The most important tip I can give you on Thailand  local food, and the only one that will make you elevate from being a tourist to becoming a real traveler immersed in the local culture, is “Stay away from McDonalds“. When visiting Thailand, there is awesome local food to try. Head to the local eateries too, and go where the locals go. For me, the food, wine and even the water is part of the travel experience.

What to Eat in Thailand

The food alone is really reason enough for a trip to Thailand. Curries, fruit shakes, stir fries, fresh fish made a zillion ways – and that’s just the beginning. Food in Thailand can be as cheap and easy as 25 baht pad thai (Thai fried noodles) cooked at a street stall or as expensive and complicated as a $100 ten-course meal by a royal chef served in one of Bangkok’s 5 star hotels. Since most backpackers will be sticking closer to the first than the second, one of the great things about Thailand is that food from stalls and tiny sidewalk restaurants is usually quite safe.

Thai foods photo

Photo by hans s

Unlike some Asian countries, travelers should worry more about overeating or too much curry spice than about unclean kitchens and bad food. In fact, street restaurants, where you can see what you’ll get and everything is cooked on the spot can be a safe option.

Etiquette Thai food is most commonly eaten with fork and spoon. Hold the spoon in your right hand and use it to eat, and reserve the fork for piling food onto your spoon. Chopsticks are only employed for noodle soups and East Asian-style dishes.

Thai food is meant for sharing. Everybody gets their own plate of rice and tiny soup bowl, but all the other dishes are laid out in the center of the table and you’re free to eat what you wish. Though some people believe that taking the last piece from a shared plate is considered slightly unlucky, and you may hear people make wishes for others to compensate for their own misfortune — a popular wish is that “may my girl/boyfriend be beautiful”!

Food is also generally brought out a dish at a time as it is prepared. It is not expected for diners to wait until all meals are brought out before they start eating as is polite in western culture. Instead they should tuck into the nearest meal as it arrives.Thai cuisine Thai cuisine is characterized by balance and strong flavors, especially lime juice, lemon grass and fresh coriander, the combination of which gives Thai food its distinctive taste. In addition, Thai food has a deserved reputation for being spicy, with hot little torpedo-shaped chillies called phrik khii nuu , lit. “mouse shit chillies”) making their way into many a dish.

Thais are well aware that these can be more than Westerners can handle and will often ask if you like it hot  phet); answer “yes” at your own risk! Thai dishes can be roughly categorized into central Thai food (around Bangkok), northern Thai food (from the northern region around Chiang Mai, with Burmese and Chinese influence), north-eastern Thai food (from the Isaan region bordering with Laos) and southern Thai food (with heavy influences from Malaysia). The following list covers some better-known dishes; see Isaan for Isaan food, which is widely available throughout the country.

Rice The Thai staple food is rice  khao), so much so that in Thai eating a meal, kin khao, literally means “eat rice”. Khao suai  or “beautiful rice” is the plain white steamed rice that serves as the base of almost every meal. Khao phat  is simple fried rice, usually with some pork (muu) or chicken (kai) mixed in. Khao tom  is a salty and watery rice porridge served with condiments, quite popular at breakfast. Khao niao  or “sticky rice” is glutinous rice – usually eaten dry, traditionally by hand, with grilled/fried pork or chicken or beef. It is especially popular (more than plain rice) in North-Eastern (Isan) and Northern provinces, but is widely available throughout the country, especially in places specializing on Isan or Lao cuisine. Khao Chae is a croquette. Polished rice soaked with cold water. Which is often a barracuda. Then eat with rice variety.

Noodles Kuay tiao phat sii-u kai, or fried giant rice noodles with soy sauce and chicken Thais are great noodle eaters. The most common kind is rice noodles, served angel-hair  sen mii), small  sen lek) and large  sen yai), but egg noodles  ba mii), Chinese-style stuffed wonton ravioli  kio) and glass noodles made from mung beans  wun sen) are also popular.

Unlike other Thai foods, noodles are usually eaten with chopsticks. They are also usually served with a rack of four condiments, namely dried red chillies , fish sauce, vinegar and sugar which diners can add to their own taste. Phad Thai , literally “Thai stir-fry”, means thin rice noodles fried in a tamarind-based sauce. Ubiquitous, cheap and often excellent – and as an added bonus, it’s usually chili-free (you can add yourself, however, or ask to do if buying of the street – but be warned, it is often really hot).

