Thai cuisine is known for its five main tastes: sour, hot, salty, savory, and sweet. Som tam (spicy green papaya salad) is a particularly popular Thai recipe that incorporates all five in one dish. Hailing from northeastern Thailand, som tam is made with shredded green papaya, chopped tomatoes, shredded carrots, runner beans, and dried shrimp. Sour lime, hot chili, salty peanuts, savory fish sauce, and sweet palm sugar are added into the dish, infusing all five of the main tastes. The ingredients are then mixed using a mortar and pestle, which crushes and grinds the food to better amplify the flavor. If you need something to cut the spice of som tam, order a side of raw vegetables to refresh your palate between bites.
You might know Red Bull as the carbonated energy drink that “gives you wings,” but did you know it was actually conceptualized in Thailand? Krating daeng, literally translated as “red bull” in Thai, is a sweet, non-carbonated energy drink made with water, cane sugar, caffeine, inositol (sugar alcohol), and B-vitamins. The Thai introduced krating daeng in the 1970s as a refreshment for rural Thai laborers, but it is now sold in Southeast Asia, East Asia, and 165 other countries. Thank the Thai for creating krating daeng, as this became the basis for Red Bull - the world’s best-selling energy drink.
Wat Nong Wang is the most famous Buddhist temple in Khon Kaen and a must-see city landmark. Conveniently located 30-minutes south of the city center, this impressive nine-story Buddhist shrine is full of culture, tradition, and history. Each level features colorful paintings depicting Khon Kaen’s history and beautiful mosaic floor tiles. On the ninth floor, you’ll reach an observation deck for a beautiful, unobstructed panoramic view of the city and Bueng Kaen Nakhon lake. Plan your visit accordingly – even though admission is free, there are several important rules to follow: do not speak; do not point your feet at images of Buddha; do not smoke; do not openly display affection; ensure your knees and shoulders completely covered; and remove your shoes upon entering. (Other than that, have a grand time!)