Best of the World!!! Why Thai Durian is the Only Real King of Fruits?

Durian – The True King of Thai Fruits

Love them or hate them, there’s no denying that durian has always topped the list of Thailand’s must-eat fruits.

Know Your Durians

Durians, an acquired taste for most people including some Thais, are not everybody’s cup of tea. However, you may still fall in love with this outstanding “aromatic” fruit once you open your mind and palate to its taste and fragrance. Just remember, not all durians are created equal. There are so many varieties available in the market, that even durian enthusiasts get baffled, not to mention newbies. Here’s a quick primer to help you navigate your first encounter with these prickly treats:

Mon Thong
Known as the “golden pillow”, Mon Thong durians are prized for their mild aroma, small seeds and thick creamy flesh. The best can be found in Nonthaburi, Chanthaburi and Rayong provinces. 

Gan Yao
Gan Yao durians stand out from the rest thanks to their long stem, thick skins, large seeds with light yellow, mildly sweet and creamy flesh. This rare and expensive species can mostly be found in Nonthaburi province. 

Chani or the “gibbon” durian is a firm favourite among those who enjoy sweet, pungent versions of the fruit. This variety is distinctive with its longish shape, large thorns, small seeds and noticeably yellowish, fibrous flesh. They are commonly grown in Nonthaburi, Chanthaburi and Rayong.

Puang Manee
A commonly grown variety yet one of the most difficult to find, the Puang Manee or “garland of jewels” durians are relatively small in size and can usually bought directly from the orchard. Known for their soft aroma, sugary sweetness and creamy flesh, these durians are generally prevalent in Chanthaburi and Rayong. 

Kradoom Thong
The Kradoom Thong or “golden button” variety is a favourite among those who want their durian to be more creamy than sweet. Their large seeds, with a lightly fibrous dark yellow flesh smell a bit like the Mon Thong variety. They can often be found in the outskirts of Bangkok and nearby provinces like Nonthaburi and Chanthaburi.

Know Your Durian Season
Traditionally, the durian season in Thailand peaks for four months, starting from April through to July, which usually kick off with durians from the eastern provinces, and then followed by the southern part of Thailand. However, thanks to today’s advanced agricultural technologies, visitors to Thailand are likely to find that durians are available almost all year round now. While these off-season fruits do more than satisfy one’s craving, true durian lovers know that nothing beats the taste of seasonal offerings. 

Exploring the Thai GI Durian Heartlands
Much like wine, the taste and distinctive aroma of each variety of durian rely on the soil and other geographical conditions. Here are the top 11 regions in Thailand where you can embark on your durian odyssey and discover the uniqueness of Thai GI durians.

The GI (Geographical Indication) logo that appears on products of Thailand, including locally grown fruits such as durians, is indicative of a registered intellectual property status. It signifies their origins from specific production sources guaranteed high quality and a renowned reputation by Thailand’s Department of Intellectual Property, Ministry of Commerce.

  • Nonthaburi
    Blessed with the Chao Phraya River’s abundance of minerals and additional nutrients from the leaves of widely grown Indian coral leaves, this province is known for its fine, creamy durian varieties including Mon Thong, Chani, Gan Yao and Kradoom Thong
  • Chanthaburi
    Rich in limestone, the soil in this province yields durians with flesh that is fine and lightly fibrous in texture. Ranging in colour from light yellow to orange, Chanthaburi boasts of local gems like Puang Manee, Nok Yip and Thong Linjong as well as commercially grown varieties like Chanthaburi One and Chanthaburi 10
  • Prachuap Khiri Khan
    What started out as an experiment resulted in delicious versions of Rayong’s Mon Thong and Nonthaburi’s Gan Yao varieties. Dubbed Pala-U durians, these varieties grown near the Pala-U waterfall in Hua Hin’s Huai Sai sub-district boast a firm, light yellow flesh with a soft fragrance, small seeds and a slightly sweet, creamy texture.
  • Si Sa Ket
    Known as the “volcano durians” thanks to the region’s mineral-rich soil from its volcanic past, this variety is distinct for its even colouring, creamy sweet taste, firm yet delicate texture and slightly strong aroma. 
  • Uttaradit
    This province is renowned for its Lhong Laplae and Lhin Laplae varieties, which sports a thin skin but thick flesh. These durians grown in Laplae district are dark yellow in colour, with a firm, dry yet slightly chewy texture, slightly sweet, creamy taste and small seeds. This softly fragranced fruit has also won awards from Thailand’s Department of Agricultural Extension.
  • Pang Nga
     This beautiful southern province is home to Salika, a native durian species that comes in a round shape, thin skin, slightly aromatic, and sweet taste.
  • Ranong
    The motherland of Thai eastern durians, this province grows one of the best Mon Thong varieties, which yield a firm, crispy texture, gentle aroma, and just the right sweetness.
  • Prachinburi
    Known for their Mon Thong, Gan Yao, Chani, Kradoom Thong, and other local varieties, they are perfectly firm, sweet, and creamy to everyone’s delight.
  • Trat
    Head to Koh Chang, the lovely island in the Gulf of Thailand, which is also home to the sweetest and most fragrant Chani durians.
  • Nakhon Ratchasima
    The Pak Chong district near the Khao Yai area boasts super smooth, creamy, less fibrous, and softly fragrant Mon Thong durians that are to-die-for.

A word of caution!
While indulging in durians is a cherished pastime in Thailand, it comes with a cautionary note. Pairing this fruit with alcohol, even an innocent sounding cocktail or beer, can lead to severe discomfort or even fatal consequences due to the fruit’s heat-inducing properties. To offset the internal heat, finish off every durian binge with a plateful of Thailand’s “queen of fruits” – the mangosteen. Known for their cooling properties and refreshing taste, the mangosteen or Mangkood in Thai can ensure a harmonious durian experience.