Thai yoga massage_vs

What is Thai Yoga Massage?

You might have heard about Thai massage a lot of times. But what about Thai yoga massage? What is this about and is it possible to combine yoga and massage? Previously, also on the massage topic, we have discussed Swedish vs Thai massage topic. Learn more about Thai yoga massage in this article.

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What is Thai yoga massage?

Thai yoga massage_forms

Thai yoga massage, as the name suggests, incorporates deep stretching and movements that resemble those in yoga practice. The names “Thai yoga massage” and “Thai massage” are often used interchangeably. When Thai massage schools or practitioners want to emphasize the relationship between the massage technique and yoga practice, they often use the name “Thai yoga massage” instead of simply “Thai massage”. However, to the mass customers like us, normally we only hear the name “Thai massage”. 

The origin of “Yoga” massage name

The close association between Thai massage and Yoga is because the massage is a complementary practice to Indian yoga asana. Indian yoga asana has similar principles of alignment and focus on the energetic as well as the physical body. This is also why the massage itself is often called “Thai yoga massage”.  Moreover, during the massage, the therapist will put you in positions that may push your flexibility limits. This is why it is sometimes called yoga for lazy people.

Thai yoga massage_origin

Things you should know about before doing the massage

There are a few common elements in all Thai massage: 

  • Stretches
  • Traction
  • Joint movement
  • Acupressure

During the session, the therapist will utilize their hands, fingers, elbows, feet and also full body weight to put pressure on your body and move your body around. The therapist will also use their “relaxed” full body weight on you, and such movement can prompt you to do deep, slow breathing.

How long the session lasts? Typically between one to three hours, but there are some sessions that last as long as 6 hours. 

As this massage involves a lot of deep stretching and movements, you should inform your therapist of any pre-existing conditions or injuries that you have. This is to avoid further damage on your body.  

At the end of the session, normally guests leave tip for the therapist. You can give whichever amount that you like. 

Where to do this massage in Thailand?

There are many options to do Thai massage in Thailand. If you are visiting Thailand, we suggest you go to Google Map and check the review and photos of the place to avoid dodgy places.

Some recommendations:
Arima Onsen in the middle of Bangkok
Divana Spa in the middle of Bangkok
– A luxurious massage/spa experience in Mandarin Oriental Bangkok
– A relaxing getaway with Thai massage at Anantara Chiang Rai

Should you try Thai yoga massage?

Thai yoga massage is a popular massage technique in Thailand loved by many. If you are into deep stretching, are not pregnant, and do not have a pre-existing injury, you should try this massage for sure! Try with the 1-hour session first just for the experience in case you are not sure. In Thailand spa or massage centers, usually there are multiple types of therapy/massage available. If this massage is too intense for you, you can opt for other massages that are more relaxing. For example, rather than opting for a full-body Thai yoga massage, you might want to just do a Thai foot massage. We have written about Thai foot massage and its benefits, so check out that post too!

Thailand coins_featured

Thailand Coins: Its Look, Variety and Values

Thailand is famous for its markets, small street vendors and local travel scenes. While the country is digitizing rapidly, cash is still king for the majority of small vendors. If you are planning to travel to Thailand, it might be a good idea to familiarize yourself with local currency ahead of time. Also related to payments, we also covered a topic on how to transfer your money to Thailand in another post. Learn more about Thailand coins, their appearances and value in this article!

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Value range

Thailand predominantly uses 8 types of coins which range from 10 satang (0.1 baht or ~0.003 USD) to 10 baht (~0.3USD). In Thailand, 1 baht consists of 100 satang, putting it in dollar terms this is similar to 1 dollar containing 100 cents.

Here is a list of Thailand coins and their values (from largest to smallest)

  • 10 baht coin
  • 5 baht coin
  • 2 baht coin
  • 1 baht coin
  • 50 satang coin
  • 25 satang coin
  • 10 satang coin

Almost all transactions you make in Thailand are rounded up to the nearest 0 decimal places or whole numbers. This is why you will not encounter satang coins very often. However since the smallest bank note in Thailand is 20, you will likely end up with a bag of 1 to 10 baht coins during your travel! Your next question might be: how can you tell these coins apart? First all coins are labelled by number. Secondly they all have different shapes and colors. We will go into more details in the following sections.

Thailand silver coins

Thailand coins_silver coin

In general, silver coins represent whole baht coins including 1 baht, 2 baht, 5 baht and 10 baht. The only exception is the 10 baht coin, where the silver 10 baht coin has a golden section in the middle – making it the biggest and thickest Thailand coin.

The 5 baht coin is roundish but its design will make the coin look nonagon. The 2 baht coin is the newest and rarest among common coins in Thailand. The government issued the 2 baht coin in 2005, making it the newest coin among the rest. The 1 baht coin is the smallest, round shaped silver Thailand coin. 

