If you want to know about gluten free products in Thailand, you have come to the right place. After all, I was there for one month and was all over the country finding gluten free products. After Bangkok, we took a short 1-hour flight to the island of Koh Samui. There weren’t any gluten free restaurants on the island of Koh Samui but I did rely on gluten free products. You may be asking where Koh (or Ko) Samui is, see the map below:
The Truth About Eating Gluten Free in Thailand
I read so much conflicting information about travelling gluten free in Thailand and it is always very location specific. Part of what I did prior to coming was researching the typical cuisine and seeing if it would provide any challenges for me. In this case, since they use soy sauce and fish sauce in almost all dishes I knew I would have to be careful. The good news is that you can find gluten free soy sauce and fish sauce in Thailand. I purchased the soy sauce and traveled around with it. I marinated meats and added it to rice.
Can You Get Gluten Free Food in Thailand?
Once I arrived I watched the open kitchen restaurants and street vendors to see how they cook and how their cleanliness was. My observations were:
- They use the same wok for every dish, so the chances of cross contact are high because they don’t clean between different dishes.
- When they were using oils, they looked and smelled super old. I concluded that it is unlikely that they change the oils and there would be a high chance of cross contamination there.
- They use soy sauce in many dishes, so beware.
- The Thai people are so friendly, and I found them to have a yes culture. Even if you ask them a question, they almost always say yes, even if they don’t understand you. This doesn’t translate well to discussing your eating challenges and finding out what products are in different meals.
- Thailand doesn’t have a large celiac population, so what can you expect. People don’t worry about things they don’t need to.
- Let me tell you a story from two vegan couples that we met when traveling. They both talked with the food provider to ensure that they weren’t consuming animal products and they were guaranteed that there were no specific animal products or by-products in what they were eating. Well, they consumed pork fat, egg and one had milk and these travellers did their best to give examples of what they couldn’t eat and got a ‘list’ of what was included in the meals.
My conclusion: Unless the restaurant has gluten free products on their menu, I am not going to chance it. My comfort threshold is very high, and so far, it doesn’t meet my standards. So, I take my food consumption in my hands and cooked for myself from Top Market and Tesco and bought fresh produce at street markets.
Gluten Free Products in Thailand
Here are some of the gluten free products that I found in these supermarkets:
Gluten Free Food in Thailand
On the island of Koh Samui, I was able to find gluten free products that I could eat. The items above were even labelled gluten free, so I was very excited about that. I shopped at the Tops Market.
Hours of Operation: 8 am to 12 am every day of the week
For shopping centers in other major cities in Thailand and what types of gluten free products you can buy, see this amazing article.
Does Glutinous Rice Have Gluten in it?
You will notice that you can buy glutinous rice everywhere in Thailand, but don’t fret, it doesn’t have gluten in it. The glutinous relates to the stickiness or gluiness of the rice.
We stayed in two different places because my husband’s friend was a bit of a princess. At our first place, check out my lovely husband cooking me some supper:
Best Place to Stay in Ko Samui
At our second place, it was all luxury. While I wouldn’t have booked it myself, I really didn’t mind treating ourselves. It was only $113 Cdn/Night. But you still have to pay 7 baht/kwh of power, so it did end up being a bit more expensive. Was it worth it? I think so.
I also tested food products for gluten using the Nima Gluten Sensor that I purchased before my travels. I cannot read Thai, so whenever I was in doubt about the food I would test to see if I could eat it. This product has never let me down once, so I highly recommend it for travel.
Disclosure: The link below is an affiliate link, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. I only recommend products or services that I like and it helps me deliver free content to my readers.
If you are looking for the Ultimate Celiac Guide: Gluten Free in Thailand, click the link.
Cheers, I hope you enjoyed my lovely trek,
Brett Duncan – The Ultimate Gluten Free Traveller