What I Eat as a Teacher in Thailand

Authored By:

Lauren S.


Who doesn't love Thai food? Pad Thai, fried rice, curries. As long as it's not too spicy, I love it all! Well, I loved Americanized Thai food, at least. Of course, Thai food is different in Thailand than in the US, but my stomach and I were not ready for just how different it would be.


Thai street food- mini octopi and squid on sticks with raw fish and shrimp.

For starters, everything is spicier! If you usually choose medium on the spicy scale in the US, that would equal a low spice level here in Thailand. Pro tip: Red peppers are actually the least spicy. Yellow and green are the hottest peppers and flavors.

In general, all flavors are much stronger here. For example, coffee and tea are super strong and bitter. I can drink coffee all day in the US, but I tap out after 2 cups in Thailand because the caffeine makes me shaky. The same goes for flavoring packets in ramen, sour candy, and even bananas.

All that being said, I have learned to choose the most benign dining options for the sake of my stomach. Our school provides teachers breakfast and lunch every school day, so we eat on our own for dinner and weekends. Here's a look at what I typically eat on a school day!

Three white plates filled with sushi, pad thai, and dragon fruit on a brown wooden table

American breakfasts do not normally consist of fish, including fish smells, fish broth, and fish oil. Walking into the cafeteria on my first day, the smell of fish overwhelmed my senses and sent my stomach lurching. The other American teachers and I were not expecting such flavors so early in the morning. Thus, we began opting out of the school's breakfasts. Our administration noticed we were not eating because of the intensity of the morning's meats and soups, so they kindly began offering us toast with butter and sugar. Touched by the gesture, we started eating breakfast in the cafeteria for toast. However, a couple slices of white bread is not enough to power me through my day of running after 5-year-olds. I'll usually supplement with a banana and yogurt. And that's breakfast!

Lunch, one of my day's highlights, has been much more satisfying. We fill a plate with rice and have many options of vegetables, curries, meats, and soups, of which we get to select two. I've found it's best to avoid meat, so I pick a fried egg with vegetables. Portion sizes are much smaller in Thailand than in the US, so I'll grab an ice cream from the 7/11 on campus to keep me full until dinner time.

Dinner changes by the day. Most of the time, when I get home from school, I am too tired to go out for food. Without a kitchen in my dorm on campus, I'm left with few options for dinner. I have a water heater and a mini fridge, so many nights I'll make ramen and add broccoli and avocado to ensure I'm getting my vitamins. Fruit and vegetable smoothies come in clutch to ensure proper nutrition too!

A dinner table with three people getting food from a plate of sweet and sour chicken and orange soup on a hot plate.

And that's about what I eat in a day!

Pro tip: Always clean up after cooking or eating in your room because ants in Thailand are super smart and will find even the smallest crumbs!

Wishing you good eats and happy holidays!