimes also find other types of meat fillings.
The sweet variations of Salapao include sweet custards, cream fillings, or mung beans. These buns are sold in almost every Thai street market.
Thai Banana Pancakes
Thai banana roti is not only a delicious street food but also a satisfying breakfast in Thailand. Inspired by sweet Indian roti, Thai pancakes are also a famous Thai dessert among tourists and locals. You will see a lot of Thai Muslims with carts of this famous Thai street food.
As the name suggests, the banana roti is a banana and egg wrapped in flatbread. The flatbread is prepared with whole wheat flour, cooked on a griddle and then sliced bananas are tossed over the bread.
In classic Thai street food fashion, the flatbread is cut into bite-sized pieces and presented with a wooden stick for eating. Sometimes, vendors also drizzle condensed milk and sugar for additional flavors.
Khanom Jeep (Thai Dumplings)
Khanom Jeep are popular Thai dumplings and well-loved Thai street food. These delightful little snacks are similar to Chinese dim sum.
From minced pork to prawns, you can find a lot of variations in these local dumplings. The spicy and flavorful filling is wrapped in a wonton casing and then steamed on special steaming trays.
At Thai street markets, Khanom Jeep is usually served with soy sauce, vinegar and chili sauce, and a sprinkle of fried garlic and garlic oil.
Thai Street Food – Beverages And Drinks
Yaa Dong (Street Liquor)
After enjoying delicious and tempting Thai street foods, you must want something to take down everything. This authentic Thai beverage is called Yaa Dong.
Yaa Dong is an infused alcohol readily available in the Thai street market. It is prepared from local rice whiskey and some other herbs. You might taste different flavors of this liquor depending on the herbs, tubers, and shavings used in it.
The herbs used in Yaa Dong are said to have certain health-enhancing benefits but that is always an unknown claim. Yaa Dong is served with an unripe sour mango to dip in a salt and chili sauce.
You can easily find this Thai street food in Bangkok. Vendors usually sell this liquor in 3 to 4 glass containers wrapped in red fabric.
Thai Iced Coffee
Thai iced coffee is simply an iced coffee but very different from regular ones. Local iced coffees in Thailand are a cheap alternative to branded coffee chains.
Everyone in Thailand loves this classic Thai street food. It is an excellent way to cool down the sweltering heat of summer in Thailand.
Generally, a Thai street market iced coffee is a blend of strong instant coffee with powdered milk and condensed milk. The coffee is poured over ice in a regular plastic cup before serving.
Ice coffee in Thailand is roasted very dark, so the melted ice would not affect the actual flavor of the coffee. The sweetened condensed milk gives a creamy texture to your coffee without any added cream.
Mamuang Shake (Mango Smoothie)
In Thailand, you will find a lot of carts selling fruit smoothies. Fruit shakes are popular Thai street food, but mamuang shake or mango smoothie is the best one among all of them.
A smoothie contains ice, syrup sweetener, and seasonal fruit or a mix of fresh fruits. The mango smoothie is made with ripe, fresh, juicy mangoes. It is one of the most refreshing and healthy drinks from the Thai street market.
Discovering Delicious Thai Street Food
In central cities like Bangkok, you will see dozens of street vendors selling Thai street food. It is also a big part of the nightlife in Thailand. Some iconic street food markets are even considered landmarks in Thailand.
The popular drinking foods in Thai street markets are grilled meat or sausages, meat on skewers, or deep-fried insects. Thais love enjoying it at bars or restaurants with their favorite drinks.
Thailand’s street food markets also feature sweet snacks and sliced fresh fruits. The fruits are peeled, sliced, and then laid out on the ice to preserve freshness.
The street stalls and mobile vendors are there to serve at local markets and busy streets. You will see a lot of food stalls at night, especially during temple fairs and local festivals.