Is your dream to see the Phi Phi Islands or kayak around cliffs in the Gulf of Thailand? Are you letting celiac disease hold you back from ticking off a must-see place and following your dreams? I have the ultimate celiac guide to being gluten free in Thailand. There are many reasons why not to do something, but once you get past all the noise and focus on what you want, it CAN be done. There is gluten free food in Thailand, you just have to know where to look for it.
I am here to tell you that you can travel to Thailand and not get glutened! This is possible, and I am here to tell you that I did it for a whole month! I will give you step by step instructions on how to travel in Thailand as a celiac.
Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this article, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Gluten Free Food in Thailand - Dining
I am travelling the world and compiling a list of places that I found that celiacs can eat at, check it out on my resources tab for all the gluten free restaurants to eat at that I personally have eaten at.
Getting down to the places where I ate at successfully without getting glutened in Thailand. I don’t just give you a list that I find on the internet without actually trying them first. I want to provide you with only the tried and true.
Gluten Free Thailand
Chiang Mai Gluten Free
Pink House Garden – Cakeaway Gluten Free is a 100% restaurant and bakery (19 Wua Lai in 2 Alley) – Pink House Garden Facebook page.
I did a feature article about gluten free at the Pink House Garden 100% gluten free restaurant, if you want to see it.
Free Bird Cafe has some delicious smoothie bowls with fresh fruit! They take allergens seriously, so this is a great spot. See their Facebook page here. They are at 14 Sirimankalajarn Soi 9 Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Bangkok Gluten Free
I’m Rice Bakery by Pao is a 100% bakery. They use rice flour (hence their name) to make delicious food. Some options are also dairy free, nut free and egg free, the list goes on and on. If you are in Bangkok, don’t miss out. Check out their FaceBook page here. Here is where they are located.
Raw Vega is a great dessert place and everything is gluten free! You can even get soups and tacos. You can see their delicious food on their Facebook page.
Suananda has many gluten free options on their menu and they are focused on fresh ingredients. See their website here.
Theera Healthy Bake Room – The Original Bake Room is not 100% gluten free but all allergens are noted on each meal and prepared separately (Sukhumvit 42, Bangkok, Thailand 10110 the Ekamai BTS, Exit Gateway). If you want to see their menu on their website, check it out.
Bangka : Original Homemade German Sausage has gluten free sausages. If you are in Bangkok and looking for something different, try it out. You can see their Facebook page here.
May Veggie Home has gluten free ice cream and a few gluten free meals on their menu. You can see their menu here. My Thai friend that is gluten free swears by this place and she can find ice cream that is dairy free too! They are located at 8/3 Sukhumvit Soi 16 Asoke Sukhumvit Intersection, Ratchadapisek Roak Klong Toei Bangkok 10110 Thailand.
Paleo Robbie is a meal planning and delivery service in Bangkok. Cool and interesting! Check out their website for everything you need to know. PS: Paloe means that it is gluten free.
Phuket Gluten Free
Where Not to Look for Gluten Free
Before going any further I will tell you that you will find some places on Trip Advisor and other websites that state gluten free and you can find menus that show gluten free items. I caution these places due to the chance of cross contamination. In Thailand I was not comfortable going to places that were not fully aware of celiac and that is likely part of the reason that I did not get glutened. My skepticism came when I did contact some of the restaurants and they confused gluten free with vegetarian or did not understand any of the basics of preparing food for people with celiac.
However, if you are going to venture to these places, you should still do your due diligence and ask all right the questions. You should pack your celiac card in Thai and provide it to the server and ask them to show it to the cook. Then they can tell you which items on the menu that you can eat and tell you about all the ingredients. Check here for a good overview of what questions to ask to get a gluten free meal.
My Research Before I Travelled to Thailand
I followed a few Facebook groups before I went to Thailand to see if I could get some real in the trenches information from people. I found some good information about Bangkok from these Facebook pages if you want to check it out: Thailand Gluten Free and Gluten Free Hunt Thailand. The biggest advantage to these guys are that they have actually lived in the area for a while and you can find out what the real deal is.
Thai Gluten Food Phrases
Gluten – ตัง Wheat – ข้าวสาลี Barley – บาร์เล่ย์ Rye – ข้าวไร
While the phrases are helpful to know, Google translate is amazing if you have data. You can easily translate short sentences to communicate with people in Thai. If you were like us and did not have any data from our home country, go to AIS to get a cheap tourist SIM card. For $34 CAD we had 9 gigabytes of high speed data and unlimited data at the lower speed and 64 minutes of Thai minutes. This is a deal compared to the Canadian cellphone carrier packages.
Gluten Free Travelling & Products
In Thailand they use the Thai Baht. The exchange rate right now is $1 CAD for 24 Thai Baht or $1 USD for 32 Thai Baht. You can bring your home country currency and exchange for the Thai money at exchange counters all over the country. Or you can use your debit card and make withdrawals at ATM’s. We did not encounter any ATM scams or anything while we were there and everything seemed quite safe.
