Culinary Experiences in Bangkok for People with Dietary Restrictions

Written by Team Expique
Published: March 31, 2019

We love Thai food and we want to share our passion with everyone. Whilst dietary restrictions can provide challenges, it is still possible for people with specific requirements to discover the local food. In this article we will address a range of dietary restrictions and help you understand how you can still enjoy a culinary experience with us.

Vegetarian Festival In Bangkok

Did you know that for 10 days every year (in Sept or Oct) Thailand has a vegan festival (often referred to as Vegetarian Festival)? The reality is Thais are quite familiar with the concept of vegan (with some additional restrictions such as no garlic) and during this festival you will find meatless versions of practically every dish!

Our ability to cater for specific requirements often will depend on how strict and flexible restrictions are. Specifically with Halal and Kosher requirements it is difficult to cater for the strictest requirements if you only eat at strictly supervised restaurants, but where we can at least visit unsupervised restaurants or if meats do not need to be certified then it does give us more flexibility to host.

Below you will find more information on what to be aware of and how we can host you.

Core ingredients to be aware of depending on dietary requirements

For people with dietary restrictions the most common things to be aware of are:

  • Shrimp paste is used in a lots of dishes
  • Fish sauce is commonly used – it is often added to dishes instead of salt
  • Soy Sauce may be used but can include gluten – for vegetarians are gluten intolerant this can make things challenging as soy sauce is usually used instead of fish sauce
  • Stocks are used regularly and most likely to be chicken or pork
  • MSG is very common in street food and can be very hard to avoid (if you want to get a real local experience)
  • Nuts are not widely used except for in a few dishes.

Traditionally vegetarian dishes would have either have mushrooms or tofu as substitute for meat and seafood. Also, many vegetarian appetisers and snacks would be deep fried. These days a lot of higher-end or vegetarian focused restaurants will get a lot more creative in their vegetarian menus, but these are not the restaurants we normally visit on our standard food tours.

Food Tours for people with dietary restrictions

Exploring Street Food

The concept of many food tours is that very specific dishes are selected at each location and if your dietary restrictions mean you can not eat that specific dish then you may not enjoy the same experience,  as dishes often have no direct substitute. For example a small vendor who specializes in pork satay generally would not have an alternative. Or a shop uses shrimp paste as a core ingredient, so no options for people who can’t eat shrimps.

This means that for people with specific dietary requirements who join a small-group tour we can not guarantee the same experience if they can not eat certain dishes. We will do our best within reason to find an option at some stops but we can not promise alternatives at every stop. If you do have specific requirements you can let us know and we will advise what percentage of the stops have suitable options.

For people with specific dietary requirements we do usually recommend the following options

  • A Private Tour where we can customise stops to meet your requirements.
  • Our Bangkok Night Lights Tour. We do not consider this a full food tour (but we do include appetisers, main course and dessert), but each stop does have options. This is available as both a join-in group and private tour.
  • Our Snacks, Markets and More Tour. While this is more of a snack tour that a full food tour, we have enough snacks to chose from along the way that makes it possible to adapt. This is available as both a join-in group and private tour.

For those interested in our Evening Food and Tuk Tuk Adventure, we need to be clear that there are several stops that include a pork dish and another that has a chicken dish that is not easy to find good alternatives for. Some stops have fish sauce / shrimp paste in the food which is not easy to substitute. Stops do vary but vegetarians may only have decent options at 2 of the 5 stops.

Cooking classes for people with dietary restrictions

Cooking Class at The Market Experience

The great thing about a cooking class is you can see exactly what goes into the dish and in most cases it is easy to adapt for very specific dietary requirements. We can easily cater for most dietary requirements but we can not provide cooking classes with Kosher or Halal certified meat.

If you do have specific dietary requirements please do tell us in advance so we can prepare accordingly.

Don’t let your dietary restrictions stop you enjoying Thai food in Bangkok!

We hope that through this article we have demonstrated that dietary requirements don’t need to limit you and we hope you will consider the appropriate culinary experience with us.

There are also lot’s of great restaurants in Bangkok that have good vegetarian selections and you can read our recommendations here.

Categories: Tours & Experiences

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