The 7 Best Hands-On Cooking Experiences in Thailand
From the scents of the street markets to the complex flavors of the curries and soups that form the heart of Thai cuisine, a trip to Thailand leaves a lasting impression on travelers’ senses. For those who want a deeper immersion into the culinary magic of Thai cuisine than simply trying all the street food they can ingest, a cooking class is the way to go. From tofu to fruit carving to a class combining cooking skills with Thai massage techniques, there’s something for everyone — even vegans.
1. Create eye-popping fruit carvings.
In a private penthouse studio overlooking Bangkok, students can learn the basics of the art of Thai fruit and vegetable carving from Master Carver Wan Hertz at Siam Carving Academy. Students will have the opportunity to try carving everything from delicate garnishes to flowers and fish, all made from fresh seasonal produce. If you’re spending a longer amount of time in Thailand, you can return for additional classes and progress from basic skills to the academy’s Master Series, a 60-hour training course that will endow you with the ability to carve works of art like entire dragons, birds, and fish from fruit. Fruit carving classes start at approximately 2,400 THB ($75).
2. Make tofu from scratch.
Fans of tofu or plant-based diets — or curious minds who are interested in how this flavorless but healthy dish comes to be — can learn to make tofu from its raw ingredients. At May Kaidee in Bangkok, students will participate in the process of making tofu, starting with soaking the soybeans and finishing off the class with firm blocks of ready-to-eat tofu and a brief introduction to popular Thai tofu recipes. Tofu is an important base ingredient in many Thai kitchens, and learning to make it from scratch is a souvenir from your trip that will never end up in a garage sale pile. Tofu classes cost 1,800 THB (approximately $57).
3. Pick up the basics of traditional Thai cooking.
Thai Cookery School in Chiang Mai is ideal for those who want a general overview of the creation of traditional Thai favorites like green chicken curry, mango sticky rice, Thai fried noodles, and steamed fish in banana leaves. After being greeted with the cooking school’s secret-recipe welcome drink, students will learn to prepare these dishes so they can recreate them in their own kitchens at home. Master Chef Sompon has starred in cooking shows on international TV networks after learning various Thai cooking styles while living as a Buddhist novice monk. Classes cost 1,450 THB (approximately $44).
4. Learn to “cook” raw vegan food.
A raw vegan Thai cooking class at May Kaidee in Bangkok is the perfect addition to the Thailand itinerary of any trendy millennial. In this class, students will learn how to prepare vegan food without cooking or heating the food past 40°C (104°F). Those who are new to the raw-food preparation process will also learn how to use a dehydrator, a necessary piece of equipment for raw-food dishes. Over the course of about three and a half hours, students will prepare sauces, salads, neo-traditional dishes like coconut noodle Pad Thai, and even a dragon fruit ice cream cake. The colorful and aesthetically plated results will kill it on your Instagram feed. The raw vegan Thai cooking class is priced at 4,200 THB (approximately $134).
5. Participate in a traditional culinary experience on an organic Thai farm.
At Island Organics on the secluded tropical island of Koh Samui, students will enjoy the unique experience of selecting fresh, organic produce from Chef Lat’s modern eco-farm to prepare and cook four different traditional Thai recipes. Classes typically involve cooking with prawns, chicken, and pork, but the farm easily caters to vegetarians and vegans. With the farm’s focus on sustainability and healthy food practices, students of Island Organics will also pick up gardening and agriculture tips during this half-day cooking experience. The Island Organics experience costs 2,200 THB (approximately $68).
6. Massage away the stress of the kitchen.
In a unique combination class, students of eOasia in Bangkok will spend two hours studying Thai cooking methods and recipes, take a break, and then receive three hours of instruction in Thai massage methods. This full day’s worth of exposure to these two traditional practices provides students with important pieces of Thai culture. And they’ll leave with a full belly and loose muscles. The experience costs approximately 2,700 THB ($81.43).
7. Shop the local market and learn the art of island cooking.
A two-and-a-half-hour cooking class at Kata Thai Cooking on the island of Phuket introduces students to unique Thai dishes like fried rice served in a halved pineapple, Panang curry, tom yum, cashew nut chicken, and more. Each class at Kata Thai Cooking begins with a glass of lemongrass tea. Lunch and dinner classes are offered every day of the week, and dinner classes on specific days also include a market tour. Classes range from 1,900 to 2,200 THB (approximately $59 to $68).