Map of Thailand
Steps to Travelling Gluten Free in Thailand
1.) Mindset for Eating Gluten Free in Thailand
While it would be lovely to be able to find gluten free food everywhere you go, this will not be the case in Thailand. If I am being honest, this will not be possible in many countries, even in Canada. Life is not fair, and you will have to fend for yourself in eating and will have to plan ahead.
Celiac disease is not well known in Thailand and while there are some 100% gluten free restaurants that are noted above, you will have to cook for yourself a lot. If you are not a good cook or do not like to cook, travelling to Asia may not be in the cards for you.
If you want to get better at cooking, take a cooking class and try some recipes on your own before you travel. This will not only help you when you travel, but this will assist you greatly in your day to day life. You will be able to make wonderful meals that will fully satisfy you and you will be taking your health into your own hands. Take that first step if you have not already done so, learn how to cook.
2.) Getting Your Celiac Suitcase Ready
Printing out the Thai celiac restaurant card is a must. You might as well print an extra just in case one gets left behind at a restaurant. A forgetful restaurant server may leave it in the kitchen with the chef and you may not remember to ask for it in the moment, only realizing once you are at home. This is the Thai Gluten Free Restaurant Card that I used.
Whatever snacks that you usually want should also make it into your suitcase. When you are vacationing, you still want your comfort food right?
For me, I packed a lot of granola bars, crackers, bread and protein bars. You see later in number 4 why the rest is so important. I also packed a small chopping board, knife, fork, spoon, two perfectly sized plastic lunch containers and some spice mixes as well.
3.) Travelling into Thailand
First things first, the need to fly to Thailand. We were flying from Hawaii and had the option to fly with China Airlines. I of course called ahead, and they were able to send me a confirmation of my gluten free meal. The air stewardess found me prior to departing and not only confirmed that they had two gluten free meals for me, but she also made another trip and told me exactly what I was going to be eating. The service was amazing, the food was great, and it was gluten free. Moral of the story here is to double check about the meal options and if in doubt pack some food to eat on the plane.
If you want to learn more about my experience for gluten free on China Airlines, check this post out.
If you want to learn more about my experience for gluten free on Air Asia, check this post out.
I went the extra mile to prepare for flying and got a doctor note stating that I had celiac in case I had trouble with airport security or any issues along the way. I generally have not had issues with security, but why not be prepared for the worst-case scenario. There was one time that I had questions while going through the security check but after I explained that I am limited in foods that I can eat and showed them my note, they let me go with all my food in hand. Why not be extra prepared?
Are you thinking of booking a flight and wanting to see what options you have, check out Kiwi. Kiwi has also put together good flight connection options for us and we use it all of the time.
4.) Finding a Place With a Kitchen to Cook
We used Airbnb or Booking.com and we found places in the areas that we wanted to be with a kitchen. This allowed us the freedom to prepare our meals in the safety of our home. Be the gatekeeper of what you are consuming, and don’t put this important step into someone else’s hands.
We messaged the hosts prior to booking to confirm if there was a hot plate, microwave etc. to make sure we knew what was included. Once we arrived at the location we would check out the kitchen and wash all the plates, bowls, utensils and pans that we were going to use. If we did not think we were going to use something we would put it aside, away from everything. This way we knew there wasn’t any hidden gluten on the dishes because we took care of it.
This is where our additional packed items in the suitcase came in. Since we were doing cooking, did not want to purchase spices everywhere we went and could not read the labels, we used our spice mixes that we brought in our cooking.
I also found that the chopping board came in handy because a lot of places had wooden boards which can harbour hidden gluten, so I used my own chopping board mainly.
5.) Shopping at Markets for Natural Food
Thailand has local markets in every city or town and they offer extensive fresh fruits and vegetables. You can purchase cheap fruit, vegetables, eggs and fish here and incorporate into your meals and it is all delicious. This is also a really great way to see the local culture. You will definitely see things you have never seen before.
We found out from our hosts where the closest markets were and stocked up on items every few days. One of our hosts drove us to a big Saturday night market in Khanom, if you want to see exactly what you are getting yourself into for shopping for naturally gluten free food, see the link.
You will see a bunch of fruits that you have never seen before, try new things. Let me introduce you to my favourite fruits that are local:
|Yellow mango||Green mango|
6.) Is There Gluten Free Food in Thailand?
Shopping at Thailand Supermarkets
I love to snack on chips so I used my Nima Gluten Sensor and found flavours that I could safely eat and I did not get sick once. If you are a chip eater and want to know which chips you can eat that are gluten free, see this. I have taken all of the guess work out of it for you. I eat these to satisfy my junk food cravings and did not get sick from them.
The big supermarkets will have some import products that you will recognize. These products are more expensive than everything else, but people who eat gluten free are no stranger to this concept. I summarized all the gluten free import products in Thailand that I found in this article.
If you are in Bangkok, then you should stop by a Baimiang Healthfood Store to pick up some gluten free products. They have chips, snacks, sausages and lots of different products.