Thailand gold coins/copper coins

Thailand cents or satang coins are generally gold or copper in color. Although some satang coins are meant to be yellow gold, as the coin gets older, the color might dim. Hence, they may appear darker yellow instead. Satang coins include 50, 25 and 10 satang coins. All coins are round in shape with 10 satang coins being the smallest.

Older Thailand coins

The history of these coins dates back to 1857 when Queen Victoria of England gave a small coining machine to King Rama the 4th. Following that, the first series of flat “Siamese” coins were then produced in 1860. 

More on the history of Thailand coins here.

Is it still relevant in Thailand?

The use of Thailand coins is getting less frequent these days but it does not mean they are obsolete. These coins are still popular among vendors in rural areas or smaller cities in Thailand. Therefore, understanding these coins is important so that you know how to use them for transactions while you are in Thailand.

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Swedish vs Thai massage_featured

Swedish vs Thai massage: similarities and differences

If you are traveling in Southeast Asia, getting a massage and spa treatment is almost a must. It is nice and relaxing. The price point is also very attractive, especially if you are coming from the US or Europe. However, Southeast Asia is not the only region known for massage. In fact, Swedish massage is famous as well. We also covered the topic of Thai foot massage in another article. Learn more about Swedish vs Thai massage in this article.

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What is Thai massage?

Swedish vs Thai massage_Thai massage

Thai massage is like a blend of massage, stretching and yoga. The Thai massage therapist will perform Thai massage on the customer as the customer lie down on a mat or on the floor. During Thai massage, the customer does not need to take off their clothes. It is a wholesome experience doing Thai massage as it includes abdominal and breath work, deep tissue massage and application of pressure at specific points on the body. It is often dubbed as “lazy man’s yoga” because the customer can just relax and the therapist will guide the customer to do certain body movements. There are any benefits to Thai massage including improvements on psychological and physical ailments like stress and chronic pain. A lot of athletes and fitness sports professionals choose Thia massage as one of their recovery methods.

Differences between Swedish and Thai massage

There are some aspects from both types of massage that we can compare and contrast.

Dress

In Thai massage, the customer can wear their clothes and perhaps change to a loose-fitting clothing to assist the Thai massage body movements. Thai massage does not involve application of oil on the body so there is no need to remove the clothing. On the other hand, Swedish massage requires the massage recipient to remove their clothing. This is because the Swedish massage involves oil or lotion applied to the customer lying down with face down on a massage table.

Techniques used

Thai massage uses acupuncture points to apply pressure on certain parts of the body that can help to alleviate certain physical ailments or help the body to get into deep relaxation mode. Sometimes the masseuse will stand or walk on the back of the customer as well. It often involves many body parts of the masseuse – not only hand and arms but also legs. On the other hand, Swedish massage is often called soft massage or deep tissue massage. It typically involves rubbing and stroking using hands, forearms, fists and elbows. Swedish massage does not involve legs or other body parts unlike Thai massage.

Positions

In Thai massage, that is often called “lazy man’s yoga”, the customer will lie on the floor or mat and the masseuse will move the body parts around. This is to help stretch the body and apply pressure on certain points on the body. On the other hand, in Swedish massage, the customer can just lie down on the massage bed with head down.

Benefits

Thai massage helps to relax the body and also at the same time energizes it. Since the body is not static during the massage, the Thai massage process helps the body to stretch and pressure on acupuncture points helps to release tensions. Overall the Thai massage helps to enhance the energy flow in the body. Therefore, it has more “healing” effect on the body and many athletes use this massage for their body recovery post intense exercise. Swedish massage, on the other hand, focuses more on relaxation. The use of massage oil also has some aromatherapy aspect to it. The long strokes and rubbing techniques helps to relieve stress and pain on the body.

Massage options besides Swedish and Thai massage

Thailand, as a holiday and relaxation destination, does not only offer Thai massage. There are plenty of other massage types available in Thailand. You can also try Swedish massage while in Thailand. For example, Quan Spa in Bangkok also offer both Swedish and Thai massage.

Other massage options that you can choose from in Thailand: 

  • Warm oil / aromatherapy massage
  • Herbal massage
  • Foot massage
  • Other classics like shoulder massage, facial etc.

Personally we have tried a combination of aromatherapy massage and Thai massage too. It was at Thann Sanctuary Spa in Sukhumvit 24. Thann is a renowned Thai aromatherapy products brand and the spa uses Thann’s own aromatherapy product during the massage. For aromatherapy oil massage, you need to wash your body after and they also provide Thann body wash products in the shower. It was a very relaxing and rejuvenating experience during our holiday in Bangkok. 

