When it comes to Thai dining, Phuket has a variety of choices. At the cheapest end of the spectrum, the various local markets around the island offer great snacks and simple dishes, often for considerably less than 100 baht each. At the very top end of the scale are the finest Phuket Thai restaurants, serving the outstanding Royal Thai cuisine in breathtaking settings. Which gives you the best taste of Thailand?
The first consideration is the degree of ‘Thainess’ on the menu. That is, how genuinely “local” is the cuisine you will be presented with? Many would argue that the street stalls are usually more directed at local customers, while the Thai food Phuket hotel restaurants serve could be toned down for tourist tastes, making it more like the stuff they would get in Thai restaurants in their own countries. It is debatable how true this is, as the major markets often also target foreign customers.
The sort of Thai dining Phuket restaurants can offer will generally be of a significantly higher quality than a simple street food vendor, thanks to the wealth of ingredients and facilities available to the former. In many cases, the street food seller is a one-man show or, at best, a family operation. The limited time and money available will mean having to depend on cheaper ingredients or fewer condiments, as well as significantly less preparation time. By contrast, a Royal Thai restaurant will be able to serve the cuisine at its very best, fit for a king.
The risk of illness is a common concern among those going to street stalls for their Thai Food. Phuket doesn’t have a particularly high rate of serious tropical illnesses, but simple stomach bugs can really put a dampener on an otherwise fantastic holiday. Naturally, vendors giving their customers food poisoning don’t tend to stay in business very long, but restaurants are held to a much higher hygiene standard, making them the virtually risk-free choice.
The sort of Thai dining Phuket street stalls offer tends to be almost exclusively snack food. It can be very tasty snacks, of course, but it is not really meant to replace a whole evening meal. A few markets do have areas which allow you to have a more complete meal, but even this is generally limited in scope. By contrast, a good Phuket Thai restaurant will have traditional appetisers, soups, starters, main courses, desserts, drinks and more, all in one place, making them easily the more convenient option.