You can buy other staples that you did not get at the local market in the supermarket. I was nervous to buy most meats at the local stalls, so I purchased beef and chicken at the supermarket, along with rice and some actual gluten free items.
We documented exactly what the supermarkets look like in Thailand. Not surprisingly, they are very similar to back home. Here is one in supermarket in Chiang Mai that we were close to if you want to check it out.
7.) Testing for Gluten
As I eluded to previously, I tested snack and junk foods that I shared with you. A little more about this, before I left on my travels, I purchased the Nima Gluten Sensor. I had some initial reservations because of the cost, but my husband talked me into it because he knows how anal about what I am eating. If I don’t know what is in it, I just will not eat it because it is so painful if I eat something with gluten in it that I will not chance it.
Boy, am I glad I did purchase it. It has been a true lifesaver when I can use it on products where I cannot read the labels and in restaurants where there is a definite language barrier. It saved me at a restaurant in Ao Nang that had gluten free options. See how the Nima Gluten Sensor saved me.
And I was able to actually eat products along the way that I never would have dared to if I wasn’t able to test it first. This isn’t a shameful plug for the product, it was instrumental in my travels and I want to tell people about it because I love it.
8.) How to Prepare for Day Trips Eating Gluten Free
Your Thailand trip will not be complete without some amazing day trips. The island tours and national parks are amazing and a definite must see if you are going to Thailand. While the tours include breakfast or lunch, these will not be for you. You will be able to have coffee and fruit, but the lunches provided are typically steeped in sauces, are served in buffets and include fried food that is more than likely contaminated.
All this takes is a little pre-planning the day before. If I had some gluten free bread, I would pack a few sandwiches and granola bars for my lunch. If I did not have any bread, then I would cook a big vegetable and rice stir-fry the night before and bring the leftovers in my plastic lunch container that I packed in my suitcase. Whatever meals you are comfortable making, just make enough to have leftovers and you will be just fine.
9.) Places to Visit and Don’t Forget About Thailand Beaches
Now that you know all the steps to prepare for a trip to Thailand while being celiac, it is time to plan where exactly you are going to stay. If you are looking for some inspiration, see where we went and if it is what you are looking for.
Ao Nang - Or Krabi Thailand
We stayed in the Ao Nang and Krabi area for one week, if you are interested to see the fun things to do in Ao Nang, check it out here. We found our favourite beach and we had an epic kayaking trip around cliff islands. This was one of our favourite places because we love to go kayaking and getting on a boat to explore islands. If you are like us, then this will be a good location for you. You cannot forget to see the Railay Beach.
Khanom – The Best Secluded Beach in Thailand
Thailand is a huge tourist destination. While this is fun, there were times when we wanted a simpler life that was quiet, filled with beach time and a bit more secluded. We found our perfect spot and it is a small fisherman’s Village called Khanom. Click here if you want to see the best secluded beach in Thailand.
Koh Samui – A Thailand Island
Koh Samui has a reputation of being a party island and it does live up to that reputation in certain areas like Chaweng. The Fisherman’s Village part of the island had the best vibe for us and was a bit more laid back than other areas.
The all-time best part of this island was going to see the national park, which is a cluster of islands. If you want to to see a Thailand Island Adventure, see this video.
Seeing Some Elephants
I did not get a chance to go to an elephant sanctuary, but I wish I would have. I was going to go in Chiang Mai, but it was fully booked. I read an awesome blog about interacting with elephants from an ethical perspective if you want to check it out here.
10.) How Much Things Cost in Thailand
Accommodations in Thailand
When I first started looking at the cost of places to stay in Thailand, I found many articles and videos explaining how cheap it is to stay in Thailand. The cost per month was described at $600 for a month in Thailand. Well, what those articles and videos leave out is that they are signing year leases to get that monthly amount. And don’t forget this is also staying in one spot for the whole month or year.
I am going to tell you what I paid in Thailand by city location. Remember, that you may be able to get a cheaper deal, but I had a requirement to have a kitchen.
Koh Samui: $105.34 CAD/night
Khanom: $37.76 CAD/night
Krabi: $68.82 CAD/night
Chiang Mai: $26.36 CAD/night
While eating at home in North America will save you money, in Asia, we spent more on groceries to cook at home then it would have been to eat out. We would be paying very reasonable costs for fruits and vegetables at the local markets, but to get anything that said gluten free or meats and cheeses at the higher end grocery stores, we were definitely paying more.
At the local Thai restaurants, meals were only a few dollars. The total benefit of eating home cooked meals was that I did not get travellers diarrhea or food poisoning once, while my husband had it all when he ate out at restaurants.
Gluten Free Travelling & Products
Gluten Free in Thailand
If you follow my steps you will significantly lessen the chance of getting glutened. I did not get glutened or get food poisoning once in a whole month. My husband, however, did get food poisoning and traveller’s diarrhea. It is possible to have a good side-effect of having celiac!
You can do this and have a blast. Follow your dreams, you will not regret it.
Cheers, I hope you enjoyed my lovely trek,
Brett – The Ultimate Gluten Free Traveller