Which one is better: Swedish vs Thai massage?

The answer depends on what you are looking for. Some people might think that Thai massage is too intense. In fact, it is intense to the point that pregnant women in their first trimester are not advised to do it. If you want to just relax and doze off during your massage, you can do Swedish massage. But if you feel tired from exercise or stiff body and want to relax while at the same time feeling energized, go for Thai massage. Thai massage is more dynamic than Swedish massage and you need to “participate” in the movement as guided by the masseuse.

If you are in Thailand and want to have a more relaxing massage, Swedish massage is not the only option. You have other massage options besides Thai massage while in Thailand. We highly recommend aromatherapy and foot massage after a long day exploring the city!

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Thai foot massage_featured

Thai Foot Massage and Its Benefits

Thai massage is popular among local and foreign visitors alike. While Thai massage in general is a full body massage, you can easily find foot massage parlours in Thailand even along street. Previously we have covered Thai massage in another article and its comparison with Swedish massage. Now, learn more about Thai foot massage and whether you want to give it a try in this article.

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What is Thai foot massage?

What is Thai foot massage

Thai foot massage, just like Thai massage, focuses a lot on the acupuncture points. You can just sit down on a comfortable chair or sofa at the massage parlor. Then they will clean your foot with exfoliating soap and scrub, which also can help to relax the muscle. Having said that, we recommend you wear shorts when you are going for a foot massage. Otherwise, you will need to change to loose pants provided by the parlor. 

After applying massage oil to the foot and pressing the acupuncture points on the foot, the therapist might continue massaging the calf and also lower thigh area as well. Acupuncture points on the foot have connections with other body parts. Therefore, when these points are pressed, other body parts can benefit from this. After the therapist finishes with the foot/leg, they often continue massaging your hands/arms and also shoulder and head. 

Benefits of this massage

Convenience

Other types of Thai massage often involve full body treatment, or even usage of oil/aroma therapy. These will require you to sit/lay down or even change your cloth. Because of this reason, it may not be very convenient. Thai foot massage, however, only requires you to sit down – you can read a book, play with your phone or fall asleep it’s totally up to you! 

Price

The price for this massage may vary from as cheap as THB200 on the street side to THB500+ in established resorts & spas.

Time

Thai foot massage typically only requires 30 to 60 minutes/session. If this is too short for you, you can combine foot massage with other types of massage like head & shoulder or palm. Both massage types are convenient as they will not require you to change clothes.

Health benefits

There are plenty of health benefits from this massage which we will discuss in the next section.

Thai foot massage health benefits

Thai foot massage has a lot of health benefits

First, Thai foot massage helps to enhance the function of muscles, tendons, and joints. The foot is a heavily used body part and it supports the full weight of the body. Hence, relaxing this part of the body can enhance body movement.

Secondly, it relieves stress and helps to relax mentally. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the soles of the feet have nerve connections to the brain. Some people have improved their migraine through foot massages. Since it relaxes the mind, this massage can also help you to sleep better at night. 

Thirdly, it helps to restore balance in the body system and also enhances blood circulation. Massage in general helps stimulate blood and lymph flow to the muscles in the feet. As the nerve center is located on the feet, this results in better function of the internal organs.

Fourth, your experienced Thai foot massage masseuse would be able to tell which body organ of yours is not functioning properly from pressing points on the soles of your feet. From there, if you need further examination with your doctor, you can take the necessary action.

Lastly, foot massage can complement other treatments that you undergo. For example, stroke, rheumatoid arthritis, and musculoskeletal diseases patients are often encouraged to do Thai foot massages. This is because Thai foot massage enhances circulation in the body and also muscle relaxation. This might enhance the benefit of conventional medical treatment and quicken the recovery of the patients with these diseases.

Where can you go for this massage?

Thai foot massage_street side

There are many places where you can do Thai foot massage.

First option is street side. Many popular walking streets like Khaosan road often have street side vendors that provide foot massage. These are perfect for your tired foot after a long walk. If you go to a touristy sides of Bangkok it might be a bit more expensive compared to when you go to more local-oriented places. 

The second option is dedicated spa and wellness centers. There are many standalone spas and wellness centers in Thailand. For example in Bangkok, the most famous ones are Thann Sanctuary Spa and Oasis Spa

The third option (if you are a tourist) is your hotel. Many resorts and hotels have their own spa centers and they must have professional masseuses who can do Thai foot massages for you. For example, when we stayed in Hansar Hotel or Emporium Suites, both have their own dedicated spas. Some hotels like Vala Hua Hin also have massage services, but they provide it in-room. You can read up more about our experience with massage in Vala Hua Hin. 

