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Thailand's Regional Cusines

Thai food varies from region to region due to geography and history. In the West, most Thai restaurants serve Bangkok-style cuisine, so travelling in Thailand is a culinary adventure of discovery.

There are four main regions in Thailand:

Central Thailand  

Central Thailand, is the home of the famous floating river market west of Bangkok. Many great rivers converge in this delta, making it a fertile plain for rice growing.

In the Central Plains region, food is mainly hot, salty, sweet and sour. Steamed jasmine rice is served with different types of nam prik (chili dipping sauces) and soups. Tom yum goong (shrimp soup with lemon grass) is a favorite dish. Prepared dishes usually contain many condiments and dried spices.

Read in detail about Central Thai Cusine

Northern Thailand  

In the North of Thailand, around Chiang Mai, the land is mostly jungle-covered mountains and valleys. Historically this area is the home of the Lanna Thais, whose former capital was Chiang Mai. Northern Thailand has the highest peaks of the country and is the home of the hill tribes including the Hmong, Yao, Lisu, and Tai Yai.

In the North, the traditional food is mild or hot, salty and sour, but rarely sweet. Sticky rice (glutinous) is served with steamed vegetables, nam phrik oong, soups and Northern-style curries are common. The North is also well-known for naem, a sour sausage made of fermented minced pork, wrapped and steamed in banana leaf.

Food is traditionally eaten at a small table called kantoke table or tray made of oak in the Chiang Mai area. Diners sit on straw mats around the table, eating communally.

Read in detail about Northern Thai Cuisine

Northeast Thailand (Isan)  

The Northeast, also known as Isan, is a high plateau, with low rainfall and porous soil. The cuisine is simple and is traditionally eaten on a pa kao table made from bamboo or rattan. Food in the Northeast is hot, salty and sour. Papaya salad (sohm tahm), sour chopped meat salad (koi), and sour minced chicken, beef, or pork salad (larb) are favorites. Many condiments are used but not many dried spices in this region. Meals are based on sticky rice and a strong paste called nam phrik pla ra (spicy dipping sauce of fermented fish and chilis) accompanied by raw wild and cultivated vegetables and herbs.

Read in detail about Northeast Thai Cuisine

Southern Thailand  
Southern Thai Food
Southern Thai Food

In the South of Thailand there is an abundance of coconut trees and seafood. Food in the South is renowned for being strong in taste - very hot, salty and sour. Spicy curries are eaten every day, especially coconut curry and sour curry. Generally Southerners eat more fish than meat, because they reside close to the sea. The most common dipping sauce or paste is nam phrik kapee (also called nam chuke), eaten with raw vegetables and crispy fried fish. This dipping sauce is prepared with the best quality shrimp paste (kapee or kuey), fresh chilies (prik kee noo), a bit of palm sugar and fresh lime juice.

Read in detail about Southern Thai Cuisine

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