1 Fascinating Aspect of Thai Culture Centering on Convenience
Did you know that when I started circling the globe nearly 7 years ago that Phuket, Thailand had over 200 7-11 stores? Thailand convenience store food is a surprisingly prevalent aspect of Thai culture. I figured massages, home-made food and monks walking for alms seemed more Thailand, to me. But……
This was in 2011. I can only imagine how many 7-11’s dot Phuket now in 2021.
This island takes 2 hours tops to cover, North to South.
East to West, 30 minutes. If that.
But 7-11 ain’t the only convenience store in Phuket.
Thailand Convenience Store Food
Or in Thailand.
Toss in Tesco Lotus convenience stores and generic numbers and you have a rich array of quick buy spots that dominate populous areas.
Tourist spots like Phuket and Chiang Mai are not the places where convenience stores rule the roost though.
Kelli and I spotted a Tesco Lotus convenience store next door to a 7-11 and a generic spot or 2 in sleepy little Pak Nam Pran, Thailand.
Conveniece stores are an intricate part of Thai culture.
For better, or for worse.
Better for me; I just love my bizarre Thai sweet snacks purchased from 7-11. Hot dog buns, filled with strawberry cream, topped with raisins. I hear Kelli retching as she reads this….but for me….yum! Yum…..Thailand convenience store food.
Convenience Store Culture but Old Fashioned Spots too
Don’t get it twisted.
For every convenience store in Thailand you have a slew of old school, down home, food stalls brimming with fresh, delicious, wholesome, tasty food.
Thailand is not a country solely obsessed on convenience. Street vendors abound.
We enjoy our banana shakes, our Buddhist vegetarian lunches and a wide range of authentic Thai fare from the most genuine eateries you can imagine, starting at street stalls and ranging to Buddhist Jai (vegetarian) restaurants.
But convenience is kinda in demand in The Land of Smiles.
Thailand Convenience Store Food
As a sampler, let me share what I commonly buy at the 7-11 in Thailand:
- Thai sweet snacks, from the aforementioned hot dog bun filled with strawberry cream and raisins, to pandan bread, to regular white bread smeared with pandan sauce, to a loaf of white bread stuffed with pandan, to delicious taro and coconut stuffed rolls
- chips and iced tea
- tasty vegetarian dinners you can heat up in a microwave and enjoy as a nutritious meal on the go
- minced pork sandwiches
- soy milk
Some 7-11 fare mirrors stuff you could buy in the USA. Lay’s potato chips, for example. But Thai brands are also available, for basic chips and for other Thai food like, say, seaweed flavored potato chips or crab flavored chips or shrimp flavored chips.
Or may dried seaweed strips do it for you?
Better Warm Fare
On the whole, Thailand 7-11’s destroy US 7-11’s with the warm fare selection. The game is not even close. Picture the nicest US 7-11. Take this store about 20 levels up. At the end of the day, it is about culture. In the USA, convenience stores serve up quick, easy to grab fare at an increased price as a time saver. Thailand 7-11’s are about offering similar convenience but with a richer selection because ample Thai frequent these spots.
Picture blistered hot dogs sitting out for a day under a heated lamp in the typical USA 7-11.
Then picture fresh, albeit, not too healthy, hot dogs and other little treats available at the common 7-11 in Thailand.
Thailand 7-11’s really hit the mark in terms of prepared, fresh food. Burgers, minced pork buns, the delicious vegetarian dinners for a buck and other grub that needs to be heated up for a minute before consuming are fabulous dinners or snacks to be enjoyed in a pinch.
Kelli and I can be spotted enjoying a nutritious, wholesome veggie dinner from 7-11 heated at the counter by an employee, and miraculously, holding said heat for the 5 minute motorbike ride home as if the meal just exited the microwave.
Fresh juice boxes are another fave refreshment consistent with 7-11 stores in the Land of Smiles.
Scene Out Front
In front of virtually every 7-11 in Thailand you will spot street vendors, selling things like little chicken skewers to fresh fruit on a stick.
I am not kidding. I really do mean almost every 7-11 in Thailand.
Another fixture in front of most 7-11’s there; soi streets, or street dogs.
These dogs ain’t fools, knowing where their bread is buttered. Many stall vendors toss the dogs meat and other treats, as do some 7-11 patrons.
Even if some soi dogs appear a bit mangy, most seem to have a full stomach in spots like Phuket and Chiang Mai. Ample Thai folks combined with farang feed these fidos throughout the day. The dogs themselves sneak into the AC sometimes to cool off if kind clerks allow the canines to enjoy these convenience cooling stations.
Thailand convenience store food is not what comes to mind pondering this rich culture. However, chowing down at local 7-11’s and the like is a must-do activity to get a feel for The Land of Smiles.
Enjoy your savory-sweet treats and remember to give people working the counter a wai on the way out.