food markets in thailand

Last Updated on April 19, 2021 by Dani

When we started planning our time in Thailand, the only thing we heard about more than beautiful beaches was the food, specifically the street food: fruit smoothies, sliced fruits, sweets, noodles and, yes, insects!

We’re known to love street food, and after months in North America without it (no, food trucks and pizza slices don’t quite count), this almost mythical street food in Thailand was calling. As soon as we touched down in Bangkok, we set off to find some of the Thai delicacies that people were raving about.

Follow your nose

Seeing these two ladies pushing their carts in Bangkok’s traffic, we knew they were going to set up their stalls somewhere and decided to just follow them… if there are two, there must be more!

bangkok street food cartsIt turns out, we were right. Throughout our time in Thailand we never had any trouble finding a night market, a day market or a walking market to test out Thai street food.

bangkok street food vendorsPad Thai for 30 Baht ($1) – score!

chinese bun and jessJess discovered these steamed Chinese buns filled with red bean paste and had to eat them every time…

Glorious Tropical Fruits

bangkok fresh mangoMangoes taste the best in Thailand.

bangkok fruit vendorsMost stands don’t specialize only in mangoes, though. There’s papaya, pineapple, dragon fruit and mixed fruits…

street food stall with fresh juice…and we love our daily dose of fresh squeezed orange juice, for only 20 Baht ($0.60)!

So…what do we have here?

bangkok street foodWe pass food stand after food stand of vegetable dishes, and meat, served with either rice or noodles. Sometimes, it’s hard to identify what things are…

bangkok street foodThese mini toasts looked delicious, but with the meat on top this wasn’t for us. In fact, we realize that much of the street food out there isn’t for vegetarians…

bangkok street foodLoads of meat on a stick…Nope, not for us…

bangkok street meatNot sure what this is supposed to be when it’s ready…

bangkok potato chipsBut then we discover this genius invention. Chips on a stick. Yep. This deep fried goodness might not be the healthiest snack, but and well worth the 20 Baht ($0.60).

street food ThailandLike anywhere in the world, in Thailand much of street food is deep fried: vegetables, fish, potatoes and even bread.

chiang mai noodles in marketBut these markets don’t just have snacks. Full noodle dishes are usually available for $1 or less, such as this Pad See Ew (far left in the picture above), served with vegetables and sometimes egg. This is one of our favorite Thai dishes.

omelet in banana leafAnother popular snack are omelets grilled in a banana leaf. Usually there is one more ingredient added, such as mushrooms or shrimps.

Thai street foodAnother egg snack: a sort of grilled hard-boiled eggs in a chili sauce. I like these, Jess can’t stomach them at all!

quail eggs chiang maiNeither of us can make ourselves eat these eggs above. These tiny little eggs are quail eggs. It’s hard to explain why we’ll eat chicken eggs but no other bird eggs, but even the 10 Baht ($0.30) price tag can’t get us to nibble on these popular bite-size eggs.

street food ThailandEven more popular are fried silk worms, but we definitely didn’t eat these!

chiang rai fired crickets… or these guys – whatever they are!

pork on a stick chiang maiInitially we wanted to sample what we thought was tofu on a stick…until we found out that these are made of pork.

Thai street foodSame with these little banana leaf parcels – looks vegetarian from the outside, but it’s filled with pork.

Thai street foodFinally something we can eat – these little parcels were indeed vegetarian, filled with sticky rice.

sticky rice lollipopsMore sticky rice: grilled sticky rice ‘lollipops’…these we could eat, but they are not that good.

street food ThailandMuch to our surprise, we discovered that sushi is a Thai street food favorite! While the quality of the sushi in the night markets is not always great, there are tons of varieties, including veggie ones like seaweed, avocado, tofu or egg.

Thai street foodAnother popular snack is Mieng Kham, a little leaf parcel that combines Thailand’s four main flavors spicy, salty, sweet and sour. The leaf is filled with peanuts, honey, chili and lime (and shrimp fot the salty flavor in the non-veg version). Just these basic ingredients create a flavor explosion in your mouth! We came to love this snack in our cooking class in Koh Lanta, and we were always happy when we found Mieng Kham in the night markets.

Going Bananas for Sweets in the Streets!!

Let’s move on to sweets – my favorite part of a visit to a night market.

chiang mai cake ballsThai people love their sweets, so there is a huge selection of foods to satisfy even my sweet tooth: cakes, crepes, fruit, rice pudding, pancakes. This list is really endless, especially if you like bananas, which are served up baked, fried, deep-fried, on a stick, inside a waffle, inside a pancake…

street food thailandWhile the waffle bananas were delicious (obviously!), we weren’t big fans of the sticky rice with banana…

fried bananas thailandOne of my favorite banana snacks: deep-fried and battered bananas, cut in little pieces and drizzled with sweet condensed milk. Yum!

deep fried bananadessert toast thailandIt seems simple, but why not? These pieces of white toast are usually served with sweet spreads, jams, chocolate or fruit sauces.

