Thailand is famous around the world for its delicious, fresh and healthy cuisine, and what’s more it’s super cheap, making the country an ideal foodie destination for backpackers. One of the other great things about Thai cuisine is that it can often be bought and eaten on the street, so it’s a great place to grab something on the go. And backpacking in a country like Thailand, you’re going to be on the go most of the time!
These are the five dishes which you absolutely must try when backpacking in Thailand.
This is an absolute classic and a favourite among backpackers. You can buy pad Thai anywhere in the world, but like Guinness, pasta and tapas, it’s best consumed in its country of origin. The dish is noodle-based and mingles a variety of flavours, including sweet, spicy and sour. It features chilli, lime, sugar and crushed peanuts (trust me, they do wonders), and usually comes with either prawns or chicken.
Or curry, to use a word you’ve probably heard of. Thai curries – known locally as ‘gaengs’ – are marvellous concoctions, a completely different experience from India’s version. They come in three colours: red, which features red chillies and is the hottest; yellow, which features turmeric and yellow chillies and is medium; and green, which features basil and coriander and is usually the mildest. Other core ingredients common to all versions are lime, ginger, garlic and coconut milk.
Another staple of Thai cuisine is noodle soup, and while this is popular throughout Asia, the Thai version is arguably the most delicious. As the name suggests, this dish is a mixture of noodles and soup – more of a broth – and is flavoured with chillies, coconut milk, ginger, lemongrass and either pork, chicken or prawns. It’s a really warming, comforting dish, and while it may seem odd to those trained in Western etiquette, the best way to eat it is to slurp like crazy!
Forget images of cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce; the Thai version of salad is actually vegetable-based. Often raw vegetables. Although it’s not to everyone’s taste, Thai salad is definitely something you should try when you’re backpacking through Thailand. There are a few variations, but all are dressed in fish sauce, lime juice and chilli flakes, giving a bit of a kick to the flavour.
Khao Niao Ma-muang
This is a type of dessert which literally translates into ‘sticky rice with mango’. The Thais aren’t exactly famed for their desserts, but this one is a must try. The name doesn’t do much to sell it, but it is actually surprisingly delicious, especially if you have a bit of a sweet tooth going on. As well as the stick rice and mango, there is also coconut milk drizzled on top, which gives an added creamy texture and flavour to the dish. It’s pretty healthy, too. Win!