Best Thai food for kids and picky eaters
Best Thai food for beginners
Best vegetarian Thai dishes
The spiciest Thai Food
Best Thai seafood
The 10 most popular Thai dishes are:
1. Som Tum
Without a doubt, Som Tum is the most popular Thai dish, which is also known as Papaya Salad. Thai people seriously can eat this three times a day. This spicy and sour salad made with unripe papaya originates from the Isaan region, which is home to many popular Thai dishes. There are many versions of Som Tum, but when you never tried Som Tam before, we recommend you try Som Tum Thai. Som Tum Thai is the most basic version of Som Tum, as other Som Tum versions can have all sorts of unusual ingredients such as fermented fish and a century egg.
Som Tum is made freshly in a mortar and because of this, you can decide for yourself how spicy you want to have your papaya salad. Usually, one small chilli is enough to make a foreigner sweat, but if you can’t handle any spiciness, just order the salad without any chilli. Som Tum Thai is made with raw papaya, tomatoes, dried prawns and roasted peanuts and flavoured with chilli, fish sauce, lime juice and garlic. In our article about the best Som Tum in Bangkok, you can find all sorts of variations of Som Tum. Eating Som Tum with roasted meat such as Kai Yang (roasted chicken) is an absolutely heavenly combination. With a bit of searching, you can find places like SP Chicken, which is a popular local eatery in Chiang Mai, in most large cities. Do yourself a favour and visit these places!
One of the most popular Thai dishes: Som Tam, also known as Papaya Salad
Recommended places to try Som Tum:
- Somtum Sukunya (Ayutthaya)
- Lao Garden (Bangkok)
- Som Tum Der (Bangkok)
- SP Chicken (Chiang Mai)
- Cherng Doi Roast Chicken (Chiang Mai)
- Lab Ubon Pattaya Thai (Pattaya)
- Yok Yor (Koh Larn)
2. Pad Kra Pao
Pad Kra Pao is yet another popular Thai dish that’s been eaten by both Thai as foreigners almost on a daily basis. Pad Kra Pao, or Stir-Fry with Holy Basil, is a spicy Thai dish that’s made within minutes with a wok over a flaming hot stove. Because of this, and the heartiness of this popular Thai dish itself, it’s considered Thai fast food.
There are several versions of Pad Kra Pao available, of which minced beef, minced pork or chunks of chicken are the most popular. The meat is flavoured with chillies, garlic, oyster sauce, fish sauce, soy sauce, sugar and most importantly, a handful of holy basil leaves. The stir-fry is served with steamed rice and finished with a Thai fried egg (sunny side up, crisply-fried on the other side). You can find this popular Thai dish, like many recommended Thai dishes in this article, basically in every Thai restaurant. If you are planning to visit Bangkok, make sure to visit one of the restaurants listed in our article about the best Pad Kra Pao in Bangkok.
One of the most popular Thai dishes: Pad Kra Pao.
Recommended places to try Pad Kra Pao:
- Phed Mark (Bangkok)
- 55 Pochana (Bangkok)
- HereHai (Bangkok)
- Mays (Pattaya)
- Sweet Rice Cafe (Sukhothai)
3. Tom Yum Goong
Tom Yum Goong is one of my personal favourite Thai dishes. This spicy and sour soup is exactly what Thai cuisine stands for. Spices such as galangal, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves guarantee you will have a taste explosion in your mouth. The most popular version of Tom Yum is Tom Yum Goong, which is a version with prawns. You can find pretty spectacular creations with huge prawns throughout the country. Before we jump to recommendations, it is good to know that there are two versions of Tom Yum itself, namely Tom Yum Nam Khon and Tom Yum Nam Sai. Tom Yum Nam Khon is the creamy (and often lesser-spicy) version, which is the popular version among foreigners. Have a look at our article about the best Tom Yum in Bangkok to find more about this popular Thai dish.
