Must-Try Thai Drinks for Your Next Thailand Visit

A photo of colorful Thai drinks. Indulge your senses in the colorful and flavorful world of Thai drinks.

Perhaps Thailand being known as the Land of Smiles is a testament to the saying “happy tummy, happy life.”

After all, Thailand is home to a vibrant street food culture that will satisfy your every taste bud. And what is street food without a beverage? No Thai food culture journey would be complete without sampling some of the country’s most popular beverages.

Thai drinks are known for their complex flavors, making them a must-try for anyone visiting the country. The drink list consists of a wide variety of beverages, from creamy coconut milk drinks to famous iced teas to bold alcoholic drinks, all featuring distinct flavor profiles that reflect Thai culture and history.

Thai beverages also incorporate local herbs and spices, adding not just flavor but medical benefits. Drinks served cold and refreshing are perfect for the country’s hot and humid climate while alcoholic ones are a great source of warmth during the cold and rainy seasons. Thailand’s drinks are known for having a balance of sweet, salty, sour, and spicy flavors — the culinary adventure for your deserving taste buds.

Must-Try Non-Alcoholic Thai Drinks

Are you a coffeeholic? Whatever non-alcoholic beverage you fancy, we’re sure you’ll find one with its own local twist. Thai drinking culture is one of the most diverse in Asia, making their local beverages a must-try for every visitor. Here are some of Thailand’s most well-known non-alcoholic drinks.

  • Oliang

A photo of oliang or black iced coffee. Thai Oliang is a refreshing take on coffee.

A popular Thai beverage for coffee lovers, Oliang is commonly known as Thai iced coffee. It is prepared from a mixture of ground Robusta coffee, brown sugar, and various grains like soybeans, sesame seeds, or rice. Oliang has a distinct coffee aroma and smoky flavor from its high-roasted grains and seeds.

The name Oliang literally means “black and ice,” referencing the black iced coffee concoction. Traditionally, it is brewed with a Thai coffee filter called tungdtom made from a muslin bag attached to a metal ring with a handle.

To make the coffee, you will need to put the Oliang into the coffee sock, then pour boiling water through the bag. Leave it for approximately 10 minutes, depending on how strong you want the concoction to be. Oliang is often served with condensed milk, evaporated milk, and ice.

  • Thai Milk Tea

Thai milk tea is the top choice for millions of Thais to start their days. It is one of the many refreshing Thai drinks that can be served hot or cold, as either a warm start to the morning or as an icy cold summer drink.

Thai milk tea is made by adding vanilla, cinnamon, cardamom, and other spices to Ceylon tea. Evaporated milk, condensed milk, whole milk, or coconut milk is poured over the mixture to add taste and give the drink its creamy appearance. Restaurants and coffee shops also use milk to create tea art, making for a tasty and visually appealing treat.

  • Thai Lemon Tea

While this popular beverage is called Thai lemon tea, it is, in fact, made from lime and not lemons. The confusion is caused by the fact that lemons and limes are often interchanged with one another. Limes are more abundant in the country than lemons, hence why they became the ingredient of choice.

A refreshing tea with freshly cut limes. Though made of limes, one of Thailand’s drinks is commonly called a lemon tea.

In general, limes are smaller than lemons and are mostly green to yellowish when overripe. Lemons on the other hand are bigger and have a vibrant yellow color. While both are citrus fruits, swapping lemons with limes will alter the taste of the beverage.

Served cold or hot, Thai lemon tea is a great source of vitamin C. That’s why this refreshing drink is one of the best-selling Thailand street drinks during the flu season.

  • Nam Oy

Without a doubt, one of the most popular Thai juice drinks among both locals and visitors is the Nam Oy, or sugarcane juice. It is ideal for summer as it is both refreshing and sweet.

The drink is made using a specialized machine that presses the sugarcane to extract its juices. The machine works similarly to a clothes wringer. A set of cylindrical parts are positioned close together so that when they are turned in opposite directions, the sugarcane placed between the rolling cylinders is wrung off its juices.

Needless to say, no added sugar is required. To balance its natural sweetness, vendors often flavor the drink with kumquat juice, giving it a slightly acidic punch on top of its sweet flavor.

