Served ready-to-eat at street vendors, as palate-cleansing dishes at restaurants, and in a kaleidoscope of colorful garnishes at local markets, Thailand’s tropical fruits are adoringly tasty. Eating fruit is a way of life for Thais and a big part of their daily culinary culture. Here are 12 tropical fruits that you must try for your vacation in Thailand.
Connoisseurs of Thailand’s ‘King of Fruits’ try to choose the best durian almost like a form of art. The process consists of touching the heavy and sharp peel covered with thorns to discover when it is best to eat the stinkiest fruit in the world.
Banned from taxis and most public spaces, durian has a taste similar to natural gas mixed with a rotten odor that inspires a love-or-hate response. From soft and sweet to a harder pulp that is oily and nutty, there is nothing quite like it. High in ‘good’ fats, it is perfectly served with hot coconut milk and sticky rice. However, drinking a lot of alcohol with durian is not recommended, as this can supercharge the body, digesting too much sugar and fat at the same time.
If the durian is the king of the fruit family, then the mangosteen is the ‘queen of the fruits. Research on its anticancer potential is ongoing, while its skin benefits, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties are well known. The opaque and sometimes translucent flesh looks a bit odd, but the flavor ranges from wonderfully sweet to lemony tart. The easiest way to eat mangosteen is to twist the upper and lower halides in different directions so that the skin comes off clean from the top half, leaving the soft fruit still intact on the bottom half.
The mango is one of the most versatile fruits and one that you have to try and stir to try from Thailand. Sweet, smooth, orange mango is wonderful with sticky rice, coconut cream sauce, and a sprinkle of crunchy mung beans. The greenest, hardest mango has an incredibly tangy flavor and is great dipped in sugar and chili or in a fermented fish sauce!
There is something fun and almost otherworldly about the look of Thailand’s vibrantly colored rambutan with its distinctive red and green furry skin. Break this smooth easy exterior to reveal a translucent white fruit that is incredibly delicious. Rich in copper, the sweet-tasting pulp contains manganese, phosphorus, and potassium, as well as iron, zinc, and magnesium.
Looking like a giant grapefruit, grapefruit tastes similar but much less bitter, with each succulent slice bursting with juice with every bite. The skin is thick and therefore the grapefruit is often shown as already segmented with pale yellow or more orange-red fruit. Known to be rich in potassium, this thirst quencher is a good source of magnesium, fiber, and vitamin B6 and is a great immune booster.
Hard and crunchy, guava is perfect for those who like a fruit that they can really bite into. Despite the lack of juice, it is surprisingly hydrating. The flesh can be white with a hint of green or pink, with softer flesh and seeds in the center. Guava should be eaten fresh shortly after opening, otherwise, it soon begins to go mushy. The name in Thai is “farang”, which is the same name given to Westerners, mainly because it was initially introduced to Thailand from Europe. With a high dietary fiber content, studies suggest that guava could have a positive impact on reducing blood glucose levels. It is also rich in iron and vitamin C, more than citrus.
As its name indicates, cherimoya tastes like a fruity dessert with a vanilla flavor as well. The bumpy exterior almost looks like an artichoke, but inside the meat is soft and sweet. Rich in vitamins C, A, and B6, the fruit is a good source of potassium, iron, and magnesium. The cherimoya also contains zero fat and cholesterol. With many seeds, which should not be eaten, the creamy interior can be eaten with a spoon.
8. Young Coconu
Whether lounging by the infinity pool, gazing out over the blue sea from a sun lounger or wandering around exploring street markets and tourist attractions, there’s nothing as refreshing as a freshly cracked coconut. Forget hairy coconuts with thick hairy meat, the young coconut has a green and white shell and after drinking the juice, the coconut can be easily scooped out and eaten with a spoon.
9. Rose Apple
Looking like a fairytale fruit, the rose apple has the appearance of a waxy pear and can range in color from light green to pink to a darker red. The skin is eaten together with the crunchy fruit that tastes like a cross between an apple, watermelon, and roses! The watery flavor makes rose apples extremely thirst-satisfying, while the fruit is high in fiber and is known to aid in better digestion.
Like rambutan, lychee is deliciously sweet with translucent flesh. A rich source of vitamins, the external hard shell, red and full of patches is actually quite thin and can be easily broken so that the fruit inside remains like a ball of juicy tropical flavor. The best way to eat lychees is to eat the whole fruit and spit out the brown seed in the middle.
Usually sold still attached to thin branches, peeling the longan’s thin skin can be trickier than other fruits with a thicker rind. However, the sweet, sometimes musky taste is divine, even if eating the white meat with black seed in the middle resembles an eyeball!
The largest tree fruit in the world, the almost fleshy-looking texture makes the Jacka versatile. It can be used in curries and savory dishes, while the subtle flavor turns sweetly tropical the more mature it is. With a high content of vitamins and minerals, the seeds are also edible and very nutritious.
Tropical fruits are only part of the many culinary experiences you can have in Thailand. Check out our article on why Thai cuisine is an international favorite.