Thailand street foodWe weren’t sold on the toast, but we do love these odd coconut cream taco concoctions you see everywhere!

crepes night marketWhile Jess can usually be found munching on those potato chips on a stick, I am hunting down my absolute favorite Thai sweet – these delicious crepes, freshly made, piping hot with the toppings of your choice.

Sure, there are plenty of meaty street food options, but the fact is that Thailand has the best street food we’ve come across, with a much bigger selection than in Central America or Mexico, our other two favorite places in the world to hunt down the best street food!

Have you been to Thailand? What’s your favorite Thai street food?.

Tags : street foodStreet Food Junkiesthailand


  1. I seriously CANNOT wait to eat the street food in Thailand! I think it might just be the thing I’m the most excited for… I always claim to be a fan of street food, but in Nashville and Toronto, street food really means food trucks (which are amazing, but are a different beast, I agree). I can only imagine how frustrating it must be to be vegetarians in this situation, especially when so many of the food options don’t exactly look like they’re filled with meat. I can see how that would be a nasty surprise!

    1. It was definitely the thing we were most excited for when we got to Thailand, Steph 😀 Even though we miss out on a lot of yummy-looking dishes because we’re vegetarians, we have to say that Thailand has the greatest variety of vegetarian street food that we have come across so far.

  2. MANGO STICKY RICEEE!!! A piece of heaven on earth! I’m on a mission to try and make it myself now that I’m home. And I also really liked those toast with coconut meringue – I couldn’t stop eating them when I was in Bangkok.

    1. Pauline – Mango and sticky rice is definitely one of our favorite Thai desserts, too – we had it every week in Chiang Mai’s Sunday night market… still thinking about it 🙂 Tried to make it once at home but it didn’t turn out very well. I’ll have to give it another try though…

      1. Aaah!! Really? What recipe did you go by? Hohohoho… I grew up in Indonesia and our nanny used to make that all the time. I thought it would be pretty easy to replicate – all she did was cook the sticky rice with coconut water. We’ll see. I’ll be sure to update you if it turns out well 🙂

  3. Food never really played a big part in my trip but I know for many people it does.

    People love treating themselves to Thai here in Sydney. Its the ascendant cuisine, from cuisine to fancy take away. I sometimes wonder if the popularity stems from returned travelers wanting to relive their holidays.

    I’m guessing the quality and affordability speaks for itself. But please don’t show off the superlow Thai prices too much. It’ll bum us out.

  4. I have just returned from seven weeks in Spain, Morocco and Portugal. I was trying to just settle here for a bit, but then I read this post and saw all your lovely photos of Thai Street Food. Oh well! Guess I had better start looking for cheap airfares!

    1. Haha! Seriously, of all the places we’ve been, thailand has THE best selection of street food. Plus, you don’t get Montezuma’s revenge or Delhi Belly like in other places!

  5. I miss all of this!! Well, except the bugs. I could do without the fried crickets and silk worms. 🙂 But the cheap pad thai and sticky buns and fresh fruit…. food in the U.S. just isn’t the same.

    1. Totally get that, Christy! I have a hankering for some Thai food right now (we’re in Arizona) and I can’t stomach the thought of paying $10 or more for a plate of Pad Thai! 🙂 plus I know there won’t be the extra little surprises / discoveries you get when you eat at Thai night markets!

  6. Wow, this looks delicious. I can’t wait to sample some of that when we are going to Thailand in October. The pancakes look gorgeous. Not sure about the creepy crawlies…:-)

    1. The food is so cheap, you can just graze the night away at any night market, it’s great. We honestly couldn’t eat the bugs (we’re veggies, that’s why…right? 🙂 ) but most people say they are just like eating crunchy, salty chips. Let us know if you actually do it!

  7. I have never been to Thailand and my husband is actually planning to have our second honeymoon there someday.. Anyway, this is a help for us..

    1. Hey DynaLou happy we could help! We’ve got some other posts on Thailand as well, so dig around for any other helpful hints or don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at info at globetrottergirls dot com. Hope you get to Thailand sometime soon, you’ll love it!

    1. Foreigners eat the crickets, grasshoppers and even the cockroaches (that last one is just so wrong, in my opinion!), but we’ve seen locals dig in to all kinds of these fried insects. Make sure to post pics, people LOVE to see other people eating these bugs. We just couldn’t make ourselves do it!

