Nowhere says backpacking territory more than southern Thailand and the islands of Koh Phangan, Koh Samui and Koh Tao are just some of the most vibrant areas of the country. Packed with soft sand beaches, bustling bars and vibrant street markets this really is the land of smiles. Below I’ve created and Island hopping itinerary that looks at the best cuisine in each destination.
1. Surat Thani and Pad Thai
Okay, okay, so Surat Thani isn’t actually an island. It is, in fact, part of the mainland, that said, I’m going to talk about it anyway so listen up. Surat Thani is home to one of the countries most underrated food markets where local vendors haul their red plastic chairs and giant stoves out into the street and begin to cook up a number of local delights. Set aside the River Ta Pi the market kicks off at around 6pm each evening and runs late into the night. There’s quite simply every Thai dish available that you could imagine here but nothing tastes as good as freshly cooked Pad Thai, particularly when it’s cooked right in front of you. Things move slowly here, there’s no rush to serve you, the focus is all on the cooking, and if that means you’re waiting half an hour for a divine noodle dish then you’ll sit there and be patient. Good Pad Thai comes to those who wait.
2. Koh Samui and Green Thai Curry
Koh Samui is home to the big Buddha, Namuang Waterfall and the Secret Buddha Garden but for the water babies amongst you, the island is also the best place to head out on a boat excursion. An entire day can be spent sunbathing aboard a catamaran, cliff jumping into the ocean and running away from inquisitive monkeys on Monkey Beach. After an exhilarating day at sea, there’s only one thing on the menu tonight, the classic Green Thai Curry. Though slightly ruined by western culture this cult classic still hits the spot, and a trip to Thailand can’t go amiss without dining on this spicy, dish. Sit back, dig in and let the coconut based flavours put a cherry on the top of your day.
3. Koh Phangan and Tom Yum Soup
Koh Phangan is the party island to end all party islands and is home to the infamous Full Moon Party that takes places yearly on the islands south shores. When you’re not busting grooves in the sand, plastered in glow paint, and questioning your life existence, you should be hitting the ocean for a spot of exercise. The waters around the island are perfect for Stand Up Paddleboarding, Kayaking and snorkelling excursions and a morning or day can be spent frolicking in the deep blue. Back on land, it’s time to try our third signature Thai dish: Tom Yum Soup. This hot and spicy dish will pack a punch on a hangover day, and the herbs and vegetables might just help boost your immune system back up to a functioning level.
4. Koh Tao and Massaman Curry
Over to the island of Koh Tao now and its time for the famous massaman curry. This dish is typically made with beef but chicken is a great alternative and if you thought creamy coconut, peanuts and potatoes were a bad combination, think again. This dish is one of Thailand’s best and is even better served beachside with a Chang beer in hand. After a hearty portion or three, take a long-tail boat out to Koh Nang Yuan island and hike up the hill for epic panoramic views of the surrounding islands.
In conclusion, Thailand is home to some of South East Asia’s best cuisine, and these are just a smattering of dishes available. This article can’t end though without a nod to the Thai Spring Roll. This delicious creation, akin to the Chinese spring roll, is available from almost every street vendor in the country and its the perfect cheap snack to keep you going on your travels. It also contains vegetables so if you wanted to feel good about your self, or let your significant other back home know you’re eating healthy; you could do.