Just because you’re on a budget on Ko Pha Ngan doesn’t mean you need to skimp on food. Here’s a sample menu of how you might get by on the island for under 150 baht per day.
The trick, of course, is to eat like a local. Jump start your day with a healthy breakfast of freshly-picked fruit from a roadside fruit stand. Coconut water, a healthy, hydrating treat, costs between 20 to 30 baht, fresh out of the coconut — scoop out the flesh and you practically have a light meal. A couple of small bananas will cost you another 10 to 20 baht or you can splash out on an exotic spiky dragonfruit for 20 to 40 baht.
For lunch, head to Walking Street, home of the Saturday Night Market, where you have two excellent options.
The first you’ll find to the left of the Post Office — look for the red mailbox on the left-hand side of the road when heading towards the pier. At this joint they do delectable pork dishes, with a choice of red pork, crispy pork or stewed pork, served on rice with a bowl of stock soup. That’ll set you back 40 to 50 baht.
The second is about four shops down from the Post Office — look out for the hardware shop next door selling fans and the like — and serves up amazing yellow chicken on curry rice, with a bowl of stock soup, for 50 baht. Both places are always packed with locals, and usually shut down by 14:00 after selling out.
For a true dinner treat, head to either the west or north of the island. Here, two budget diners stand out as supreme. On the west coast, in Ao Seethanu, you’ll find Mama Pooh’s Kitchen.
The sing-songy, sweet Mama Pooh is an excellent chef, and the menu holds true to the promise on the sign outside the venue: “Cheap price but nice.” The pad thai, though pushing your budget at 70 baht, is one of the best on the island, as is the laab chicken or pork, also setting you back 70 baht.
In the north, Jo & Gai’s draws locals from all over the island for its delicious lemongrass chicken salad. With battered chicken and a vast array of herbs and spices, and whatever secret ingredient the lovely Gai throws in, this is a can’t-miss dish. And at only 60 baht, it’s a steal!
Stay hydrated with a refilled water bottle and you’ll be well on your way to a budget holiday that’ll still keep your taste buds singing.
By Kaila Krayewski
Last updated on 6th January, 2014.