My Gluten-free Survival guide for an awesome Thai Holiday
Having just returned from one of the best holidays my husband and I have ever had, I thought it was only fair to share our food experiences, a few photos and most importantly how I managed to eat gluten-free for the entire duration of our trip!
The first time we visited Thailand ten years ago, my gluten intolerance had not yet been diagnosed. So you can be sure there was plenty of street food, pad Thai's, wheat noodles and even bread being a big part of what we ate. So if I'm honest, I was certainly a little worried for how I was going to maintain a gluten-free diet and still enjoy myself on this trip!
Fortunately, I did my research and am also lucky enough to have a friend living in Bangkok, who was a great help to me. So I hope you find these tips helpful, if you are planning a holiday to Thailand and are concerned about staying gluten-free.
Our first stop and my first opportunity to see what I was up against!
Our resort provided a basic breakfast, and considering how good the fruit is in Thailand, this was all I needed. I've found eating light-heavy serves me extremely well, and this is especially easy when there is so much beautiful produce on offer! So every morning was watermelon o'clock 🙂
Lemons are pretty hard to find in Thailand, so my morning pre-workout hot water and lemon was replaced with hot water and lime. I also took my jar of Kiki Health Nature's Living Superfood Powder, which I had every morning before my watermelon. I've tried many greens powders and this remains my favourite and the highest quality.
One of my favourite things about Thai food (and also a great advantage) is that most dishes are prepared fresh. So as a gluten-free person, you can request "no soy sauce or oyster sauce". And thankfully, most restaurateurs and even street food vendors do speak enough English to understand this.
I also recommend visiting http://www.celiactravel.com/cards/ and downloading and laminating one of these Thai gluten-free card to show your server or street-food vendor. This proved extremely helpful and avoided any mishaps!
Koh Phangnan's infamous Phantip Night Market also served us very well, from the vast range of choice on offer. My favourites were the fresh juices (of course!) avocado salads and vegetable rice paper rolls. There is also an abundance of fresh young coconuts everywhere you look, so of course this became a regular daily occurrence for me 🙂
The next stop of our trip, and we were very lucky to stay at Baan Haad Ngam boutique resort for a bit of luxury! A private infinity pool, outdoor jacuzzi bath and one of the best rooms we've ever stayed in also come in very useful for my morning workouts...
Our resort had a fantastic selection for breakfast, as well as a juicer for you to press your own! Lunch was also easy, the hotel's restaurant being Italian meant menu included plenty of salads, rather than just pizza and pasta.
One thing to be mindful of, if like me you are a fan of fresh juices. The Thais tend to put syrup in EVERYTHING! So if you are ordering a fresh juice, shake or smoothie from a bar, make sure you tell them NO SYRUP!
One of the best meals we had in Koh Samui was at a restaurant called Red Snapper - which also happens to be my favourite fish! I remember eating plenty of it on our first visit to Koh Samui, so was only too happy to have more wherever I could find it.
The restaurant staff were extremely helpful and attentive, especially when I showed them my gluten intolerance card. I can also strongly recommend their banana split, with ice-cream made from coconut milk!
We also found an extremely friendly, accommodating and AMAZING street food market where they actually sit you down and serve you. The range of food on offer was exceptional and yes there was plenty more snapper 😉
Fisherman's Village, slightly further afield was also a wonderful eating experience I highly recommend.
This incredible, crazy and awesome city has come a long way since our visit ten years ago. In some ways, the vast range of healthy food on offer could teach Southampton a thing or two!
Everywhere you go, you are never far away from a cart of fresh seasonal fruit, vegan restaurant or healthy fast-food grab and go joint.
As there is so much on offer, we recommend staying in an apartment rather than a hotel. That way you are not committed to breakfast, have the freedom to come and go as you please and, if you're like my husband and I, can pretend you live there 😉
We chose the Urbana Langsuan which also had a rooftop pool, much needed in the average temperatures of 34C! We also wanted to be close by to the fabulous New Moves gym, owned by a fabulous friend and fellow personal trainer.
Not only did this ensure our morning workouts were most fun they could possibly be (being home to the best personal trainers in Asia helped somewhat...) but they also stock the incredible cold pressed Me Juice which I was so happy to finally get my hands on! So please visit this place, you'll be so glad you did and there really is nowhere else in the world quite like it.
Our favourite evening meal in Bangkok was the wonderful Crab and Claw at the Paragon Centre. This mall is worth a visit for the incredible decor alone (Southampton's West Quay has a LOT to live up to!) and the Crab and Claw provided fantastic seafood of a really high quality and great value.
So there you have it, my top tips for eating gluten-free in Thailand, from personal experience and a little bit of research. I wish you a fabulous holiday and safe journey and if you've any other recommendations or suggestions, please let me know as we will certainly be going back in the not too distant future!