Bangkok Thai Cooking Classes: Where To Learn The Art of Thai Cuisine In The Heart Of The City

Embark on a culinary adventure with our Bangkok Thai cooking class guide. Uncover the best hands-on experiences to master authentic Thai flavors.

Chefs hands holding a bowl of Thai food at one of the best Thai cooking classes in Bankok

“Have you eaten yet?”

This common salutation among Thai people (Gin Khao Reu Yang) reflects the importance of food within the Thai diet and culture. Food is taken so seriously in Thailand that kings have written odes to curries.

As someone who has indulged in the flavors of Thai cooking, I can attest that once you’ve tasted the real thing, you will forever crave the complex and mystical mélange of the food in Thailand

Like the Thai culture itself, Thai food is the product of various ethnic influences, including Chinese, Indian, Malaysian, Vietnamese, Cambodian, and European. According to CNN Travel’s World’s 2021 Best Food List, Thai cuisine tops the list with three perennial favorites—Papaya Salad, Tom Yum Goom, and Massaman Curry

As much as I love eating Thai food, the idea of preparing a meal has always been a bit daunting. So, on my last trip to the country’s largest city, I packed a voracious appetite and enrolled in two hands-on Thai cooking classes in Bangkok. 

Blue Elephant Cooking School & Restaurant

Anita Draycott at the Blue Elephant Thai Cooking school in Bangkok, Thailand
Enjoying lunch at the Blue Elephant cooking school – Photo credit: Anita Draycott

Chef Nooror Somany Steppe opened the Blue Elephant Cooking School & Restaurant in Bangkok in 2002.

Named one of Thailand’s top chefs, Nooror has become an ambassador advocating Thai cuisine and culture worldwide. Her motto? “You cannot make good Thai food without good Thai ingredients!” 

We met our Blue Elephant Cooking School teacher, Chef Chay, at the school’s impressive century-old colonial mansion. From there we took the MRT subway to a nearby wet market—a feast for the senses.

Pyramids of different colored curry pastes, bundles of lemongrass, Thai garlic and basil, galangal, kaffir limes, and freshly harvested morning glory leaves tempted. The variety of tropical fruits was remarkable: stinky durian, spiky rambutans, green mangos, and my favorite, mangosteens. 

We refreshed with some Thai iced coffee sweetened with condensed milk and made our way back to the mansion to prepare lunch. My fellow foodies were a couple of stylish men from France and a young gal from Germany who held a disdain for spicy food. Maybe she thought this experience would expand her culinary horizons!

For each dish, the chef demonstrated the steps in our classroom. We then moved next door to the main kitchen and worked at individual cooking stations, doing our best to copy his expert techniques. 

The cooking class menus at Blue Elephant Cooking School change daily. Our dishes were Tom Yam Koong Mae Naam (hot and sour soup with river prawns), Kaeng Karee Nua (yellow beef curry) Laab Kai (minced chicken salad), and Phad Cha Plaa Kra Pong (stir-fried sea bass).

We crushed coriander root, shallots, and lemongrass for the aromatic soup. We pounded the myriad chili spices for the Yellow Beef Curry with abandon. We created the spicy, sour, salty, and sweet seasoning for the chicken salad using sugar, fish sauce, lime juice, chili, and roasted rice powder.

I realized that instead of “singing for my supper” I would be pounding as I smashed garlic, bird’s eye chili, and shrimp paste with a mortar and pestle for the sea bass. At each step of the way, Chef Chay attentively supervised our progress. 

After our cooking was completed, we received graduation certificates, and packets of spices from the Blue Elephant gift shop and headed to the adjoining restaurant to enjoy the fantastic spectrum of flavors served with aromatic jasmine rice. 

The Bangkok cooking classes at Blue Elephant take place each day during the morning and afternoon. The Sunday classes include a visit to the market. There are a maximum of 20 people per class.

The Siam Cooking Class

Shopping for fresh ingredients at the Bangkok markets on the Siam Hotel Thai Cooking School
Shopping for fresh ingredients at the Bangkok markets on the Siam Hotel Thai Cooking School – Photo credit: Anita Draycott

Arriving at The Siam Hotel via the hotel’s vintage riverboat transported me into a unique and tranquil world of its own in the middle of the bustling city of Bangkok

The Siam is the brainchild of Bangkok rock and movie star, Krissada Sukosol Clapp who built the hotel in 2012 as a retreat and place to house his and his mother’s vast collections of antique Thai treasures. 

The Siam offers some unique guest experiences including having a Sak Yant ceremonial sacred tattoo, kickboxing lessons, and Bangkok Thai cooking classes.

