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Thailand Bangkok  | © Courtesy of Werner Bayer/Flickr
Thailand Bangkok | © Courtesy of Werner Bayer/Flickr

How to Eat Breakfast Like a Thai

Picture of Kelly Iverson
Updated: 22 May 2017
Visitors to Thailand will not be able to walk any distance before encountering a food stall. Hovering in alleyways, parking their carts near the BTS skytrain exits, lining a food market: these vendors are seemingly everywhere. Because of this, locals are not chowing down on a typical combination of cereal, eggs, and toast to begin their day. Read through our guide on how to eat ahaan chow, or breakfast, like a local.

Breakfast on the Go

Bangkokians and tourists alike have little time for a sit-down breakfast. Whether they have a day chock full of excursions or simply need to rush off to their 9-to-5, the city is always alive with herds of moving masses. This is what makes breakfast in Thailand so noteworthy. It is almost as if these vendors, many of which begin to grill, cook, slice, and dice at dawn, are little fast-food restaurants. Visitors never have to wait long before being handed whatever delicious Thai meal they have ordered.

Sukhothai New Town, Thailand Street food
Sukhothai New Town, Thailand Street food | © Courtesy of Ninara/Flickr

Breakfast on a Stick

Many street vendors sell their food equipped with a stick for easy consumption and for those on-the-go diners. Grilled squid, pork balls, marinated meat, and more can all be found skewed down its center with a slender wooden stick. Visitors can choose from a wide variety of these, with items being so affordable they can order as many as they please. Laid out on grills and racks around the country, there is no shortage of these on-the-go items, perfect for kicking off the day. If breakfast is not served on a stick, it is normally cut into bite-sized pieces before being stuck in a bag with a sort of dipping sauce. Popular items include things like deep-fried tofu with peanut sauce and spring rolls with chili sauce.

Most Popular Breakfast Dishes

Thai dishes are not necessarily privy to only being devoured at a certain time of day. Main courses that could be considered better suited for dinner can just as easily be eaten in the morning. Dishes that might usually be devoured as soon as you wake up could just as easily be eaten for lunch and dinner, with only a handful of dishes truly being considered breakfast ones.

The most popular breakfast dish is khao kai jeow, or egg omelet over rice, which is normally served with a sweet chili sauce for dipping. Visitors will find this meal, though incredibly filling, often costs less than $1. Jok is another popular dish eaten for breakfast in Thailand. It resembles oatmeal or porridge and is normally made with some type of meat and sometimes an over-easy egg, with the yolk merging with the porridge for added flavor.

Thai Porridge with Chicken
Thai Porridge with Chicken | © Courtesy of ronan crowley/Flickr

Sugary Refreshments

Between the people, the food, and more notably, the drinks, Thailand is surely the sweetest country there ever was. Every meal and beverage visitors encounter is likely to have a spoonful or two of sugar added to it. One of the most noteworthy breakfast refreshments of them all is one of Thailand’s most famous drinks: Thai milk tea. It’s bright orange color often puts off skeptical visitors, but after having a sip of this mouthwatering beverage, guests will likely change their tune.

Cha yen, or Thai tea, is served both hot and cold, and most times made with a good helping of condensed milk. Health-consciousness travelers will come to hate the small red and white can found at all the beverage vendors across the Kingdom, as there is hardly a drink that does not have at least a spoonful of this sweet liquid added to it. It is made with Ceylon tea, crushed tamarind, and often an added drop of food coloring to give it its signature, vibrant color. Other popular breakfast drinks include fresh orange juice, coconut water, tea, and coffee. Many of these are served in a plastic bag with shaved ice before being stabbed with a straw for consumption.

Jogasaki Truck / Thai Milk Tea
Jogasaki Truck / Thai Milk Tea | © Courtesy of Laine Trees/Flickr