There are so many reasons to visit Thailand. It’s home to beautiful beaches, stunning scenery, breathtaking Buddhist temples, and some of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet (there’s a reason why it’s known as the “Land of Smiles”). And with 127 national parks across the country and 22 marine national parks, it’s also teeming with wildlife. But, arguably, one of the very best things about Thailand is the food. And if you’re looking for vegan food, you’ve got nothing to worry about.
Many traditional Thai dishes are made with vegetables. You’ll also find fresh fruit at corner stands and in markets everywhere across the country. Vegan restaurants are becoming more commonplace, too, and many others have plant-based options. If you head to a restaurant and you’re not sure if something is vegan, ask. Chances are your server will be happy to help you find something.
If you’re heading off backpacking around the country, or you’re looking for the best destination to book a holiday, here are the top three destinations in Thailand for vegan food.
1. Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai is one of the most vegan-friendly destinations in Thailand, if not the whole of Southeast Asia. According to the veggie travel app HappyCow, it’s home to more than 200 vegan-friendly restaurants, including V Secret Street Food, which serves all of its plant-based dishes on wooden trays with banana leaves. Goodsouls Kitchen is another option. It’s one of the top-rated vegan restaurants in the city on HappyCow, serving everything from traditional Thai cuisine to “meaty” dishes, like mushroom steak burgers.
If you’re looking for vegan-friendly accommodation, the Anantara Chiang Mai Resort is a little slice of luxury heaven. Its restaurant has a variety of plant-based breakfast options, and in the evening it serves the meat-like “bleeding” Beyond Burger, as well as a Green Bean, Endive, Pear, and Hazelnut Salad, and Mushroom Consomme.
For a little fun, try its British secret service-themed bar and restaurant, Service 1921. Choose from appetizers like Banana Blossom Salad and Marinated Cold Black Fungus Sichuan Style. It also serves vegan spicy and sour Tom Yah Soup and Tom Kha Hed. The latter features “aromatic coconut milk in a secret mission with mushroom, galangal shoots, and kaffir lime leaves.” For your main, there are a variety of choices; try the hot green curry Gaeng Kiew Pak or spicy Khao Soi. Going all out? Reserve the restaurant’s private room, accessed only through a mysterious bookshelf.
If you want something really show-stopping, Consider a stay at The Dhara Dhevi Chiang Mai Resort. Set on 60 acres of beautiful grounds, the unique architecture is influenced by the ancient Lanna Kingdom. Its contemporary onsite restaurant—which won Trip Advisor’s Certificate of Excellence in 2018 and 2017—is vegan-friendly, serving dishes like coconut milk soup with vegetables, mushrooms, and herbs; crispy spring rolls; stir-fried asparagus with shiitake mushrooms, and sticky rice with mango. The Plate by Michelin Guide Book also honored the restaurant in its 2020 Chiang Mai Edition.
If you’re going with wellness and relaxation in mind, Dhara Dhevi’s spa offers a number of relaxing treatments and massages.
Bangkok, Thailand’s bustling capital, is arguably the place to be if you love street food. Head out to the markets and look for dishes like vegetable spring rolls, khao lam (sweet sticky rice in bamboo), pad Thai (order vegan, without the eggs or the shrimp), and the classic Thai dessert: mango sticky rice. Want a sit-down meal? May Veggie Home serves up a variety of meat-free dishes. Try the Vegetarian Fried Shrimp Salad or Green Curry with Tofu and Vegetables.
If you’re in the mood for something really fancy, try Michelin-starred vegan-friendly Nahm in the Como Metropolitan hotel.
Situated in the central business district of Sathorn, the hotel feels like a calm and luxurious escape from the busy city. Treat yourself to the Nahm Experience, which has a night’s stay, the tasting menu at Nahm, breakfast, and a welcome drink included. If you opt to eat at Nahm, give the restaurant notice when you book that you’ll be ordering vegan food. You won’t be disappointed. The menu includes dishes like Tom Yum Soup with Blue Foot Mushrooms and Chili Jam, Steamed Tofu With Preserved Plum, and Stir-Fried Young Fiddlehead Fern.
Tropical Phuket, the largest island in the Andaman Sea, is more than just the gateway to some of Thailand’s smaller, super popular islands like Phi Phi and Koh Lanta. It’s also home to its own stunning beaches, sprawling luxury resorts, and plenty of wildlife. The food, of course, is also not to be missed.
For a selection of Asian and Western dishes, try The Vegan Table in Phuket Town. According to HappyCow, it’s the place to be in Phuket, it’s even rated the top vegan restaurant in the area. The menu includes everything from smoked tofu summer rolls to a full English breakfast.
If you’re after authentic Thai cuisine, there’s Yo Vegan. Even despite the name, it’s actually a vegetarian restaurant according to HappyCow, so make sure you vet the menu carefully. All of the Thai dishes, like spicy noodles and tofu satay, are vegan.
Fine Dining and Festivals
For fine dining, try Blue Elephant Phuket. Its food is as rich as its building’s history, which is an antique governor’s house. According to the restaurant, the palace “is an exquisitely restored specimen of Sino-Portuguese architecture.” Blue Elephant’s menu is a mix of new and “classically ancient Phuketian flavors.” Choose from vegan dishes like Tofu in 3-Flavored Sauce, Flowered Spring Rolls, and Green Papaya Salad with Spicy Crushed Peanut Dressing.
If you happen to be in Phuket in October, head to the Annual Vegetarian Festival. Celebrated for a total of nine days in Phuket Old Town, it’s rife with vegan food options. According to the Vegan Food Quest blog, the festival is a “great opportunity to visit and get to eat like the locals, safe in the knowledge that everything is vegan.”
If you’re after a luxurious stay, try the Anantara Layan Phuket. With stunning views over the Andaman Sea, this large resort offers guests an escape from the everyday. It’s vegan-friendly too. Choose from a selection of traditional Thai dishes, as well as plant-based pizzas, pastas, and salads at the Breeze Pool Bar. It also serves the Impossible Burger and its own mushroom vegan patty.
For fine dining, try the resort’s Age restaurant. Opt for beetroot jelly, a roasted root vegetable salad, or josper burnt leeks with water chestnuts and black truffles.