5 Tastes You Must Try in Bangkok

If you're traveling to an exotic place like Bangkok, Thailand, chances are you're already armed with must-do lists for everything under the sun. But one of the best reasons to travel is to enjoy the food. You'll find that the dishes you enjoy in even the most high-end Thai restaurant in your U.S. hometown can't hold a candle to the food served in the real place. Here are a few dishes you should try during your trip to Bangkok.

Pad Thai / Sen Chan


A great example of a popular Americanized dish that is even better on real Thai soil, pad Thai reaches its pinnacle at Thipsamai. Known in Thailand as the “common man's dish,” pad Thai began as a humble stir-fry recipe using items that most households commonly had on hand, such as rice noodles, fish sauce, sugar, bean sprouts, and tofu.

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It was invented during World War II during a rice shortage, offering a creative use for noodles. Thipsamai's version includes chicken, pork, or giant shrimp. Thipsamai, located on Maha Chai Road, was founded in 1939 and evolved through the decades from a noodle stall to a fine, famous restaurant.

Sweet Potato Balls / Kanom Kai Nok Krata


Unlike pad Thai, sweet potato balls are mostly a Bangkok phenomenon. The Thai name translates thusly: kanom, meaning “snack,” and “kai nok krata, meaning “quail eggs.” It's a simple fried food, crisp on the outside and soft, light, and airy inside, and can be found throughout the city at street food carts. A good Bangkok city guide can point you toward the best city markets.

Mango Sticky Rice / Khao Niew Ma Muang


Mango is a commonly available fruit in Thailand and is served in a multitude of ways, from fresh to grilled or made into ice cream and smoothies. Mango sticky rice is basically a slice of fresh mango served with a scoop of glutinous rice and a drizzle of coconut milk. It's best eaten fresh and may be found at many street stalls or at permanent shops inside malls. Mango sticky rice is an excellent dessert or mid-afternoon snack.

Crispy Pancake / Kanom Bueang

5 Tastes You Must Try in Bangkok_Crispy Pancake_Kanom Bueang
Photo credit: Flickr, Heiko S.

Another popular street food is crispy pancake. This delicacy is a pancake made from rice flour batter that's filled with all manner of toppings. These can include sweet ingredients such as meringue, coconut cream, shredded coconut, fruits, or even chocolate. Savory fillings may include egg or chopped scallions. Order these in the stalls found in street markets throughout the city, or in Bangkok restaurants such as Siam Paragon.

Thai Milk Tea


Although not technically a Thai dish, Thai milk tea is considered Thailand's official national drink, so it should not be missed. It's served either hot or cold, though usually over ice. To make it, strong black tea is mixed with coconut milk or evaporated milk, and sometimes also with spices such as anise.

There are many other dishes you should try while in Bangkok, such as marinated and grilled meats, Thai fried chicken, seafood dishes, and amazing desserts. Although the city has its share of excellent restaurants, the way to really experience the city's culinary heritage is by snacking on street food.

How about you? What is your favorite Thai dish?

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  1. I’ve still never been to Thailand, but I’m bracing myself for the day I do (and training for it, ha)—and planning to come back 10 pounds heavier!

    1. @Kristin, between the coconut milk in the curries, the sugar in the teas and all those delicious sweets, I think it is likely to be 15 or 20! God help us!

  2. Thai milk tea is a total favorite, but I always feel so guilty knowing how much sugar I’m sucking back!