Thailand’s love affair with food ensures that you can generally eat whenever you want to without worrying about offending anyone (the one place you can’t eat, however, is on the Bangkok subway or Skytrain). Breakfast is available anytime from 7am onward. For locals, this may consist of a bowl of jok with crispy fried cruller slices, a soft-boiled egg, cilantro, and slivers of ginger or some noodles, though lots of people will take a more Western-style coffee and baked item instead, and you’ll find plenty of street vendors in big cities selling sweet waffles and other familiar breakfast treats.

A woman sells meatballs and sausages on sticks in a bag with sauce in Phuket market, Thailand.

Many Thai workers visit street vendors for lunch during the week. Photo © Olga Dmitrieva/123rf.

It’s almost unheard of for Thais to pack a lunch.Lunch is generally eaten between 11am and 2pm. If it’s a workday and you happen to be in a city around this time, you’ll notice throngs of people coming out of their offices for their afternoon meal. It’s almost unheard of for Thais to pack a lunch. And why would you? Chances are there’s plenty of food to choose from. During the week, lunch is often a social event, and casual restaurants and street vendors’ tables will be full of work colleagues or groups of college students enjoying a meal together.

Dinner is as important as lunch, and you’ll also find popular street food areas packed full of families and friends from around 7pm on. In larger cities you can get a meal in a restaurant any time between 6pm and midnight, but places in more rural or less populated areas will probably close earlier.

Snacking is nearly a national pastime. If you drop into anyone’s office, you’ll probably see a little corner set aside just for snacks, which can range from grilled fish balls to cookies to traditional khanom Thai. You’ll also find food vendors around the office throughout the day. In many offices, people bring snacks to share with their colleagues, and there is almost always a designated spot in the kitchen or break room where communal snacks go. A small gesture can go a long way in creating bonds with workmates and subordinates, so bring treats for the office at least once in a while.


Excerpted from the Second Edition of Moon Living Abroad Thailand.