If you really want to experience Thailand, you have to do so with all five senses. The most enjoyable of these to indulge is the sense of taste, which means eating what the locals like. With such a large expatriate population and dozens of expat-run restaurants, you could arguably do this by dining on fish and chips, though you would missing out on some excellent Thai food.

Pattaya is quite a multicultural place, attracting Thai nationals from across the country, each of whom brings the best of their region’s cuisine. A lot of people have moved here from the rural province of Issan, bringing their spicy and sour specialities with them. The coastal city also enjoys the fresh seafood of the Gulf of Thailand, making the 5 Best Local Food in Pattaya a diverse selection of flavours to enjoy. Have a look at our list below if you want to really eat like a local.

1. Khao Niaow Ma Muang (Sticky Mango Rice)

This is the sweetest of the sweets and, without a doubt, Thailand’s best-known dessert. Entire stores and wandering vendors devote their whole trade just to Sticky Mango Rice, the vibrant yellow fruits brightening up a street. It is an extremely simple dish – slices of mango with a serving of sticky rice, all coated in a thick coconut sauce – but the freshness of each component makes it a powerful flavour. Locally-grown mangos are already very sweet and the sugar-heavy sauce can make it almost sickly sweet.

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2. Yum Woon Sen (Spicy Glass Noodles)

A popular salad throughout Thailand, and sometimes thought of as a diet food, Yum Woon Sen uses the relatively plain clear or glass noodle as its base. Ingredients added to this include garlic, dried shrimp, peanuts, onion, limes, Chinese celery and a lot of chilli, giving it a crunchy, spicy and very sour flavour. Ground pork is a popular addition, though it is a bit of a diet-breaker. Many restaurants also add large cooked shrimp, too.

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3. Pla Pao (Salt-Crusted Grilled Fish with Lemongrass)

It is a little bit disconcerting to see a whole fish with a bundle of lemongrass sticks shoved deep into its mouth, gently grilling in a Pattaya market, particularly when that fish is a ghostly white colour. What you are actually looking at is a very popular and tasty meal, though. The colour comes from a thick crust of salt, which keeps the flesh succulent and moist under the ravages of the grill while the lemongrass infuses the whole of the tilapia fish with its fruity, sour flavour. Eaten with garlic chilli seafood dipping sauce, it is a popular evening meal.

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