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Most people may know only about the water fights that come along with the annual Songkran Festival, and perhaps a little bit about the traditions of the Thai New Year, but let’s find out a bit more!

Water plays a strong role in Thai culture. It not only symbolizes fertility and refreshment, but also prosperity and purification. Since water weaves its way through almost every part of Thailand, Thai people have been using water for travel, agriculture, and incorporating in some forms of artwork for centuries, Songkran is also no exception.

The reason that Thai people established Songkran as the Thai New Year is because April is the month after the harvesting season when the farmers would finally have their long resting period. They could celebration and hold festivals during this long vacation, as well as also make merit, giving food to the monks, going to temples, and doing fun activities with the family. They usually gathered with all the extended family, so it was the best time to have a celebration to cherish such prosperities of life and community.

Before the day of celebration, people would clean their homes and prepare new clothes as well as food and desserts for monks and neighbors. After distributing all the food, then it’s time for  “Song nham pra” and “Rod nham dam hua phoo yai”, both events that used water to slowly pour on the Buddha statue and the hands of the elders in the family, respectively. The belief behind these events was to cleanse all the illness and chase away sadness. Another exciting event for teenagers in the later days of Songkran is the water splashing. The meaning behind this water fight was to ask “Paya nak” for the rain during the summer, and also it was the only time that boys and girls could be close to one another without breaking the rules.

So, you see, there is quite a bit more to Songkran than just water fights!  If you ever have a chance to see how the locals do it, you will fall in love with some of these traditions!

References:

  1. The question 108 magazine
  2. Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University [2014], Conversation board: An Importance of Songkran’s Day, https://www.stou.ac.th/forum/page/Answer.aspx?idindex=158486&idindex=158486
  3. Suksab J. [2014], Bureau of Personnel Administration Development and Legal Affairs: And the importance of Songkran Festival Culture and The Family’s Day,  http://personnel.obec.go.th/personnel/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=621:q–q-&catid=13:2011-08-11-05-13-55
  4. Panatang A. [2010], GotoKnow: An Importance and The Value of Songkran’s Day, https://www.gotoknow.org/posts/351300

The post Songkran: The Value Behind Thai New Year and Water Festival appeared first on Taste of Thailand.

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Besides taking nice tour photos we also love to document our tours on video. We believe that videos are also an integral part in our food tour, showcasing some of the great culture, food and smiles along our tours!

Check out our Village of Love tour:

Village of Love Food Tour

Taste of Thailand's Bangkok Walking Food Tour - YouTube


Village of Love at Night

Taste of Thailand Night Bangrak Food Tour - YouTube

The post Taste of Thailand Video Reviews appeared first on Taste of Thailand.

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Being a traveler in Thailand you may always wonder what are the fun facts or weird culture they do believe in? In this episode we would like to highlight five interesting and fun facts in Thailand!

1. The Land of….: Thailand is not only the Land of Smiles! There are 1,430 islands in Thailand (land of islands), 35,000 temples with great Buddhist architecture (land of temples) and nearly 67 million people. Each year around 6 million tourists visit the country and there are 11 million non-resident visitors (local and foreign) who visit Bangkok, the capital, each annum.

2. Venice of the East: Bangkok is called Venice of the East due to the many original buildings that were built on stilts over the Chao Phraya River as well as the many meandering canals that were a significant factor in Bangkok’s trading activities.

3. Spirit Houses: Spirit houses are common to find outside of Thai buildings. Gifts and offerings are presented to take care of the spirits so they don’t bother those living in close proximity.

4. Rice: Rice is a staple at all meals and considered as a national food of Thailand- including breakfast and dessert. Rice is so important that in Thai, when one says they are hungry, they say Hiu Khao the words literally translate to I want to eat rice.

5. Walking Fish: Thailand is home of a fish that can walk on land! It’s called Cryptotora thamicola, otherwise known as the blind, waterfall-climbing cavefish, uses its two front and two back fins to propel itself up waterfalls. It can only be founded in Mae Hong Son province (Northern Thailand).

The post Top 5 Fun Facts in Thailand appeared first on Taste of Thailand.