One of the most popular Thai dishes: Tom Yum Goong
Recommended places to try Tom Yum Goong:
- Somtum Sukunya (Ayutthaya)
- Pe Aor (Bangkok)
- Tom Yum Goong Banglamphu (Bangkok)
- The HOUSE by Ginger (Chiang Mai)
- Pakorn's Kitchen (Chiang Mai)
- The Glass House (Pattaya)
- Suttangrak (Pattaya)
4. Khao Soi
Ask those who travelled in Thailand their favourite dish and many of them will answer that question with Khao Soi. This popular Thai dish is one of the favourites for many foreigners, but Thai also like to enjoy a bowl of Khao Soi every now and then. Khao Soi is a typical Northern Thai curry and the best place to eat Khao Soi is Chiang Mai, although you can find Khao Soi elsewhere in Thailand at Northern Thai restaurants. As Khao Soi has Muslim roots, the curry has many different flavours compared to typical Thai curries such as Red Curry and Green Curry. Khao Soi is also not that spicy but can be better described as fragrant. In the bowl of curry, you find rice noodles, but the curry is also topped with crispy fried noodles. Most of the time, Khao Soi is served with a chicken leg or with beef, with a few exceptions here and there. You can add some shallot, pickled greens and chilli according to your flavour, the equivalent to salt and pepper in Western cuisine. When visiting Chiang Mai, make sure to have a look at our article about the best Khao Soi in Chiang Mai.
One of the most popular Thai dishes: Khao Soi
Recommended places to try Khao Soi:
- Daradalay (Bangkok)
- Hann Khao Soi Lovers (Bangkok)
- Ginger Farm Kitchen (Bangkok & Chiang Mai)
- Khao Soi Maesai (Chiang Mai)
- Khao Soi Khun-Jay (Chiang Mai)
5. Pad Thai
Pad Thai is without a doubt one of the most popular Thai dishes among tourists. It is a popular Thai dish among Thai as well, however, it’s not as popular among Thai as one might think. Pad Thai was crowned as a national dish during the rice shortage during World War II to promote the consumption of noodles and Thai nationalism. With the propaganda that came with it, many tourists believe that this national dish is eaten daily by Thai, which is not the case. But don’t get me wrong, Pad Thai is still a popular Thai dish and can be found everywhere in the country. This savoury and slightly sweet stir-fry noodle dish can be a hit or miss so we recommend you visit restaurants with a legendary status when it comes to Pad Thai. Have a look at our article about the best Pad Thai in Bangkok, if you want to try something extraordinary.
One of the most popular Thai dishes: Pad Thai
Recommended places to try Pad Thai:
- Burinda (Ayutthaya)
- Pad Thai Thip Samai (Bangkok)
- Pakorn's Kitchen (Chiang Mai)
- Blue Rice Restaurant (Kanchanaburi)
- Mai Klang Krung (Sukhothai)
Laab is yet another popular Thai dish that originates from the Isaan region and because of that, you can expect a true taste explosion in your mouth. Laab, which is often made with pork, is a Thai “salad” but is completely different from salads Westerners are used to. In fact, Laab is a meat salad, often made with pork and is flavoured with chilli flakes, toasted and crunched rice, shallots, lime juice, salt and fish sauce. Right before serving, the meat salad is topped with fresh mint leaves. A mix of savoriness, spiciness and freshness is what makes this salad such an incredibly popular Thai dish. You can find laab at the majority of Thai restaurants. The Northern Thai version of Laab is interesting too, which uses much more herbs compared to regular Laab. Have a look at the following restaurants if you want to try this tasty dish when you’re in Thailand.
One of the most popular Thai dishes: Laab
Recommended places to try Laab:
- Ran Kong Por (Bangkok)
- Ginger Farm Kitchen **Northern Thai Style Laab - (Bangkok & Chiang Mai)
- Khao Soi Nimman ** Northern Thai Style Laab - (Chiang Mai)
- Lab Ubon Pattaya Thai (Pattaya)
7. Khao Jiao
Khao Jiao is simply a Thai omelette, often made with some sort of protein, such as pork and seafood and what makes it different from regular omelette is the fact that the omelette is crisply fried. Because of the crispness and the deep-fried bits of the omelette, it’s much more savoury than a regular omelette. The omelette is served with a sweet chilli sauce and is a popular Thai dish for both Thai and foreigners due to its simplicity (we don’t know anyone who does not like a Thai crispy omelette), meaning it’s ideal Thai food for beginners. But a Thai omelette can be made more interesting, for example, by upgrading it to a Hoy Thod (crispy omelette with mussels or oysters). If you’re planning to visit Bangkok, have a look at our article about the best hoy tod in Bangkok if you want to try something extraordinary.
