I have discovered that there is one very important concern in the mind of every touring cyclist, F-O-O-D. Over the years, the many cyclists I have had the privilege of encountering on the roads of Thailand have always found it necessary to share their particular experiences of failure and success when attempting to order Thai food. Understanding the language barrier that faces many foreign touring cyclists traveling in Thailand, I thought it appropriate to shed some light on the subject.

The task of ordering favorite or familiar Thai dishes is difficult for some touring cyclists as many roadside restaurants do not have menus available, in either Thai or English language. The restaurants instead rely on the assumption that patrons are already acquainted with the staple foods that comprise an everyday Thai meal. In Thailand, roadside restaurants all share a very common list of local dishes which most, if not all, Thai people are familiar with, to the point where many Thais order the dish they wish to eat without ever needing to reference a menu.

The list of dishes that make up the ‘core’ of Thai lunch menus is quite easy to learn and proves to be full of good cycling fuel choices. BicycleThailand.com has created the Thailand Touring Cyclist Menu in an effort to help foreign cyclists to easily and confidently order from Thai roadside restaurants that do not have English language menus.

***Download the Thailand Touring Cyclist Menu in PDF document form, laminate it, and take it with you during your trip***

You need not be able to speak Thai, or even pronounce the name of the dish you would like to eat. By utilizing the Thailand Touring Cyclist Menu you can simply point to the Thai word on the menu and meet with delicious success 9 times out of 10. If the restaurant doesn’t seem to be able to make the dish you selected it is most likely because they have run out of a particular ingredient. Move on to your second choice. The Thailand Touring Cyclist Menu includes choices for vegetarian dishes as well as a few extra handy translations for making additions or exemptions to the dish you have ordered.

Below is a short description of the seven most common dishes available at roadside restaurants in Thailand that any cyclist is sure to find throughout the country.

#1. Phad Grapao – ผัดกระเพรา

Phad Grapao Moo

Phad Grapao Moo

What it is: Stir fried pork or chicken with chili and sweet basil. This dish is served on top of white rice with or without a fried egg. Like with most Thai dishes it is unnecessary to order the white rice separately. You will receive white rice with the Phad Grapao. This dish tends to be a bit on the spicy side for some foreigners and accordingly some restaurants will put less than the normal amount of chilies in it when ordered by a foreigner.

Stir fried pork with chili and sweet basil – ผัดกระเพราหมู

Stir fried chicken with chili and sweet basil – ผัดกระเพราไก่

#2. Khao Phad – ข้าวผัด

Khao Phad

Khao Phad

What it is: Fried rice. You can order it with chicken, pork, vegetables, egg, and sometimes even seafood. This dish is served with cucumber slices and spring onions. This dish contains no chilies and is never spicy.

Fried rice with chicken – ข้าวผัดไก่

Fried rice with pork – ข้าวผัดหมู

Fried rice with vegetables – ข้าวผัดผัก

Fried rice with egg – ข้าวผัดไข่

Fried rice with seafood – ข้าวผัดทะเล

#3. Khai Jieow – ไข่เจียว

Khai Jieow

Khai Jieow

What it is: Omelet. You can order it plain or have it cooked up with pork (very common throughout Thailand) or shrimp (available in the South of Thailand) inside. This dish is usually ordered in addition to some other main dish, and it is eaten with a sweetened chili sauce.

Omelet with pork – ไข่เจียวหมูสับ

Omelet with shrimp – ไข่เจียวกุ้งสับ

#4. Phad Phrik Gaeng – ผัดพริกแกง

Phad Phrik Gaeng

Phad Phrik Gaeng

What it is: Stir fried pork, chicken, or vegetables with red curry paste. The amount of curry, and therefore spiciness, varies in this dish from restaurant to restaurant. The red curry paste is sometimes very dark red and sometimes orange or yellowish. This dish is served on top of white rice. Like with most Thai dishes it is unnecessary to order the white rice separately. You will receive white rice with the Phad Phrik Gaeng. One of the most common vegetables you will see in this dish is cut green beans.

Stir fried pork with red curry paste – ผัดพริกแกงหมู

Stir fried chicken with red curry paste – ผัดพริกแกงไก่

Stir fried vegetables with red curry paste – ผัดพริกแกงผัก

#5. Thaut Gratiem – ทอดกระเทียม

Moo Thaut Gratiem

Moo Thaut Gratiem

What it is: Stir fried pork or chicken with garlic and black pepper. This dish is served on top of white rice. Like with most Thai dishes it is unnecessary to order the white rice separately. You will receive white rice with the Thaut Gratiem. The pepper in this dish is black pepper, and therefore not spicy. The amount of garlic and black pepper in this dish varies from restaurant to restaurant.

Stir fried pork with garlic and black pepper – หมูทอดกระเทียม

Stir fried chicken with garlic and black pepper – ไก่ทอดกระเทียม

#6. Pad See-Ew – ผัดซีอิ๊ว

Phad See Ew

Phad See Ew

What it is: Rice noodles stir fried in soy sauce. It is made with dark soy sauce (“si-io dam”), light soy sauce (“si-io khao”), garlic, flat rice noodles, called “kuaitiao sen yai” in Thai (commonly abbreviated to just “sen yai” meaning “big strip”), Chinese broccoli, egg, and some thinly sliced meat — most often pork, chicken or beef — or shrimp or mixed seafood. The peculiar name comes from the soy sauce used in the dish. This dish does not come with rice.

Rice noodles stir fried with soy sauce, garlic, egg, broccoli, and chicken – ผัดซีอิ๊วไก่

Rice noodles stir fried with soy sauce, garlic, egg, broccoli, and pork – ผัดซีอิ๊วหมู

Kha Na Moo Graup

Kha Na Moo Graup

#7. Kha Na Moo Graup – คะน้าหมูกรอบ

What it is: Crispy deep fried pork belly with kale. This dish is served on top of white rice. Like with most Thai dishes it is unnecessary to order the white rice separately. You will receive white rice with the Kha Na Moo Graup.

Crispy deep fried pork belly with kale – คะน้าหมูกรอบ

***Download the Thailand Touring Cyclist Menu in PDF document form, laminate it, and take it with you during your trip***


Additions and Exemptions

with tofu – กับเต้าหู้

with mushrooms – กับเห็ด

Don’t put meat inside – ไม่ใส่เนื้อสัตว์

Don’t put Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) inside – ไม่ใส่ผงชูรส


More Thai food advice for Touring Cyclists

Would you prefer a delicious bowl of egg or rice noodle soup? Read Cycling on a Shoestring: The Ubiquitous Noodle Shops of Thailand

We welcome your comments, suggestions, and additions to this menu. Tell us of your personal experiences cycling and eating in Thailand. Comment below or send us an email at Readermail@BicycleThailand.com


Planning a cycling trip in Thailand? Want to remove some of the guesswork when it comes to routes and information? BicycleThailand.com offers GPS route data for touring cyclists that can be used on a GPS device, smartphone, or tablet. These routes can be viewed on your device regardless of internet access during your Thailand cycling adventure. Learn more about our Thailand GPS cycle touring routes.