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Pa Thong Ko is a very popular Thai deep-fried dough or Thai-style Chinese cruller, generally made by street vendors. Pa Thong ko actually originated from Chinese cuisine, called Teochew. Originally, this snack was called Yau Cha Guay but due to a bit of confusion of the Thai people with another kind of Chinese dessert and mispronunciation, Thais call both kind of desserts, Pa Thong Ko.  The name stuck and now it has become a daily standard in the local street food culture.

Thai people like to enjoy this fried treat in the morning or evening with a hot bowl of joke (Chinese congee.) or with tea, coffee or soy milk. Pa Thong Ko is also considered a sweet snack when dipped in sweetened condensed milk or a Pandan / Thai tea custard called Sangkaya.

It’s also super fun just to watch it being made along the street.  Pa Thong Ko vendors have gotten it down to a science:  the dough, the cutting and the specific way they stir the dough in the oil with long chopsticks.  You should surely taste this snack from more than one vendor, as each has its own special flavor, some sweet, some savory and even some incorporating sesame seeds!

If you don’t Pa Thong Ko along the street on your daily walk through BKK, we can show you a great spot on our Chinatown Evening Food Crawl!

The post Pa Thong Ko appeared first on Taste of Thailand.

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We recently sat down with one of our cheerful guides, K. Beau, and asked her a few questions to find out a little bit more about her.

Where are you from originally?

Uthai Thani. It’s near Nakhon Sawan

How long have you been a guide?

Almost 10 years

What do you like most about your job?

Being a Thai national, I definitely love to share Thai culture, history and experiences. I like to talk to the tourists regarding different types of foods and their origins as well.

What is your favorite Thai food?

It’s one of the most common Thai dish- Papaya Salad (Som Tum)

What is your favorite place in Bangkok?

Anywhere along the riverside.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I love to spend my free time reading books and listening to the radio.

Three things you couldn’t live without?  

Family, Friends and Money!

If you could travel anywhere in the world to try the food, where would you go?  Why?

I would choose Japan, because there are plenty of different types of tasty Japanese foods waiting for me there!

The post Guide Spotlight- Khun Beau appeared first on Taste of Thailand.

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Wat Pho (Wat Phra Chetuphon Vimolmangklararm Rajwaramahaviharn) is famous for its giant reclining Buddha that measures 46 metres long and is covered in gold leaf. The temple complex also has the largest collection of Buddha images in Thailand and maintains the title as the country’s earliest center for public education, specializing in religion, science and literature. Wat Pho is also famous for traditional Thai massage, and is home to the Wat Pho Thai Traditional Medical and Massage School since 1955. It offers basic courses in Thai Traditional Medicine including: Thai Pharmacy, medical practice, Midwifery and of course, Thai Massage.

Visiting Wat Po by day is a must-do for all new visitors to the Kingdom of Thailand, despite the crowds and the heat.  But did you know that you can also visit the grounds of this temple at night? It’s a completely different experience to walk amongst the greenery of the temple grounds uninhibited by the throngs of tourists that populate the temple during the day!

Taste of Thailand will show you the beauty of Wat Po by day in our recently launched new temple tours along the Chao Phraya River, or by night on our Tuk Tuk Urban Odyssey!

You may also find some great information on Wat Po on their website:  http://www.watpho.com/en/home

The post Our Favorite Sites: Wat Pho appeared first on Taste of Thailand.

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Ginger Root

Ginger has been part of the Thai culture for a very long period of time, some records say for over 5,000 years. It is a member of the Zingiberaceae family which also includes: turmeric, cardamom, and galangal. It is considered a hot ingredient. Ginger contains a lot of nutrients essential for our body, such as vitamin B, vitamin C, calcium, phosphorus, and beta-carotene; as well as the main bioactive compound, Gingerol, with various benefits including antioxidant, analgesic, anti-inflammatory and antipyretic properties.

Cut Ginger

Preserved Ginger

Thai people mainly use ginger for flavoring foods, desserts, and beverages. They use every part of the ginger, but the most abundant usage would be the root as it offers additional health benefits, for example supporting overall digestion, reducing muscle pain and soreness, improving stress and depression, fighting cancer and infection, and delaying hunger. Ginger root has long been used in Thai cuisine. It is used to make both savory and sweet dishes, and also drinks.

Steamed sea bass with ginger and soy sauce

Bua Loy Nam King

The post Ginger Root appeared first on Taste of Thailand.

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What is a tropical country without bananas?  Here in Thailand, banana is not only a fruit but also considered an important element in daily life, diet and culture.

