Thai Snacks Every Tourist Should Try Out

A woman holding an asortment of colorful Thai coconut pancakes. Every corner of Thailand offers a variety of Thai snacks to delight locals and tourists alike.

Touring around Thailand can be an intensive calorie-burning experience. As you navigate its busy streets in tropical weather, you’ll find yourself hankering for a quick snack.

Luckily, everywhere you turn there’s a place to grab something to munch on. You could walk into a convenience store and grab a familiar candy bar or bag of chips. The text may be different, but the insides will be the same. Or you could try any number of Thai snacks that you can’t find at home.

But, what kind of snacks are available for you to munch on in Thailand? And are you getting those snacks from a vendor on the street or from a convenience store? Do you want something savory or would you prefer some Thai candy for sweetness?

Here are the different kinds of nibbles and treats you’ll find in Thailand:

Fried Insects

A woman standing in front of fried insects, which are popular Thai snacks. Fried insects are a delicacy the locals enjoy.

Among all the Thai candy and snacks the country has to offer, insects are the most unique and exotic. People in Thailand snack on a variety of bugs. Don’t worry about hygiene, though. The insects are washed multiple times before being fried. Between the washing and the heat, the insects are perfectly clean.

People in Thailand nosh on a variety of bugs;

  • Bamboo worms (Rot Duan) - Bamboo works are generally found in Northern Thailand during the rainy season. As the name suggests, they can be found in bamboo tubes because their main diet is bamboo pulp.

They’re also sometimes called ‘express trains’ because of their shape. Their taste and texture is similar to a corn puff, just slightly saltier. They can be found on practically every street vendor that sells insects.

  • Silkworms (Nhon Mhai) - Thailand has a robust silk industry, but not all silkworms are used in making silk. Some may find themselves fried, usually with kaffir leaves, to make snacks.

The resulting snack has a crispy shell and tastes like tofu, but creamier. They’re generally eaten with soy sauce and pepper.

  • Grasshoppers (Tak Ka Nan) - If you’re looking for something healthier, then give grasshoppers a try. They’re relatively high in protein and calcium. Once fried, they taste quite a lot like shrimp, just crunchier.

But you can’t every part of the grasshopper, though. You’ll have to pick the legs off before you put them in your mouth.

  • Giant Water Bugs (Maeng Da) - The largest of the insects that are eaten as a snack are Giant Water Bugs. They’re about 8 centimeters or a little over 3 inches long.

These bugs are normally found in rice fields in Northern Thailand and are either used to make Nam Prik Maeng Da, a spicy chili paste or fried to be served as a snack. The pincers and wings have to be discarded before consumption and they’re said to taste like caviar.

  • Scorpions (Maeng Pawng) - Most people don’t normally want to see scorpions because of their stings. But while scorpions are plenty poisonous in Thailand, they can sometimes be a welcome sight. Especially after they’ve been cooked.

They taste quite a lot like raw shrimp.

Mango Rice

A person selling plates of mango rice. Mango sticky rice is an iconic Thai snack.

But not all snacks in Thailand are insect-based. There are plenty of snacks in the country that aren’t quite as exotic to a Western palette. Probably the most well-known of all the snacks in Thailand, at least among the locals, is Thai mango sticky rice. This is sweet, sticky rice served with ma

ngoes. This is a pretty filling snack, but not quite a meal.

They’re so popular that some sellers even offer variations that you can take home to share with friends and family, provided you’re able to get the fruits through customs, that is.

Roti Sai Mai

A close up of candy floss. Thailand’s got its own kind of cotton candy, called roti sai mai.

You’ve probably had cotton candy at some point. Maybe it was a circus, maybe it was a county fair, but you’ve likely consumed brightly-colored sugar floss. Thailand has its own variant of cotton candy called roti sai mai or Ayutthaya’s cotton candy.

This is made with spun sugar and roti, an Indian flatbread that’s become quite popular in Thailand. The candy floss is very thin and made with white or colored flour. Green flour is made by using pandan leaves. This snack is often served with sesame sprinkled on top.

This is a fairly old snack, as it was brought to the Ayutthaya Kingdom, a precursor kingdom to modern-day Thailand, by Muslim traders.

Tamarind Candy

If you want a snack that’s sweet but isn’t quite the sugarload like cotton candy with flatbread, you could try Thai tamarind candy. This isn’t an entirely sweet treat. It’s sweet, salty, tangy, and a little spicy. This is made from dried ripe tamarinds mixed with chili, salt, and sugar.

You can buy packs of them in stores or even online if you’re not able to travel all the way to Thailand and still want to snack on them.

Prawn Crackers

If there’s one thing people of varying nationalities can agree on, it’s that Thai shrimp chips, or prawn crackers, are awesome. They’re a common snack not just in Thailand, but in Southeast Asia as a whole. They’re made with prawns, tapioca flour, and water.

Shelves full of snacks such as prawn crackers. Thais, and Southeast Asians in general, love prawn crackers.

Flavored Chips

But there are also plenty of chips that aren’t made with prawns available in convenience stores that you may not be able to find back at home. Take potato chips, for example. At home, you’re probably used to flavors like original, sour cream, cheese, and maybe spicy.

But in Thailand, their taste buds are a little more adventurous. You’ll find the flavors that you’re accustomed to, but you’ll also find flavors like sweet basil, grilled prawn, and salted egg - not exactly flavors you’re likely to find at a gas station.

A close-up of some potato chips. The potato chips in Thailand will come in a variety of flavors that might be foreign to you.

Snacking is a universal phenomenon and is by no means anything new. Back in the old days, people ate cakes and sandwiches with their afternoon tea so as to not go hungry in between meals and wealthy people had tins or jars full of biscuits at their bedsides should hunger strike them in the middle of the night.

And when you’re in Thailand, you’ll have a plethora of tasty comforts at your fingertips, albeit with a unique twist of flavors. Most importantly, you’ll never go hungry, because there are plenty of Thai snacks for you to nosh on when you find yourself in the country formerly known as Siam.

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