Travelling away from home as a vegan or vegetarian can be tough! But traveling in Thailand as a vegan or vegetarian has become really easy and fun! Our biggest nugget of advise for when you’re traveling in Thailand as a plant based eater is – don’t be afraid to ask what the ingredients are in a dish and be sure to try new flavour combinations!
Here’s everything you need to know about navigating your taste buds around this ultimate vegan and vegetarian destination.
How To Say You Follow a Plant Based Diet In Thai
Eating Vegan and Vegetarian in Thailand is not difficult – you just need to know what to look out for! To avoid fish sauce and other animal products in your food, you will need to remember a simple Thai phrase – Gin Jay. It translates as a strict vegetarian who does not eat meat, dairy or egg – and interestingly enough, this is the diet that the Monks follow – so you are in good hands!
The word or symbol combination for ‘Jay’ looks a little like the number 17 and is found on signage above vegan products and outside some restaurants. These lovely places are STRICTLY vegan for religious reasons, so feel free to enjoy anything on the menus!
A good tip we have been told by lots of locals and travellers alike is CHECK YOUR FOOD and PLEASE make sure you are clear when ordering, and say specifically ‘no seafood, no fish sauce, no meat’ and if you are vegan – no egg (milk will rarely be used but you can also say if necessary). Seafood and fish are considered different, and therefore, might be ignored if not clearly stated.
Assistance Apps like HappyCow will also help you navigate your way around the country if in doubt! This app will pull up vegan, plant based, vegetarian and non-meat restaurants around you
We Even Have a Festival for You!
The country is full supportive of the lifestyle and really embraces the culture of plant based life! They even host an annual Thai Vegetarian Festival, known as the Nine Emperor Gods Festival. Read more about it here! The largest annual vegetarian festival in the world, based on the Taoist way of life, that is celebrated for nine days around the country.
The biggest celebrations take place in Bangkok and on Phuket Island where around about 35% of the population is Chinese, and attracts huge crowds every year because of the unusual religious rituals that take place! It’s one of the best times to visit Thailand as a vegan because you don’t have to worry about what is in your food. You can simply stroll down the street and try anything that draws your eye and is marked ‘Jay’.
Traveling Around Thailand as a Vegetarian or Vegan
When in Koh Phan’gan
Situated in the gulf of Thailand, the beautiful island in southeast of Koh Phangan is a plantbased haven that offers an absolutely incredible amount of choice for meat-free travellers! From vegan to vegetarian, you’ll be blown away and spoilt for choice here! Famous for its Full Moon Party at the end of each month, Koh Phangan is home to hundreds of markets, restaurants, cafes and vendors – all serving up stunning dishes suited to the vegan and vegetarian diet!
Where to Eat Vegan and Vegetarian in Koh Phan’gan
Eat.co is definitely a must-go when on the island!
Pure Vegan Heaven
When in Chiang Mai
When in Thailand – and looking for foodie-spots – this city is a MUST on your travels! Chiang Mai, in Northern Thailand is an iconic Thai town surrounded by the walls of the Old City, with ornate temples and lush forests just a short drive away.
Chiang Mai has fast become the vegan paradise for ethical travellers in Thailand! The city boasts more than 80 specifically vegan and vegetarian restaurants and has countless others that offer meat free dishes of famed Thai tradition such as Tom Yum soup and Pad Thai or even, if you’re feeling adventurous, a Banana Flower Thai Salad. It truly is the mecca of things plant based in Thailand!
Where to Eat Vegan and Vegetarian in Chiang Mai
Free Bird Café
Anchan Vegetarian Restaurant – where the slogan is “Vegetarian food so delicious you won’t miss the meat.”
Bee Vegan – Restaurant, Juice Bar, Smoothie Bar and totally Vegan
When in Phuket
In comparison to Chiang Mai and even Bangkok, Phuket is an expensive city to eat, stay and play in, and they aren’t known to be as vegan friendly as the other cities and areas BUT they are growing in this department. A big perk of Phuket is that most locals can speak English, which will help you ask for assistance if you are unsure!
Two must try vegetarian and vegan dishes when is Phuket are banana pancakes and mango & coconut sticky rice!
Where to Eat Vegan and Vegetarian in Phuket
Sai Than Boon
Two Chefs – with their extensive menu full of exciting options
Yo Green Vegan & Vegetarian in Patong
Pure Vegan Heaven
The LifeCo Phuket in the Thalang District is all about that raw diet! Fresh and healthy!
When in Bangkok
No matter what your budget, there is something for every kind of vegan and vegetarian traveller in Bangkok. The city is FULL of vegetarian and vegan eateries because of the Buddhist and Jain communities around the area!
This bustling, vibrant city has a lot to offer the hungry vegan traveller. The city boasts many options for vegans, from local Thai dishes to Indian and your classic American hamburgers made vegetarian. There are upper scale restaurants all the way to the tiny most cost effective street vendors and cafes.
Where to Eat Vegan and Vegetarian in Bangkok
Khao San road! There are so many options here – keep your eyes open for the Jay symbol or sign and enjoy the magic of Thai food!
Broccoli Revolution – a MUST visit in Bangkok!
May Veggie Home, located along the Ratchadaphisek Road is fully vegan!
As the wonderful vegan bloggers, howaytheherbivores.co.uk said
“Whether you’re worried about eating in the land of smiles or you’re unsure of what to expect, we’d just like to reassure you that you don’t really need to worry. It’s a pleasure to eat vegan here and Thai cuisine and culture is something you just have to experience.”