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We’re all foodies here at Thailand Hilltribe Holidays, and local cuisine is an important part of our tours! So we’re lucky that northern Thailand is home to some of the most authentic and delicious Thai food.  We often stop at markets and roadside vendors, to let you try the seemingly weird but wonderful tasting local snacks and food.

Most people think of Thai food as being green and red curries, Pad thai, Tom Yum etc. which are popular in central Thailand, but are really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Thai cuisine.

Each part of Thailand has its own regional specialities influenced by the ingredients available in that area. Northern Thai food is influenced by Shan (ethnic minority) and Burmese cuisine . The flavours and herbs are often milder and result in a softer taste, compared to southern Thai food, where flavours are more pungent

Here our top 5 must eats! when you are in northern Thailand

1) Khao Soi (ข้าวซอย) / Yellow curry noodle

This yellow curry noodle dish is borrowed from Burmese cuisine, and has more of an Indian flavour. The yellow egg noodles in a coconut based sauce, can come with either Chicken, pork or beef, garnished with coriander and crispy noodles for added crunch.
It’s served with a side dish of pickled cabbage, lime, shallots, adding an interesting kick when mixed into the noodles

Chiang Mai noodles

Khao Soi – Yellow curry noodles  © Thailand Hilltribe Holidays

2) Sai Oua (ไส้อั่ว) / Chiang Mai sausage

Is quite different from western sausages, as it’s probably only fifty percent meat and the rest is packed with herbs such as lemongrass, kaffir lime, galangal and chilli. It can be found across markets in northern Thailand, in coils over a barbeque.

Chiang Mai sausage_300

Chiang Mai sausage

3) Nam prik ong (น้ำพริกอ่อง)/ Red minced pork chilli dip

Looks like spaghetti bolognaise sauce, but looks can be deceiving as it tastes wildly different. It’s made of minced pork, crushed tomatoes, garlic, birds-eye red chillies – although don’t’ let this put you off, as its only mildly spicy, honest! The key ingredient though is Shan dried soy tortilla which has been crushed, giving it a uniquely deep flavor.

Northern Thai chilli dip

Nam prik ong – Shan chilli dip

4) Geng Hanle (แกงฮังเล) /Pork Belly Curry

Originally from Myanmar, this is a tender stewed pork belly curry, with a mildly sweet and spicy taste. The sauce has a hint of fruitiness alongside a fusion of tamarind, garlic and ginger.

Hanle - Burmese Pork curry

Hanle pork curry © Thailand Hilltribe Holidays

5) Hilltribe food

For hilltribes villagers, their diet consists mainly of rice and vegetables. Meat is reserved for special occasions such as a wedding or spirit festival (often from an animal that has been sacrificed for this occasion). A typical everyday Karen hilltribe dish is ‘Khao bur’ (rice porridge), and a signature Lawa hilltribe dish is ‘Saa buak ‘ (cold chicken salad seasoned with herbs and coriander)
Food and eating together is an important part of Thai culture, on our Mae hong son loop tour , we cook together with our hilltribe homestay family in their traditional kitchen and enjoy and evening meal together.

Local food at Hilltribe Homestay

Home cooked dinner at our hilltribe homestay

The variety of delicious food here is reason enough to visit northern Thailand. Have you tried northern Thai food?  If so, we’d love to hear about your experiences and favourite dishes.

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