Everyone knows that Thailand is a predominantly Buddhist country, but not everyone is aware of the significant Muslim, Christian, and animist populations living within the Kingdom. Indeed, the presence of Muslims from Persia and what was then known as Malaya dates back many centuries; accordingly, they are well assimilated into Thai society in a number of locations.
When it comes to delicious food, many religions are very open to sharing their dishes, provided it meets their dietary guidelines, of course. In fact, you will find genuine halal certificates posted in many Muslim restaurants throughout the Kingdom, and these are truly authentic, certified by the two main Muslim bodies in Thailand: The Central Islamic Committee of Thailand and the Institute for Halal Food Standard of Thailand.
Thailand, being popular with visitors from Muslim countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia and the Middle East, has a wide variety of halal eateries, from the most basic street-side stalls and restaurants to the most exclusive hotels in the country. In fact, Muslim dishes have long been popular through all classes of Thai society, from the most humble farmers to the early Kings of Rattanakosin, who noted that several Muslim dishes were among their favorites.
Though the vast majority of Muslim Thais live in the southern provinces of Trang, Satun, Pattani, Yala, and Narathiwat, there are also substantial Muslim communities in Songkhla, Krabi, Phuket, Bangkok, and Chiang Mai. Halal food can easily be found not only in these major cities, but also in many smaller towns throughout Thailand. In fact, most shopping complexes have food courts selling at least a few halal dishes; simply look for the Halal sign or Arabic banner that these vendors have on display.
Of course, given its location nearby Malaysia, Hat Yai has many excellent halal restaurants featuring Muslim food that is most similar to that found in Malaysia. Popular restaurants in Hat Yai with halal certification include Darbar Restaurant, the Kosit Hotel, Novotel Centara Hat Yai, Salma Restaurant, Hamid Restaurant, and many others.
Halal food is fairly plentiful in Krabi and Phuket as well. Krabi has a wide variety of excellent choices, including Yamgha Kitchen, Ruankloymai Restaurant at the Aonang Orchid Resort, the Sand Sea Resort, Sunrise Tropical Resort, Rabeab’s Kitchen, Kor-Bua Restaurant, as well as a wide array of smaller establishments.
In Phuket, you’ll find many choices of halal restaurants, especially in Patong and Phuket town. There are many, mostly Indian restaurants, in the JungCeylon Mall area, and many Kashmiri restaurants in Karon. The Royal Paradise Hotel and Dirham Halal Restaurant are two popular halal restaurants in Phuket.
Bangkok certainly has a great selection of venues for excellent halal dining. There are too many places to mention in the Muslim communities in Bangkok such as Phra Khanong, Bang Rak, Phetchaburi Soi 7, and the Bangkok Noi areas.
You will also find halal food and Muslim restaurants along Silom Road and the popular Muslim area on Sukhumvit Soi 3 (known as Nana Nua). This Muslim neighborhood is also known as "Little Arabia," and there are accordingly many restaurants, of many styles, catering to the Muslim community.
Mak Yah Restaurant, on Petchaburi, is a popular halal restaurant run by Thai Muslims who also speak Malay. Another popular site for Muslim dining is the Indra Square area, where there are a number of good eateries in the open market area.
The larger, better known Muslim restaurants include Aeisah Rosdee and Sara Halal in Banglamphu; Eat’s My World in Central World; Al Tara in Din Daeng, Bawarchi on Ploenchit in the InterContinental; Deen Restaurant on Silom; and Al-Sana on Ratchaprarop in the Pratunam area.
A number of chain restaurants throughout Thailand, such as KFC, Chester’s Grill, and A&W will be halal as well. Look for the certificate on the wall or ask to be certain.
Finally, the great northern city of Chiang Mai has long been home to a number of Muslim communities, both Yunnanese and Bengali, or South Asian, resulting in the wide availability of delicious Muslim food. There are 16 mosques in Chiang Mai, but the main area is around the northern end of the Night Market, near the river, along Chang Klan and Charoen Prathet Roads.
Among the most popular of the Muslim restaurants is Asma, on Chang Klan Road, and Jen Pao Restaurant on Sriphum Road. The Night Market area also boasts two other favorites: the Arabia Restaurant in Anusarn Market and the nearby Shere Shiraz, virtually a landmark.
You can mix with an assortment of ethnicities here while enjoying Chiang Mai’s signature dish, the succulent khao soi, a chicken curry-type dish with noodles served with chilli paste and pickled vegetables.
Or you may wish to treat yourself, in the same area, to a chicken or mutton biryani, honey-grilled duck dishes, or chicken or beef sateh skewers, plus many more wonderful dishes. Afterwards, you can walk off your feast along the banks of the nearby Ping River, perhaps discussing or surveying which restaurant you will dine in later that evening.