Want to recreate the magic back home? From schools in slums to pricier classes at the upmarket hotels, Thai to Vegetarian and even Indian, here’s our pick of Bangkok’s hands-on cooking classes.
Held in a charming old canalside home in Thonburi, Amita Thai’s setting is far and away the most picturesque. Owner Tam Piyawadi Jantrupon teaches a changing roster of four Thai favourites to classes of no more than 10, but not before she’s led them through her nursery herb garden to handpick their own fresh ingredients. At the end of the class the four-course meal you’ve prepared is served in a Thai-style sala overlooking the canal. Another nice touch: if you’re staying in central Bangkok pick up and drop off by car is included.
Amita Thai Cooking Class
162/17 Soi Wutthakat 14, Wutthakat Rd | Talad Plu, Thonburi |02-466-8966 | amitathaicooking.com | 9:30 am – 1:30 pm (except Wed) | B 3,000
No sitting back and just watching at this leafy two-storey townhouse. Shortly after being passed an apron and given a brief demonstration of how to cook four dishes it’s over to you. Fortunately the breezy open-plan workshop, personal cooking stations and pre-prepped ingredients mean cooking here is no chore. Plus, the staff are smiley and professional, as they answer your questions (“But what if I can’t find kaffir lime leaves?”) and ensure you don’t singe your spring rolls. Some take home recipes and a souvenir fridge magnet featuring a snap of you in action completes the four-hour morning or afternoon experience.
Baipai Cooking School
8/91 Ngam Wongwan Soi 54 | Ladyao, Chatuchak | 02-561-1404 | baipai.com | Mon – Sat 8.30 am – 5.30 pm | B 2,200
The class offered at this classy restaurant is very hands-on and easy to follow. The morning class is preferable since it starts with a visit to the Bang Rak market with the chef, where you’re shown the ingredients you’ll use later. Equipped with apron, knives and wok, each student works at a personal cooking station in a spacious kitchen after short, informative demonstrations. No reason to limit yourself to just tom yam goong and phad thai – each session includes four innovative dishes; the selection changes daily. Perfect for tourists on a short Bangkok stint.
Thai Chine Building, 233 South Sathorn Rd | 02-673-9353 | blueelephant.com | B2,800++ half day / B5,000++ full day
For the past two years Khun Poo, a long-time resident of Klong Toey, one of the city’s most impoverished slums, has been running her own cooking school as part of the Helping Hands initiative, a community self-help program that she instigated with four other slum residents. Held in the slum, the classes for up to ten offer the chance to see a little-known side of Bangkok in a safe environment as well as master four classic Thai dishes. The price includes return pick-up/drop-off near BTS Phrom Phong, a market tour, and some printed recipe cards.
Helping Hands Thai Cooking School
Klong Toey Slum | cookingwithpoo.com | thai 087-686-3714, eng. 084-901-8717 | 8:30 am – 1 pm | B1,200
Learn to whip up meatless Thai dishes at this yellow Samsen Road shophouse, one of three popular vegetarian restaurants run by northeasterner Sommay Jaijong, or May, in the Banglamphu area. Like her restaurants, her cooking school has been a big draw with backpackers for 23 years. As well as learning how to cook eight recipes, morning classes include how to make the all important chili paste using a mortar and pestle, a discussion of Thai herbs and spices, and a trip to a local market. Less in-demand afternoon classes tend to be more one-on-one and let you pickwhat recipes you learn. Fruit carving classes also available.
33 Samsen Rd (near Soi 2) Watsamphraya | Phranakorn | 02-281-7699 | maykaidee.com | B1,200
Not content with serving some of the Bangkok’s most authentic Indian dishes at her self-titled restaurant, former TV cookshow host Mrs Balbir also shares the secrets behind them at her regular classes. Pearls of sub-continental wisdom include how to master marinating lamb, prepare dal, and get your tamarind chutney just right. Each of the four sessions includes tutelage in four dishes, a recipe folder, full Indian lunch, and a B500 gift voucher to dine at Mrs Balbir’s. She also offers cooking classes for maids in English or Thai, as well as occasional classes aboard a floating rice barge (B3,500).
Mrs Balbir’s Indian Restaurant
155/1-2 Sukhumvit Soi 11/1 | 02-651-0019 | mrsbalbirs.com | B2,200 per session
Sukhumvit Soi 18’s Rembrandt Hotel recently launched their own stab at the Thai cooking school: intimate classes of no more than four and offering insight into all the herbs and ingredients used. Students are taught how to cook four crowd-pleasers (green chicken curry, papaya salad, tom yum goong, and a classic Thai sweet like boiled banana in coconut milk) from scratch, and also shown the basics of Thai fruit and vegetable carving. Classes are officially between 12 pm – 4 pm, but can be rescheduled depending on the chef’s availability.
Rembrandt Hotel Bangkok
19 Sukhumvit Soi 18, Klong Toei | 02-261-7100 ext. 7537-8 | rembrandtbkk.com | 12 pm – 4 pm | B 999++