10 Chilies in Papaya Salad Is Way Too Spicy – Chiang Mai, Thailand

Papaya Salad in Chiang Mai, Thailand
Papaya Salad in Chiang Mai, Thailand

If you ever go to Chiang Mai, Thailand, you have to try the Papaya Salad which is a delicious salad that is very popular among the locals and foreigners.

Chiang Mai is in the northern part of Thailand. It’s a wonderful place to live and you can really get to experience their rich culture which Chiang Mai is known for. Here are my other posts on Chiang Mai.

Papaya Salad or “Som Tham”

I highly recommend you to try Papaya Salad. It’s called “Som Tham” in Thai, and they would love if you try to speak Thai with them. I would eat Papaya Salad on a weekly basis, it is spicy, sweet and sour, and has such a refreshing taste to it. You can decide what level of spiciness you prefer, by telling them how many chilies you want in it.

Ingredients In Papaya Salad

The ingredients in a Papaya Salad are quite simple and not too difficult to get a hold of. Actually, green papaya might be a little difficult to get a hold of in some countries. But it’s the combination of these ingredients that work so well together and makes it taste so good!

The Sauce

The sauce is a mix of palm sugar, fish sauce, and lime. This sauce is then mixed together with slivered green papaya, garlic, small tomatoes, Thai chilies and then roasted peanuts on top. The lime flavor mixed with fish sauce and palm sugar is super tasty. Even though it’s fish sauce, it does not have a fishy flavor to it at all. Most locals order Papaya Salad with dried shrimp, but since I’m not a big fan of dried shrimp I leave that out.

Thai Chilies

1 Thai chili is not very spicy, but then 10 is really, really spicy. I started out with 0 chilies and then was able to move up to 1, then 2, 3 and 4 chilies was the final number that I would eat in my Papaya Salad. At 4 chilies it was starting to burn on my lips, and I would start to not be able to really taste the salad, but just have a burning feeling in my mouth. It’s quite good, and addictive, as you just keep eating more and more. I’m sure you’ve been to a Thai restaurant before, and the various spices they have and combine give the food such a rich flavor.

10 Chilies As A Prank

One day I went to pick up some Papaya Salad for a friend and I. At that time we were both able to eat 4 chilies as we had lived in Thailand for about a year now. I wanted to play a prank on my friend, and get 10 chilies instead of 4. I therefore ordered one Papaya Salad with 10 chilies and one with just 4 chilies. I had them both in the same bag because I thought it would not be a problem to see which one has 10 chilies and which one has 4.


In Thailand when you purchase food to go, they usually put the food in a bag, then seal it with a rubber band, but with lots of air in it, so you can easily see what is inside. When I had arrived at my friend’s house I looked at the bags and realized I couldn’t see the difference! After comparing them for a while in the dark (it was late in the evening), I decided, “Well it’s a 50/50 chance I’ll get it. What’s the worst that can happen from eating Papaya Salad with 10 chilies?”

Wrong Choice

I started eating my Papaya Salad and quickly noticed it was pretty spicy. But 4 chilies would also be fairly spicy, therefore there still might be a chance I did not get the Papaya Salad with 10 chilies. I kept eating and by now it was very obvious I got the Papaya Salad with 10 chilies!

Come On, Eat It!

But was I going to be a chicken and not eat it all? Of course not! So I ate it all and was literally curled up in a fetal position for the rest of the evening! It was terrible, and I searched online to see what to do. Someone on a forum said milk would work, so I went to the convenience store and purchased milk and quickly drank it all. But I can’t say that it helped any at all, seemed like it just got worse.

Burning Sensation

I was later told that eating plain rice is one of the best things to do when you’ve eaten spicy food..! It’s quite interesting how it can be spicy going in, and even spicy coming out. A burning sensation!

If you’re not into spicy food just ask for Papaya Salad with no chilies, and I think you’re really going to like it. Then you can try with 1, 2, 3 and as far as you’d like to go!

Have you tried Papaya Salad before?

Facts About Thailand

Official Language: Thai
Population: 68 million
Size: 513k square km (198k square miles)
Capital: Bangkok (8 million)
Currency: 1 USD = 35 Thai Baht

Map of Thailand and surrounding countries
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The last 15 years, I have been living in various countries around the world. It's been amazing learning new languages and meeting so many interesting and wonderful people of all kinds of backgrounds. I enjoy writing about these experiences, as well as helping people discover what is in their heart to do.

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