At the top of my list of things to do when I arrived in Thailand was to take cooking classes. If you have an interest in cooking, there are classes to fit any budget. You need not know anything about cooking, and regardless of your level of experience in the kitchen, I guarantee you’ll have fun (and impress friends back home with your new skills).
What follows is a list of classes I’ve taken, but it is by no means an exhaustive list of all the options in Bangkok.
Bai Pai Cooking School
$65 per person/half day class
Half-day classes are taught in a bright, airy outdoor kitchen. Classes are a combination of observation and hands-on, giving ample opportunity to ask questions. The teachers are friendly and knowledgeable. The website is comprehensive and allows for online registration, with an updated list of the dishes that will be prepared with each class. You eat all of the dishes prepared during the course in the open dining area that is equipped with fans and was breezy and cool the day we attended. Each course accommodates only about 10 people, so there is plenty of time for questions and for one-on-one assistance from the capable team assisting the instructor. Transportation from hotels in the center of Bangkok is included in the price. This is a winner if you are here for a short time and want an enjoyable, relaxing experience as well as the chance to learn from informed Thai cooks. Read more about my day at Bai Pai here.
Blue Elephant Cooking School
$110 per person/half day class
Blue Elephant has long been regarded as the best of the cooking schools in Bangkok. The school is taught on the top floor of a building that also houses a restaurant by the same name. Professional chefs enroll in multiple day or week-long courses that are structured in the same way as the half day courses that are more commonly attended by home cooks. Either way, the courses are professional and informative from start to finish. The morning course includes a trip to the local open air market, but the pace is relaxing and informative. Students observe a chef in a bright, spacious classroom, taste the dish and then move to the neighboring kitchen to prepare the dish themselves. At the end of the course, students can eat the dishes they’ve prepared in the restaurant (you can invite a guest to share the meal you have made, so be sure to ask about that if you want to have a friend or spouse come after the class to eat with you) or they will pack up the dishes for you to take home. Transportation is not provided, but the school is located just below the Surasak BTS station. Read more about my cooking class at Blue Elephant here.
May Kaidee’s Vegetarian Cooking School
$40 per person/half day class
What you get at May Kaidee’s cooking school is entertainment (featuring May Kaidee herself) as well as the opportunity to cook a large number of Thai dishes. The school is a bit less organized than others I attended in Bangkok, with minimal instruction and no demonstration prior to cooking which makes the class feel more chaotic than others. May is a delightful instructor though, and her love of the cuisine and knowledge come through. In addition to the time spent cooking she manages to cram a walk to a produce stand, observation of fresh spring rolls being prepared, and lessons in singing a Thai song and dancing an Issan dance into the half day morning class I attended. We made between 8-10 vegetarian dishes in the time we had at the school, which is more than any other course I attended. Do consider the weather if you sign up for a course here – the cooking area is in a tightly packed, outdoor kitchen that can get very warm with the number of students sharing the space and cooking on hot woks.
Silom Cooking School
$33 per person/half day class
Silom Cooking School is…well, quirky. It is by far the best value around and you will get instruction in upwards of 5 dishes as well as a visit to the local market and an introduction to Thai ingredients. Because the school is tucked away at the end of a windy alley, on the third floor of a Bangkok apartment building, the instructor will meet you at the Skytrain or at an agreed-upon location near the school. (Transportation is not provided, but students are reimbursed for the metro or cab fare.) The progression of the course is haphazard, with students bouncing between different rooms to prepare vegetables and proteins, make curries and cook dishes at individual wok stations, but the environment is casual and fun. Despite the sometimes chaotic vibe, I learned quite a bit and got hands-on experience. If you are up for a bit of adventure and comedy, and don’t want to spend too much, this might be the choice for you. One note of warning – most of the cooking is prepared in a traditional Thai manner – seated on the floor. Be sure that you are comfortable with getting up and down from the floor before signing up, and ladies – probably best not to wear a skirt. Read about my most recent class at Silom Cooking School here.