A Thailand family holiday will create memories that will last a lifetime. Tropical beaches, lush jungles, rugged mountains and friendly locals all make Thailand kid-friendly. Adults will surely love the famous Thai foods such as Pad Thai and the delicious Thai curries. But finding kid-friendly food in Thailand may prove to be a bit more difficult.
We have taken our kids to countries with challenging cuisine before, but we’ve always been able to find a way to feed them properly. Our daughter is not a picky eater, but our son was going through quite a picky-eater phase while we were in Thailand and refused to eat rice. Given this, Thailand could possibly be the hardest country yet to feed our kids enough healthy food.
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Here’s how we found kid-friendly food in Thailand during our recent 30-day trip to Thailand:
Begin at Home with Kid Friendly Thai Food
A few months before our family trip to Thailand, we started cooking Asian food for the kids, with a focus on the popular Thai foods. We cooked at least one non-spicy Thai food a week from our favorite Asian slow cooker book; typically something we thought our kids would enjoy, like Cashew Chicken or Pad Thai.
The kids were excited for our family trip to Thailand and they found it fun to eat the food eaten in Thailand. Given their excitement, they would generally eat the kid-friendly Thai food, but it’s fair to say they didn’t love them.
Still, it was an important first step to introduce them to the exotic Thai flavors they would encounter on their trip.
Food Shopping in Thailand
In the past, when we’ve gone to places with challenging local cuisine, we have always coped by renting a Thailand Airbnb with a kitchen. We then shop at grocery stores and cook familiar meals for the kids from home in our kitchens.
We struggled with this strategy in Thailand as there are virtually no western-style grocery stores anywhere! Of the five cities we stayed in, only one had a Thai supermarket within easy walking distance of the tourist areas.
Everywhere else required us to buy food from street vendors, markets or 7-11. This was ok for fruits and vegetables, but not for much else.
Kid-Friendly Food in Thailand – Breakfast
We prefer Airbnb rentals to hotels when we travel with our kids, but when it came to breakfast in Thailand, we preferred staying at hotels due to the buffet breakfasts. Given the challenges we had finding western food at stores, it was a real treat to have a family-friendly hotel with a big buffet breakfast.
We let our kids fill their tummies with eggs, muffins, cereal, pancakes, fruit, juice, etc. at the Thai breakfast buffets. Then, if you are a little sneaky like us, you can take care of lunch for the kids by taking some bread, peanut butter and fruit.
When we were staying at an Airbnb in Thailand, we could generally buy milk, (sugary) cereal and yogurt from a 7-11 (which are literally everywhere in Thailand).
Thai Lunch for Kids
We took care of about 1/3 of our kids lunches in Thailand with food ‘borrowed’ from the breakfast buffet. For the rest of our lunches for the kids, were able to find kid-friendly food in Thailand on-the-go.
The kids really enjoyed the non-spicy Thai food we found, such as grilled meat skewers from street vendors (chicken, sausage etc.), fresh tropical fruits from markets and a lot of fruit smoothies.
We were able to make a lot of sandwiches for the kids in Thailand. Convenience stores (such as 7-11) carry whole wheat bread, Nutella and jam (sadly, peanut butter is hard to find in Thailand).
The kids love Nutella and they rarely get it at home as we don’t love its nutritional value. But as a special treat while traveling, the kids will devour their Nutella sandwiches. We’re willing to make this trade knowing that the whole wheat bread and bananas they are eating with the Nutella are filling, nutritious food with some fiber to keep them full.
Thai Dinners for Kids
The kids did pretty good eating kid-friendly Thai food for dinner, but we often found ourselves concerned that the kids hadn’t eaten enough. We would try to find kid-friendly meals to make sure they went to bed with full tummies.
To guarantee ourselves well-fed kids, we ordered pizza for them way more often than we typically would. Pizza Hut is literally everywhere in Thailand and it’s easy to order pizza online. Order lots as leftover pizza makes a good kids lunch the next day.
