Destinations · Things to Do · Cuisine · Thailand
March 20, 2023 Words: Katie Altman

Experience Thai Food at the Source

Savor the sparkling, tongue-tingling flavors of Thai food in Bangkok.

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As soon as you arrive in Bangkok, Thailand, your senses will awaken. There’s so much going on, it’s hard to know where to look. So many taxis, tuk-tuks and pedestrians... so many colorful sights. But as you walk around the city, your sense of smell might just take over. The aromas of Thai food fill the streets in Bangkok, and it’s simply irresistible.

If you were asked to describe Thai food in one word, you might say “spicy.” But in fact, there are five key flavors in the cuisine: Salty, sweet, sour, bitter and spicy. The food you’ll find in Bangkok will show you just how expertly these five flavors can be balanced – and it will probably be an eye-opener even if frequent Thai restaurants at home. Staples like papaya salad, pad Thai and massaman curry can surprise you all over again, because the flavors are just that much fresher and more vibrant in Thailand.

Visiting Bangkok should be on any foodie’s bucket list since the food is as thrilling as it gets—from complex salads (yums) to grilled seafood stir-fries to delectable curries and more. But choosing a restaurant in this city can be tricky, if not overwhelming, because there are just so many. First rule of thumb: head to where the locals go.

Yaowarat Road (known as Chinatown) is the place to start. The crowded streets are lined with bustling restaurants and food stalls selling favorites like satay and an incredible variety of noodle dishes. Take the time to discover new specialties like braised pork leg rice with peanuts, fish ball noodle soup and sizzling hot plate noodles with spicy “lava gravy.” If you have any room left after your Bangkok Chinatown food tour, pick up a sweet treat like young coconut pudding or grass jelly ice cream with black sesame balls.

While you’re in the city, you might also want to try an authentic version of pad Thai. This dish may not be that exciting at your local Thai restaurant, but once you taste a great version at the source, you’ll understand why this dish became so popular in the first place. With rice noodles, eggs, peanuts, bean sprouts, tamarind juice, fish sauce, chilis and sometimes dried shrimp, pad Thai can strike the balance of flavors that make Thai food so unique. You can find great pad Thai at a street cart or at an elegant restaurant that might add organic duck eggs, Berkshire pork or giant river prawns.

There are a few things to know about dining out in Thailand. First, you’ll notice that groups of diners share almost everything. So, if you get the opportunity to enjoy a meal out with a group, you’ll enjoy the opportunity to try a lot of new dishes. Diners also take their time, often spending hours savoring course after course. All eating with cutlery rather than chopsticks, by the way.

Lastly, tipping is not considered mandatory in Thailand, but most visitors leave a gratuity, such as 10%, for good service. When you finish a particularly delicious meal, you might also want to pay silent homage to Mae Phosop, the rice goddess, or “rice mother” of Thailand.

You won’t want to wait to experience Thailand, one of the world’s most exciting food destinations. A Seabourn ultra-luxury cruise to Asia will give you a chance to experience the unforgettable food of Bangkok. Start planning your adventure today!

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Chef cooking food at street side restaurant in Bangkok
Asian Food vendor at the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market near Bangkok

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