Can be made vegetarian, with shrimp, pork, or chicken. Ba mii muu daeng  yellow egg noodles with slices of red (barbecued) pork. Guay dtiao ruea  is a rice noodle soup with a fiery pork blood stock and an assortment of offal. An acquired taste, but an addictive one. “Kanom Jeen”  can be divided into two types – famentation flour and newly-milk flour – In each region of Thailand has different eating depend on local. The big festival of Kanom Jeen will be on March every year district Thug Song at Nakon Sri Thammarat.

Soups and curries The line between soups  tom, literally just “boiled”) and curries  kaeng) is a little fuzzy, and many dishes the Thais call curries would be soups to an Indian. A plate of rice with a ladleful of a curry or two on top, known as khao kaeng , is a very popular quick meal if eating alone. Tom yam goong  is the quintessential Thai dish, a spicy, sour soup with prawns, lemongrass and galangal. The real thing is quite spicy, but toned-down versions are often available on request.

Tom kha gai  is the Thai version of chicken soup in a rich galangal-flavored coconut stock, with mushrooms and not a few chillies. Gaeng ped , “red curry”) this coconut-based red curry dish can be spicy. Red curry with roast duck (kaeng phet Bped yaang  is particularly tasty. Gaeng kheow-waan , sweet green curry, is a coconut-based curry with strong accents of lemongrass and kaffir lime. Usually milder than the red variety. Gaeng som , orange curry, is more like tamarind soup than curry, usually served with pieces of herb omelette in the soup. Mains Thais like their mains fried  thot or  phat) or grilled (yaang) .

Fish, in particular, is often deep-fried until the meat turns brown and crispy. Ka-phrao kai , literally “basil chicken” is a simple but intensely fragrant stir-fry made from peppery holy basil leaves, chillies and chicken. Salads A classic Isaan meal: som tam papaya salad, larb meat salad and sticky rice About the only thing Thai salads  yam) have in common with the Western variety is that they are both based on raw vegetables. A uniquely Thai flavor is achieved by drowning the ingredients in fish sauce, lime juice and chillies – the end result can be very spicy indeed! Som tam , a salad made from shredded and pounded raw papaya is often considered a classic Thai dish, but it actually originates from neighboring Laos.

However, the Thai version is less sour and more sweet than the original, with peanuts and dried shrimp mixed in. Yam ponlamai  is Thai-style fruit salad, meaning that instead of canned maraschino cherries it has fresh fruit topped with oodles of fish sauce and chillies. Yam som-o  is an unusual salad made from pomelo (a mutant version of grapefruit) and anything else on hand, often including chicken or dried shrimp. Yam wunsen  is perhaps the most common yam, with glass noodles and shrimp. Yum Tua Poo  is a mellow mix of pork and shrimp. Of Winged Bean and crunchy sweet-sour flavor.

The taste is a little spicy, exotic food. Dessert Thais don’t usually eat “dessert” in the Western after-meal sense, although you may get a few slices of fresh fruit  ponlamai) for free at fancier places, but they certainly have a finely honed sweet tooth. Khanom  covers a vast range of cookies, biscuits, chips and anything else snackable, and piles of the stuff can be found in any Thai office after lunch. One common variety called khanom khrok  is worth a special mention: these are little lens-shaped pancakes of rice flour and coconut milk, freshly cooked and served by street vendors everywhere during the morning hours, but after that you might probably find it a bit difficult to find.

Khao niao ma-muang  means “sticky rice with mango”, and that’s what you get, sweetened sticky rice and ripe mango with some coconut milk drizzled on top. Filling and delicious and an excellent way to cool the palate after a spicey Thai dish! Alternatively, for the more adventurous type, an equally popular dish is Khao niao tu-rean in which you get durian instead of mango with your sticky rice. Waan yen , literally “sweet cold”, consists of a pile of ingredients of your choice (including things like sweet corn and kidney beans) topped with syrup, coconut cream and a pile of ice, and is great for cooling down on a hot day or after a searing curry.

