What to eat in Bangkok, Thailand
Bangkok boasts a stunning 50,000 places to eat; not only thousands of Thai restaurants, but a wide selection of world-class international cuisine too. Prices are generally high by Thai standards, but cheap by international standards although there are a few restaurants (primarily in hotels) where you can easily spend 10 times more.
Sukhumvit by far has the best restaurants of Bangkok, though prices tend to be high. Practically every cuisine in the world is represented here, be it French, Lebanese, Mexican, Vietnamese, or fusion combining many of these together in a quirky, but delicious mix. Bangkok’s Italian town is Soi Ton Son near Siam Square. Of course, for those on a budget, street stalls abound with simple Thai dishes at around 30 baht. There are especially plenty of budget restaurants in Khao San Road.
There are plenty of vegetarian restaurants in the more tourist-friendly parts of town (especially in hippie district Khao San Road). Vegetarian dishes are also readily available on the menus of regular restaurants. On request, even typical street restaurants will easily cook a vegetarian equivalent of a popular Thai dish for you. Ask for “jay” food to leave the meat out of the dish. For example, “khao pad” is fried rice and “khao pad jay” is vegetarian fried rice. For vegans, the most common animal product used would be oyster sauce. To avoid it, say “mai ao naam man hoi”. Be aware that all street noodle vendors use animal broth for noodle soup.
Don’t miss out on a cold ice cream in hot Bangkok. Western chain stores Dairy Queen and Swensen’s have booths in many malls and shopping centres. Or better yet, try an exotic fruit-flavoured ice cream at an Iberry shop. Their ice creams are tasty, cheap and safe to eat.
For Muslims, looking for Halal food, fortunately there is no problem. Most of KFCs sell Halal chicken. A lot of vendors on street food understand the term ‘Halal’ so it is always better to ask. A frown on their face on answering this question would indicate an absence of Halal Food. Tourists looking for Halal street food must disembark BTS at Ratchthewi station in direction of Phaya Thai and turn left on Petchaburi Road where lines of local Halal food outlets and cart food are located.
Thai desserts are worth appreciating not only for their beauty but also their unique way of reflecting traditional culture. Most Thai desserts are quite sweet. Therefore, they are favoured both by Thai people and foreigners. Real traditional desserts contain only 3 main ingredients; flour, sugar and coconuts. These ingredients are mixed by various methods such as boiling, steaming, frying, and grilling.
Tong Yip literally “Flower Egg Yolk Tart”, is formed its shape as a flower. Its ingredient consists of egg yolk, sugar, and flower water boiled in sugar syrup. The word of “Thong” means gold represents reputation and prosperity. Thai people believe that gold will bring a good thing happens to their life. Thong Yip means Picking Gold. A nice Thong Yip will not smell of yolks and it has a sweet taste. You should buy it from markets and Thai dessert stores.
Khanom Chan, calls “Thai Jello”, forms like a Jelly that is baked in 9 layers and set on a cookie pan. Its ingredient compounds of sugar, coconut milk, and flour are mixed. The word of “Khanom” means dessert or sweets, “Chan” means layer or level that indicates to improve or increase in the state. Number nine in its layer is significant in affluence in Thai. Khanom Chan is popular because it has a sweet scent, a slightly oily thoroughly from increasing coconut milk and a smooth texture. You can get it from markets and Thai dessert stores.
While not particularly high class, street food is among the most delicious food and can be found all over Bangkok — wherever you’re staying, you rarely have to walk more than 100m for a cart of street restaurant.
Many street vendors sell satay with hot sauce.
One of Thailand‘s national dishes you can try is pad Thai, stir-fried rice noodles with eggs, fish sauce, tamarind juice and red chili pepper. It can be prepared for you on one of the ubiquitous carts, or in a street restaurant. You can order it with chicken (gai) or shrimps (kung). Be aware that the pad Thai sold on the street on Khao San Road is changed to appeal to tourists, and is not an authentic pad Thai. Much better pad Thai is available in almost any restaurant on Khao San. A very authentic and cheap halal pad Thai is sold by on a cart at footsteps of pedestrian bridge on Petchaburi Road near BTS station Ratchathewi.
Another one of Thailand’s national dishes you should try is tom yam kung, a sour soup with prawns, lemongrass and galangal — beware, as it is very spicy!
Khao man kai is another popular street food. You can identify it at stalls displaying boiled chicken. Served with a bowl of fragrant chicken soup is a mound of rice topped with sliced chicken pieces and cucumber. Side sauces are spicy and go well with the bland chicken and rice. You can sometimes add optional liver and gizzard if that is your taste.
If you like sweets, try to find a kanom roti street vendor. The crepe-like dessert is filled with sweetened condensed milk, lots of sugar, and can also have bananas inside. It is fun to watch them being made.
Insects — ready for a snack?
Khao San Road is known for its carts selling bugs — yes, insects. They are deep fried, nutritious and quite tasty with the soy sauce that is sprayed on them. Types available: scorpions, water beetles, grasshoppers, crickets, bamboo larvae, mealworms and some more seasonal specialties. Break off the legs from grasshoppers and crickets or they will get stuck in your throat.
Thai dishes can roughly be categorized into central, northern, northeastern and southern cuisine. What’s so great about Bangkok is that all these cuisines are present. Isaan food (from the northeast of Thailand) is a backpacker favorite; generally street restaurants serve on plenty of small plates that can be shared. Som tam is a salad made from shredded and pounded raw papaya — again, it is spicy, but oh so delicious. If you want to dine the Isaan way, also order some khao niew (sticky rice), kai yang (grilled chicken) and moo yang (grilled pork). Isaan food is very spicy; say mai pet or pet nit noy to tone it down. Southern Thai cuisine is also worth it; many of them have congregated around Wang Lang in Thonburi. At least try the massaman curry, it’s delicious.
The place to go to for Chinese food is Yaowarat. It has a range of street stalls and cheap restaurants selling expensive delicacies at affordable prices. Soi Phadung Dao is the best street for huge seafood restaurants. Phahurat, Bangkok‘s Little India, has some decent Indian restaurants.
Dinner cruises on the Chao Phraya River are a touristy (but fun) way of spotting floodlit temples while chowing down on seafood and watching Thai cultural performances. Most operate buffet-style and the quality of the food is so-so, but there’s lots of it and it’s not too spicy. While the river can give a romantic experience, it can also be dirty and smelly with lots of plants floating around.
Drinks and tips are usually not included in the listed prices. Always make a reservation before heading out to the pier. There are many competing operators; most of them depart from the River City pier next to the Si Phraya Express Boat pier.