Thailand is the land of smiles and delicious food, even for the gluten free traveller! Although there is a big language barrier here, there are many naturally gluten free dishes and with the assistance of a language card, I found gluten to be easy to avoid. As with many other countries, many ‘breakfasts’ are continental style with bread and pastry, but it is possible to find ‘British’ or ‘American’ breakfast options in tourist areas, which usually consist of eggs, bacon and baked beans.
Alternatively, fried rice with egg or stir-fried meat and veggies are also good options for breakfast or the insanely simple and delicious Thai ‘mango sticky rice’ dessert, with fresh mango and coconut milk over sticky rice. It was one of my favourite options and available very inexpensively, even from street vendors.
For lunch and dinner options, almost all the curries I encountered were gluten free and dairy free, making it one of the most diverse gluten free destinations I’ve been (OMG more than 2 menu options???). Nut allergies will be difficult in Thailand however, so be careful if you have issues, especially with peanuts. Also be aware the spice level of most food in Thailand is not for the faint of heart, so ask for it ‘mild’ and expect it to still come spicy.
Another great thing about Thailand is that fresh fruit is widely available everywhere, which is great for a snack. In big cities like Bangkok, it is easy to find popular western brands of chips and chocolate bars for snacks.
The popular ‘pad thai’ rice noodle dish was usually gluten free, but be aware that soy sauce can sometimes be used. It’s best to avoid anything deep fried, which includes most tofu used in dishes, in case it has been fried in the same oil as wheat products. I highly recommend following the rule of, ‘if it’s brown, put it down’ as it can have hoisin, oyster or soy sauce, so avoid any dark colored sauces on stir fries.
Gluten free (or other allergy) language cards are a big help to get your message across, I highly recommend taking some allergy cards to help communicate your needs.
Unless you plan on eating a ton of American chips and chocolate bars on your trip, it will likely be helpful to bring some gluten free meal replacement or granola bars on your trip.
Thailand was one of my favourite gluten free spots to travel. Although there is a stark language barrier, many Thai dishes are naturally gluten free. Dairy is also easy to avoid, but egg and nuts are much harder here. It’s a beautiful country and well worth a visit. Enjoy the amazing cuisine of Thailand and safe travels!