Thailand - a vibrant, luscious country known for its gorgeous beaches, stunning weather and vibrant cultural heritage. Located west of Cambodia and Vietnam, Thailand is a short eight-hour flight away for Australian adventurers and makes a perfect getaway for those looking to experience another side of life.
Friendly people and incredible sights and sounds abound in this popular south-eastern holiday spot, but there's one other factor that makes Thailand the ideal destination for Aussies looking for a memorable travel experience - the food!
Here are five authentic Thai dishes that are sure to give you a taste of the real Thailand.
Starting with one of the most well-known Thai dishes, Massaman Curry is a variation of an Indian curry often eaten by Thai Muslims (Massaman is actually the Thai word for the Muslim religion).
Massaman Curry usually features chicken pieces and potatoes cut into edible chunks, swimming in a coconut milk, red pepper and tomato gravy. Make sure you eat it with a couple of pieces of roti - an Indian flatbread that is a favourite in many parts of Southeast Asia.
Mu Nam Tok
Not for the feint hearted, Mu Nam Tok is a spicy and flavourful Thai soup made with pork. Sounds gentle enough right? Well the kicker is that the traditional version of this dish features a special broth enriched with pig's blood - hence the slightly gruesome translation, "waterfall pork".
Don't let that put you off, however, as Mu Nam Tok is a dish worth trying. There are also non-bloody variations available for those who get a bit queasy when they see a papercut, let alone a bowl full of blood!
Tom Yam Kai
Good for the soul and great for the stomach, Tom Yam Kai is a traditional Thai chicken soup made with limes, fish sauce and chili.
There are many variations of Tom Yam available in Thailand. Tom Yam Kung is made with prawns and is very popular with tourists, while Tom Yam Pla is made with fish and is often eaten with rice. Make sure you try at least one while on your next Thailand holiday.
If you enjoy Southeast Asian food, it's likely that you've already tried Pad Thai. This hugely popular Thai dish is typically made with rice noodles, eggs, peanuts and tofu, and is now popular all across the world - it was even named one of the world's 50 best foods in a 2011 CNN social media poll.
However, the truth is that you've never really tried Pad Thai until you've eaten authentic Thai Pad Tai from a real Thai eatery or market stall. Rest assured, you'll be able to taste the difference - just don't kid yourself into thinking you'll be able to recreate the experience at home.
Last but not least, no list of the top authentic Thai dishes would be complete without a sampling of that humblest of South Eastern delicacies - deep fried insects. Visit just about any Thai market and you'll encounter stalls stocked with grasshoppers, crickets, termites, bee larvae and other six-legged critters.
Although the thought of consuming a tiny invertebrate might not be immediately appealing, the truth is that the deep-fried morsels have a fairly bland and inoffensive flavour. Consider them the Taiwanese equivalent of popcorn.
There you have it - five great Thai dishes that will give you a true taste of this vibrant and colourful country. Contact your nearest Travel Associates store today and let one of our experienced consultants help you plan a Thailand getaway so you can experience the delicious flavours of Southeast Asia for yourself.