There’s more to Thai drinks than bright orange iced tea. Whether you’re into caffeine, have a sweet tooth or you’re simply looking for something refreshing, quench your thirst like a local with these unusual Thai drinks you can get from street vendors.
Nom Yen (iced pink milk)
Ask most Thai people about Nom Yen and they will say it’s the taste of their childhood. This iconic pink milk is known by all ages, taking its bright pink colour from sala syrup, made from a type of Thai fruit that has tangy and floral notes. There are some variations of the drink but it’s usually made from fresh milk mixed with syrup. Some vendors get a little fancy and blend it with ice or add condensed milk.
Ovaltine Phu Khao Fhai (Ovaltine volcano)
If you want to impress all of your friends while visiting Bangkok, this dramatic drink will do the trick. The most delicious and fun part is the “volcano” topping, which is made by shaping Ovaltine powder to look like a tip of the mountain and adding condensed milk all over it to look like volcanic lava coming out! This drinkable dessert’s crunchy and creamy texture will have you craving more.
Oliang (Thai iced coffee)
This local take on coffee has a long history. Having originated in China, the drink was passed down amongst Thai-Chinese families who migrated to Bangkok. Interestingly, each vendor has their own recipe; they might mix the coffee powder with brown sugar or spices such as cardamom or sesame seeds.
Yok Lor (Thai iced coffee with milk)
Yok Lor is another variation of Oliang with an interesting history. The main difference between the two is that Yok Lor is traditionally served with a lot more milk than Oliang. The name “Yok Lor” (flying wheel) is actually derived from the brand of canned evaporated milk that was originally used to make the coffee. The logo of the evaporated milk was a bicycle, and as the vendor poured the milk into the coffee, it looked as if the wheel was floating in the air.
An Chann Manaw (butterfly pea with lime)
On a day when you’ve had too much coffee, give this light and refreshing drink a try instead. Butterfly pea is a herbal flower famous for its blue hue, which changes to purple when lime juice is added, magic! The flower also has many medicinal benefits and can help the body to de-stress and get rid of toxins. While the flowers boast light and aromatic flavours, the addition of lime and a small amount of syrup and salt help to bring the drink together. It’s the perfect choice on a hot Bangkok afternoon.
Nam daeng (red soda)
Another simple and refreshing Thai drink you’ll see at many of the street vendors is red soda. The most famous brand amongst Thai people is Hale’s Blue Boy and the red syrup is made from sala fruit. Fun fact: this drink is commonly given as an offering at shrines. One speculation as to why is that red is the colour of luck and also the colour of blood, so the drink has become a symbolic offering of life force to the gods.