Should you do Thai foot massage?

Yes! Not only that it is relaxing, it is also healthy and convenient. You can just go to a nearby massage parlor and sit down on a sofa and they can start with the massage straight away. We easily fall asleep on our sofa while doing the massage as it is very relaxing. 

If you have an existing medical condition, you can always check with your doctor if it is safe for you. But in general, it is not as intense as Thai massage so we do not worry too much about it. 

If you are visiting Thailand as a tourist, there are usually plenty of Thai foot massage places near the hotel area. Ask your receptionist about reputable ones near you. 

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transportation in Thailand_three wheeler_tuk tuk

Tuk Tuk Thailand: try the Three-Wheeler transport

Tuk Tuk Thailand or three wheeler bicycle is probably one of the most recognizable transportation modes in Thailand among visitors and tourists. Learn more about Tuk Tuk as well as where to take Tuk Tuk. Also, we will cover tips and other things to look out for when taking such transportation in Thailand!

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Three wheeler in Thailand

Tuk Tuk Thailand_history

The first version of Tuk Tuk or three-wheeler in Thailand date back to the early 20th century. The earliest version of the three-wheeler started out as a single-seater attached to a bicycle. Almost 30 years later Tuk Tuk became a motor vehicle that developed into a three-wheeler with a roof that you see in Thailand today. Some Tuk Tuk today has evolved into a 4 wheeler, almost like an open-air minivan. The three-wheeler can comfortably fit 2-3 passengers. However, you may sometimes see Thai students seating 5-6 pax in 1 Tuk Tuk. Certainly, this brings safety into question, more on this below.

Where and when to take three wheeler

Tuk Tuk Thailand_three wheeler transport

Tuk Tuk (and its cousin) can most commonly be found in cities that are popular among tourists. Hence, you will definitely find Tuk Tuk in cities like Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket, and Hua Hin. 

When to take Tuk Tuk? 

If you are in Thailand, it might be a good idea to take Tuk Tuk at least once to enjoy the experience. This is because a Tuk Tuk ride will allow you to fully soak in the breeze (and sometimes pollution too) and the city’s vibe/buzzes. Having said that, Tuk Tuk is great for short-distance travel as they share the mobility of motorcycles but with added comfort.

However, Tuk Tuk might not be the best everyday transport option. Why? First of all, most Tuk Tuk has no air-conditioning. So if you are taking a ride through the city center, this will mean heat and pollution. Secondly, Tuk Tuk has fewer safety measures when compared to taking a car. This is because Tuk Tuk has no seat belt, which means added risk in case of an accident. Lastly, the price is not cheap. We will cover more of this in the next section.

How much is the three wheeler transport?

So how much is Tuk Tuk in Thailand? It really depends since often time they run on the rider’s quote and not meter. A ride on Tuk Tuk can cost anywhere from THB100 to THB500+ depending on the distance. However, one thing that you really need to watch out for when taking a Tuk Tuk is 1) you need to agree on pricing first before you get on 2) the price is likely overstated, especially if you are a tourist. 

Your best bet is to take out an app like Grab to check pricing beforehand. So that if the Tuk Tuk’s rider is quoting a similar price (or only slightly higher), then you know you are getting a decent deal. Some popular Tuk Tuk spots may also have pricing list available and this helps to prevent any scam.

How much is tuk tuk in Thailand

Are there Electric Tuk Tuk in Thailand?

Grab launched an electric Tuk Tuk service in Chiang Mai back in 2019. That year, Grab partnered with the government and private sector to establish Chiang Mai Smart Mobility Alliance Network. The aim of the network is to reduce the use of private vehicles in Chiang Mai by 35% in 5 years’ time and eventually reduce pollution in the city. This electrification of Tuk Tuk in Chiang Mai will also help to reduce the carbon footprint in the city. 

Electric Tuk Tuk driver-partner of Grab will be able to easily leverage Grab’s electronic booking app to get customers. At the same time, these drivers will be able to enjoy cost savings of fuel compared to their LPG counterparts.

Alternative to Tuk Tuk Thailand

Apart from Tuk Tuk or three wheeler, you can also utilize other transportation methods like taxi, grab taxi, BTS or motorcycle. We have a dedicated article covering transportation mode in Thailand.

Should you use Tuk Tuk as your mode of transport?

Personally, we think you can try it once when you just arrive in Thailand. This is purely for the experience. Other than that, if you are cost-conscious, Tuk Tuk in Thailand can actually be costly. You might get a better deal by just taking Grab/Taxi, or even the train (BTS or underground train). Moreover, if you go with family and kids, Tuk Tuk rides do not have proper safety measures. You might have better peace of mind if you take taxi/Grab.

