|The Kingdom of a Hundred Fruits
are many possible reasons for people to go to a foreign
country – on business, for pleasure, to study,
to visit relatives and friends, for shopping, etc. But
the reasons probably do not include eating, even less
Those who come to Thailand, however, will find that
fruits in this country are so plentiful, so diversified,
so inexpensive and so delicious that they constitute
an unexpected reward, a bonus.
It is not simply because of its geographical position
as a tropical country that Thailand produces so many
different kinds of fruits of good quality. The tropical
climate is certainly favourable to the growth of vegetation.
But there are other factors that have contributed to
the rich production – the fertile soil, the introduction
of new species from foreign countries, the continued
efforts to improve the quality of fruits by scientific
methods, and the comparative length of Thai territory,
which extends right into the subtropical zone, making
it possible to grow fruits native to places of higher
Here is a brief introduction to several kinds of fruits
produced in Thailand that are worth special recommendation.
Names in Thai with their romanized spellings are given
after the English names of facilitate the identification
of the fruits. Prices given are just rough indicators.
The actual prices may vary according to the season,
the harvest and where the fruits are bought.
(kluai), there are 3 main species: 1. The
fragrant banana (kluai hom), most palatable
and most commonly eaten by foreigners; 2. The namwa
banana (kluai namwa), either eaten raw
as fruit or cooked in many different ways and eaten
as a snack; and 3. The egg banana (kluai khai),
small in size with a thin skin, a specialty of Kamphaeng
Phet Province. Season: All year round.
(ma-phrao) Only the young ones are eaten
as fruit. Scoop out the tender meat with a spoon
and drink the refreshing milk with a tube. Season:
All year round.
Apple (noi-na) Transplanted from
Central America long ago. Easily broken with a squeeze.
Eat the soft, white meat with the help of a spoon
and leave out the seeds. Season: June to August.
(thu-rian) A very special fruit. Reputed
to be the king of all fruits, its strong smell sometimes
turns people away before they have a chance to taste
it. However, if one can overcome one’s initial
dislike of its foul smell and give it a try, one
is likely to love its rich, unique flavour.
Among the various species, the golden pillow (monthong)
is most agreeable to the beginner.Other famous varieties
include the long-stemmed (kanyao) and the gibbon
(cha-ni). Season: May to June.
(a-ngun) First transplanted from Europe
about a century ago, it has thrived for the past
two decades after new varieties suitable to the
tropical climate were developed. Both the green
and the red varieties are available. Season: December
(farang) The Thai name means a White or
a Westerner. The fruit derived its name because
it originated from tropical America. It has become
a popular fruit only after the new Vietnamese species
was widely planted more than a decade ago. Eat the
white, crisp flesh either alone or with the condiment
provided free by the vendor. Don’t eat the
core, which would cause constipation. Season: All
(khanun) Somewhat like a durian but even
bigger, it takes an expert to open it with a sharp
knife. But people usually don’t buy a whole
fruit. The vendor will open it and take the yellowish
flesh out for retail. Its large seeds are edible
after being boiled, and are nutritious too. Season:
Almost all year round.
(lamyai) Brought into this country by Chinese
immigrants hundreds of years ago, it was first planted
in Bangkok and then in the North. It is in the North
that the fruit has flourished and become one of
Thailand’s largest export fruits. The most
famous species is the pink longan produced in Chiang
Mai. Its flesh is pinkish and thick and delightfully
sweet. Season: May to July.
or Litchi (linchi) Also transplanted
from South China, but much later than the longan.
Now, it is widely grown in Chiang Mai and other
northern provinces and is just as good in quality
as the fruit produced in China. Its slight tartness
gives its sweet pulp a unique taste. Season: April
(ma-muang) Like the persimmon, the mango
can be eaten both ripe and unripe. Some varieties
are best eaten ripe and some others, unripe. The
former includes namdokmai and okrong,
and the later, the khiao-sa-woei and nangseam.
The Thais are fond of eating ripe mangoes with sticky
rice and coconut cream. It is sold everywhere when
the fruit is in season. You should give it a try.
Season: March to May.
(mangkhut) Cut open the thick dark red
rind with a sharp knife. Be careful not to let the
sap contained in the skin stain your clothes, which
would leave marks hard to remove. The white juicy
pulp is divided into 5 to 8 segments, of which 1
to 3 contain a seed. The sweet flesh has a delicate
texture and will melt in your mouth. Season: May
(malako) Originating from tropical America,
the plant has been grown in this country for so
long and so extensively that the Thai people tend
to consider it a native of their land. It is easy
to grow and highly productive. That is why it is
among the cheapest. But don’t judge its quality
by its price. The former is out of proportion to
the latter. Slice it lengthwise and eat it with
a spoon, or remove the skin and eat with a fork.
A squeeze of lime juice will enhance its taste.
Season: All year round.
(saparot) Sweet, succulent and rich in
vitamin C. Add a little salt to enrich the flavour.
Largest plantations are in Prachuap Khiri Khan and
Phuket in the South, Chon Buri and Rayong along
the eastern coast, Prachinburi near Cambodia, and
Lampang in the North. Most of the fruits are canned
and exported. This serves to prove the excellent
quality of the pineapples produced in this country.
Season: All year round.
(som-o) The Siamese pomelo was well known
in the native country of the ethnic Chinese in Thailand
decades ago. In fact, that was about the only Thai
fruit known to their relatives at home. Although
that was partly because the pomelo is more durable
than most other fruits and can endure a long sea
voyage without perishing, it is an undeniable fact
that the Thai pomelo has earned fame for its country
for long. The fruit is easier eaten than peeled.
But the good taste is certainly more than worth
the effort. Anyway, the vendor can do the job for
you free of charge. Season: August to October.
(ngo) In bright red with yellowish or greenish
hair, the rambutan is beautiful in appearance. Its
white flesh is firm, sweet, and juicy. The most
widely grown species are the pink rambutan, the
school rambutan and the che-mong. If you
find that the meat does not come off the seed readily,
you may use a knife to help. Season: May to June.
Apple (chomphu) Another lovely
fruit mostly in light green. Shaped like a bell,
it can be eaten whole after the hollow end is cut
off and a few tiny seeds inside removed. The fruit
is crisp and succulent and only slightly sweet.
Thais often eat it with a sugar-pepper condiments
or nampla wan sauce to add to its taste.
Season: May to June.
(la-mut) Similar to an egg in shape and
size, but not in colour. Pare off the thin brown
skin, slice it lengthwise into 4 or more sections
to remove its few seeds, which are flat, hard and
in jet black, and eat the sweet pulp with a fork.
Season: All year round.
(som) Much improved in taste and texture
in the past few decades. Formerly, only those grown
in Bangmot district in the outskirts of Bangkok
were famous. Now, orchards in Samut Sakhon, Rayong,
Chanthaburi and Chiang Mai also produce tangerines
of high quality. Season: All year round.
(taeng-mo) The large round fruit has a
hard green rind, a watery red pulp and small brown
seeds. It provides plenty of not-too-sweet water
and is an ideal fruit to eat when you are thirsty.
Its quality is by no means inferior to any famous
species produced in other countries. Season: All
There are many, many other fruits produced in this
country. Indeed, it is no exaggeration to call Thailand
the kingdom of a hundred fruits. Those not mentioned
above may be less well known. Yet they each have their
special flavour liked by some at least. As you can see
from the above, May and June are the two months when
most of the famous fruits are on sale in Thailand. You
are fortunate if you happen to be in this country during
this period. If not, do try to come before the end of
summer in order to claim the bonus which is waiting
for you to collect.