Eating Insects in Phuket

Eating Insects in Phuket
Eating Insects in Phuket
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Eating Insects in Thailand

Eating Fried Insects in Thailand seems to be the ‘ultimate cultural challenge’ so here we go:

  • How many of you had a bite at one of these appetizing insects sold on carts in the streets of Thailand? A few, I suppose.
  • How many of you LIKED IT? less!
  • How many of you actually ENJOYED EATING BUGS? I only see one hand left!

It’s all about culture isn’t it? If you look at them objectively, many just look like brown shrimps, but our moms and instinct said : Shrimp = good, grasshopper = bad! But it’s not like this everywhere, often related to economical hard times in history, people ate them first by necessity, then taboos start to fade and it’s by taste or just fun or fashion.

To be honest with you, I don’t really like them all, but I tried them all!, so I hope you appreciate the sacrifice I made last night to write this story. We went to a place in Phuket where we knew insects were always available and bought 20 baht of each and drove back home. I wrote my will, kiss my wife and dog goodbye, just in case and displayed the content in front of me. And them I picked the smallest one… surprise! it’s almost as bad I as thought it would be! Well, not all of them, so I let you read the details below.

Mang Da1) Mang Da Na (Giant Water Bugs)

The biggest, weirdest, scariest with the strongest taste of all fried insects found in Phuket.
Female: eat only the inside. Male is chopped and added to salads. (Read more)

☆ Size: XXL
☆ Consistency: meaty like chicken
☆ Taste: Like bubble gum!
✎ Which drink?: Tequila shots… make it 2!

Silk worms2) Nhon Mhai (Silk Worms)

Big fat and shiny, fried with Kafir leaves, this is a popular snack.

☆ Size: XL
☆ Consistency: soft outside, creamy inside 🙁
☆ Taste: Strong and a bit bitter after taste
✎ Which drink?: Gewürztraminer (or beer)

Grasshopper3) Takatan (Grasshoppers)

Always popular because of its friendly recognizable shape that makes it look like a shrimp, it is actually the easiest to try as it looks ‘dry’.
☆ Size: XL
☆ Consistency: Very crispy
☆ Taste: Medium to strong taste with a bitter after taste like an old green tea.
✎ Which drink?: Riesling or Beer

cricket4) Jing Reed (Crickets)

Looks familiar to everyone. As it’s a bit plump you can expect it to have some fatty inside.
☆ Size: M
☆ Consistency: A bit crunchy and soft inside
☆ Taste: Medium at first then a bit bitter… like soap.
✎ Which drink?: Sauvignon Blanc… or Beer

mini-cricket5) Jing Reed Khai (Mini Crickets)

Almost same as the above crickets, but less scary to bite as the inside is not going to pop in your mouth.
☆ Size: S
☆ Consistency: Slightly crunchy then soft inside
☆ Taste: Very light, mostly Kafir taste and oil.
✎ Which drink?: Chardonay or Beer!

mod-daeng6) Mod Daeng (Red Ants)

Maybe the easiest to eat because popular because its tiny size is not intimidating.
☆ Size: XS
☆ Consistency: Soft and slightly chewy if you take a lot at once, (just as you would expect when shoveling a spoonful of red ants in your mouth!)
☆ Taste: Salty and oily
✎ Which drink?: Côtes du Rhône

Bamboo Worms7) Rod Duan (Bamboo Worms)

Probably the most popular among Thai, can be found easily.
☆ Size: S
☆ Consistency: Just a bit crusty then soft inside
☆ Taste: Salty at first, then comes a cheesy after taste.
✎ Which drink?: Sauternes or Beer!

red-ants-eggs-salad8) Kai Mod Daeng (Red Ant’s Eggs)

Comes as a salad and actually looks like white ants, much bigger than the ants we are familiar with.
Can be found at Tung Tong Restaurant in Kathu.
☆ Size: XS
☆ Consistency: Very soft as it is a salad
☆ Taste: Sour but good
✎ Which drink?: Sauvignon Blanc (or Beer?)

mang-da-talay 9) Mang Da Talay (Horseshoe Crab)

You might say it’s not an insect, but in Thai it means ‘Sea Insect’. And it’s weird enough to be listed here. Note that we eat only the eggs as a salad, and the blood of that creature is BLUE! (Read more…)
☆ Size: XXXXXL
☆ Consistency: Eggs are quite hard and a bit rubbery
☆ Taste: Fishy
✎ Which drink?: Pouilly-Fumé

sea-cicadas10) Chakachan Talay (Sea Crickets)

This one actually happens to be very good deep fried, but is not easy to find. One good place is Thanoon Seafood.
☆ Size: M
☆ Consistency: Very crispy, like a dry shrimp
☆ Taste: Light and salty and similar to shrimp with a subtle difference.
✎ Which drink?: Riesling or beeeeeer…. lots of it

Where to Find Fried Insects in Phuket?

Most of them can be found in those occasional village fun fairs. #2 to #6 can be purchased from khun Burm, one of the popular food carts open every evening at Sapan Hin Circle in Phuket Town for the modest some of 20 Baht per small bag, each of which contains more than you need.


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Born in France a long long time ago, I started to travel the world in my 20s and never stopped until I finally settled in Thailand in 1994. Then for the past 22 years, my passion for photography and my natural curiosity has taken me to every corner of Thailand, jumping frequently between Bangkok and Phuket and basically everywhere I could go. I now manage 30 online travel guides in Asia and beyond, including, and