Those who go to Thailand often usually do not take Tuk Tuk to move around the city. 

However, the move towards the electrification of Tuk Tuk is promising. With the lower cost of fuel, we hope that the cost savings can be passed on to passengers as well!

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Tom Kha vs Tom Yum_featured

Tom Kha vs Tom Yum: Similarities & Differences

Thailand is known for spicy and sour soup. Household names like Tom Yum soup may need no further introduction, but have you heard of Tom Kha soup? We have written other articles on Tom Yum noodles and Tom Yum hotpot. Recently we also covered the topic of Tom Kha soup calories. Learn more about similarities and differences between Tom Kha vs Tom Yum here!

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How about the taste of both soups?

Both Tom Kha and Tom Yum have spicy and sour taste. This spicy and refreshing taste comes from chili, lime and a bit of fish sauce and sugar. Both soups make good use of Thai herbs to add nice aroma to the dish. Having said this, we will cover more of the soup ingredients in a later section.

The creamy version of Tom Yum soup also contains creaminess (usually from coconut milk), very much similar to Tom Kha soup. So from taste and texture standpoint, the two soups are quite similar

Tom Kha vs Tom Yum: appareance

Tom Kha vs Tom Yum_featured

The most striking difference between Tom Kha vs. Tom Yum starts with the soup color. Tom Yum is a red/orangish-colored soup. On the other hand, Tom Kha has a mild, white-colored soup. Tom Yum (especially the creamy version) derives its red color from red chili, shrimp, but most importantly Thai chili paste. Tom Kha’s white color is due to its major ingredients, coconut milk!

Soup ingredients

Similarities

We have mentioned earlier that the two soups can taste quite similar. That is because they share many same ingredients such as:

  • Herbs: Lemon grass, kaffir lime, galangal, shallot
  • Seasoning: Chili, lime, fish sauce and sugar

Differences

Despite the similarities, there are a few striking differences in the ingredients.

  • Protein: While both soups can use any protein, the most common protein for Tom Yum is shrimp (Tom Yum Goong) and other seafood. On the other hand the most common protein for Tom Kha is chicken (Tom Kha Gai)
  • Other key ingredient: Key ingredients for Tom Yum soup are chili paste which adds spiciness as well as red color to the soup and evaporated milk that adds creamy texture to the soup. Whereas for Tom Kha soup, the soup is either made purely from coconut milk or a mix between chicken stock and coconut milk!

Apart from the list above, there may be some other variations of the two soups. For instance, addition of mushrooms, tomatoes or even onions – this really depends on the recipes.

Calories for Tom Kha vs Tom Yum

There are two versions of Tom Yum i.e. clear Tom Yum and creamy Tom Yum. That is why Tom Yum can have as low as 270 calories or as high as 350 depending on the recipe. Check out our other article on Tom Yum soup calories and health benefits. 

On the other hand, Tom Kha contains ingredients like coconut milk which is high in calories. Hence, a serving of true Tom Kha soup made from 100% coconut milk can have as high as 700 calories. However, this number may be lower if the Tom Kha uses a mix of chicken stock with added coconut milk.

Which soup should you try?

Both soups are great! If you like clear soup, unfortunately Tom Kha soup does not have the option. However, Tom Yum has both versions: clear soup and creamy soup. We personally prefer Tom Yum because of the clear Tom Yum soup. In hot weather like Thailand and Singapore, clear Tom Yum soup is very refreshing and feels lighter. We do love creamy Thai soups as well but only have it once in a while. Also, keep in mind that soup like Tom Kha should be consumed in moderation due to its calorie count. 

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Tom Kha soup calories_featured

Tom Kha Soup Calories & Vegetarian Option

Thailand has many renowned dishes like Tom Yum soup or green curry. However, you might have seen a white-colored soup in a Thai restaurant or while you are in Thailand. The white colored soup you have just seen is called Tom Kha soup. But do not let its plain look deceive you, the soup is rich in flavours. Having said that, do you need to be worried about Tom Kha soup calories? Let’s learn more about Tom Kha soup calories in this article.

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What is Tom Kha Soup?

Tom Kha soup refers to a spicy and sour coconut milk soup which most commonly contains chicken and mushroom. The one containing chicken in the soup is called Tom Kha Gai – as Gai means chicken in Thai. Coconut milk gives Tom Kha a smooth tasting, white colored soup base which is then enhanced by herbs like lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and galangal. These herbs add nice fragrance to the soup. Tom Kha derives its taste primarily from fresh chili, lime and fish sauces. Some recipes also add a bit of sugar for sweetness.

