Thailand’s rainy season, or green season, is a time of fertile richness and lush beauty. Wherever you travel from the North to the South, you’ll encounter the gorgeousness and abundance of the green season steeped in each region’s distinctive heritage. This all creates an enticing atmosphere for visitors with interesting experiences and activities, as well as delicious dishes. Let’s travel to five provinces through MICHELIN Guide recommendations and discover the local favourite delights and destinations you should try not to miss there.
Chiang MaiConsidered by many as the top province in the North, especially among travellers, Chiang Mai is a diverse natural paradise. Jungles, forested mountains, waterfalls comprise national parks and surround enchanting villages and farmlands, all made even more lush and picturesque by the rain. This verdant environment, along with the region’s unique traditions, is also home to a range of appealing hotels, resorts, and restaurants, where you can enjoy affordable street food to fine-dining experiences from talented chefs elevated with local flavours and flair. Here are some dishes you shouldn’t miss when you visit Chiang Mai.
“Khao soi” is a rich noodle dish with a spicy curry-like soup that originated from Chinese Muslims who settled in Northern Thailand. It’s traditionally served with chilli paste, pickled vegetables, and red onions. Known as a Northern speciality, particularly of Chiang Mai, you can find many excellent MICHELIN-recommended khao soi restaurants, including Khao Soi Mae Manee (Bib Gourmand), Khao Soi Mae Sai (Plate), Kao Soy Nimman (Plate), and Khao Soi Lamduan Faham (Charoenrat) (Plate).
“Nam phrik mueang nuea” describes nam phrik (chilli pastes and dips) dishes unique to the North, as nam phrik in general is popular all across Thailand. Here, iconic to this region are nam phrik ong and nam phrik num, served with steamed fresh vegetables and local snacks; such as, pork crackling, fermented pork, Chiang Mai sausage, and boiled egg. In Chiang Mai, there are many famous and long-standing favourite restaurants for nam phrik mueang nuea; such as, Krua Phech Doi Ngam (Krua Mueang Classic) (Plate), Lumdee Te Khuadang (Plate), Han Thueng Chiang Mai (Bib Gourmand), Huen Muan Jai (Bib Gourmand), and Huan Soontaree (Bib Gourmand).
Don’t miss: Doi Inthanon, Ban Pa Bong Piang, Doi Suthep, Tat Mok Waterfall, Mon Jam, the temples in the Old City, Nimmanhaemin Road.
PhuketPossibly the most popular destination in the South, this tropical island province attracts visitors for more than the summer sunshine. During monsoon season, the rain cools things down when the sun comes out for outings to the beach and to explore the island. Because beyond the sea and sand, Phuket boasts a diverse culture for you to experience, from the historic heritage preserved in Old Phuket Town’s architecture to a stylish, modern island lifestyle. Fundamental to the province’s distinctive character is the Peranakan influence on its food. But these ethnic Chinese-Malay people are just one among many who brought their culinary traditions to Phuket, creating a singular cuisine, recognised as a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy. MICHELIN Guide recommends not missing out on Phuket’s signature dishes such as the following.
“Kaeng kati pu” combines the finest crab meat from the Andaman Sea with a bold Southern-style curry for this famous Phuket dish. Eat it with steamed rice, rice vermicelli, or khanom chin -- this crab curry goes well with them all. To discover how popular local eateries serve this classic up, you can visit places praised by the MICHELIN Inspectors such as One Chun (Bib Gourmand), Raya (Bib Gourmand), Naam Yoi (Bib Gourmand), Mor Mu Dong (Bib Gourmand), Ta Tuay (Bib Gourmand), or Nahmyaa (Plate).
“Mi sa pam” is a fried noodle dish brought to Phuket by Hokkien Chinese migrants generations ago. These soft, round yellow noodles expertly stir-fried with high-quality seafood is a must-try local speciality, especially at Meesapam Khun Yai Chian, a MICHELIN Plate recipient, which has been serving this and other famous Phuket dishes for over 70 years. Another well-established and MICHELIN Plate spot is Mee Ton Poe (Wong Wian Ho Nalika), located in Phuket Town.
Don’t miss: Phuket Old Town, Dibuk Road, Phromthep Cape, Black Rock Viewpoint, Patong Beach, Kata Beach.
Phang-NgaAnother province in Southern Thailand teeming with natural beauty, Phang-Nga’s landscapes range from the sea and islands to jungles, mountains, and waterfalls. Complementing the scenery is a rich history preserved in a heritage sculpted from the Takua Pa harbour days into diverse arts, cultural activities, and other diversions, including delicious local dishes, to experience in every season.
