Food and Eating Out

If you like your food then you’ve come to the right place!

I eat more Japanese and Indian and Italian food here in Thailand than I did back home in England. Why? Because I can afford it and because it’s always delicious and well-prepared.

I didn’t like Thai food so much back at home. It was kind of bland and uninteresting, a bit like Chinese food with a few more vegetables thrown in.

So I was pleasantly surprised to discover how delicious and varied genuine Thai food really is.

And so affordable. If you stick to Thai food from the street stands or food courts or local restaurants then you won’t pay more than about 100 baht ($3) per meal (with 2 dishes, dessert and drink). If you eat the same food at an air-conditioned restaurant then you’ll pay about $5. If you like Western food like pizza or bread or cheese (or even Indian food) then you will pay more, but still at least half the price of eating out in London or any other major city.

And many top hotels offer buffet lunches (and dinners) for around $10 and up. Several good hotels in Chiang Mai have a lunch buffet, consisting of a range of chicken, pork and fish dishes, miso or tomato soup, a selection of sushi, salads and salad dressings, bread, desserts, ice cream, coffee and tea – all for under $7. When you pay the higher prices, you’ll get Japanese food, fish, meat, Italian food, maybe even bread and cheese. For the lower prices, you’ll get mostly Thai food.

I usually try not to go to these buffets too often because I’m afraid I’ll get fat! If you mostly stick to Thai food then there’s little chance of getting overweight – and Thai food is good and cheap and filling enough that, after living here a few months, you’ll find that you’ll wean yourself off western food and start to live healthily.

We all like to eat western food occasionally (the Thais love pizzas and steaks) and there’s plenty of opportunity to take a break from the standard fare and enjoy a great, home-cooked western meal: burgers, steaks, pasta dishes, authentic Italian pizzas, even tacos and paella, or falafel and pitta bread, or couscous – not to mention a decent selection of sushi, sashimi, tempura, ramen and shabu-shabu.

If you like to drink then there are cheap taverns where it’s $2 per beer, and expensive places where a cocktail is $6. One of the things you do need to watch for in Thailand is your weight, especially if you like your beer.

There was a time when it wasn’t so easy to find bread and cakes and cookies and pasta. But now all the top supermarkets bake their own breads, ranging from French baguettes and rolls and croissants to Italian foccacia, German rye bread and British multi-grain breads, not to mention a wide selection of mouth-watering cakes and pies. And a huge selection of pastas and beans and coffees, teas, cheeses and wines.

Night Life and Entertainment

You need never stay at home alone if you don’t want to. It’s so cheap to go out, and it’s easy to make friends or find a companion as Thai society isn’t fear-based.

There are more bars and pubs than 7/11’s. If you’ve been to Thailand then you will understand what this means. Don’t ever arrange to meet someone at such-and-such a 7/11, because you might never get to meet. There are some streets where there are two or three 7/11’s within a few minutes walk from each other.

The upmarket bars (in Bangkok) are usually attached to the top hotels, the ambiance is great, the seats are plush, there is usually live jazz music playing.

But you can just as easily go to a regular Thai pub and listen to a live singer playing English music on his guitar or listen to a rock or jazz band. Good, inexpensive food is also available. In many bars, there are pool tables and, if you’re alone, a pretty Thai lady will play with you.

There is also a wealth of decent performances in music; classical music recitals or orchestral performances, as well as rock and pop bands and amateur theater.

Art is very popular in Thailand, with so many exhibitions and galleries that it’s impossible to see it all. See the Art & Music sectionfor details.

For sports and other day-time activities, please see the Sports & Activities Section.