Of all the things that attracts Thailand’s 39 million per-year visitors—the ornamented temples, tropical beaches, and friendly hospitality— the local gastronomy is perhaps the biggest draw for digital nomads in Thailand. Whether you’re working remotely from Phuket or Chiang Mai, Thailand has a plethora of food experiences that’ll meet every budget and dietary needs.
We chose four areas of Thailand and rounded up some of the best food experiences in those regions. From local food tours to Michelin star street food, you won’t want to miss these spots on your next trip to Thailand.
No trip to Bangkok is complete without eating the street food, and a visit to Jay Fei is a must. The restaurant is owned and operated by Michelin star chef Supinya Junsuta, a.k.a. the queen of street food, who operates the restaurant out of an alley and cooks all of the meals by herself. Using charcoal-fired stations in the alley, Junsuta stirs up wok-cooked seafood dishes, including crab omelets, stir-fried noodles, and seared shrimp. The cooking creates so much smoke and fire that Junsuta wears goggles and long-sleeves to protect herself from the heat. The tasty dishes and Junsuta’s wok-styled cooking are what attract the long line of customers, so we’d recommend making a reservation as walk-in wait times average between one and three hours.
Blue Elephant specializes in royal Thai cuisine and you can dine in to eat like a member of the royal family. Duck laab confit, pomelo prawn cakes, and blue swimmer crab coconut soup are all on the menu. You can also learn how to make traditional Thai dishes like som tum (papaya salad)—which tends to lean on the spicier side thanks to the bird’s eye chillis—and spins on curry dishes at one of Blue Elephant’s cooking classes.
Situated in Bangkok’s Phra Nakhon, Methavalai Sorndaeng has been offering and specializing in Thai cuisine and cooking techniques since the 1950s. On the menu: spicy lemongrass salad, crispy rice noodles, and acacia red curry, all delivering waves of flavor at this Michelin star restaurant. It offers a more upscale dining experience, and you can expect to find plated food on gold trimmed dinnerware and upholstered seats with ornamental carvings.
If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly foodie experience, check out Prachak. Since 1909, the restaurant has been perfecting its duck roasting technique. Once seated on a colorful, plastic stool, we recommend ordering Prachak’s signature roasted duck. It’s slightly crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, and is drenched in a savory and tangy sauce (make sure to order a side of rice so the sauce doesn’t go to waste). It’s no wonder that the restaurant draws a lunch crowd as early as 10 am.
A Chef’s Tour
Phuket is Thailand’s biggest island, sitting in the southern region on the Andaman sea. Just like Bangkok, Phuket has rich food experiences, so if you find yourself on this mountainous island, we’d recommend reserving four hours during an open weekend for an immersive culinary experience with A Chef’s Tour. On the four-hour tour, you’ll be guided by local guides Pema and Namtan, who will walk you through historic streets lined with street vendors, local markets, and under-the-radar eateries. In addition to sampling staple Thai dishes like kanom jeen—fermented rice noodles cooked in coconut curry, local vegetables, herbs, pickles, and spices—you’ll get to taste beef curry, samosas, and chickpea-based dishes from Burmese and Indian restaurants. Don’t forget to save room for dessert: red bean-filled pastries, shaved ice, and sweet roti.
Laem Hin’s Seafood Restaurant
After work, head to Laem Hin’s Seafood Restaurant. It’s beloved by locals and for good reason—the restaurant serves up fresh and delicious seafood dishes prepared by top chefs along the beach. Recommended dishes include fried sea bass, black crab, shrimp cakes, and coconut soup filled with clams, prawns, and chili paste. Since the space seats 500 people, it’s perfect for larger parties.
Phuket Coffee Lab
For coffee aficionados, remote workers, or long-time dwellers, check out the Phuket Coffee Lab. A ten-minute drive from Surin Beach, the shop offers free WiFi, drip coffees, chocolate mochas, espressos, and a myriad of breakfast options (egg toast, sandwiches, and pastries) to help you get through the workday. But, cold brews aren’t the only thing that the lab offers. For 3,500 baht (roughly $93 USD), you can take a barista or latte art course. You’ll learn how coffee is processed and cultivated, how to pour single and double-shot espressos, and how to create fun latte art.
Khaomao-Khofang Imaginary Jungle
Khaomao-Khofang Imaginary Jungle, a Thai restaurant in the Hang Dong District, takes inspiration from Chiang Mai’s nature scene. You’ll have the option to dine in by the lake or chomp on fish cakes and pineapple fried rice near the waterfall. The ambiance alone is a good reason to visit.
For afternoon tea, delight your taste buds at Nakara Jardin. Nestled in a shaded, French style garden on the Ping River, Nakara Jardin is the place to come if you’re craving French desserts, afternoon tea, or a savory lunch. Chef Pomme, who trained at Le Cordon Bleu in Bangkok, is known for whipping up his famous mango mousse cake and recipe guarded scones with housemade strawberry jam.
Ohkahju’s Organic Farm Sansai
Dining-wise, don’t forget to hit up Ohkajhu’s Organic Farm Sansai. It’s a laid-back, farm-to-table dining experience, featuring pasta, organic salads, and grilled meats. Plus, most of the salad ingredients are grown on site, and you can tour the outdoor garden to get some fresh air while you wait for your meal.
One of the four major cities in Isaan, Khon Kaen is located in the northeastern region, 357 miles away from Bangkok. In addition to the city’s aesthetic cafes and close proximity to national parks, Khon Kaen is known for its night markets. On a Saturday night, pop over to Khon Kaen’s Walking Street Market in Tambon Nai Mueang for an affordable bite. There, you’ll find street vendors selling meat sticks, fried squid, and egg rolls.
To catch some live music, head to Ton Tann’s Market, which offers a wide array of cuisines, ranging from Japanese food to vegetarian options. Locals and Khon Kaen University (KKU) students flock to Flea Market KKU, and the fair is another great option for fried chicken, pad thai, sweet treats, and fruity drinks.
Sri Brown Cafe
When in Khon Kaen, you can’t miss an opportunity to indulge in some honey toast, a thick toast with a honey-coated exterior that’s piled with toppings like ice cream, whip cream, and seasonal fruits, and Sri Brown Cafe is a province-favorite. Folks with sweet tooths will love this shop for its delectable coffees, lattes, crepe cakes, and fruit tarts. The interior is decorated with vintage furniture and foliage, and Sri Brown also has WiFi, making it an ideal place to indulge in some sweets and catch up on work.
Kayla Hui is a freelance travel and food writer with roots in Chicago and New York.
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