A Taste of Thai Food on The Cheap, A Guest Post by Agness Walewinder
Believe me or not, but I don’t know anyone who traveled to Thailand and didn’t like Thai food. It simply does not happen. Everyone seems to love the local dishes here as they are refreshing, full of flavours, fresh and perfectly spiced. Thai cuisine is a perfect combination of old Eastern and Western flavours combined with a dash of tropical fruits. What I love the most about Thai food is a perfect balance of all ingredients. It’s never too spicy, never too mild or never too sweet…
Another great news is that Thai dishes are extremely affordable, even in Bangkok. Do you have one dollar or two? Great. That’s more than enough to have a delicious lunch or dinner. No, I’m not joking and here is what you should do to dine out in Thailand on the cheap:
#1 Street vendors are your best friends.
Yes, street food is not only healthy, light and delicious, but also affordable. Thai cities are filled with pad thai stands and small food vendors from where you can grab some grilled chicken, pork, any kind of veggies and of course famous salty bugs and scorpions. The prices start from $0.50 and you should never pay more than $2-$3 a meal. Otherwise, it’s a scam!
#2 Go for fruits and veggies based meals.
Meat is a bit expensive in Thailand, so dishes based on pork, chicken or duck are much more pricey than the ones filled with exotic fruits, veggies and rice. Just to give you an example, you would pay around $1 for a sticky mango rice whereas chicken noodle soup costs over $2,50. Besides, fruits and veggies are extremely healthy and nutritious, so cutting down on meat will be also beneficial for your health.
#3 Say NO to busy Western restaurants.
You are in Thailand so take the advantage of it and stick to traditional Thai meals which are yummy, light and refreshing. I often saw foreigners digging into burgers and pizzas when in Bangkok like they couldn’t have some Thai noodles, papaya salad sprinkle with nuts, grilled veggies or chicken soup. Western food is so pricey, full of fat and sugar and it will make you feel bloated and tired. It’s good to have it from time to time in your home country, but not when you are on a short trip in Thailand surrounded by fresh seafood and delicious smell from local restaurants.
#4 Visit local markets.
Farmers’ markets are the best places for your daily grocery shopping on the cheap. You can buy here a lot of fresh and organic products – honey, jams, bread, milk, fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices as well as ready meals. I simply loved Thai markets. They smell so good, they are loud and overcrowded with tourists and locals. People scream and bargain with each other. Sellers sell their products from their boats, everyone smiles and wave at you. Great experience, that’s for sure! Apart from food, you can also purchase some souvenirs here – postcards, handmade wooden baskets, hats, etc. Thai markets are also surrounded by small local restaurants from where you can order a take-away meal. By the way, did you know that you can spend a day at Damnoen Saduak floating Market in Bangkok for less than $25? Yes, you can and it’s so cool!
#5 Share the food with others.
The portions of food in Thailand can be sometimes really massive. For a girl like me, a plate of pad thai is way too much so I often shared it with Cez- my travel companion. In this way, we could both feel full without paying much. If you are like me and you prefer having a bit of everything when eating, ask fellow travelers to join you for a lunch or dinner. You can order small plates of different food, a couple of Thai beers and a nice dessert that you can split into 4 pieces.
#6 Try out your bargaining skills.
Bargain hard or go home – that’s what I’ve learnt in Thailand. Thai locals love to haggle for food, clothes and souvenirs with foreigners, so try out your skills when ordering some food. In order to do it properly, learn some basic Thai words – numbers, polite questions and requests, food vocabulary so you can impress not only yourself, but also locals around to get some food discount!
After visiting Thailand over 3 times, nobody can convince me that Thai food is expensive. Just the opposite. Apply these 6 rules and you will feel the difference in your wallet and around your waistline!
Have you ever tried Thai food? What was it and how much did you pay?
We are two adventurous tramps, best friends – Agness and Cez, from Poland. We call ourselves tramps, because we live without permanent home and for under 25 bucks a day, since 2011. While travelling the world, we find the time to write about it, share the tricks to do it cheaply and even help other people do the same. Come along with us at etramping.com!
Read more about Agness
Read more about Cez
***All photos supplied by and credited to etramping.com.***
Posted By July 4, 2014
I’m probably the biggest fan of Thai cuisine here. My trip to Thailand was a real culinary experience on the cheap and I’m glad I could share some tips with you.
It was my pleasure to have you guest post and I think you know how I feel about Thai food. I absolutely love it (just in case you didn’t know-Ha!). Hope you and Cez are having a ball and I look forward to meeting you in Athens.
These are wonderful tips, thank you. I’m excited about trying the street food and glad to know I can bargain for food as well. One question though: They seem to put their shrimp paste in everything, even curry paste mixes. Do you think someone who needs to avoid seafood can make it there?
I am assuming (maybe wrongly) your issue is with shellfish. Here are two great posts for you to read. http://splendorinthelemongrass.com/2012/08/21/dealing-with-food-allergies-in-thailand/ and http://travel.cnn.com/bangkok/eat/how-enjoy-thai-food-and-stick-your-dietary-guns-162224. I am guessing you will have major issues after reading these two posts and it might not be good for you to go anywhere in SE Asia. Just an FYI. Sorry.
My favorite thing about Thailand was the food. I couldn’t get enough. I loved going to the night markets and spending less than $10 for two on dinner, and most of that cost was actually for my fruit shakes.
My apologies. I didn’t receive any email notifying me of your email.
I love Thai food and my 4 hour cooking class was heaven! Nigh markets are indeed spectacular and so reasonable! Thanks for stopping by.
I loved the food in Thailand especially the seafood. Great guest post.
You are talking my language now! I love Thai food and I love seafood. I had a boatload of seafood on my last trip to Thailand and loved every bite! Ha! Thanks for stopping by.
Those noodles look delicious! Great post, as always, Agness 🙂 I’ve not been to Thailand, and would super love to try sticky rice with mango.
You have no idea how good the noodles are and I actually took a cooking class and learned how to make sticky rice with mango, as the desert. It was unbelievable and is a common offering in Thailand. Agness always does a great job, doesn’t she? Hope you get their soon.