  8. It is so not fair of you make me look at all the pictures during my lunchtime. I would devour all of that, except for the bugs. Other than that, I’d be in heaven.

  9. I love the street food in Thailand! This post brings back wonderful memories of when my wife taught there for a year and all the lovely snacks I had there during that time.

  10. Khao Ka Mu: five spiced braised pork with sweet and spicy dipping sauce.

    Kanom Buang: What you referred to as coconut cream tacos.

    1. Alex – Kanom Buang, thanks so much for that! We had learned the name for these yummy crispy crepes but I couldn’t remember it.

    1. Dwight – thanks for explaining what the drying meat is 🙂 Most of the meat dishes are a mystery to us vegetarians 😀

  11. After seeing this, I have a feeling I might spend my first 48 hours in Thailand sampling as many vege snacks as possible! Thanks for the heads up on the pork disguised as tofu 🙂 I remember seeing quails eggs everwhere in Peru and never being tempted…maybe because they had the quails in a cage below and were then boiling the eggs above!

    1. OMG that is really terrible to make the quails sit under their eggs being boiled! It’s not like that in Thailand. The veggie food options are unparalleled here for sure!

  12. Okay, now I’m starving. We’re heading to Thailand next year, and I can’t wait to sample all these goodies! (Nicole is pickier, so we’ll see how she copes with fried silk worms…)

    1. Haha! jess, you’ll love the street food. And trust me, we are pretty picky, too, but the Thais just do everything right. Except the silk worms…but if you eat them, seriously, you have to remember to tell us all about it -with pictures. And video. 🙂

    2. I am way pickier than you, but surprisingly I’m a fan of street meat, so I think I’m going to love Thai markets. The majority of this looks delicious. I’ll skip the silk worms but will take the video of you eating them!

      1. We’d like to see that video 😀 Make sure to make her also try the other fried bugs.. there are so many really big ones that looked way scarier than the silk worms 😉

    1. Oh I didn’t know fruit was expensive in Korea, Audrey!! I hate when I have to pay much money for fruit – we’re huge fans of fresh fruit and if I don’t get my daily doses I get really crabby 😀

  13. Oh my! I might just go to Thailand for the food 🙂 I was kind of surprised to see quite a bit of pork. Somehow I guess I expected more vegetarian and chicken and maybe fish. I like pork, so that’s no a problem, but it just wasn’t what I expected.

    1. Hey Sabrina – yes, there is a ton of meat, actually. Pork all over, more than chicken. For us, the cool thing, is that they just ‘get’ veggie food. Nothing cooked in / with meat, so that when they say it’s vegetarian, it really is. But Thailand is surprisingly meat-eater-friendly as well! 🙂

  14. I’m living here on Koh Samui at the moment, and I am loving the street food here! It surprised me that there weren’t so many vegetarian options, but if you look hard enough you can usually find something to satisfy your palette!

    My favorite treat thus far has been the homemade coconut ice cream! They serve it in a half coconut with toppings like coconut meat, sprinkles, nuts, condensed milk…but plain is just perfect. Love reading about your travels 🙂

    1. Ha! Yes, the one thing that is almost always vegetarian is the sweets selection! 🙂 We found that the islands we much less veggie friendly than the mainland, and more in the north than the south. Have fun on Koh Samui!

  15. Thank you so much for this post! I was an exchange student in Thailand, and rely on posts like yours for my street food fix 🙂 And the photos were some of the best I’ve seen. My mouth was watering just looking at them. It looks like you guys had fun! I am headed back in a few months. I can hardly wait, but for now, I live vicariously through you 🙂

  16. This is the second eating-in-Thailand post I’ve seen today, and it’s reminding me that I really, really need to revisit that country for our site! Thanks; these are great pics.

    1. Oh, I hope you get to return to Thailand soon, Laura!! It’s one of our favorite foodie places in the world and we can’t wait to go back either 🙂

  17. I love this post and especially all the photos – most the food looks absolutely delicious with a couple of exceptions (silk worms and beatles) 🙂

    1. Thanks so much, Brenda! The food in Thailand is very delicious indeed, and even though we stayed away from the silk worms and other creepy crawlys- the people who try them don’t seem to mind them 😀

    1. We may have seen them, but I don’t think we realized what they were. It’s pretty amazing all the ‘food’ they sell in the markets 🙂

  18. well looks like you found alot more and better food! but quail eggs are good! really miss the food there.. and miss being in thailand! 7 weeks was not enough! lol

  19. Hilarious, but quite intelligent !! But I like the idea of following those two ladies pushing their carts to find way to the street food in Bangkok. Thailand is really a paradise for foodies. I love this place mainly due to its beaches, food and people.

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