Thailand was always a bucket list trip for me because of the beautiful beach photos I used to see on Instagram and in the movie, The Beach. As soon as we saw a good travel deal, Daniel (my boyfriend) and I knew we had to act on it. When we first booked the trip to Thailand, I definitely had my doubts about being able to eat gluten free safely, however, I was quickly reassured by multiple gluten free travellers that with the right research, I would be just fine. We decided on Bangkok, Phuket (Patong Beach + Island Tour), Krabi (Ao Nang + Krabi Town) and Chiang Mai. Our flight provider was China Eastern Airlines, which was wonderful for having my gluten free meals on board.
We started our trip in Bangkok, which I really enjoyed. It is a large city but it has a reliable subway system, plenty of food options, nightlife, malls, and beautiful temples. Personally, I loved Wat Arun but the Grand Palace is also equally beautiful. We also went in April/May which is hot season in Thailand, be prepared to sweat.
We also booked a day trip to Ayutthaya, an ancient capital about 80 km north of Thailand. I really enjoyed the experience, especially to see the ruins and famous tree with the buddha head. On the cruise back down the Chao Phraya River, we were served a buffet. My translated Celiac card came in handy, both my guide and one of the chef’s worked together to walk me through some safe gluten free options to eat.
- Grand Palace
- Wat Pho (Reclining Buddha)
- Wat Arun
- Khao San Road
- Wang Lang Market
- Chatuchak Market
- MBK & Siam Centre for Shopping
- Ayutthaya + Cruise (White Orchid booked through Viator)
Next, we flew to Phuket and stayed in Patong Beach area. I will be honest, staying in Patong Beach was a big mistake. I got turned away three times with my Celiac Card in a strip mall with plenty of restaurants. Personally, I would stay further south on the island or a resort if I ever went here again. Resorts are likely the safest place in Patong for a Celiac to eat safely. I resorted to eating at the night markets here, along with grocery items from Bangkok and some of my snacks from home.
One highlight here was joining a tour with VR Family Tours and visiting some of the islands (Phi Phi, Maya Bay). We were able to snorkel and check out some really pretty schools of fish. I was also able to eat some items at the buffet at lunch after showing my card to our guide and the chef.
- Island Hopping Tour
- Kata Beach
- Bangla Road
- Big Buddha
- Patong Beach
- Monkey Hill
- Karon Beach
By the time we got to Ao Nang, Krabi, I was feeling the heat and definitely came down with some heat exhaustion. Despite feeling like crap, we still paid a visit to Railay Beach which was stunning. Everyone needs to ride a long-tail boat at least once in their life.
Krabi Town was next, as I mixed up a flight booking to Chiang Mai. Like anywhere else in Thailand, there are markets and temples, but the coolest thing we did was hike the steps of Tiger Cave Temple. There are 1237 steps to the top of the temple, so be prepared. I promise the views are worth it. Beware of the monkeys though, they may just snatch something of yours.
- Railay Beach
- Tiger Cave Temple
- Ko Lanta
- Emerald Pool
- Hot Springs
Finally, we headed north to Chiang Mai. I truly wish we spent more time here in Northern Thailand. We were a bit tired of seeing temples at this point so we centred our time exploring the old city, markets, and spending a day at Elephant Nature Park. I could write a whole blog post myself on my experience here so if you have any questions let me know.
We stayed at the Rustic River in Chiang Mai, where they made sure to prepare me a wonderful gluten free breakfast before we headed off to our Elephant adventure on the “Care for Elephants” program. If you are Celiac like me, please be reminded to always bring your own food just in case things do not work out as planned. Despite reminding the tour provider about my dietary concerns, a separate gluten free meal was not provided to me. I was able to have a few items after sharing my Celiac card with them to verify what was safe to eat. Moral of the story: always have food handy.
- Elephant Nature Park
- Doi Suthep
- Cooking Classes
- Night Bazaar
- Thailand is really beautiful and people are friendly and willing to help you.
- If you are a bit weary about dining out, definitely consider going the Airbnb route. We did this in Bangkok and were able to eat breakfast with items we purchased at the supermarket.
- If your hotel has a buffet in the morning, stick to familiar and safe items such as: fresh fruit, hard boiled eggs, and plain veggies. Be weary of omelette style eggs as they like to put soy sauce in there.
- Bring lots of snacks just in case your special meal does not make it on the plane. My airline, China Eastern, was VERY good in the gluten free department and I’m thinking it is also because my boyfriend also ordered the same. Sometimes you will not find anything safe to eat in a foreign airport. For instance, I was unable to find anything to eat in Pudong Airport (Shanghai) during my stopover in China.
- I would strongly recommend getting a card for people with Celiac Disease before travel, translated in Thai. Many of the cards I was looking at beforehand didn’t really explain the cross-contamination aspect so I made sure to find one that did. It might have scared a few people away but it kept me safe. This is the site where I downloaded the allergy card and made a small donation. It was STRONGLY worded and kept me safe, even at some buffets.
- Download the app GRAB – it connects you to both cabs and ride sharing cars, similar to Uber.
- Make sure your phone is unlocked and swap your SIM card out at the airport. Thailand’s local plans are actually quite affordable and give you a lot of data. I used AIS.
- Bring your own toilet paper/wipes as you cannot flush paper in many parts of the country.
