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How to survive as a vegetarian in Bangkok, Thailand and never go hungry again


If you are thinking about how to survive in Bangkok, Thailand if you are vegetarian, sit back and relax because it’s not just possible, but very pleasantly so. It’s unlike many of the myths you may have heard about vegetarian restaurants and food in Bangkok being impossible to find.


Go on, show your meat eater friends the middle finger and tell them that you’ve found a fool-proof way go the veggie way in the City of Angels.


Learn how to say the word ‘vegetarian’ in Thai

If you’re eating at street stalls or open markets, you’re likely to find more local Thai dishes as compared familiar continental fare and most traditional Thai dishes are bound to have some form of meat, especially fish, chicken and pork. In such a situation, simple call out the work ‘jhe’ while you are placing the order. Although ‘jhe’ loosely translates as vegan, it is the closest you will get to ordering a vegetarian dish without any confusion. The phrase ‘mang sa wirat’ also suggests that you are vegetarian.


Stick to the big food chains

The safest way for vegetarians in Bangkok or anywhere else in Thailand is to stick to the big chains. Whether it’s a McDonald’s, Burger King or a Pizza Hut, you’re bound to find some standard vegetarian fare at such places.


Order Khao Pad, Som Tam or Pad Thai sans the meat

Vegetarian Khao Pad

Although Khao Pad and Pad Thai are not vegetarian dishes, they are the closest you can get to ordering one. Khao Pad translates to Thai fried rice which typically includes meats like shrimp, crab or chicken. But as mentioned earlier, using the word jhe will help you get a bowl full of fried rice topped with a fried egg.

A vegetarian version of Thailand’s famous Som Tam or Green Papaya Salad

On the other hand, Pad Thai is a noodle-based dish with lots of veggies and shrimp, squid, crab of chicken for meat. Get rid of the meat and what you’ll be left with will be a preparation full of nutritious tofu, tamarind, radish, turnips, bean sprouts, chives and coriander.

The same applies to Som Tum which is Thailand’s famous green papaya salad.


Create and save indicative signage on your for extra clarification

Easy to understand signage to ask for vegetarian food

With a mobile phone handy, there’s absolutely nothing that you can’t suggest to someone even without knowing a certain language. Take a picture of the universal green vegetarian sign of a circle framed in a square. A pre-downloaded picture which shows a cross sign on a bunch of meats and a tick sign/check mark on vegetables is also a hack that you can use to shout out loud that you’re vegetarian.


Get the fish sauce replied with Soy

Traditional Thai seasonings including fish sauce

Most Thai dishes include fish sauce and a meat stock which will not be replaced unless specified. In Thailand, a dish is considered to be vegetarian if pieces of meat are not visible. So if you are a staunch veggie, make sure that you get the fish sauce replaced with soy along with the stock.


Carry ready to eat food packets from home

This should ideally be your last resort to surviving in Thailand as a vegetarian because travelling after all, is all about immersing yourself in the new sights and sounds of a place. As long as you carry branded ready to eat meals that can be heated up in the sink of a hotel room and eaten, you should be fine. Check Thai immigration rules to know exactly what type of food stuffs you can and cannot carry from abroad.


Go to an Indian restaurant

Indian cuisine has a wide variety of vegetarian dishes in addition to some excellent non-vegetarian fare. It is one of the few cuisines of the world which lends itself beautifully to a plethora of veggies. Google an Indian restaurant near your hotel or your destination and walk in to try out a new vegetarian dish.