Thai foods photo

Photo by BrownGuacamole

Thong yib Thong Yib , is originally Portuguese dessert. It was introduced to Thais a few hundred years ago by Marie Guimar de Pinha . Thong Yib literally means “pinched gold”. It is made from egg yolks, its bound is pinched to star-shaped. One piece of Thong Yib is bite-sized, served in a tiny cup. Thong Yib is sold in typical markets in the morning.

A pack of 6-8 pieces is around 20-25 baht. Travellers can also find these in other Thai dessert shops. For example, Mae U-Dom , this is a famous Thai dessert shop, open daily from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mae U-Dom located on Din-sor  pencil) road, near Satri wittaya School  and the Democracy Monument. Another shop is Ma-li-wan , open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is located on Soi Arie 1  1), not far from Arie BTS station. Thong Yod  means “gold drop” and its shape is like a drop.

It is Portuguese sweet like Thong Yib . Rice flour is mixed with egg yolk, this is the difference of Thong Yod from Thong Yib that has no flour. Thong Yod is usually sold with Thong Yib. A pack of 10-15 pieces is priced around 20-25 baht. It also be sold at Mae U-Dom  and Ma-li-wan . Foy Thong  means “gold fibre”. It is egg-based Portuguese sweet too.

It is made from yolks mixed with egg-dew (the light egg white that remains in the egg shell). It is like fibre because the stirred mixture is poured through a pastry cone into hot syrup. When it is long enough, it will be folded to a fold. A pack of 3-4 folds is priced around 30 baht. It is usually sold by the same vendors who sell Thong Yib and Thong Yod. Mae U-Dom  and Ma-li-wan  also sell this.Thong muan  is a kind pocket Thailand is a circular loop coil looks crisp. In Thailand, there are many varieties of desserts. Most Thai people like to eat desserts that are made from coconut milk. Khao lam  means “Bamboo sticky rice” which is a sticky rice (white or black) with sweetened coconut milk, which may include taro or black bean, and stuffed into bamboo sticks. Bua loy kai-wan  means “Dumplings in coconut cream with egg”.

Dumpling balls in coconut cream with egg is found everywhere in Thailand and it also is a popular dessert. This dessert is often enjoyed in the evening. The dumpling balls are made from flour, water and coloured water. Dumpling balls in coconut cream with egg can also be found in colours such as green, purple, blue, yellow, pink, white and so on. Each colour is made from flowers and vegetables. The ingredients of this dessert contains eggs, coconut milk, taro, corn, and colourful dumpling balls. Most Thai people loves these because it is a hot coconut cream soup with dumpling balls and eggs and tastes sweet and creamy. Kluay buat-chi  means “Banana in coconut milk”.

Banana in coconut milk are easy to buy and cook. The taste is creamy, sweet and silky. The ingredients are cheap and contains bananas, coconut milk, some salt and sugar. Most Thai people like to cook this dessert because of the affordable ingredients and the dish is easy to make. However, banana in coconut milk are easy to find in the supermarket and other shops. Tubtim Krob  “Water Chestnut with Syrup and Coconut Milk”. A tasty and refreshing when dish when served with ice. It is very popular in the summer time and can be found in the markets. Khanom Thai- usually made of starch, sugar and coconut milk.

In the early time, Knanom Thai were only made on special occasions, like wedding days and Songkran day, because of the considerable amount of time and people required in order to make a perfect Khanom Thai. Moreover, Thais believe that the names and the shapes of Khanom Thai will bring good luck to those who consume it. Rook choob- is one of the most popular Thai’s desserts. Most people like this dessert because it is colourful due to people often made it into fruits’s shapes. Moreover, Rook choob is made into a bite size, so it easy to eat. A main ingredient of this dessert is green bean that are already crushed. It is provided a good odor from the natural colours such as Bai toey (green), Aun chun (blue) and etc. While chewing it, you will not only get a soft sweet taste from soybean and coconut milk but also a good odor from aroma candle’s smoke. If you eat rook choob with hot tea for a break snack, you would feel relaxing.