- If you get food poisoning, like my boyfriend did on the eve of his birthday, pop into a pharmacy and speak to a pharmacist. They will give you something to help you get rid of the bacteria.
- Consider speaking to your health professionals before you leave. For instance, see your physician to ensure you are up to date on all your vaccinations. I was also prescribed a malaria pill. My naturopath recommended a travel prebiotic, which I took with me.
- Water in Thailand is not safe to drink unless it is filtered or bottled. Therefore, be weary of any fruits without a peel, salads, as well as ice.
- Oh, and thai spicy is seriously hot. Definitely ask for your dishes to be prepared “American” spicy.
- You will get stuck in a torrential downpour, often without warning. Be prepared with umbrellas and/or ponchos.
- Get a thai massage and thank me later!
Is there any street food that is gluten free?
Yes, but you are quite limited. I would not risk ordering a pad thai without sauces as most of these vendors do not have running water in their booths and cannot clean them completely between orders.
Here some things I tried after having a conversation with vendors about ingredients:
- Thai Pancake with Nutella (confirm rice flour)
- Mango Sticky Rice (confirm coconut milk, sugar, mango and rice only)
- Sweet Corn (grilled with butter and salt)
- Coconut Ice Cream served in a coconut
- Fresh Fruit
- Grilled Calamari – plain, no sauces
Where to find Gluten Free Food in…
Villa Market is a supermarket in Bangkok that sells gluten free products imported from Australia. There is also a small selection of gluten free products produced locally.
Sadly I did not visit, but this is a health shop where you can stock up on gluten free items. They also have a juicebar and make some of their own “healthy” desserts.
Veganerie is a vegan restaurant with 4 locations in Bangkok that also caters to gluten free diners. All gluten free options are clearly marked on the menu. If there is a language barrier with staff, be sure to show your translated card.
I had the quinoa fusilli with pesto and my boyfriend had the sweet potato summer quinoa bowl.
I dined here upon recommendation from other Celiacs. Although my server was a bit puzzled by my Celiac card, the owner did not even bat an eyelash. Her English was good and she recommended a few items to us that she was able to modify including a chicken curry with steamed rice and a veggie dish.
Fit Flavor Thailand
Located in the Wang Lang Market near Wat Arun, this is a health smoothie bowl/chia pudding type place. There are several gluten free items available for purchase. I bought a chocolate superfood brownie.
The Speakeasy Rooftop Bar (in Hotel Muse)
You cannot go to Thailand without experiencing a rooftop patio, the views are amazing. Located on the 24th and 25th floors of Hotel Muse, you will find this bar. Since it is a bit of a high end place, staff speak English well and are able to highlight a few options. We ended up just sharing a papaya salad and some sangria.
Theera’s Healthy Bakeroom
I sadly did not get a chance to visit this spot, but most of the menu is gluten free. They separate all gluten free utensils and equipment to ensure food safety. All desserts are gluten free.
This is an Italian restaurant that caters towards vegetarian, vegan and gluten free diners. I had this on my list to visit but timing did not quite work out. According to the website, they can accommodate gluten free diners with a special menu on weekdays.
D’Ark by Phillip Bella
We went here on our last night in Bangkok while waiting for our flight home. There are limited items marked gluten free, as was the case most places we visited. We shared the Kale Vegan Salad.
There are several locations of Bake Free in Phuket and it is a 100% gluten free establishment. Unfortunately did not get a chance to visit as it was far from our hotel but I have heard nothing but wonderful things about this place.
Krabi – Ao Nang
Diver’s Inn Steakhouse
This is a wonderful restaurant owned by a German man and his wife. There are several items on the menu can be made gluten free. To top it all off, there is also gluten free beer and dessert. The staff are very knowledgeable here and I was able to enjoy a pad thai.
I stumbled across this place by accident while walking down the strip. My boyfriend Daniel noticed a chalk board sign that said “gluten free tiramisu”. My server told me this restaurant is owned by an Italian family. There is gluten free pasta and tiramisu on the menu. I tried the tiramisu (it may or may not have served as my dinner) and it was delicious.
Krabi – Krabi Town
May & Mark’s House
The owners speak English well and have a good understanding of allergies and dietary concerns. It happened to be Cinco de Mayo and I had tacos and a mango lassi.
Pink House/Cake Away
I won’t lie, this restaurant is a bit tricky to find, but once you do you won’t regret it. They were dealing with a power outage during our visit but we still received amazing service despite the darkness. This is a fully gluten free and vegetarian establishment. I had an array of dishes and some devil’s food cake.
Butter is Better
This is a cute American style diner and they are very accommodating for people that need to eat gluten free. They also do some breakfast items gluten free but I just stopped in for some baked goods, including this delicious cinnamon bun.
Vava Frozen Yogurt
We stopped in here for some frozen yogurt topped with fresh fruit. Gluten free options are marked, as are vegan options.
Unfortunately I did not get a chance to visit this Mexican restaurant but I’ve heard nothing but good things. The owner has relatives with Celiac Disease and understands about cross contamination.
I hope this guide helps you in your planning for Thailand. Please be reminded that it is your responsibility to discuss your dietary concerns with staff in advance, or upon arrival, to ensure your health & safety. If you have any questions, leave a comment down below or send me an email through my contact page. Safe travels!