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Must Try Eats in Thailand

Posted by Jen King on 4/10/24 12:31 PM


Trying local food is one of my favorite parts of traveling, and Thailand didn't disappoint.

Thailand has so many different dishes and desserts you have to try. You have plenty of time to try all the famous dishes and the local favorites you don't even know about. It's something you just can't miss out on. 

Spend A Semester Abroad In Thailand 

Many Thai treats are known for having sweet syrups, fresh fruit, coconut cream, and sweet rice. If you know where to look, you can also find other unusual treats you didn't know you needed in your life ... until now. Luckily for you, food is one of the cheapest things to buy in Thailand.

Check out these yummy treats that need to be on your Thai food bucket list!

Sticky Rice

There are a few variations of sticky rice, but we love them all equally.


Mango sticky rice is an obvious dessert you have to get if you visit Thailand. It's the most famous one and for good reason. It consists of sweet sticky rice often mixed with sweet coconut sauce, paired with fresh mango.

Sometimes you'll even find sticky rice in all different colors. We love how pretty this blue version is.


Banana Leaf

Banana leaf sticky rice is made from coconut milk, sugar, and sweet black beans. It's candied in a banana leaf until you're ready to eat.

Word of caution for the newbies — don't eat the leaf, just the yummy dessert inside. Also, I know this one might not pique your interest initially, but just trust me on this one. It's delicious!


Bamboo sticky rice is sweetened with black beans and coconut syrup and slow roasted in a bamboo stick. Once it's done roasting, the bamboo stick is cut open so that the sticky rice can be scraped out. Yum.


Roti is a major favorite among ILP Thailand volunteers. The good news is that it's not hard to find — you can get it everywhere from small towns to the crowded tourist destinations beaches in southern Thailand. It's usually served up at little street carts, often open in the evening hours as an after-dinner treat.

Roti is a fried pancake topped with sweetened condensed milk, chocolate, sugar, and any other toppings you want (peanut butter, Nutella, fruit, etc). Roti is made right in front of you and is oh so addicting. 



Coconut Ice Cream

If you love coconut, this is your ice cream ... made with fresh coconut chunks and coconut milk. To top it off, you can get it served in a coconut shell which allows you to scrape some coconut meat off to enjoy with it. You can also get it served in a cone if that's more your style. 

Some smoothie stands also have coconut ice cream, so if they ever ask if you want to top off your smoothie with a scoop, say yes!

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Fried Banana with Roasted Rice

You're probably at least a little familiar with fried bananas, but fry them with roasted rice and they're on a whole new level.  They are made with a ripe banana (so super sweet), wrapped in roasted rice and coconut, and then deep fried. Cue the mouth-watering.

Fresh Fruit Smoothies

Thailand makes smoothies like no one else does. They are fresher than fresh and so good, so so cheap. Plan on paying $1-2 per smoothie (seriously).

Flavor combos are endless — favorites include pineapple + apple, pineapple + carrot, and mango + guava, passion fruit + mango. Another surprise favorite is the iced cocoa, chocolate-y ones. It's to die for. It's really hard to describe these drinks, but think milky and icy (picture a cross between a snow cone, a milkshake, and a smoothie). Rich chocolate is blended with sweetened condensed milk so you get a smooth, icy, sort-of-shake/frozen hot chocolate. You're just going to have to try it for yourself and see if you can describe it better than us.

Some stands also ask if you want to add coconut ice cream. If that's an option, DO IT. So yummy.

But maybe the best part of a smoothie in Thailand is finding your favorite smoothie stand. These little shops are locally owned and we love getting to know the owners. We've heard so many stories of volunteers who started going to the same smoothie stand again and again during their semester living in Thailand and then became such good friends with those who worked at said shop. Just hop on your bike and go explore, you won't have to go far before running into a smoothie shop in Thailand!



Glass Noodles Dessert

Most people probably wouldn't think of noodles as desserts, but they should. These long and thin rice noodles are soaked in sweetened coconut milk until you're ready to eat them. Like mango sticky rice, you can find different colors of glass noodles if you'd like.

Chocolate Bread

Chocolate bread can be found in a lot of drink shops — it's a piece of toasted bread with sugar and drizzled with chocolate syrup. Simple, but so good. You can also request other toppings as well! 

Try A Cooking Class

Taking a cooking class might not already be at the top of your bucket list, but in Thailand it should be! So many volunteers have come back with rave reviews.

It's an especially popular thing to do if you're going to be in Chiang Mai. Here are a couple of companies in Chiang Mai that volunteers have tried and recommended, but you can find classes all over Thailand.

A Lot Of Thai in Chiang Mai comes with glowing recommendations. One ILP volunteer loved that their instructor that day had lived and taught in the US so she was able to give recommendations for ingredient swaps that are used in Thai cooking but can be hard to find in America. 

Thai Family Farm Cooking School in Chiang Mai is another favorite. Here’s what one ILP volunteer said about their afternoon here — “It is so fun, we met other cool foreigners, and the food was amazing and fun to make!”

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Dreaming about seeing Thailand for yourself?

Every semester volunteers with International Language Programs head out to spend about 4 months living in Thailand! You get to teach local kids English and there's plenty of time to travel around and experience all Thailand has to offer.

We're accepting applications now. Get started by clicking that button and filling out a quick online form.

Start My Application!

Topics: Asia

Hey friends!

We are ILP, a Utah-based non-profit org that has service abroad opportunities for college-age volunteers. We love travel so we're sharing all our tips for making the most of your time living abroad + seeing the world, and how to do it all on the tiniest budget.

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