You can find this dessert with a cheap price in both of local markets and food shops. Ka noom sord sai- is a one of the meticulous Thais desserts because it has many steps to make. It consists a lot of ingredients which are sticky rice, flour, coconut and etc. The dessert has a sweet taste from coconut and palm sugar and a wonderful smell from aroma candles smoke. It is not only provided delicious taste but also nutritional values which are carbohydrate and fat. This dessert is cheap and easy to find due to available ingredients and packaged.

Furthermore, it is packed with a Thais folk wisdom style. It has a special package, which is banana leaf and small bamboo pin in order to over it. The banana leaf will keep the smell and fresh of the dessert. Foreigners should taste this dessert because the taste and package are different from the western’ dessert. Kaow tom mud is another dessert that popular in Thai people. It is consisted many ingredients such as sticky rice, black bean, banana, coconut and etc. This dessert is provided a lot of valuable nutritions which are carbohydrate and vitamin B1, B2 from banana.

Foreigners can find this dessert in any local markets with a cheap price. It should be eaten while it is hot because the sticky rice will give you a soft taste and the good smell from banana. This dessert pack with banana leaf, which is represented a Thai’s traditional. It should be eat as a snack during the break time. Vegetarian food Vegetarians won’t have too many problems surviving in Thailand, with one significant exception: fish sauce  naam plaa) is to Thai cuisine what soy sauce is to Chinese food, and keeping it out of soups, curries and stir-fries will be a challenge. That said, Thailand is a Buddhist country and vegetarianism is a fairly well-understood concept, especially among Chinese Thais (many of whom eat only vegetarian food during several festivals).

Tofu is a traditional Thai ingredient and they aren’t afraid to mix it up in some non traditional dishes such as omelettes (with or without eggs), submarine sandwiches, and burritos. Since Thai dishes are usually made to order, it’s easy to ask for anything on the menu to be made without meat or fish. Bangkok features several fantastic veggie and vegan restaurants, but outside of big cities make sure to check that your idea of “veggie” matches the chef’s. Some key phrases for vegetarians: gin jay  “(I) eat (only) vegetarian food” karunaa mai sai naam plaa  “Please don’t use fish sauce” karunaa mai sai pong chu roht  “Please don’t use MSG” Restaurant chains Thailand has a large number of indigenous restaurant chains offering much the same fare as your average street stall, but with the added advantages of air conditioning, printed menus (often in English) and some semblance of hygiene.

All the chains are heavily concentrated in Bangkok, but larger cities and popular tourist spots may have an outlet or two. MK and Coca are near-ubiquitous chains specializing in what the Thais call suki, perhaps better known as “hotpot” or “steamboat”. A cauldron boils in the middle of your table, you buy ingredients (40-80 baht a pop) and brew your own soup. The longer you spend, the better it tastes, and the bigger the group you’re with, the more fun this is! S&P [25] outlets are a bakery, a café and a restaurant all rolled into one, but their menu’s a lot larger than you’d expect: it has all the Thai mainstays you can think of and then some, and most all of it is good. Portions are generally rather small, with prices mostly in the100-300 baht range.

Yum Saap (signs in Thai; look for the big yellow smiley logo) is known for their Thai-style salads (yam), but they offer all the usual suspects as well. Quite cheap with mains around 50-150 baht. Kuaytiew Ruea Siam (signs in Thai; look for the boat-shaped decor and hungry red pig logo) does dirt-cheap noodles with prices starting about 40B. Portions aren’t too generous, but at that price you can get two! No concessions to English speakers in menu or taste, so point & choose from the pictures and watch out for the spicier soups.

Fuji [26] and Zen specialize in surprisingly passable Japanese food at very cheap prices (at least compared to Japanese restaurants almost anywhere else); rice/noodle mains are less than 100 baht, and you can stuff yourself full of sushi for less than 500 baht. And yes, you can find the usual McDonalds, KFC, Pizza Hut, Komalas etc if you insist. If you do end up at McD’s, at least try the un-Maclike fried chicken with McSomTam (green papaya salad). For those craving American-style pizza, try the ubiquitous The Pizza Company, which is a less expensive and (arguably) tastier local chain.