Tom Kha soup calories

Tom Kha soup calories_ingredients

A serving of Thai Tom Kha soup, which makes use of 100% coconut milk, for a single person contains about 700 to 900 calories. However, if you have Tom Kha soup with a bowl of rice, then you are looking at adding another 100 to 200 calories to the meal.

You might wonder what makes Tom Kha soup so high in calories? Let’s break Tom Kha soup’s major ingredients down.

  • Protein = 708 cal
  • Vegetable = 64 cal
  • Coconut milk = 800-900 cal
  • Other seasonings = 30 cal
  • Total = 1,700 cal for 2 servings

From the breakdown above, the answer lies with coconut milk. That is, 100% coconut milk without dilution contains as much as 800 calories per 500 ml box. 

Can Tom Kha be lighter on calories or can it be vegetarian?

A recipe which makes use of chicken stock can reduce the amount of coconut milk by up to half, effectively reducing Tom Kha soup calories count. Apart from that, switching to leaner chicken like chicken breast can also help (or add more mushroom and less chicken). 

While you cannot remove a key ingredient like coconut milk from Tom Kha soup, you can consider another great tasting Thai soup like Tom Yum instead. Clear broth Tom Yum contains less than half of Tom Kha calories.

Can Tom Kha be vegetarian? The answer is yes. There are recipes that purely use coconut milk and no chicken stock. For such a recipe, removing chicken and replacing it with a variety of mushrooms effectively makes the dish vegetarian (and might need to replace fish sauce with salt).

What other vegetables fit well with and help with Tom Kha soup calories?

While Tom Kha soup mostly contains mushroom, some other vegetables also fit well into the soup.

For example, you can add tomatoes into Tom Kha soup. Tom Kha soup is sour thanks to lime. And as you can imagine, adding tomatoes will add more sour taste to the soup. Another vegetable you can add is white Chinese cabbage. While they contain water and may dilute the soup, they also absorb the nice spicy & sour Tom Kha soup once simmered!

Should you try Tom Kha and is it healthy?

Tom Kha is a delicious dish that you should try. It might be a bit high in calorie count but there are ways to reduce the it. So if you are health conscious, you can still have this Tom Kha soup by making a healthier version of it. Vegetarians can also try this Tom Kha soup by replacing the proteins with vegetables and mushrooms. 

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Thailand vs Vietnam_featured

Thailand vs Vietnam: Similarities and Differences

As travel is starting again, many are looking for a getaway spot in Southeast Asia. Thailand and Vietnam are both great and popular destinations. If you are not Southeast Asia native, you might not know the difference in Thailand vs Vietnam each offers. Learn more about the two countries, their similarities and differences before deciding your trip!

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Thailand vs Vietnam: Location

Thailand vs Vietnam_locations

Thailand and Vietnam are neighboring countries in Southeast Asia. In fact, a flight from Bangkok to major cities in Vietnam like Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh takes less than two hours! Both countries have a fair share of mountain ranges as well as coastal areas.

The key difference between Thailand vs. Vietnam is A) their neighboring countries and B) latitude

A) Thailand is connected to Myanmar at the west, Laos at the east, Cambodia in the southeast, and Malaysia at the south. Whereas, Vietnam is connected to China in the north, Cambodia and Laos in the west. Vietnam faces the South China Sea at its east. 

B) Vietnam stretches further north connecting to southern China hence slightly cooler weather in Northern Vietnam. During winter, the winter wind blows from China blow directly into the northern part of Vietnam. On the other hand, Thailand is lower in latitude and therefore it has warmer weather.

Thailand vs Vietnam: Vacation Style

Both countries have bountiful nature of mountains and seas so you can enjoy mountain ranges, beach and islands. However, Thailand has slightly more developed large cities like Bangkok where you can find a lot of shopping malls, skyscrapers, and transportation modes like underground and BTS trains. Having said that, Vietnam is developing rapidly and it will certainly catch up soon!

Thai vs Vietnamese: Language

Thai and Vietnamese language have similarities but there are more differences between the two. Both languages are tonal and the characters will indicate the tones. Both Thai and Vietnamese languages are also phonetic, meaning you can look at the words and pronounce them directly.

There are 5 tones in the Thai language whereas in Vietnamese there are 6. The Thai language is part of the Tai language family, which originates from an area at the border between Vietnam and China. On the other hand, the Vietnamese language is part of Austro-Asiatic language family. That means it comes from similar roots as Khmer in Cambodia and several other languages spoken by minority groups in the surrounding regions.

There are different external influences for each language. The Thai language is influenced by the Sanskrit language whereas the Vietnamese language is influenced by French and Chinese.

Make sure to check out more info on Thai language in our other dedicated post

Thai vs Vietnamese: Food and Beverages

Thai and Vietnamese food are similar in terms of the herbs and raw vegetables that they serve with their dishes. Both dishes use a lot of basil and lime in their cooking. Also, fresh vegetables at the side or as part of the food are also common. Other than that, fish sauce as part of the seasoning is commonplace. 

