The next Nine Muses Travel Culinary Passport event is open for registration, so let's impress the host of our March 9th Thai cooking class by learning more about Thai cuisine and what makes her home in Chiang Mai a unique culinary destination! Every region of the small country of Thailand is known for having their own special dishes and flavors. Thai culinary philosophy involves balancing five main flavors in each meal: salty, sweet, sour, bitter, and spicy. Just how spicy can vary depending on the region. You'll also find ingredients paired with opposite elements like hot/cold, light/heavy, and spicy/mild. For example, sausages and sticky rice are heavy and get paired with a light and refreshing papaya salad, and a spicy curry goes well with milder stir fry vegetables.
Thailand is a major exporter of very high quality rice, and rice is more than a staple food; it's a way of life here. You'll find it in street food dishes at Thailand's iconic markets, family recipes, local restaurants, and Michelin-rated establishments throughout the country. Lucky for Americans, forks and spoons are used in Thailand; chopsticks are only used for noodle soup. All Thai meals are meant to be colorful and to nourish the heart, body, and soul. I hope you enjoy this flavorful overview of Thailand!
HOW TO GET THERE
It's easy to arrive in Thailand via its six international airports, including Bangkok (BKK). There are no direct flights to Thailand from the U.S., and common connections are via Seoul, Tokyo, and Taipei. Getting around once in Thailand is convenient because most internal flights are about an hour. Of course, we can always arrange for private transfers, train tickets, and private drivers for your journeys.
In this region we find the capital city of Bangkok, and just north of it is Ayutthaya. These are culinary dream spots, from street food to Michelin-starred dining. We all love Pad Thai, and each region has its own recipe. You'll want to taste the real thing here, with some authentic Tom Yum Soup, which is the Thai equivalent of our chicken noodle soup for when you're not feeling well. Mango with sticky rice is very popular here, and you'll love tasting the local mangoes. The blue Butterfly Pea flower is an ingredient used locally to prettily color rice, desserts, and drinks. Thai Iced Tea is strong black tea mixed with condensed milk and cream that pairs perfectly with spicy food and can even be dessert!
Culinary Highlights of Bangkok
Street food - You can always find delicious food at any hour, and we can arrange a private nighttime tuk tuk street food tour. You'll need to come hungry! If you're worried about your tolerance for street food in foreign lands, just go for the cooked foods and avoid the fresh choices.
Rooftop bars - Bangkok has a lot of tall buildings and hotels with great views - and food!
Bangrak Market - In this old neighborhood full of generations of street food recipes, check out the noodle and curry shops, buy some fresh ingredients, visit a Michelin rated restaurant, and have the best grilled banana of your life.
Koh Kret - As you visit the unique temples and pagodas on this island in Bangkok, enjoy special flavors passed down from families, buy mung beans to make a tasty dessert, and taste the really popular fish cakes with a side of chili and cucumber sauce. The handmade clay pottery here are great souvenirs too.
Chinatown - Terrific food hub, especially at night!
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market - Fruits, vegetables, noodles and more are sold from those iconic narrow boats along the canals. We can arrange a private floating market tour - all by boat!
Culinary Highlights of Ayutthaya
Ayutthaya is 45 minutes to 1 hour drive north of Bangkok, or you can even arrive by river. It was once the capital of Thailand, and it's a stunning UNESCO World Heritage Centre.
Hoy Ka Noodles (boat noodles) - Spicy broth with rice noodles, pork or beef meatballs, green beans, and peanuts. Served in smaller bowls, and it's common to order two or three bowls per meal.
Grilled River Prawns - Grilled on charcoal with a side of spicy, flavorful seafood sauce, this is a hard dish to find even locally.
Learn about Rice Culture - Take a cooking class and learn how to make seasonal, regional dishes on an organic rice farm.
Chiang Mai is the most iconic area in the north, about an hour flight from Bangkok, and it's an area rich in culture and natural beauty - great for trekking, hiking, and visiting tea plantations. Though Thailand is not that large, each region has its own distinct cuisine and unique food experiences. You won't typically find green curry or Pad Thai in the north, for example, and sticky rice in the north is eaten in place of regular rice and often made sweet with herbs and other flavors. Khao Soi is the most popular dish here, a curry noodle dish influenced by Indian cuisine passed through the East via Myanmar that evolved into a Thai dish. Click here to learn how to make Khao Soi on March 9, 2021 with a chef in Chiang Mai - LIVE from Thailand!
Culinary Highlights of Chiang Mai
Khantoke - This traditional meal of many dishes is served on a round bamboo tray while you sit on a mat or futon. Simple, but full of flavor.
Tea Plantations - We can arrange for you to pick and brew your own tea on a private tour to meet with locals on a tea plantation.
Night Market - So many different types of shopping and food to choose from including hand made items from hill tribes, colorful textiles, souvenirs, and distinctive wood furniture.
Lanna Family Visit - How to cook and use herbs for medicine and food with a local family and ingredients from their own backyard.
This peninsula has the Indian Ocean to the west and the Gulf of Thailand in the China Sea to the east. The western area's cuisine, where Phuket is located, is influenced by India and often includes curry and coconut flavors. The eastern side shows China's influence in its dishes and cooking techniques. They all merge together with Thai food here and feature abundant local seafood and very spicy flavors - some of the spiciest in Thailand!
Culinary Highlights of Phuket
Phuket Old Town - A vibrant blend of Portuguese and Chinese architectural influences.
Satay - Satay is THE street food to try here - grilled meats with sauces on the side.
Haw Mok - Sample this local dish - a seafood pudding, steamed in banana leaves.
Oliang - This Thai black iced coffee is very popular in the south.
Phuket Street Food Tour - This tour is a blend of driving and walking to visit top vendors and taste their secret recipes! Definitely come hungry....
Rum Distillery & Cocktail Workshop - Just two hours from Phuket to Chalong Bay, this is a fun experience (with a private driver!) for anyone over the age of 20, the legal drinking age in Thailand.
WHERE TO STAY
The Siam, Bangkok
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