“Khanom chin phak tai” shows how much Southerners love khanom chin, often preferring it over rice. They can eat it for every meal without getting bored, and there’s even a saying that “if I die, please make an offering of khanom chin.” To fully experience Phang-Nga’s cuisine, you must try authentic, Southern-style khanom chin, with fresh noodles served with plenty of side dishes and vegetables. Try this very dish at Khanom Chin Pa Son (Bib Gourmand). Located across from the Mae Ma Jo Bo Shrine, locals have been flocking here for over 30 years for their fresh noodles and four different home-made nam ya (traditional, chilli paste, fish kidney, and jungle curry), served with over 20 different unlimited side dishes, including fresh vegetables, boiled eggs, and fried anchovies. You definitely don’t want to miss out on a chance to taste this.
Another dish you should try is “bak kut teh”, highlighting traditional flavours from Phang-Nga’s Chinese heritage in a hot bone broth with Chinese medicinal herbs. MICHELIN Plate awarded Thian Leng Bak Kut Teh is renowned for their secret bak kut teh recipe, full of rich aromas and served with braised pork ribs so tender that the meat just falls off the bone.
Don’t miss: Old Phang-Nga and Takua Pa, Samet Nang Chi, Little Amazon, Khlong Sang Na, Ko Yao Noi, Ko Panyi, and Ko Khao Phing Kan.
Phra Nakhon Si AyutthayaThis ancient royal capital is not far from the modern capital of Bangkok, but it’s a world of its own, filled with ornate temples and historic ruins. No wonder it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Complementing this regal ancestry is the customary river life as Ayutthaya sits on the lowlands along the Chao Phraya River. Visitors can still get a traditional village experience along the waters. And if you stop by during the green season, you can breathe in the refreshing atmosphere all the way to the past and taste the bountiful flavours from the Chao Phraya as locals in Ayutthaya have for generations.
“Grilled river prawns” features fresh river prawns, impressive in size with a firm texture, charcoal-grilled until fragrant and tender. Served with spicy seafood sauce, mix the rich, yellow fat with hot steamed rice for even more tastiness. You can try this simply amazing dish at almost any of the many riverside restaurants you’ll find in Ayutthaya.
“Grilled fish with sweet neem” takes full advantage of Ayutthaya’s location on the Chao Phraya River, teeming with a delicious variety of freshwater fish for you to try. You should definitely try it grilled with sweet neem. Depending on the restaurant, you can get catfish, snakehead, or other river fish seasoned and grilled over charcoal until perfect. Once you tuck in, eating the aromatic flesh with neem, sweetened fish sauce, and fried shallots, you’ll understand why this is a dish for every visit to Ayutthaya.
Don’t miss: Wat Yai Chaimongkhon, Wat Phra Si Sanphet, Wat Chaiwatthanaram, Wat Mahathat, Ayutthaya Floating Market, Tha Karong Floating Market, Kong Khong Market, Japanese Village, Bang Pa-In Palace, and Prasat Nakhon Luang.
ChanthaburiThis coastal province in Eastern Thailand offers a wide range of charms, including during the green season. There are jungles and forested hillsides, as well as the Phlio Waterfall and the Eastern bays. The Chanthaburi River is home to the Chantaboon riverside community, as the river flows through the city where traditional architecture is preserved along with a deep-rooted heritage. Plentiful seafood from bays and the Gulf of Thailand is a major ingredient, but Chanthaburi is also known for its fruits, known as a land of orchards. So, the cooks here use fruits like in no other regions, making for an interesting cuisine to explore. Visitors should come from around late summer to the middle of the rainy season, when the fruits are at their most beautiful and plentiful. The atmosphere is fragrant with succulent fruits and delicious local dishes for you to savour.
“Nam phrik pu khai” is a delectable chilli paste mixture with crab roe eaten with fresh vegetables. You can find this famous local favourite at many restaurants in Chanthaburi. Another local recommendation is “kaeng masamun kai durian” a unique savoury recipe featuring the famously pungent fruit, as Chanthaburi is known across Thailand for its durian plantations. And there are many popular restaurants that have been serving these two delicious delights and more for over 50 years. Foodies can visit many great restaurants to sample other Chanthaburi specialities; such as, kaeng mu chamuang, spicy mangosteen salad, and many other seafood dishes.
Don’t miss: Chantaboon Riverside Community, Cathedral of Immaculate Conception Chanthaburi, Noen Nangphaya Outlook, Khung Kraben Bay, Chao Lao Beach, Phlio Waterfall, Laem Sing Beach, and Chanthaburi fruit orchards.
These five provinces that the MICHELIN Guide has selected have much to offer during the verdant green season. So many interesting attractions to check out, and so many delicious dishes to savour. Food-loving travellers won’t want to miss out on a moment or a morsel. And the rain, besides providing lush greenery to enjoy, also provides the added bonus of marking the low season, when usually there are fewer tourists, so you can roam more freely and affordably. Nevertheless, as you venture out to experience this refreshing time of year, be sure to stay safe as you travel. Look for the SHA logo for the confidence in an establishment’s health, safety, and sanitation during this on-going health crisis.
Read more about this at thailandsha.tourismthailand.org.
Hero image: © Shutterstock, Courtesy of restaurants mentioned, Sunantha Maidee / MICHELIN Guide Thailand