If you love to eat and you’re headed for Bangkok then you’re in for a treat. Seriously, I’ve eaten all over the world and the street food in Bangkok is my choice for the best anywhere (Mexico is a close second).
No matter where you go in Bangkok you’re sure to see local Thai’s sitting down on those little plastic stools by the road and enjoying some delicious dish with their friends. Everything from noodles to pork and chicken to seafood is on offer and all of it is quite delicious. Honestly my mouth is watering just thinking of it.
Thai Street Food Variety
One of the great things about street food in Bangkok and Thailand is the huge variety on offer. Regional foods from the deep south of Thailand such as spicy curries, northeastern salad dishes and Chinese roast duck and pork are just a few of the flavors to tempt you. Start with some grilled meats on a stick (satay), or a bowl of rice noodles. Fried rice in many varieties are available as well as fried chicken, grilled sausages, sticky rice, fresh fruits and even more exotic samplings like dancing shrimp or fried crickets can be had as well. If you’re hesitant about the unusual dishes try some khao man gai (chicken rice) or khao moo dang (red pork rice). Both are very standard dishes at Thai street vendors and both are extremely delicious. Finish it all off with fresh coconut ice cream or another Thai dessert, perhaps lod chong or salim.
Popular Locations for Bangkok Street Food
While you can find street food pretty much anywhere in Bangkok obviously some spots are going to be more accessible to you as a tourist. The following spots are popular with both Thai’s and tourists for the variety of foods available as well as their accessibility.
Rama IV – You’ll find street food vendors all along Rama IV, especially in the areas of Lumphini Park and Lumphini Boxing Stadium. Golf and I especially like those near the Boxing Stadium, down the small soi’s. The area really gets hopping in the late afternoon and you’ll find all kinds of great dishes here. Spicy som tam and laab from northern Thailand are popular as are desserts such as sticky rice and salim.
Silom Road – Another great place to find street vendors. Golf and I have two favorites in this area. The first are the street vendors along Soi Convent (near the Sala Daeng BTS station). You’ll find that the ones farther up the soi towards BNH hospital tend to be better. The second is a small street restaurant all the way at the end of Silom at the intersection of Silom and Charoen Krung. It is on the right side of the street across from the State Tower. Everything we’ve tried there is awesome. Finally, you’ll find quite a few vendors on Silom offering seafood, everything from fish to clams to oysters and prawns are available freshly cooked to your liking.
Khao San Road – Probably not the best quality street food, but it is cheap and usually satisfying. Plus, most Bangkok tourists seem to make it out this way at least once. The vendors on Khao San itself leave a bit to be desired, but some great dishes can be had in the surrounding areas. Cheap pad thai, grilled meats and kebabs and fruit is the top draw here.
RCA – This is one of the top nightclub areas of Bangkok so it’s not surprising to find a large variety of street vendors set up to feed the hungry party go’ers before and after their clubbing. The food is decent and available quite late at night so that’s a plus.
Chinatown – Obviously this comprises a huge area, but I’ve found that pretty much anywhere in Chinatown serves up really great street food. Yaowarat Road is a perfect start and if you don’t want to wander around Chinatown you won’t have to go any farther than that to get a great cheap street side meal. If you love food then you have to go to Chinatown for some of the best Chinese food you’ll ever get outside China and Hong Kong.
Rules For A Safe Bangkok Street Food Experience
While the streets of Bangkok may be dirty and the air filled with smog (although better than in the past), eating at a street vendor in Bangkok need not be a worrisome affair. Yes, you’ll see the food is unrefrigerated and there is typically a big wash bin of dirty plates next to the cart, but believe me when I tell you that eating from street vendors in Bangkok is quite safe.
I’ve eaten probably hundreds of meals at street vendors all over Bangkok and have only gotten sick once in 12 years. Honestly I don’t even believe that was from the street food, I think it was from Chao Phraya river water getting splashed into my face during a trip upriver to Koh Kred.
Simply follow these suggestions and you should be fine:
Go where everyone else is eating. The locals know the good food stalls and the ones that make them sick. If you follow the locals lead you should be fine.
Make sure the food is freshly prepared. The food should be freshly cooked and not look as if it’s been sitting around for hours.
Thai food is notoriously spicy and hot. If you don’t want too much heat then order your food “mai ped”. This means “not hot” and the chili’s will be left out. On the other hand if you think the hotter the better then order the food “ped mak mak”. This should get you food that is extra spicy although I have had mixed results. I think that some Thai’s don’t really believe that farang can eat spicy food so even if you order it extra spicy they make it “mai ped”.
If you do get sick get to an emergency room. The hospitals are very used to dealing with food poisoning and will sort you out quickly to get you healthy. Thai hospitals are very cheap compared with Western hospitals so don’t worry about the cost.
Bangkok street food is some of the best and cheapest food in the world and I have yet to find anyone who doesn’t like something on offer at the street vendors. The amazing variety combined with the delicious taste makes it an experienced not to be missed. So, next time you’re in Bangkok pull up a plastic stool by the side of the road and have yourself a feast!