Thailand is one of the world’s favorite tourism destinations, with thousands of satisfied visitors returning home year after year, telling tales of magnificent beaches, pulsating cities, generous hospitality, and delicious food. 

Thai cuisine has become a travelers favorite around the world. Green curry, massaman curry, papaya salad, sticky rice…all now household names, and extremely popular takeaway choices! 

The one dish that many Thailand returnees miss most however is pad thai. This street food favorite of stir-fried rice noodles, laden with peanuts, egg, bean sprouts, dried shrimp, and vegetables was allegedly created by 1930s Prime Minister Plaek Phibunsongkhram as an attempt to unite the nation under one national dish. 

Our specialists have done the hard yards here, traveling up and down the Land of Smiles in an attempt to locate the best pad thai in the country. Our rundown of great gastronomic locations across Thailand is below.

Street food, Khao San Road, Bangkok

Bangkok

Khao San Road

For many budget travelers, the first experience of Thailand is Bangkok’s Khao San Road. The epicenter of the Southeast Asian backpacking scene, this busy thoroughfare is packed with bars, hotels, shops, and street food vendors. 

With so many hungry mouths to cater for, on Khao San you’ll find some of the best pad thai in Bangkok. Also nearby is legendary restaurant Thip Samai, whose signature pad thai and orange juice combination is thought to be the best budget meal in the city. 

Where to go in Thailand
Cooking class in Thailand

Bangkok

Blue Elephant Restaurant

A more refined pad thai experience can be found at hundreds of mid-range and upmarket restaurants across the Thai capital. There are many recommendations we could make, but we plump for Blue Elephant – long a favorite of our Asia specialists for both its refined fare and its fantastic, always brilliantly received Thai cooking classes. 

As well as Pad Thai, the Blue Elephant serves delicious favorites such as hoy tod (stir-fried oysters), a great tom goong (hot, sour shrimp soup), and the usual green, red, jungle, and massaman curries.

What to do in Thailand
Food vendor at Damnoen Saduak floating market, Thailand

Outside Bangkok

Damnoen Saduak Floating Market

A popular day trip outside of the capital takes you to one of the buzzing, bustling floating markets amongst the Chaophraya delta west and south of Bangkok. As well as soaking up lots of intriguing local life, you’ll find great Thai food being served from the many small boats which move up and down the tight canals. 

Food must be easy to prepare from the seat of a longtail boat, so you’ll find simple but delicious dishes such as mango and sticky rice, spring rolls, steamed dumplings, and colorful fresh fruits such as mangosteen and durian.

Where to stay in Thailand
Street food in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Chiang Mai

North Gate Night Market

Northern Thailand’s most famous street food market is located at the northern gates of Chiang Mai’s old city. As well as superb pad thai, you’ll also find famous dishes of northern Thailand such as Khao Soi (egg noodle curry) and Sai Oua (cured sausage), and tastes brought across from Thailand’s near neighbors with sweet Burmese chicken curry and Lark Kua, a Laotian salad of meat, spices, and herbs. 

We encourage all visitors to Thailand to try a few days in Chiang Mai, as you’ll find the scenery, cuisine, and culture ‘up north’ markedly different from Bangkok and the southern islands.

When to visit Thailand
Phuket Old Town, Phuket

Phuket

Phuket Old Town

Bangkok’s islands are not known for their lively food scenes – your time here is more concerned with enjoying the blissful beaches and luxury resorts – but busy Phuket is an exception. With a population of approximately half a million people, Phuket locals need their budget restaurants and sizzling street food just as much as their mainland compatriots! 

Lively Phuket Old Town, with its cute Sino-Portuguese architecture and many shops, cafes, and eateries is a proper dining destination. As you’d expect on this island location the seafood is excellent, with a Hokkien Chinese influence to dishes such as chili crab, freshly-caught lobster and prawns, and noodle dish kanom jeen. 

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