Chonburi may be the easiest province to explore from Bangkok. The motorway between the provinces means you can be there in an hour, a feature that’s not lost on expats and tourists eager to forego Bangkok for Pattaya. The popularity of the route between the two cities, along with having the crowd distracted by bright lights in Pattaya, may be the blueprint for a memorable time exploring the rest of Chonburi.
Handmade ‘klok’ or granite mortar and pestle making in Angsila, once of the cities’ main trademarks and a dying trade and most are now machine made. These mortars are important in Thai culture as they are use to grind many of the essential Thai chili pastes.
Here are some incredibly tasty snacks to be on the lookout for when you’re hopping from seafood in Sriracha, to hand chiseled mortars outside the old market in Angsila, to the beaches in Bang Saen, and wherever the roads leads as you explore this accessible province!
Check the description in each of the videos in the playlist above for details including google map locations and price ranges for the markets and restaurants mentioned.
Common Snacks for Road Trips in Thailand
- Jaeng Lon – Grilled Thai Fish Cake Skewers แจงลอน
The newest snack on this list called ‘jaeng lon’ is also the most surprisingly delicious. The snack local to fishing communities has a familiar taste because it’s essentially the meatball form of Thai fish cakes (aka tod mun), but eaten in an clever new way. Instead of the familiar deep fried disks, the mixture made of pounded fish, curry, and fragrant herbs like kaffir lime leaf is rolled into balls and squeezed onto bamboo skewers for grilling.
- Kanom Jak – Grilled Thai Coconut Taffy ขนมจาก
A road trip favorite, kanom jak, is a taffy like treat made from sticky rice flour, coconut, and palm sugar. The mixture is wrapped in palm leaves and grilled, giving this stretchy treat a charred surface, while the rest remains gooey and warm. Since they aren’t as tasty reheated (unless you fire of the grill) they have become synonymous as a go-to snack to grab fresh when you’re on the road in Thailand.
- Khao Lam – Bamboo Stuffed Sticky Rice Pudding ข้าวหลาม
Together with ‘kanom jak’ the snack above these are two of the most recognized road trip snacks in Thailand. You may even catch Thai speakers referring to ‘khao lam Nong Mon’ the second half of the phrase being a reference to Chonburi’s Nong Mon market (ตลาดหนองมน). If you’ve ever had this Thai snack you may know it’s not the most convenient to eat in the car, so lately the markets have been trending toward more cup sized versions making them easier to eat on the go. You will also find many vendors experimenting with adding ingredients besides the typical black beans, such as the bright yellow gingko nuts (‘bae goey’ or แปะก๊วย).
- Hoy Jor – Crispy Crab Sausage หอยจ๊อ
You can catch this Chinese crab sausage in markets all over Thailand, but some of the most well known stalls to get your fix are in Chonburi. The sausage is made by wrapping the crab in the tofu wrappers and deep frying. Sometimes the vendors will add minced pork in addition to the crab, so you may need to ask to find out what all is inside. Near the main entrance to Nong Mon market you’ll find a large stall called Jarin (จรินทร์) selling the fried snack in boxes along with the next snack, poojaa.
- Poojaah – Stuffed and Deep Fried Crab Shell Cakes ปูจ๋า
With all the fresh crab meat available in the local fisheries, don’t be surprised if someone in your party wants to make a detour for ‘pooja’ (pronounced boo-jaaah), a Thai dish where the crab meat is mixed egg, herbs and spices, and often pork before being stuffed backed into a medium sized crab shell steamed and then deep fried. While the deep frying may seem excessive to anyone reading this who’s not also American, the technique acts to seal the outside of the treat, while adding both color and texture to the finished product.
- Hor Mok – Steamed Seafood Mousse ห่อหมก
Thai ‘hor mok’ from the Khun Rak (คุนรักษ์) stall on the main road near Nong Mon Market.
Throw your fish and shellfish bits into curry, season, and steam in a banana leaf wrapper to get ‘hor mok’. This seafood mousse has an unusually unappetizing appearance. However you’ll find the chefs will dress it up with a dollop of coconut cream and different garnishes to add color. Don’t let the appearance scare you off, this is treat worth trying, all though considerably more filling than the other items on this list.
Types of Restaurants for Pit Stops in Thailand
- Late Night Khao Tom Restaurants
Thailand’s provinces are known for shutting down quick, with little to eat after 9pm. Not so for Chonburi cities and even in places like Angsila you have a choice between several late night khao tom restaurants. We decided to stop at a place called Khao Thom Bangpragong 2 (ข้าวต้มบางประกง 2), which has the tradition display case out front showcasing the variety of ingredients to choose your dinner.
This display includes several hanging ducks and if you look beyond them you can get an eyeful of action as the small army of people are wok it up in the background. This restaurant served stellar duck breast and their renditions of other specialties like ‘kha gai super’ or super chicken foot soup aren’t shabby either. I hope this helps to whet your appetite for a special evening meal and you look for this place or the other 4-5 choices all within about 5 minutes of each other.
- Fresh Seafood from Coastal Markets
You ready to bonfire at the beach or just wanna grab fresh fish back home to Bangkok? Be sure to have the cooler ready and the gps locked on local fisheries like the Old Angsila Market (ตลาดเก่าอ่างศิลา). There’s a good variety of freshly caught seafood available in the market and there are even some stalls willing to steam and grill it for you right there.
If you can’t be bothered to visit the market, rest assured the local seafood restaurant near the beach has already hauled over a selection of the day’s catch and is ready to serve it to you at a premium.
- Dueling Noodle Stall Shops
Without a recommendation from a local, I don’t know how you’d ever conclude which noodle shop is best for lunch. Noodles are plentiful and the strong Chinese heritage in these areas means you’re especially likely to stumble over some stunning egg noodles or hard to perfect pink bowls of ‘yentafo’.
Our search brought us to the edge of Nong Mon Market to a shop layering soft minced pork patties into each of the bowls called Yentafo Jay Bouy (ร้านเย็นตาโฟเจ้บ๊วย ต้นโพธิ์). This was just one of many such shops nearby the temple/market area.
- Coffee Shops for Refueling Drivers
I thought I would mention the emergence of some cool coffee shops in the provinces from the younger generation of Thais, and I don’t mean the tackey little faux-rainforest shops attached to Thai gas stations. I mean the coffee shops that make you want to stay a while with the environment and have strong enough coffee to keep you extra alert on Thailand’s roads. One of the shops we tried was called greenhouse inspired We Coffee, located about 15 minutes from Angsila.
There’s still plenty more to see and taste in Chonburi and don’t forget to check out the youtube playlist from visiting these restaurants. Including such food attractions like the birthplace of ‘gai ob ong‘ (Thai clay pot roasted chicken) or exploring the food fusing happening as Japanese expats in large numbers are carving out their own space in the city of Sriracha. I’ll keep exploring, but if there’s a favorite Thai snack that’s had you swerving on the highway, be sure to mention in the comments below!