Thai Food in the north of Thailand
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Thai Food in the north of Thailand

Before I talk about Thai foods in the north of Thailand, let’s know a little about the country’s subdivision system. 

Thailand, officially the Kingdom of Thailand in Southeast Asia, is composed of 76 provinces and 1 special administrative division, Bangkok. Bangkok as the capital is the first city that comes to people’s mind when thinking of Thailand. The city is the most populous city with a population of over eight million, the country with a population of 69.5 million, and the north region with a population of 13 million.

While the country has divided into four regions, there are five regional cuisines. The cuisines are each the central cuisine, the cuisine of Bangkok, the North cuisine, the northeast cuisine, and the southern cuisine. Bangkok has own cuisine, however, it’s a part of the central region. The culinary and ethnicity of each region is different in comparison with other regions.

The north region is a spectacular part of the country. It is full of hills and mountains. Indeed, there are several mountain ranges in the north of Thailand. The region continues from the Shal Hills or Highland in bordering Myanmar to Laos. The region has a tropical wet and dry climate, and with cooler winters than the other regions. Chiang Mai, Lampang, and Sukhothai are well-known towns. The north region of Thailand was the first region when Thais had settled. For this reason, in many ways, the cooking techniques of the regions have remained in the Thai’s oldest cooking tradition.

Thai Cuisine in the north of Thailand

Cuisine in the north is old, and Myanmar and China have influences on the cuisine. Thai foods in the north of Thailand are a combination of simple dishes like soups, salads and kind of ancient cooking methods such as grilling. The foods are not as spicy as other regions in the country. Moreover, here, foods are not acidity and people eat mild foods which are not very spicy, indeed.

The taste of a dish comes from one or two herbs, spices or other ingredients. In other words, unlike the other regions, food in the north of Thailand doesn’t have a combination of multiple and complex flavourings. Thai foods are often with herbal, bitter, aromatic, and meaty tastes in the north of Thailand. 

A blend of shrimp paste, shallots, chilli and garlic is often noticeable in Thai food in the north of Thailand. Indeed, these are the source of the salty, savoury flavour of food in the north. On the other hand, here, people use less sugar and coconut milk in their foods. Moreover, slat and fermented soybeans are often common in Thai cuisine in the north of Thailand.

Meat and Rice in Thai food in the north of Thailand

In general, Thai people in the north had not consumed animal sources in the past. Indeed, people had consumed animal sources only on some special events. Nowadays, people eat pork, water buffalo, beef, snails, insects and insect eggs, silkworm larvae and ant eggs. Grilling is the most common eating establishment in the region. Eating slow-grilled meats with alcohol and dips is popular. Meanwhile, raw and deep-frying meats are also common in some places. 

Unlike some other regions, here, people prefer to eat sticky rice. People cook sticky rice by steaming fat, short rice. Sticky rice not only in Thai food in the north of Thailand but also in other regions eaten by hands and/or dipped in dishes as small balls. 


Kantoke is a special dining tradition for specific events. There are several dishes together carried on a low table on which someone serves the dishes. Crispy pork, sticky rice and northern dips are the staple dishes in a Kantoke. 

Thai popular dishes in the north of Thailand

As I mentioned, glutinous/sticky rice, not jasmine rice, is a staple Thai food in the north of Thailand. Some of the famous dishes in the north region are the following. 

  • Gaeng Hung Lay – braised pork curry
  • Nam Prik Ong – pork and tomato dip
  • Kao Soi – curry noodle soup
  • Aep – low-grilling of chopped meat, small fish or insects wrapped in banana leaves
  • Sai Sa – a grilled sausage of ground pork combined with herbs and spices
  • Laab Neua – a salad of ground meat with the spice blend 
  • Kaeng Khae – a spicy of curry of herbs, vegetables and meat

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As a health and life coach, I can’t say how much a particular food plan and cuisine are healthy. In case they are not healthy, by understanding a big picture of what a healthy food plan is, you can turn them into a healthy one.

Meanwhile, we are life and health coaches under Bring You Health Company Limited. We offer life and health programs as face-to-face coaching in Bangkok and as online coaching all over the world. Our coaching programs include “exercise, food and nutrition, and emotional health”. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

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