What to Drink in Thailand

Tap water is usually not drinkable in Thailand outside of Bangkok. In many places in Bangkok however, particularly in new buildings, drinking tap water is perfectly safe. However, if you don’t want to chance it, buying a bottle of water is the obvious solution. Bottled water  naam plao) is cheap and ubiquitous at 5-20 baht a bottle depending on its size and brand, and drinking water served in restaurants is always at least boiled  naam tom). Ice  naam khaeng) in Thailand usually comes packaged straight from the factory and is safe; there is only reason to worry if you are served hand-cut ice.

You can buy a large package of ice in most 7-11s for 7 baht, too. Mainly in residential areas, machines dispensing water into your own bottle (1 baht or 50 satang /liter are often available. This is a clean (the water is cleaned and UV-treated on the spot) and extremely cheap option, also, this way you’ll avoid making unnecessary plastic waste from empty bottles. These machines are widely available streetside in Chiang Mai. Iced drinks Coconut water  naam ma-phrao), iced and drunk directly from a fresh coconut is a cheap and healthy way to cool the body. Available at restaurants and also from vendors that specialize in fruit juice.

Fruit juices, freezes, and milkshakes of all kinds are very popular with Thais and visitors alike. Most cafés and restaurants charge 20-40 baht, but a bottle of freshly squeezed Thai sweet orange juice  naam som)- which really is orange in colour! – can be sold on the street for 15-30 baht. Thais often add salt to their fruit juices– an acquired taste that you might just learn to like.

Thai drinks photo

Photo by Stephane <3

Thais also like to have basil seeds in their iced fruit juice sold on the road – which looks like small jelly balls down of the bottle. Tea and coffee One of Thailand’s most characteristic drinks is Thai iced tea  chaa yen, lit. “cold tea”). Instantly identifiable thanks to its lurid orange colour, this is the side effect of adding ground tamarind seed (or, these days, artificial colour) during the curing process.

The iced tea is always very strong and very sweet, and usually served with a dash of condensed milk; ask for chaa dam yen to skip the milk. There is also Lemon tea  chaa ma naow) which is also strong and sweet. Naam chaa is a loose term for plain tea without milk and sugar, being it black, Chinese or even green tea in some specific context. Though mostly it’ll refer to Chinese tea, asking for Naam chaa can give you any of these depending on what the restaurant serves.

To ask for any of those specifically, chaa jiin is literally Chinese tea which is often served in restaurants for free, Western-style black tea is called chaa farang  – lit. “Western/westerners tea”) and chaa khiao is green tea, literally. However, green tea is not so common in Thailand, in a sense.

Ordering green tea outside of a Japanese style restaurant will most likely give you a sweet bottled green tea or sweet instant green tea which can be quite different from what you might expect. And if you happen to know that Dam means black in Thai, imitating the word structure of green tea hence asking for chaa dam will likely give you the cha dam yen mentioned above instead. Coffee  kaafae) is also widely available, and is usually served with condensed milk and lots of sugar. Ask for kaafae thung to get traditional filtered “bag” coffee instead of instant.

Two terms used widely and can be found in most local stalls and street restaurants drinks menu are O liang  and O yua  are borrowed words from Teochew Chinese dialect for iced and hot black kaafae thung respectively; both are very sweet though. Unlike tea, asking for kaafae dam will give you a black coffee but a lot of sugar is not uncommon.

The Starbucks phenomenon has also arrived in Thailand, but for the moment local competitors Black Canyon Coffee and S&P still have the edge in marketshare. These are the places to look for if you want that triple-moccha latte with hazelnut swirl and are willing to pay 75 baht for the privilege. Black Canyon Coffee is Thailand’s home-brewed Starbucks, but while coffee is their mainstay they also offer a limited meal menu. Try the chaa yen (lurid orange Thai iced tea with milk).

Herbal juice Herbal juice is characteristic of Thai drinks. It makes from herbs in nature and it is folkways drinks of Thailand people as well. They call healthy drinks; they often drink herbal juice with ice. Basic process is squashing the herbal, it will give herbal juice. Also, herbal water has benefits to the body such that it can help you refreshed when you feel thirsty as well as it can help you to healthy such that it nurtures the skin ,nurtures the blood system and nurtures eyesight etc.