  • Grass Jelly Drink

It is a known fact that Asians love grass jelly—a dessert made out of Chinese mesona. It has a mild, slightly bitter taste that goes well with teas or juices. Grass jelly is usually sliced into cubes and used in Asian bubble tea, otherwise known as boba.

You can create your own grass jelly drink or find a version you like in the streets of Thailand where you are sure to come across cups partly filled with grass jelly just waiting for you to decide what concoction to add to it. Thai soda is probably the only drink left untouched by grass jelly. Or is it?

A group of friends having a toast. Thai alcohol offers a unique drinking experience for every occasion — whether you’re celebrating an event or just hanging out with your friends.

Alcoholic Thai Drinks You Might Want to Sample

If you like to drink, you’ll find no shortage of alcoholic beverages in the country. Thailand offers a wide variety of local wines, beers, and cocktails that are yours for the tasting. So pack your bags and learn how to say cheers in Thai because every night you’re in the country is a night to celebrate.

  • Mekhong

Let’s start with a local favorite, Mekhong. Colloquially known as “The Spirit of Thailand,” Mekhong is a distilled spirit made from sugarcane and rice, mixed at 95% and 5% respectively.

Mekhong is the country’s first locally produced spirit. It boasts smooth flavors with distinct hints of vanilla, chili, herbs, and spices. Created in 1941, Mekhong rum whisky has grown so much since its beginnings that the company was able to set up the Mekhong museum, where fans of the local Thai alcohol can learn more about its history.

It is impossible to miss out on trying this Thai whiskey while visiting the country because it is a recommended drink by locals and is available just about anywhere. It is an excellent drink to start off your journey into Thailand’s drinking culture.

  • Singha Thai Beer

No alcoholic beverage list is complete without Thailand’s most recognized beer. In fact, Singha is one of the few Thai beers that has gained recognition from the western market. Singha sets itself apart from others in the market with its strong malty flavor and intense alcohol level (6% ABV) for a mass-produced beer.

This iconic Thai beer is affiliated with well-known sports clubs such as Manchester United. Singha beer even has a partnership with the Red Bull Formula One Racing Team. This brew is created from high-quality barley malt, 100% artesian water, and three types of European hops.

A photo of a colorful set of Thai cocktail concoctions. The Thai cocktail combines the unique tastes of vodka, lime juice, sugar syrup, and selected herbs and spices.
  • Tom Yum Siam

The Tom Yum Siam is a spicy and tangy Thai cocktail inspired by the Tom Yum Soup. This refreshing cocktail is a blend of vodka, lime juice, sugar syrup, red chilis, and lemongrass, and garnished with lemon wedges and a slice of chili.

This drink is simple to make yet super tasty. It has the perfect mix of flavors and appealing colors, making for a spectacular drinking experience. It is unlike any cocktail you’ll come across in Thailand.

  • SangSom

SangSom is made from distilled sugarcane or molasses. It undergoes a unique production process that results in fine liquor that is aged for years in genuine oak casks.

After the distillation process, it is then blended with a special concentrate of selected herbs and spices and the best quality alcohol, giving SangSom its unique taste and aroma.

The brand has been recognized and awarded with Gold Awards for taste in Madrid in 1982, Dusseldorf in 1983, and again in Madrid in 2006. It is now widely known among consumers as “SangSom Rianthong,” which means SangSom Gold Medals.

  • Sato

Sato is a Thai rice wine that originated in the country’s northeast Isan region. It is made from glutinous rice also known as sticky rice. Initially consumed as a ceremonial drink during celebrations, Sato surged in popularity, turning it into a widely consumed drink.

Sato is a mixture of rice starch, steamed rice, yeast, herbs, and spices before being left to ferment for several weeks. However, despite its popularity in Thailand, Sato remains a small-scale product due to its short shelf life.

Thai Drinks for Every Occasion

Whether you are celebrating a birthday, anniversary, wedding, or just hanging out with friends, Thailand offers a unique drink for every occasion. You don’t have to be an alcohol enthusiast or a coffeeholic to enjoy the country’s unique concoctions because the country has a wide selection of Thai drinks that are sure to tickle your fancy.

If you are visiting alone, with your family, or with a Thai date, we’re sure you’ll have a Thai drinking experience you’ll never forget. To discover the food and beverage culture of Thailand, don’t hesitate to join us for our guided vacation tours around the country.

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