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For most people, Thai food doesn’t need much of an introduction. Thai food is loved the world over, and you most likely have a Thai restaurant in your home town. Over 20 million tourists a year visit Thailand, and most of those fall in love with the food. Personally, it’s one of the reasons that I love living here. You can get tasty, freshly cooked food almost everywhere. Most Thai people eat out all the time, so there is always somewhere to eat within a few minutes’ walk.

The diversity of Thai food is just astounding. You can get curries, soups, stir-fries, salads, exotic fruit, and lots, lots more. And within each type of food group there are multiple variations. You can get red curry, green curry, yellow curry, massaman curry, and panang curry. And those are just the main ones.

Wherever you buy Thai food in Thailand, it will mostly be prepared right in front of you, and be super fresh. One of my favorite cafes in Chiang Mai is a place called P&P Coffee on Ratchamanka Soi 5. It’s a family run business and all the food is cooked to order. This is what I got today.

And how much did this freshly prepared lunch cost? 120 baht ($4, £2.70). Maybe now you can see why I enjoy life in Thailand so much.

Some people that are considering moving to Thailand worry about whether the food will be too spicy for their tastes. Well, there’s no need to worry. Because the food is cooked to order, you can specify how spicy you want the food. I have a Thai friend from Isaan that has his somtam (papaya salad) with 20 chilies. I have mine with two! Anywhere I order it, they usually ask how many chilies I want, because they know that I probably don’t want it too spicy.

If you’re heading to live in the Isaan region, that is where the food is served with the most chilies, so beware.

But what if you don’t like Thai food at all? It is rare for any expats not to like any Thai food, as there is such variety that you are bound to find at least a few dishes that you like. But if you prefer to eat Western food, then you’ll still be able to get that here, especially in the bigger cities. As mentioned earlier, you can get whatever you want in cities like Bangkok, Pattaya and Chiang Mai. They all have Western restaurant chains, and even many of the Thai places sell Western food. In places like Bangkok, even some Thais have started eating Western food.

I think that, on the whole, Thai food is much more healthy than Western food, which is why Thai people tend to be much slimmer than their Western counterparts. But there is plenty of unhealthy Thai food around, so if you want to stay healthy,I advise steering clear of the unhealthiest of Thai foods. This includes deep fried foods, soft drinks, and many of the desserts and sweets. Thais seem to add sugar to almost everything, and some of the drinks are sickly sweet, especially things like iced Thai tea or coffee. They also seem to add lots of salt to dishes, which is not exactly the healthiest thing to do. So, when ordering food, be sure to ask them to cut back on the sugar and salt.

Food here is also very cheap compared to what you’d pay in Western countries. The only exception is Western food that you buy from large chain restaurants, and imported Western food that you buy in supermarkets. These will usually be much more expensive than back home. If you come to Thailand and only eat Western food, then you could easily spend double or triple what you used to spend back home. So don’t forget to factor this into your budget.

But the vast majority of expats eat mostly Thai food, with occasional treats. This means that they can eat cheaply most of the time, but still have enough left over for their favorite Western dishes.

Thai food is so available, and so cheap, that many expats live in studio apartments without kitchens. I don’t have a kitchen here in Chiang Mai, and eat all my meals out. I had a kitchen in my Bangkok condos, but even there I only cooked for myself two or three times a week. Eating out is much more fun, and usually doesn’t cost any more than it would if you cooked at home.

But if you do want to cook at home, why not take a Thai cooking course. There are plenty available, and they’re usually only around 1,000 baht ($33, £22) for a one-day course. Thai cooking is quick and simple once you know the basics. And learning to cook Thai food is really fun.


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