Eating in vs Street Food in Thailand
The beauty of Thailand is the food and the low cost of eating really well. Not only do you have traditional Thai meals every 5 meters but you also have access to top restaurants and chefs around Thailand, especially in Bangkok. If you aren’t a fan of Thai food but still want the Thai lifestyle no worries, Thailand’s major cities cater to so many palates. The restaurants range from Italian to Mexican, some amazing Indian, and everything else you can imagine. Although there is so much on offer, it may not all be as accessible as you like due to the higher cost of western food. Depending on what you are earning you will need to structure your food choices accordingly.
If you enjoy cooking then try to find an apartment with a kitchen. (It is not standard for an apartment in Thailand to have a kitchen.) Staying in any of the major cities around Thailand you have access to all western goods. They may cost more than the traditional Thai groceries, but they are available. You will find large supermarkets throughout Thailand, even in the smaller towns there is sure to be a Tesco Lotus store. The other grocery stores include Big C and Makro. If you are looking for a wider range of imported products you can go to a Foodmart or Foodland store. If you would prefer to cook at home then don’t worry you have the choice of all the foods and ingredients you would have back home.
Just to give you an example, we eat in most nights and some of the things we make include extra cheesy nachos, Chicken Tikka Masala curry with rice, spaghetti carbonara, crispy potatoes, and some mornings we make pancakes with berries and cream. As you can see there is no shortage of home flavours, foods and ingredients. One thing which has been amazing having in our apartment has been our sandwich toaster. They are really inexpensive to buy and we have used it for many quick lunches, making tuna melt, chicken mayo and a traditional ham and cheese toasties. I recommend one in your kitchen wherever you live in the world. For breakfast, we usually have some oats, which are extremely inexpensive here like most places around the world, and some fruit. The best thing is there is a fresh fruit seller in our street so we walk downstairs and have access to cheap fresh fruit daily. It’s amazing. The fruit here may be different to what you are used to back home but it is so good. My favourites are the dragon fruit and passion fruit. So tasty, healthy and tropical. Our monthly budget for eating in for 2 people is 6000 Baht ($150 -$200) and we eat well on that. In order to stick to a budget on food, it is always best to plan your meals for each week so when you go shopping you don’t buy items which won’t be used and may go to waste.
Not everyone is an enthusiastic chef in the kitchen, and even if you are, some nights you want to come home and not even look at the kitchen. For nights like these, Thailand has amazing and endless options of street food, night markets, and an array of local and western restaurants. The western restaurants in Thailand are the same as back home, so I won’t go into them now, but know that they are here if you need that Sunday roast with the Yorkshire pudding. The street food and night markets offer traditional Thai dishes, which means every noodle option under the sun, with your choice of beef, pork, chicken or seafood in a fusion of Thai flavours. Thai dishes are made with either rice or noodles, a protein and a selection of vegetables. They cook with a lot of different green veggies, peppers and onions. Some Thai dishes can be very spicy, so if a Thai person warns you it will be hot, don’t try to be a hero. The most popular Thai dishes include Pad Thai, Green or Red Curry and Tom Yum Goon which is a spicy shrimp soup.
If you love seafood then Thailand is perfect for you, especially if you’re fond of prawns. You will find fresh prawns almost every 10 meters when walking around a food market. The seafood ranges from already grilled and ready to eat to fresh live seafood waiting to be selected. The markets also cater for a few other dishes, for example, the one near us has a Turkish kebab stand, Russian cakes and dumplings, and a sushi stand. So you can find non-Thai options at the street markets too.
A full meal at a street food market or stand will cost you between 40 – 60 baht ($1, 50) and the portions are generous. You can also grab a delicious fruit shake of your choice for 25 baht ($0.75). Beware: they are loaded with sugar but you can ask to have it without.
Wondering how Thai food compares to other Asian countries? Choosing an EFL Destination: Food in Taiwan vs Food in Thailand
No matter what taste you have Thailand will cater for, but be adventurous. The western options are there but don’t shy away from trying new foods; I promise you will be pleasantly surprised. If you are unsure about the dishes or what is in them, the manager at your school will be able to help. The ladies at my Shane English School always give me the best spots for street food and ask if I’ve tried certain things. My favourite discovery from their advice is mango sticky rice, it’s the best pudding out there. I won’t say any more… Just hop on a plane to Thailand and try it for yourself.
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About the Author
Tatum Condon a 27-year-old South African girl with Irish family. Her dream growing up was to be a mechanical engineer for Formula One’s Team McLaren. Any sport which is in water, she does it. Even if the water is frozen, count her in. She is currently teaching and living in the land of smiles, Thailand, while sharing stories of my life adventures and experiences. She hopes you enjoy.