Herbal drinks as the follows: Roselle juice  naam gra jee yeb): is red and usually sweetened (though can be ordered without sugar  mai waan lit. not sweet) in which case it is a little sour). It has benefit to the body such as it gives high vitamin A, nurtures eyesight, gives calcium to help maintain healthy bones and improves wound healing. You can buy on herbal juice shop, Thai restaurant and street of Chinatown at least 15 baht. Most restaurants charge 20-50 baht. Lemon grass water : it’s green and the flavour is rather bitter sweet. It’s a very useful medicinal juice as it helps alleviate indigestion, helps in reducing fevers, helps reduce blood pressure, and helps improve the skin by reducing acne and pimple.

You can buy on street of Chinatown and herbal juice shop in the price around 15-30 baht Bael water : it’s brown and rather sweet. It helps to body refreshed, coating on the stomach and helps in the healing of ulcers. You can buy on herbal juice shop, on street of Chinatown and Thai restaurant in the price around 15-50 baht. Gotu kola water  naam bai bua bok) : is the herbal that has cooling effect within a body.

Some seller may add sugar for the better taste. Gotu kola has many properties e.g. decrease acne, cure bruised inside,maintain the brain, support blood flow. Passion fruit water  naam sao wa rods ) : this drink has a good taste, little sour and sweet. If drink it when it cool that can make you refresh. Moreover it can help about healthy. For example, easier to sleep, be old slowly, maintain gum, teeth, ability of seeing, hair because it rich of many vitamins. Pomegranate Juice  naam tub tim) it’s colour may look terrible because it’s red but the taste is good.If drink it every day it will be long-term affects that is you will have a healthy skin, antioxidant, Diabetes treatment, prevention of scurvy.

You always meet it on the street side at china town. The price of it about 20 bath/bottle. Butterfly Pea water  naam aun chaan) this drink is violet in colour and has many benefits e.g. antioxidant, increase energy, increase rate of blood flowing, Diabetes treatment. The seller usually mix it with honey or lemon to make better taste. Energy drinks Thailand is the original home of the Red Bull brand energy drink – a licensed and re-branded version of Thailand’s original Krathing Daeng , “Red Bull”), complete with the familiar logo of two bulls charging at each other.

The Thai version, however, is syrupy sweet, uncarbonated and comes packaged in medicinal-looking brown glass bottles, as the target customers are not trendy clubbers, but Thailand’s working class of construction workers and bus drivers in need of a pick-me-up. And a pick-me-up it most certainly is; the caffeine content is higher even than Western-style Red Bull, and packs a punch equivalent to two or three shots of espresso coffee. Krathing Daeng and its many competitors (including M150, Shark, .357 and the inevitable Karabao Daeng, “Red Buffalo”) are available in any convenience store for 10 baht a pop, although in some places you can now buy imported European Red Bull for five times the price. Alcohol Drinking alcohol in Thailand, especially if you like Western tipples, is actually comparatively expensive – but still very affordable by Western standards.

Note that retail sales of alcohol in supermarkets, convenience stores etc are banned between midnight and 11:00 and, more bizarrely, 14:00-17:00. Restaurants and bars are not affected, and smaller, non-chain stores are often willing to ignore the rules. However in certain circumstances these rules are relaxed for alcohol purchases above a particular quantity. For example if you purchase 5 liters of wine during the restricted period, then the purchase will not be allowed, however if you were to purchase say 10 liters of wine in the same period then this would be permitted.

There are also occasional days throughout the year when alcohol can’t be sold anywhere – even the smaller mom & pop shops normally adhere to the rules on these days, and most bars and pubs do too (although you can probably find a beer somewhere if you’re desperate enough). Up-market hotel bars and restaurants are probably the only places that are realistically likely to be exempt.

Religious holidays and elections are normally the reason for these restrictions. Whisky The misnamed Thai whisky (lao) refers to a number of liquors. The best known are the infamous Mae Khong  “Mekong”) brand and its competitor, the sweeter Saeng Som (“Sangsom”), which are both brewed primarily from sugarcane and thus technically rum.

Indeed, the only resemblances to whisky are the brown tinge and high alcohol content, and indeed many people liken the smell to nail polish remover, but the taste is not quite as bad, especially when diluted with cola or tonic water. This is also by far the cheapest way to get blotto, as a pocket flask of the stuff (available in any convenience store or supermarket) costs only around 50 baht.

