Thailand is a country that does amazing things with the most elemental ingredients – from mushroom and tofu to bamboo, beans and coconut cream – and the diversity of vegan dishes on offer is a pleasant surprise. Bangkok’s Chinatown is a revelation, but those in the know head out of town for next-level street-food experiences. Discover a (literal) railway market at Mae Klong, enjoy a palm sugar demonstration at Tha Kha floating market, and peruse a veritable vegan smorgasbord at riverside Kanchanaburi. See everyday life from the Thai perspective and prepare a wide range of vegan cuisine under the guidance of Aoi, your Chiang Mai homestay host. Tuck into the likes of wing bean salad, tofu red curry, sweet sticky rice and traditional Thai banana cake. Get ready for a hands-on masterclass in vegan Central Thai cuisine in Kanchanaburi, browsing the market to pick fresh produce before feasting on your own creations
Home to some of the world’s most tantalising, spicy and flavourful cuisine, Thailand offers culinary adventures to delight all kinds of epicureans. Join this special vegan-friendly edition of our Thailand Real Food Adventure and experience the legendary cuisine of South East Asia for yourself. Jump into the kitchen with local Thai masters who do amazing things with tofu, mushroom, sticky rice, bamboo and spice, taking home a few new kitchen tricks of your own. While Bangkok’s street food is the perfect extension of the city’s hectic atmosphere – lively, fiery, bright, unique and sometimes just downright sweet – Chiang Mai showcases the Thai food of the north – a milder, Myanmar-influenced side of the national nosh. These vegan-friendly departures may be limited, so strike while the burners are hot.
Breakfast Included: 4 Lunches Included: 4 Dinner Included: 2
Sa-wat dee! Welcome to Bangkok. Thailand's bustling capital is famous for its tuk tuks, khlong boats and roadside vendors serving up mouth-watering street food – some of the best in the world. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm on Day 1, the details for which can be found at the hotel reception. Bangkok has a lot to offer those with time to explore – from Chinatown to the Grand Palace to the sleepy canals – so perhaps arrive a day or so early to take advantage. This evening the group can dine at Thamna, a small local restaurant making excellent use of ingredients like mushroom and tofu. Don't miss the grilled mushroom balls with cashew nuts.
Head to Mae Klong Railway Market (approximately 1.5 hours) to sample some of the delicious vegan delights on offer. Savour some khamnom krok (coconut rice pancakes), a traditional Thai dessert made from rice, flour, sugar and coconut milk. Grilled sticky rice stuffed with banana or taro is another great vegan option for the sweet tooths out there. If it's savoury you're after, keep it simple with some fried tofu or vegetable spring rolls. Afterwards it's off to the Tha Kha floating market (for a palm sugar demonstration) and the Talaad Rob Hoob railway market. Snacks along the way might be khnom gui chai (Chinese chive dumplings), or khao lam (a beautifully gooey sticky rice with red beans wrapped in bamboo – vegan-friendly because it's made with coconut milk). Finally, as we move on to historic Kanchanburi by the river, visit the night market there, which is packed with locals and a is great place to mingle. Your leader can help you seek out a market-fresh vegan-friendly dinner.
Try your own hand at some vegan Thai cuisine today. Partake in a cooking class with a local chef and feast on your creations for lunch. On the agenda will be a good mix of some of the classics and more: red, green, massaman, penang and yellow curries; plus zesty tom yum soup, tofu soup with coconut milk, pad thai, and fried rice sticks with tofu and mushroom. Afterwards, enjoy some free time to relax and unwind, or explore the town some more. This is a good opportunity to explore the World War II history in the area if you haven't already; the Death Railway Bridge and war cemetery are both important to see while you're in town.
Rise early and travel to Ayutthaya (approximately 3.5 hours), the second capital of Siam after Sukhothai. It was once one of the most powerful capitals in Asia, with over 1 million residents by AD 1700. Stop at a street food stall for a demonstration and tasting of roti sai mai, a dish synonymous with the Kingdom of Ayutthaya. Delicious and vegan-friendly, it consists of a thin pancake wrapped around fine strands of thin-spun cotton candy. While here you'll see the remains and reminders of Ayutthaya’s golden age, with a guided tour of the picturesque ruins and temples spread across the town. The rows of headless Buddhas at Wat Phra Mahathat, sacked by the Burmese in the 18th century, are very atmospheric, and a Buddha head surrounded by Banyan tree roots is perhaps the most photographed site in all of Ayutthaya. This evening you’ll head north to Chiang Mai on an overnight train, accommodated in soft sleeper class air-conditioned berths (approximately 13 hours). There will be ample time beforehand during the day to stock up on snacks for the journey.
Arrive in Chiang Mai by mid-morning. The most vibrant city in northern Thailand, Chiang Mai has many famous temples and an interesting old city area. It's also renowned for dazzling beauty and extremely welcoming locals. Lunch today is at a local vegan restaurant, either Free Bird Cafe or Amrita Garden. Your day is free thereafter; perhaps use the downtime to check out spectacular temples, the massive night market, the riverfront or the many shopping precincts. Join your leader on a walk through the old city, hire a bicycle, or simply loosen those muscles with some traditional Thai massage. Another good option is to visit one of the country's most stunning temple complexes, Doi Suthep (it's a 45 minute drive away). Here a 300-step naga-guarded stairway leads you to the temples, and the climb is well worth the effort. The hypnotic atmosphere of chanting Buddhist monks and sweeping views of the city make for a memorable experience. In the evening, we head to the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar, full of local handicrafts and fabulous northern street food dishes.
Wake early to offer alms to local monks. Later in the morning, meet Aoi, your gracious host, for an incredible homestay experience in a small Thai village. Stop by a restaurant specialising in the local delicacy of fermented rice noodles for lunch. Next, head to the homestay via some producers, including a mushroom farm, where you'll pick up ingredients for a northern Thai cooking class. Journey on to Aoi’s home and get ready to cook up a feast yourself. Over the years, a khantohk dinner has become a traditional way to welcome guests. Khantohk technically refers to a raised tray used for serving food in northern Thailand. Eleven dishes are featured on this traditional khantohk menu, so roll up the sleeves and spend a fun afternoon learning the ins and outs of this northern Thailand cuisine. The extensive menu includes yum tua plu (wing bean Thai-style salad), hor mok (steamed curry mousse in banana leaves), hed choop paeng tord (mushroom tempura), nam prik noom (northern green chili dipping paste) and khao niaw moon (sweet sticky rice). Local musicians will sing and dance throughout the evening.
For breakfast here at the homesay, you'll likely enjoy some of the local style cereal that uses ingredients such as butterfly pea, sweet corn and raisins. Bid farewell to your hosts as you return to Chiang Mai. Back in town, there may be the chance to visit, as a group, the Warorot Market. One of Chiang Mai’s largest markets and a thriving social hub, this is the perfect place to get a glimpse of daily life in northern Thailand (though vegan options are limited here). There will also be time for some final shopping, eating, a Thai massage – whatever you need to sneak in before the trip draws to an end. There's the chance to meet up again as a group in the evening for a final dinner at a restaurant along the Mae Ping River, to toast the end of this vegan Thai food adventure with a beautiful view across the water.
The trip comes to an end this morning, with no further activities planned.