I opted for the latter joining chef  Blair Mathieson, for a private lesson. We started our morning with a tuk-tuk ride with Uncle San, the Siam hotel’s long-time tuk-tuk chauffeur, to the local Thewet market. Live eels and frogs, pink eggs, a staggering variety of chilies, tropical fruit, dried and fresh shrimp, and more beckoned. The chef bought coriander and basil for our class as we dodged shoppers on motor scooters. 

Back at the hotel we donned aprons at the alfresco cooking class on the lawn overlooking the Chao Phraya River and began to prepare my three-course lunch. Chef demonstrated how to tackle each of the Thai recipes, from bruising lemongrass to tearing kaffir lime leaves.

Then it was my turn. He also explained that Thai food contains five major flavors: sweet, sour, spicy, salty, and bitter. Each dish should have a least two of those tastes and the key is getting the right balance. Hence the need to keep testing as you cook and add more chilies, more fish sauce, more coconut milk, or more palm sugar as your palette dictates.

First, we made Som Tum (spicy/sour green papaya salad topped with roasted peanuts).  Next was Tom Kha Gai soup  (coconut milk broth with chicken, straw mushrooms topped with fresh coriander, and drops of chili oil). For our last dish, Gaeng Kiew Whan Goong (green prawn curry), the chef taught me to make curry paste from scratch pounding the toasted coriander and cumin seeds, garlic, shallots, coriander roots, chilies, galangal and lemongrass with a mortar and pestle.

Hard work but worth the effort. Each dish was brimming with complex flavors and textures, but I was amazed at how quickly they could be prepared. I enjoyed my three-course lunch in the hotel’s Chon Thai restaurant and washed it down with a lychee juice mocktail. 

Reservations at The Siam Hotel need to be made at least one day in advance. There is a maximum of four people per class. 

More Bangkok Thai Cooking Classes

The Blue Elephant and the Siam Hotel both offer exceptional, entertaining, and informative Thai cooking lessons, but they are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Bangkok cooking schools. You could, quite easily, spend an entire week learning the fine art of Thai cuisine in culinary classes across the city.

Click here to see some of the most popular Thai cooking classes in Bangkok

Amazing Bangkok Culinary Experiences

Cooking isn’t the only amazing Thai culinary experience on offer in Bangkok. This exciting city is packed with world-famous restaurants and food experiences that will take you beyond most preconceptions of the city.

A woman serves up food at a river market in Bangkok, Thailand
A woman serves up food at a river market in Bangkok, Thailand

Dinner at Paste

Located near the popular Liberty Park in Central Bangkok is the Michelin-starred restaurant Paste. At this refined dining experience, chef Bee Satongun creates dishes based on ancient recipes that once delighted the royal family and other Bangkok aristocrats. Don’t miss her delicious repertoire that includes a Thai crab omelet with 31 flavors. 

Thiptara Rice Journey

At the Peninsula Bangkok, enjoy the Thiptara Rice Journey at the hotel’s riverside Thai restaurant. Created by chef Monnipa Rungthong, the eight-course culinary voyage includes dishes that highlight the distinctive varieties of rice found throughout Thailand.

You’ll begin with a rice cracker from Chiang Mai and end with a black rice dumpling made with “forget husband rice.” Legend has it that the glutinous bue loi khao klam rice from central Phetchabun province is so delicious that the wife cooking it will eat it all rather than save some for her husband. 

Chinatown Street Food

Yaowarat Road in Bangkok’s Chinatown is the place to snack on street food. Take the MRK to the  Wat Mangkon station. Avoid Mondays, as many vendors are closed. 

Pour a splash of chili sauce on the grilled squid. At T& K Seafood, look for the waiters in green shirts and try the oyster omelet. Still hungry? Follow your nose and the lines.

Bangkok Food Tours

Thai cooking classes are an amazing way to get a deep look into the wonders of Thai cuisine, but if you prefer to paint with a broad brush, a Bangkok food tour offers a great introduction to the best food in Thailand. Below you can find some of the most popular food tours in the city.

These are some of the most popular Bangkok food tours to experience.

Explore Beyond The Culinary

Culinary tour of Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok is packed with incredible experiences, from stunning temples to incredible shopping. After enjoying some of these Bangkok Thai cooking classes, round out your visit with a food tour of the city that inspired all of the unforgettable recipes that you just had a hand in cooking.

Whether it is tours of the Saduak river market, the royal temple, a day trip to Ayutthaya, or a relaxing e-bike tour, exploring Bangkok is an unforgettable experience. These are some of the best tours of the city.

Enjoy Your Culinary Experience With These Bangkok Thai Cooking Classes

Thai cooking classes are one of the best ways to reach a deeper understanding of all of the amazing food in Thailand. You won’t just get an amazing meal, but like me, you’ll come away with some of the tips and tricks that make cooking Thai food at home even more delicious.

The cooking experiences and other culinary activities around the city will fill your flavor senses as you explore one of the most incredible foodie destinations in the world.

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