You might not think about it when you are planning your trip but Pattaya is a foodie’s paradise. The food markets, stalls, wandering vendors and restaurants here are filled with unique and often pleasant (often does not mean always) aromas.
There is so much food on offer that it can sometimes be hard to know what to order, especially if you are a first-time visitor to Thailand. Below are some of the “fan favourite” meals that you should definitely try on your visit if you are looking to wisen up your tastebuds.
Normal som tum is a green papaya salad with several other ingredients thrown into the mix depending on how you like it made. As a foreigner, I personally do not eat som tum the same way that the Thais eat it. Many Thais will order their som tum with fermented fish and crab mixed in.
After you have decided what style of som tum you want (som tum Thai is the safest best) they will mix all of your ingredients together in a large mortar with a stone pestle. Typically som tum is priced anywhere from 40-60 baht (about $1.31 – $1.96 USD). While it isn’t for everyone, it is a traditional Thai food that you should try at least once!
Tom Yum (chicken, shrimp, seafood)
Tom Yum is a spicy and sour soup that is typically cooked with shrimp. You can, however, choose to change the meat as they have other readily available options such as chicken and seafood (typically a mix of shrimp, fish and/or squid).
Tom Yum dishes can be found, on average, for about 45 to 100 baht ($1.47 – $3.27 USD) depending on the style and venue that you choose to eat.
Chim chum is a very popular group Thai dish. It is an aromatic broth of herbs and spices containing galangal, lemongrass, Thai sweet basil and others. The broth cooks in a clay pot over coals and is served with a variety of different additions for your soup. Vegetables, meat, eggs and glass noodles are all typically served with the dish. It is important to remember that this dish contains raw meat that you will have to cook yourself by boiling it in the broth. Always allow the broth to return to a boil to make sure it is hot enough to cook your meat thoroughly.
Chim chum is a meal typically shared by two people or a group of people. It is far too much usually for one person to finish alone. There are quite a few chim chum buffets around the city where you can get more than your fill for 99 baht ($3.24 USD) per person.
This is by far one of the largest staple meals in Thailand. The meal consists of any type of meat (literally) stir-fried with chilli and Thai holy basil and seasoning. The stir-fry is typically served over a bed of steamed rice and with an optional fried egg over the top. Pad krapao is the go-to meal for Thais when they are hungry and aren’t sure what to eat as it is always a deliciously satisfying option.
Pad krapao can be found in almost any Thai restaurant that you see, so if you aren’t quite sure what to order, eat what the Thais eat. Pad krapao is sold for 60-120 baht ($1.96 – $3.93 USD) depending on the type of meat you choose and the venue location.
Mu Kratha (BBQ Buffet)
Mu Kratha is another very popular dish amongst Thai people. Mu kratha is very similar to chim chum. The difference is that the mu kratha cooking set-up is a bit different. Instead of a large earthenware pot to cook your meal, you use a mu kratha pan, which is essentially a grill that has a bowl around the edge for your broth.
Most mu kratha restaurants are buffet style and have a ridiculous amount of meats, veggies and noodles for you to choose from. A piece of raw pork fat is generally laid atop the grill to keep the surface non-stick and to add some flavour to the soup from the meat drippings. Keep in mind, if you are asked to eat mu kratha with any Thai person, you are looking at a MINIMUM of a 2-hour long experience.
Travellers can find at least 40 different mu kratha buffets around the city. Most of these offer the same or similar food items but being that it is such a popular dish, many of the restaurants are packed-out every night. Mu kratha will run you about 199-300 baht ($6.52 – $9.82 USD) per person depending on if the venue also offers extras and seafood options.
Most of the world is familiar pad Thai already as it is one of the main dishes associated to Thailand. Pad Thai is a stir-fry egg noodle dish that is typically fried up with eggs, sprouts, a type or types of meat, peanuts and sometimes tofu. Many countries around the world now serve their own versions of pad Thai but if you want the best, you have to try it in Thailand.
Pad Thai is sold on average for around 45-100 baht ($1.47 – $3.27) depending on if you happen to be in a touristy part of town or among locals.
Moo krob is a Thai dish of deep-fried pork belly, typically fried to a delicious crunchiness. If you like bacon, you will probably love moo krob. This dish can be found in many of Pattaya’s local Thai food markets. Moo krob is sold by weight and prices vary from place to place.
Gaeng Keow Wan (Thai Green Curry)
Like many other Thai dishes, gaeng keow wan can be made with a variety of different meats. The thick soup is what makes the dish. Gaeng keow wan is a mixture of green curry paste and coconut milk that is slightly sweet on the palette. It is another one of Thailand’s most popular meals and, like krapao, can be found in almost any Thai restaurant in town. Thai green curry will run you about 100 baht typically ($3.27 USD), with rice.
These delicious little morsels can be found from wandering vendors around town. If you are in the mood for a quick sweet snack, you’d be hardpressed to find a better quality banana pancake for your money. Banana pancakes from street vendors are a whopping 35 to 40 baht ($1 and some change USD).
Mango With Sticky Rice
A traditional Thai dessert of sweet yellow mango on a bed of sticky rice. Different places dress up this dessert in different ways. Some places add a little bit of sweet milk or sugar to the top. No matter how it is served, it is a favourite on a hot day! Prices for mango and sticky rice are wide-ranging depending on the vendor and/or type of mango. Mango and sticky rice can be yours for 30-150+ baht per serving. ($1.00 – $5.00 USD)
This is only a sliver of the meal options that are available in Pattaya but if you are looking for something to eat and aren’t quite sure what to order, these are always a good place to start or fall back on for a little comfort dining.