One of the most popular Thai dishes: Thai Omelette
Recommended places to try Khao Jiao or Hoy Thod:
- Nai Mong Hoy Thod (Bangkok)
- Deang Racha Hoi Thot (Bangkok)
- ร้านอาหาร-ป้าสร้อย-เกาะล้าน (Koh Larn)
- Ban Kru Eiw Restaurant (Sukhothai)
8. Massaman Curry
When picking the most popular Thai curry for both Thai and foreigners, it got challenging for us. We believe that the Massaman Curry is the most popular Thai dish when it comes to curries as it’s the most friendly curry for foreigners due to the lack of spiciness. Other curries tend to be spicy and therefore less accessible for tourists. Massaman Curry has Muslim roots, meaning that you usually won’t find a Massaman Curry with pork. Also, the herbs that are being used for making a Massaman Curry are much different from other Thai curries. But if you do can handle a bit of spice, we also recommend different Thai curries, starting with Penang Curry. Other recommended curries are Yellow Curry, Red Curry and Green Curry. Thai curry fans should definitely visit one of the following recommended restaurants.
One of the most popular Thai dishes: Massaman Curry
- Mother May I - Massaman Curry (Bangkok)
- Poo Restaurant - Massaman Curry (Sukhothai)
- Mony Restaurant - Green Curry (Pattaya)
- Sanguansri Restaurant - Green Curry (Bangkok)
- Ran Nai Oo - Penang Curry (Bangkok)
- The Sky Gallery - Red Curry (Pattaya)
!! Tip: when visiting either Bangkok or Chiang Mai, have a look at our articles about the best curries in Bangkok and the best curries in Chiang Mai.
9. Mango Sticky Rice
Mango Sticky Rice is the most popular Thai dish when it comes to Thai desserts. Although rice is not the first thing you expect to eat during a dessert, the combination of (sweetened) rice with a ripe mango is simply amazing and therefore highly recommended. During mango season, you can enjoy this feast basically everywhere, from street food vendors to fancy Thai restaurants. There are several types of mangos available in Thailand and if you have the chance to eat the Nam Dok Mai mango, which is the best type of mango for mango sticky rice, you must give it a go. When visiting Bangkok, make sure to visit one of the shops recommended in our article about the best mango sticky rice in Bangkok. Although there is a mango season, you can usually find mango sticky rice in Thailand pretty easily throughout the whole year.
One of the most popular Thai dishes: Mango Sticky Rice
Recommended places to try Mango Sticky Rice:
- Kor Panich (Bangkok)
- Muhammad Rod Dee (Bangkok)
- Cho Sornkaew (Bangkok)
10. Moo Tod Daew
Moo Tod Daew is a dish that I personally wished I’d discovered earlier when I moved to Thailand. It’s a popular Thai dish especially among Thai, but once you try it, you can’t stop eating it. When you describe the dish how it is made, your first reaction is that it might not be clean. The strings of pork meat are first sun-dried namely (they literally place the raw pork in the sun). Because of this process, the texture of the pork meat changes completely into something gummy. Then, the pork gets deep-fried, giving it a crispy texture on the outside while remaining gummy on the inside. The pork itself is flavoured with foreigner-proof herbs such as black pepper and garlic, meaning it is not a spicy dish. In fact, Moo Tod Daew is really savoury. This Thai dish is especially delicious if you eat it with sticky rice. The pork is served with a sweet dipping sauce, giving the savoury flavours also a slightly sweet, non-spicy flavour.
One of the most popular Thai dishes: Moo Tod Daew
There you have it, the 10 most popular Thai dishes. All these Thai dishes can be found in our food app TopTravelFoods. The app will help you find the best food in Thailand, instead of only recommending good restaurants at popular destinations. This way, you won’t miss out on legendary restaurants and you can enjoy the local Thai cuisine to the fullest. The app is available for both iOS and Android and is completely free. If you're on a desktop, you can start searching for more dishes in Bangkok or many other cities such as Pattaya, Chiang Mai, Koh Larn, Ayutthaya, Kanchanaburi and Sukhothai.
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