However, in general Vietnamese food is lighter in taste and texture compared to Thai food. Thai food is also generally more greasy and makes use of ingredients with heavy taste and texture like coconut milk. For food with gravy/soup, Vietnamese food typically has clear soup whereas Thai food has both. There is more stir frying involved in Thai cuisine compared to Vietnamese cuisine. Vietnamese cuisine on the other hand has a lot more fresh vegetables in their dishes / salads. 

In terms of beverages, there are less popular Vietnamese drinks compared to Thai drinks that people know globally. Thai drinks that are popular among the general crowd include Thai milk tea, butterfly pea tea drinks, and also to a smaller extent Thai coffee. The most popular Vietnamese drink that most people know is Vietnamese coffee (drip coffee). We have a more detailed discussion on the differences between Thai vs Vietnamese coffee in our dedicated article. 

Thailand vs Vietnamese: which one should you visit?

It depends. If you are into a mix of metropolitan city and nature side experiences, Thailand might be your pick. Bangkok as the capital of Thailand is very developed and it is easy to move around in the city with the BTS/underground MRT infrastructure. You can go to the outskirt area or even nearby beach/mountain area for a weekend trip too. 

We have been from northern to southern Vietnam and loved every bit of it, however, the big cities in Vietnam like Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) are still not as developed as Bangkok. If you do not mind the slight inconvenience (e.g. taking a cab or Uber everywhere rather than taking the train), you can visit Ho Chi Minh (HCMC) or Hanoi and famous nature spots like Ha Long Bay too!

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beef larb_featured

Beef Larb: taste, recipe and pork/chicken/veg alternative

Larb is a great-tasting Thai dish that did not enjoy as much spotlight as its cousin, Thai papaya salad aka Som Tum. For those of you who are not familiar with Thai food, but is a Marvel movie fan, hear us out. Larb is the dish Aunt May used as the reference in her pun to Peter in “Spiderman: homecoming”. There are many variations of larb like beef larb, pork, chicken or even vegetarian friendly version! Learn more about Larb in this post.

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Larb: Thai-isan dish

Larb is a spicy and sour meat salad originated from the Isan region of Thailand (North-eastern Thailand). Even though larb is often called “salad”, it is actually a cooked dish that is served hot. The main ingredients include meat, herbs and seasoning. Thais normally serve this dish with some fresh vegetables at the side. Larb also tastes great when eaten together with sticky rice. You can often find larb in Isan style or Som Tum meal. People often serve larb along side Som Tum or some Thai BBQ, together with sticky rice and/or kanom jeen. There are many variations of larb dishes, but our favourite is cooked beef larb!

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Beef larb vs. Chicken larb vs. Pork larb

As mentioned above, there are many ways to make larb. You can make larb with beef (hence beef larb), pork, chicken, or even duck. Larb typically makes use of minced or finely chopped meat which also works great in absorbing all the seasoning and spices. If you are visiting Thailand, there are a few things to watch out for when ordering larb

  • Beef larb: In Thailand, there are both cooked and raw beef larb. While in Bangkok, you can expect most vendors to sell larb with cooked beef. However, just indicate in your order to be safe.
  • Pork larb: Pork larb sometimes also contains innards such as pork liver or intestine. If you are not a fan of innards, you should ask the restaurant to exclude them.
  • Spicy level: Larb (or Isan food in general) tends to be spicy. If you are not used to eating spicy Asian food, asking for a milder version might be a good idea.

Recipes for Beef Larb

Whether you are looking to cook beef larb or other variations like pork/chicken, the preparation method, herbs and seasoning are mostly similar.

For every 500g of beef, you will need:

  • Shallot: 3x
  • Onion: 1/2x
  • Chili flake/dried chili: 2-3 tablespoons (put less if you cannot handle spice)
  • Lime: 2 teaspoons
  • Fish sauce: 2 tablespoons
  • Ground roasted rice: 2 tablespoons
  • Chopped spring onion/parsley: 1-2 tablespoon(s), kaffir lime leaves can be added as well!

The cooking process is simple. First, boil minced beef until almost cooked then remove it from the cooking pan/pot. Mix all the seasoning and herb into the pan/pot at low heat then put minced beef back in. Stir well and lastly add ground roasted rice before serving. You can serve it with fresh lettuce or with kanom jeen /sticky rice.

Can larb be vegetarian?

We quoted larb as Thai meat salad earlier. While this is true, we recently come across many meatless larb dishes here in Thailand. Before we move on, we have to say that these larb dishes are meatless, however they may still contain fish sauce which is a product of fish.

