Summertime is here, and Thailand is bringing the heat. With the average temperature in Thailand reaching around 104° in the summer, naturally, visitors to the tropical nation seek out ways to cool down, and we’ve got a few suggestions.
While Thailand offers no shortage of ways to cool off on the hottest of days, here are just a few favorites that come highly recommended by the locals.
Watermelon With Shaved Fish (Pla-Heang Taeng-Mo)
Pla-Heang Taeng-Mo is a popular summertime dish in Thailand. It features dried fish and fresh juicy watermelon and is served cold to refresh on even the most sweltering of summer days. Pla-Heang Taeng-Mo is typically made with snakehead fish and shallots, with the watermelon served on the side. This sweet and savory dish is a Thai favorite, and can be made at home, with the following ingredients (recipe courtesy of Thai Food Heritage):
- 1 dried snakehead fish
- 1 cup of sliced red shallots
- ½ cup of vegetable oil
- 1 watermelon
- To Cook:
- Fry the shallots in the vegetable oil
- Grill the fish, peeling off the skin and removing the bones. Using a mortar, soften the meat by gently pounding it with the pestle.
- Using more oil, fry the softened fish until it browns. Remove from heat, and add the shallots and sugar, stirring until the mixture is well-coated.
- Serve with sliced watermelon
Thai Shaved Ice (Nam Kang Sai)
For those looking for a sweet treat while visiting Thailand, a delicious cup of Thai shaved ice, or nam kang sai is a refreshing way to cool down. Different from other varieties of Asian shaved ice, such as Korean shaved ice, this unique dessert can be made with a variety of toppings and syrups to suit your taste. Here’s a basic recipe for Thai shaved ice you can make at home if you’re not lucky enough to try it in Thailand or visit a Thai Shaved Ice shop here in America. (recipe courtesy of Cooking With Nart).
- 1 tbsp. Dried basil seeds
- 1 cup shaved ice
- About .35 ounces of cubed bread or croutons
- Sweet syrup of any kind
- 1 tsp. Sweetened condensed milk
- Soak basil seeds in ½ cup of warm water for a minimum of 30 minutes
- Put ingredients into a dessert vessel by first layering soaked basil seeds, then ice, and then croutons
- Pour syrup to taste
- Drizzle condensed milk over the top
For adventurous eaters looking for something truly sweet, adding grass jelly to your shaved ice imparts a refreshing mint-like flavor to anything you add it to. To enhance the flavor, add it to recipes with sweet ingredients, such as this shaved ice and grass jelly, which is another perfect way to beat the swelter this summer in Thailand or your kitchen. (Recipe courtesy of Serious Eats)
- 1 C freshly squeezed orange juice
- ¾ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
- 2.5 cups of water
- 3 tbsp. Sugar
- 1 tbsp. Orange zest
- 1.5 tsp. Lime zest
- 19 oz of chilled black grass jelly
- 1 can of sweetened condensed milk
- Mix orange juice, lime juice, and water, adding sugar until it dissolves.
- Strain the mixture, and add in orange and lime zest. Add the mixture to the freezer on the coldest setting.
- In about an hour, remove the mixture from the freezer and stir ice crystals from around the edges back into the rest of the mixture. Put the mixture back in the freezer.
- Check on the mixture every 20-3- minutes, stirring in any ice crystals that form. When the ice is completely dry (in approximately 4-6 hours) remove it from the freezer.
- Serve ice in a bowl, topped with grass jelly and condensed milk.
Thai Iced Tea
One of, if not the most famous drink to originate in Thailand is Thai Iced Tea. This cold, refreshing beverage can be served over crushed or shaved ice and offers a flavorful way to beat back the heat this summer. Best of all, you won’t have to look far to find it in Thailand, and Thai Iced Tea is easy to make at home, too! (Recipe courtesy of Arbor Teas).
- ¾ Cup black tea leaves
- Pinch of star anise, ground tamarind, and cardamom
- 6 cups of boiling water
- ½ Cup sugar
- ½ Cup sweetened condensed milk
- 1 Cup evaporated milk
- After steeping the tea leaves and spices for 5 minutes, remove the leaves from the water
- Stir in sugar while tea is still hot
- Add condensed milk
- Let mixture cool
- Fill glasses with shaved or crushed ice
- Pour the tea into glasses, leaving about ¼ of the glass empty
- Top with evaporated milk (do not stir)
Other Ways To Keep Cool In Thailand
In Thailand, Prickly Heat is a special type of cooling powder used by the Thai people to stay dry and cool during the hot summer months. Made with cooling ingredients such as menthol, camphor, and triclocarban, this refreshing powder also contains kaolin, perfume, and talc.
To use, just apply to the skin after bathing to keep your skin feeling dry and fresh all day. Prickly heat can be used every day.
A Spa Ice Bath
If you will be visiting a spa while in Thailand, a refreshing ice bath can help cool you off while reducing inflammation and soothing sore muscles from exercises such as Muay Thai, yoga, hiking, and biking. Be Fit Retreat offers ice baths as an add-on to their fitness package, and Phuket Action Point offers both hot and cold baths at their spa.
Ice Is Nice
If you want to feel a winter chill on a hot day in Sukhumvit-Ekkamai, Mega Bangna, or Ngamwongwon-Khae Rai, ice skating at Sub-Zero Ice Skate Club is the perfect place to experience a winter chill year-round.
With lessons and fun penguin walkers for beginners, Sub-Zero Ice Skate Club is fun for all ages.
Take A Dip
Finally, one of the best ways to cool off in Thailand is to visit one of the country’s stunning beaches and take a dip in the ocean. Whether you’re there to swim, surf, snorkel, kayak, or scuba dive, the ocean is the ultimate source of refreshment when visiting Thailand.
Not near the beach? Many hotels offer pools for guests to relax in after a long day of sightseeing. Resorts with beautiful pools include Santhiya Koh Phangan, Beyond Kanda Buuri, and The Four Seasons Koh Samui.
Keep It Cool
No matter where your journey through Thailand takes you this summer, these tried and true tips for keeping your cool will help regulate your temperature and keep you feeling comfortable throughout your stay. Best of all, many of them can be done anywhere in the world with a few ingredients and a little time.