Top 5 Thai Street Food to try in Thailand

Anyone with an appetite for global flare will tell you that Thailand is the capital of food porn. Dive right into the colorful culinary tapestry of sweet, sour, salty, spicy, and downright amazing dishes. From meals to snacks, Thai street food has you covered: Every street vendor is a culinary master; they present you with a mouthwatering creation almost within seconds of you ordering it. Regional flavors echo loud and clear, everywhere you go in Thailand. Playing favorites with a single Thai dish simply doesn’t do justice to the full spectrum of flavors. Instead, here are the top five Thai street food treasures from Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Pattaya, and Phuket.

1. Noodle Soups (Guay Teow ก๋วยเตี๋ยวน้ำซุป)

Thai Street Food Noodle-Soup

One of the most popular Thai street foods is noodle soups. No matter how hot the weather is in Thailand, noodle soup is a must! You can usually find street vendors or meals on wheels serving delicious noodle soups. A bowl of noodles usually goes for 40-60 baht ($1.22 – $1.84), depending on the location.

Boat Noodle Soup (Guay Teow Reua ก๋วยเตี๋ยวเรือ)

Boat noodles originated during the trading days with the Chinese in 1942, where boats and the canal were a major means of transportation. Back in the day, vendors made and sold the noodles in boats that dotted the canals throughout Thailand; the bowls are meant to be small, so that the noodles would could hand over to the customers on the canal without spilling.

Thai Street Food Boat Noodle Soup

The broth brown is thick with pig’s blood with intense flavors top with a few meatballs, morning glory, and other vegetables and herbs to your liking. The unique flavor is absolutely stunning with a good balance. This is comfort street food for the locals and very popular with the tourist.

Where to find: Bangkok / BTS Victory Moment
Price: 12-15 baht a bowl ($0.37 – $.046 USD)

Khao Soi (ข้าวซอย)

Another popular Thai noodle soup is Khao Soi. You can find this soup mainly in the Northern part of Thailand, such as Chiang Mai. Think of it as curry soup with noodles. Genius! Why did I not think of that…?

Khao Soi

Variations of Khao Soi are as many as there are Khao Soi chefs. Some may prepare a thick creamy broth with small pieces of chicken, while others may dish out thinner broth with a whole, single piece (a drumstick, for example). The noodle soup is topped with crispy fried egg noodles and served with a side of lime, shallots, and mustard pickles. I usually add a heaping scoop of dry Thai chilies to give it an extra kick.

Thai Street Food Khao-Soi

Northern Thai Noodle Soup; Khao Soi with thin broth.

Northern Thai Street Food Khao Soi

Northern Thai Noodle Soup; Khao Soi with thick creamy broth.

Where to find: Northern Thailand / Chiang Mai
Price: 40 baht a bowl ($1.23 USD)

Fish Ball Noodle Soup (ก๋วยเตี๋ยวเรือน้ำปลา)

The fish ball noodle soups are similar to Chinese noodle soups with clear broth, morning glory, mustard greens, egg noodles and many variation of fishballs.

Thai Fishball Noodle Soup

Where to find: Any street vendor in Thailand / popular locations Chinatown Bangkok
Price: 40 baht a bowl ($1.23 USD)

Tom Yum Goong (ต้มยำกุ้ง)

Tom Yum Goong is a soup without any noodles (not to be confused with the Tony Jaa movie). A hot, spicy sour soup with kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass galangal, and prawns that is meant to be a side dish for the main course meal.

tom yam kung

Where to find: Bangkok, Thailand
Price: 80 – 150 baht a bowl, depending on the location of the vendor ($2.46 – $4.62 USD)

Watch the Thai Street Food Video: Beef Noodle Soup for $1.23!

2. Thai Stir Fry (ผัด)

Thai Street Food Pad Thai

Stir-fry dishes are expensive, quick, delicious and fulfilling. Many options ranging from stir-fry noodles and rice dishes.

Thai Basil Chicken (Pad Kra Pao Gai ผัดกระเพราไก่)

Pad Kra Pao Gai or Thai Basil Chicken is a very famous Thai street food dish.  A quick Thai language lesson; Pad is stir fry in Thai, Kra Pao is Thai Basil, and Gai is chicken. The street vendor chef stirs fried the ingredients in less than 5 minutes right in front of your eyes.

Thai Basil Chicken

Pad Kra Pao may consist of different types of protein, but chicken is the most popular one. The chefs stir-fry the chilies, garlic, and vegetables with Thai fish sauce and palm sugar. They then add the chicken to the stir-fry, along with a splash of water and a bit of oyster sauce. Finally, the Thai basil is added for a few seconds. The aroma is intoxicating! Served with rice and a fried egg on top (optional).

Thai Basil Chicken

Where to find: Any street vendor in Thailand / look for signs for Pad Kra Pao
Price: 30-48 baht ($.92 – $1.48 USD)

3. Rice with Side Dishes

Thai Street Food Rice Dishes

Left to right: Thai Scrambled Eggs with Curry. Thai Eggplant Curry, Braised Pork belly with egg, and Sautéed Mushrooms; fish sauce dipping sauce. Total Price: 80 baht  ($2.26)

Always eat like the locals! You can spot the delicious food on every block, from hawker stands to small cafes. Rice dishes À la carte, where you choose many options of side dishes of your liking.

Crispy Pork over rice and gravy (Khao Moo Krop ข้าวหมูกรอบ)

Rice and crispy pork served with a slice of cucumber and a boiled egg. A bowl of soup broth is served on the side. The rice is topped with a rich, savory brown gravy.

Thai Street Food Crispy Pork Rice Soup

Where to find: Northern Thailand / Chiang Mai
Price: 60 – 70  baht ($1.84 – $2.15 USD)

4. Grilled Meats and Seafood

Thai Street Food Grilled Meats

Anything that is grilled on a stick is a beautiful thing! Grilled whole fish, chicken and squid lovely! A perfect combination with Thai snacks and local beer.

Thai Street Food Grilled Meats

Thailand’s seafood, alone, is worth the trip: It is unmistakably the best in the world. Pick out the seafood of your choice, and the vendor will grill it for you. Don’t forget to ask for the Thai green chili sauce.

Thai Street Food Grilled Seafood

Where to find: Anywhere in Thailand / beach areas such as Phuket & Pattaya
Price: Various prices (discuss on pricing before ordering)

5. Thai Fruits

Thai Street Food Fruit

You can find exotic fruits nearly on every corner in Thailand. A vendor is usually somewhere on the street slicing up gorgeous, succulent fruit by the order. Try the ripe mangoes with sweet chilies.

Thai Street Food Fruit

Or the packaged delicious gooey durian by the pieces. The prices may vary, depending on the size.

Thai Street Food Durian

Where to find: Anywhere in Thailand 
Price: Various prices for Durian / Slice fruit 30 baht ($.92 USD)

Final Thoughts

Tourists come to Thailand to enjoy the warm weather, the sandy beaches, tropical islands, historical temples, and the delicious, inexpensive Thai street food. The Thai people are hard-working individuals and are masters of cooking! “The Land of Smiles” is also the land of the best street food in the world! There are many delectable Thai street food dishes, but these are the Top 5 on our list! Give them a try on your next visit to Thailand. If you want to know more about Thai street food, here is a great book by David Tompson.

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