So what type of meatless larb have we seen? We have seen tofu larb (made with fried tofu) or with various types of mushrooms as well as glass noodles. The meatless version of larb also tastes great with sticky rice and kanom jeen! Having said this, we still stand with our decision that beef larb is the best!

Should you try Beef Larb in Thailand?

Yes! If you have tasted other more popular Thai food like Som Tum, you should expand your horizon by trying other dishes like larb. Among other larbs, we enjoy beef larb the most. Since there are many types of larb that you can have, you can pick one to your liking. Plus, with the beef larb recipe that we shared above, you can make your own at home too. Simply change the meat option if you want to make your own chicken/pork/duck larb.

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What does butterfly pea tea taste like? Learn about its taste!

Have you seen nice blue or purple color in cafes or Thai restaurant? While you may have wondered if the drink has been colored artificially, the blue or purple colour might be natural! In Thailand, people have been using butterfly pea as a natural food and beverage coloring. With more innovative drinks coming out, we started to get questions like “What does butterfly pea tea taste like?” Let’s find out the answer in this article.

What are “butterfly peas”?

what does butterfly pea tea taste like_butterfly pea plant

First of all, what are butterfly peas and which part of the plants that people use to make coloring? Butterfly pea is a plant commonly found in South and Southeast Asia. The plant’s scientific name is Clitoria ternatea and it belongs to a flowering plant family. Butterfly pea flowers are typically dried and used for coloring, however you can also find butterfly pea extract directly.

What does butterfly pea tea taste like?

Butterfly pea itself has very little to no taste. So to answer the question “What does butterfly pea taste like?”, the answer is, little to no taste, that is for pure butterfly tea without any additives. There is no standard recipe for what people often call butterfly pea tea, in fact, there are so many different beverages that people commonly call “butterfly pea tea”.

Pure butterfly pea tea

Pure butterfly tea is made of dried butterfly peaflower and hot water. It is a flower tea without any caffeine! However, you will need to take note that unlike rose tea made of rose petals or buds, butterfly tea does not contain any strong fragrance. Hence, the tea itself will not have strong taste or smell. Some butterfly tea bag may have a bit of added fragrance or some may choose to add honey into the mix in order to add smell or taste. Nonetheless, brands that are promoting butterfly pea tea for health benefits usually will only have 100% butterfly pea in their tea bags.

Butterfly pea lemonade

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Butterfly pea lemonade is where it gets more interesting (and refreshing!). It is very common to add lemon or lime into butterfly pea tea, but whether the beverage is classified as tea or lemonade, it depends on the amount of lemon.

You can brew the butterfly pea and then mix it with lemon (or lime juice in Southeast Asia) and a bit of sugar for a refreshing sour and sweet taste. Some recipe also introduces soda water for some fizz. You can also add herbs like lemon skin or rosemary for more taste and fragrance! So what does butterfly pea tea taste like here? The answer here is: it can taste like lemonade!

Butterfly pea milk tea

We have covered sour and refreshing taste of butterfly pea lemonade, but another popular butterfly pea tea beverages is butterfly pea milk tea! Butterfly pea milk tea, like its cousin Thai milk tea – is a milky beverage. But here we use butterfly pea tea as a base instead of the red Thai tea (hence the drink base color is blue!)

Common ingredients include hot water, dried butterfly pea flower, fresh milk, some syrup and ice. In Thailand, people also add evaporated milk for extra milkiness! So what does Thai butterfly pea tea taste like here? Milk tea!

Health benefit of butterfly pea

The popularity of butterfly pea is not only because it adds interesting blue color to food/drinks, but also its health benefits.

Butterfly pea’s blue color is due to anthocyanins, which are antioxidant compounds. Specifically the name of the antioxidant responsible for the bright blue color is ternatins. Studies show that ternatins can alleviate inflammation and prevent cancer cell growth. There are other antioxidant compounds in butterfly pea that have different functions like anti-cancer, antimicrobial, antiviral, and boosting immunity.

Many people also consume butterfly pea tea for weight loss, to stabilize blood sugar and also they put topically on the skin for hydration.

Is butterfly pea tea nice to drink?

Yes, it is nice to drink and there are variations of butterfly pea tea, each with a unique taste. If you like it more herbal and healthy, you can have it just as is, brewed like the way you brew tea. But if you like it more refreshing with some citrusy smell or taste, you can make a butterfly pea lemonade. And, if you like milky taste and texture, you can create a butterfly pea milk tea. Pick your favorite.

Other than its unique color, butterfly pea tea is also packed with antioxidants that are healthy for the body. This makes butterfly pea tea drinks not only attractive in color and tasty but also healthy. 

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