Thailand has a great variety of bananas of different shapes, sizes and colors. Thai people love to eat bananas not only as a healthy snack right out of the peel, but have created a myriad of treats using this versatile staple. You will notice street vendors selling grilled or fried bananas, both delicious and offer unique flavours that are so very different from a simple raw banana!

 

There are a number of Thai desserts made with rice and flour, combined with bananas for some really wonderful new flavours never tasted in other parts of the world.

 

If you love to eat somtum then you must try Tam Gluay (SomTam Banana) which is made with green saba banana. It’s spicy and mix with pla ra (fermented fish sauce). Unlike other somtams, TamGluay has pungent taste. Even banana flowers are edible and used in dishes such as salads or eaten alongside Pad Thai.

 

Banana plants are even used in Thai marriage ceremonies.  In years gone by, the plants would be nurtured at the bride’s house and when the couple had their first child the plants would be there to provide nutrition for the baby.

Elephants, a national animal of Thailand and also the elephant has had a considerable impact on Thai culture. Elephants also eat bananas.

 

Banana is an integral part of Thai society! You should really get out there and try them all to see which is your favorite!

The post Banana and it’s impact in Thailand appeared first on Taste of Thailand.

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Name: Khun Mhuay
Originally From: Mae Klong, Samut Songkram
Favorite Food: Tod Mun Pla (Fish cakes) and Kaeng Som (Sour curry soup)
My favorite Place in Bangkok: Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of Emerald Buddha)
For me, Bangkok is: Heavenly, Modern and Convenient

Main Quote: I want people to taste a simple Thai delicious bite!

Khun Mhuay is originally from the nearby city, Samut Songkram, an area to the South of Bangkok, famous for its fish and seafood due to proximity to the Gulf of Thailand. She moved to Bangkok with her older sister, Khun Rong, in 1973 and helped her sell clothing for almost 20 years before starting her fish cake shop. Their grandmother always enjoyed cooking for the family and Khun Mhuay had gradually learned her grandmother’s secret recipe for these special fish cakes. She eventually decided to open her shop as fish cakes are a popular food, but it is hard to find delicious ones!


Her original shop was located in front of the Robinson Shopping Mall, which at that time was the early Bangrak Market. The current shop is now attached to the fruit stand (run by her sister). Even though the shop is small, it is in a great spot where people, both Thai and foreign pass by all the time and grab a smell (and taste) of her delicious treats!


The fish cake shop is located in Soi Charoen Krung 46, behind the Robinson shopping mall. Over 40 years ago, the land at Robison used to be the Bangrak Market, one of the largest in Bangkok. When the market moved, many of the vendors, including K.Mhuay had to find a new location. The current spot is a small space, but offers taste on a grand scale!

The post Vendor Spotlight: Khun Mhuay (Fish Cakes) appeared first on Taste of Thailand.

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Thailand is a hot country and roadside drink stalls are very common here. Before we talked about Beat the Summer heat with roadside ice-creams and its varieties. But in this blog post we will know about colorful Thai sodas which are widely available through the streets.

Shingha Drinking Soda- it’s the main soda that’s usually mixed with syrup and later served in ice cubes

These are usually ordered by indicating the color of the flavor you want mixed with your soda water, so, for example, if you want a lime-flavored soda you’d order a green soda. Same goes for lime (green), hawai (blue) and orange (orange). The red one is  made by mixing a colored, flavored syrup into ice and soda water and it’s very popular, even among adults. Milk can be mixed into the colorful soda to make it more like a milkshake type.

Nam Manao is just fresh lime juice served with soda water and sugar syrup. If you love lemon juice then go for it. Nam Manao goes really well with spicy Thai Isaan foods!

Cha Manao (Thai lemon tea) is another popular beat the heat drink. It’s brewed just the same as cha yen but instead of being served with condensed milk, is served with freshly squeezed lime juice.

All these soda drinks contain high amount of sugar. If you prefer your soda drink without extra sugar, you can ask for it mai waan, which means “not sweet.” But you’ll still get a little sweetness from the condensed milk. And do not get surprised if you see any Thais/Foreigners drinking these sodas in a plastic bag, it’s just so common here!

The post Beat the Summer Heat: Thai Sodas appeared first on Taste of Thailand.

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