The “real” Thai whisky is lao khao  “white liquor”), which is distilled from rice. While commercial versions are available, it’s mostly distilled at home as moonshine, in which case it also goes by the name lao theuan (“jungle liquor”). White liquor with herbs added for flavor and medical effect is called ya dong . Strictly speaking, both are illegal, but nobody seems to mind very much — especially when hilltribe trekking in the North you’re likely to be invited to sample some, and it’s polite to at least take a sip. Rice wine Thai rice wine  sato) is actually a beer brewed from glutinous rice, and thus a spiritual cousin of Japanese sake. While traditionally associated with Isaan, it’s now sold nationwide under the brand Siam Sato, available in any 7-11 at 25 baht for a 0.65L bottle.

At 8% alcohol, it’s cheap and potent, but you may regret it the next morning! The original style of brewing and serving sato is in earthenware jars called hai, hence the drink’s other name lao hai . These are served by breaking the seal on the jar, adding water, and drinking immediately with either glasses or, traditionally, with a straw directly from the pot. Beer Western-style beer  bia) is a bit of an upmarket drink in Thailand, with the price of a small bottle hovering between 50 and 100 baht in most pubs, bars and restaurants.

Thais like their lagers with relatively high alcohol content (around 6%), as it is designed to be drunk with ice, so the beer in Thailand may pack more of a punch than you are used to. However, if you are an experienced drinker from Western Europe, namely Belgium or part of Germany, you will find it similar to your local tastes. Local brews: For many years the only locally brewed beer was Singha (pronounced just Sing) but it has lost market to cheaper and stronger Chang.

Both Singha and Chang beer are fairly strong (Chang being 6.0% now as at 2014-was 6.4% , and Singha 5%), but for those who prefer something a bit lighter, both local brands have introduced low-alcohol versions of their beers. Singha Light comes in at 3.5%, Chang Draught is 5% and Chang Light is 4.2%. There is also now a Chang Export brand at 5%. Both are strong in alcohol percentage, gives a little spicy taste (for Europeans, you can refer them to Leffe or Duvel) rather than blended smoothness of German beers (Erdinger or Paulaner). Chang has a reputation for having an inconsistent alcohol content, where sometimes a few Chang beers can be more potent than expected.

There are also some cheaper local beers. Singha Brewing launched the lower priced Leo brand to compete more effectively with Chang (very popular among locals and expats) and Archa (cheapest, but the taste is not as nice, it’s not sold in the bars often, but is available in almost any 7-11) being among the most popular. Leo and Archa are both 5%, and Archa is the cheapest of all in the 711. Premium brands: The two most popular premium brands are Heineken and Tiger, but San Miguel, Federbrau and other Asian beers such as the Japanese Asahi are also fairly commonplace.

The premium beers tend to be a bit weaker than the full-strength local beers, and are about 10-20% more expensive. Imported beers: Most upmarket pubs in touristy areas will have at least a couple of imported beers available along with the usual local brands, either on draught, in bottles or both. Belgian and German beers can often be found, as well as Irish stouts and ales such as Guinness, British bitters such as John Smiths and the light Mexican beer Corona is gaining in popularity. Regional favourite Beerlao has also started to make an appearance in bars and pubs around the country.

All imported beers (with the exception of Beerlao) are very expensive though, being about twice the price of locally sourced beers. Other non-beers: The usual range of “alcopops” is available in Thailand, with Bacardi Breezer enjoying the lion’s share of the market. Spy wine cooler (of about 10 varieties) is also popular. Cider is harder to find, although some pubs have started to stock Magners and Bulmers. ‘Imported drinks’ Imported liquors, wines and beers are widely available but prohibitively priced for the average Thai. A shot of any brand-name liquor is at least 100 baht, a pint of Guinness will set you back at least 200 baht and, thanks to an inexplicable 340% tax, even the cheapest bottle of wine will set you back over 500 baht. Note that, in cheaper bars (especially the go-go kind), the content of that familiar bottle of Jack Daniels may be something entirely different.

Other local foods, or drinks that you recommend Please add and comment.