As for what to order for dinner at a Thai restaurant for kids, we had the most success with omelets. Believe it or not, omelets are a very popular Thai food and are found on almost every menu in Thailand. They are not spicy and are served in large portions, making it a filling, nutritious dinner.
Our home-cooking prior to the trip paid dividends as they ate cashew chicken several times. Cashew chicken is probably the most kid-friendly Thai food you can find. It’s not spicy and kids love the cashews. Lastly, we’d always give them some shrimp from whatever we ordered, like Pad Thai or curries.
When we couldn’t find kid-friendly food in Thailand at a restaurant, we’d typically buy ‘sausages’ from 7-11 and cook them at our Airbnb. Although the Thai call them sausages, they were really just hot dogs – but it guaranteed the kids will eat them.
Thai Desserts for Kids
It’s easy to find kid-friendly food in Thailand for dessert. Two very popular Thai desserts are mango sticky rice and banana pancakes.
We first tried mango sticky rice at the awesome food market near our Ao Nang hotel. If you ask our kids, mango sticky rice is one of the best things to eat in Thailand – they went crazy for the stuff! We’ve been back in Canada over a year now, and they still talk about it!
We first tried banana pancakes when we traveled through SE Asia without kids in 2008. We’ve been dreaming about them ever since and were very excited to share them with our kids in Thailand. Banana pancakes are a thin crepe-like batter wrapped around bananas, with sweetened condensed milk drizzled on top. There’s a wide variety of alternate toppings, but we think the condensed milk is still the best.
If you can’t convince your kids to try the mango sticky rice or banana pancakes, don’t worry as ice cream is available everywhere around Thailand.
Thai Food for Adults
It’s important to note that even though the kids didn’t eat Thai food every meal, we adults were able to eat Thai food almost every meal. You can get take-out Thai food virtually everywhere, so when the kids would eat sandwiches, hot dogs or pizza, we would still order ourselves some take-away Thai.
With the powerful sun in Thailand, it’s super important to make sure your kids are drinking enough fluids. We found that when the kids were overheated, they didn’t want to eat or drink much.
It’s really easy to find fruit smoothies in Thailand which are made with lots of real fruit, yogurt, purified ice and (sometimes) a shot of flavored syrup. Smoothies are an easy way to get some nutrition and fluids into the kids at the same time – win-win!
Carrying a hydration bladder in your day bag is an easy way to ensure your family always has plentiful water. Just make sure you fill it with bottled water – you can often find 1-gallon jugs of water at the 7-11.
Thailand Food Safety
There is an old adage about what food to eat while traveling to countries like Thailand, “If you can’t cook, boil or peel it, don’t eat it”. To help your child get more familiar vegetables into their diet, bring a vegetable peeler with you – seriously, you’ll appreciate having one.
Having a vegetable peeler allows you to buy carrots, cucumbers, etc. for your kids at the local food markets. Without one, your kids won’t be eating many vegetables at all in Thailand (if they are eating Thai food).
Kid Friendly Thai Recipes
We mentioned our favorite Asian cookbook earlier; it’s one of the most used cookbooks in our house. We frequently make kid-friendly Thai dishes from it such as Pad Thai and Cashew Chicken. As our kids get older, they are more and more adventurous with food. Even our picky-eater is giving many of these dishes a try.
In addition to the Thai food in this book, we cook several Asian food recipes for kids such as Mongolian Beef & Pineapple and Thai Green Curry Beef with Zucchini Noodles.
But, our kids all-time favorite Asian food recipe is also from this cookbook. Hoisin Chicken Tacos are a regular in our house – the kids devour these Asian-themed tacos every time.
If you are looking for kid-friendly Thai food recipes, we highly recommend the Asian Slow Cooker.
More Tips on Traveling to Thailand with Kids
- Tips for Thailand with Kids
- Family Friendly Beaches in Thailand
- Chiang Mai, Thailand with Kids
- A Family Friendly Chiang Mai Bike Tour
- Chiang Mai, Elephant Nature Park with Kids
- Ayutthaya, Thailand with Kids
- Kanchanaburi, Thailand with Kids
- Ao Nang Beach Holiday with Kids