Bangkok, Thailand has become one of the world’s top destinations for tourists for many good reasons. The city has so much to offer— great scenery, awesome accommodations, welcoming people, great attractions, and world-class food. In this article, we’ll dive into the best Bangkok street food dishes and why you should try them.
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Patrick Mabilog is a writer and digital business owner who loves to travel the world with his wife/business partner, Ces, and two kids, Alexa and Sam. He’s also the co-founder of Embrace the Epic, a blog that seeks to inspire people to experience life to the full through travel. Thanks to him for this article on the top Bangkok Street Food to eat.
My family and I visited Thailand in 2023 for a work/play trip with the company I’ve worked for the past few years. And it was definitely one of the best destinations we’ve been to so far. One of the highlights of that trip was definitely the street food.
Here’s What Bangkok Street Food Is Like
When planning things to do in Bangkok, meals will definitely have to be a part of your Bangkok itinerary. Trust us when we say that you should plan your meals to maximize the diverse culinary experiences this city has to offer.
Bangkok street food is definitely an adventure in itself, so it’s best to know what to expect before you even land at Suvarnabhumi International Airport (that’s Bangkok’s airport).
Here’s what to expect with Bangkok Street Food
Arriving in Bangkok can be a little daunting, and arriving at a street food scene even more so. There are lots of vendors and you may question if it’s safe to eat street food. The answer is generally yes, but if you’re concerned, or worried about getting the best street food in Bangkok, then we recommend joining a small group tour, where a local will take you to both renowned and tasty street food vendors. Here are our recommendations:
Take an e-scooter street food tour of Bangkok: get to see historic locations around Bangkok, get a history lesson from an expert guide, and eat street food like a local. This is a great fun way to eat street food in Bangkok.
Explore Bangkok Street Food at Night with this midnight street food tour by Tuk-tuk – one of Thailand’s authentic modes of transport. It’s a perfect time to explore, with great food, cooler temps, and a super guide. Book your place here.
Bangkok Street Food is Diverse
Expect that street food in Bangkok will have a lot of variety. So many dishes from all parts of Thailand converge in their capital city, so be ready. You’ll have everything from noodle dishes, rice-based meals, soups, curries, grilled meats, and vegetarian options to sweet treats and tropical fruits.
There are Intense Flavors in Street Food in Bangkok
Thai cuisine is like an explosion of flavors on your palate all at once, so be ready. But on most occasions, we found that the balance of flavors was superb. While complex, Thai street food is bold and amazing. You’ll have a bit of sweet, spicy, sour, and salty flavors. Important note: The Thai are very used to spicy food. So, if they say “It’s not spicy,” it might still be. Proceed with caution (learned this the hard way!) Bringing a water bottle to wash the spice down should be one of your travel essentials.
Bangkok Street Food is Affordable
One of the reasons why travelers like going to Thailand is because of how affordable everything is there, especially the food. So, get ready to eat like a king when you get there (there’ll be plenty of time for diets and exercise after your Bangkok trip!). Street food in Bangkok is generally very affordable, making it accessible to all. But be generous when tipping too. It goes a long way for local small business owners.
There’s a Casual Atmosphere in Bangkok’s Street Food Environment
Bangkok street food is typically a casual and lively setting. You’ll find food stalls set up along sidewalks, bustling night markets, and open-air markets where you can wander around, it’s very similar to the vibe you’ll get in Cambodia at Phnom Penh’s markets. Make sure you’re in comfortable clothes and be ready to eat standing up or sitting on a stool along the main road.
Bangkok Street Food has Quick Service
Street food vendors are known for their efficiency and speed, so you’ll get your food fast. Don’t eat too fast though. Take in every bite because a world of flavors will await you at every street food stall.
Street Food in Bangkok is a True Social Experience
Bangkok street food provides a social experience as well. It’s common to find groups of friends or families gathering around food stalls. So while enjoying your meals, feel free to strike up an engaging conversation with others around you. There’s nothing that brings people together like food.
There are Lots of Peanuts in Bangkok Street Food
So be careful if you’re allergic to nuts. Always ask if any are used before ordering something in Thailand.
7 Bangkok Street Food that You Shouldn’t Miss
Now for the moment of truth. Let me share with you the top 7 street food options you should try in Bangkok, Thailand.
1. Pad Thai is top Bangkok Street Food
Pad Thai could very much be the center of your culinary experience when in Bangkok. It’s a classic dish consisting of stir-fried rice noodles with eggs, tofu, shrimp or chicken, bean sprouts, and crushed peanuts. On occasion, you’ll also have tamarind paste, fish sauce, and chili in there too.
There will be Pad Thai in fancy restaurants around the city, but most people will recommend trying them on the streets. There’s nothing like Pad Thai made the most popular way— as street food.
2. Top Bangkok Street Food Dessert Mango Sticky Rice (Khao Niao Mamuang)
If Pad Thai is the center of your culinary experience in Thailand, Mango Sticky Rice will be the mother of all desserts. This popular Thai dessert consists of sweet sticky rice topped with ripe mango slices.
It’s then drizzled with a rich coconut sauce and sometimes sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds. You’ll likely get Mango Sticky Rice in other parts of the world (we see it all the time in the Philippines), but there’s nothing like Thai mangoes. So eating Mango Sticky rice will definitely be different in Bangkok. The best place to go for Mango Sticky Rice is Bangkok’s Chinatown.
3. Som Tam – Bangkok Street Food Salad
Som Tam is a refreshing and spicy salad with shredded green papaya, tomatoes, beans, peanuts, and chili. The lime dressing gives a tangy flavor, which tickles your senses. Sometimes, Som Tam will include dried shrimp or salted crab.
4. Grilled Satay – super quick street food in Bangkok
Grilled Satay is a skewered and grilled marinated meat, usually pork (Moo Ping) or chicken (Gai Yang). Just like Pad Thai, this dish will also be available in hotels and fancy restaurants, but the street food version will be very different (and, in many ways, a lot better). Satay comes served with a side of sweet and tangy peanut sauce and is often accompanied by sticky rice.
5. Tom Yum Goong Bangkok Street Food Soup
This spicy and sour soup comes with shrimp (goong), flavored with lemongrass, galangal, lime leaves, chili, and fish sauce. It’s packed with sweet, sour, and spicy flavors, so every serving will definitely leave an impression. Tom Yum Goong might also include mushrooms, tomatoes, and herbs like cilantro.
6 Gai Tod –Bangkok Fried Chicken street food as you’ve never had it
Sure, you’ve had fried chicken in all forms and types. But the crispy and flavorful deep-fried chicken in Thailand is unlike any other. Gai Tod is seasoned with garlic, coriander roots, and black pepper. Traditional Thai Fried Chicken often comes served with sticky rice or as a snack with a spicy dipping sauce.
7. Kanom Krok (Coconut Pancakes) – Bite-Sized Street Food
These small bite-sized pancakes are another perfect snack or dessert that you shouldn’t miss. It’s made from a batter of rice flour, coconut milk, and sugar. Kanom Krok are cooked in a special griddle and has a slightly crispy exterior with a soft and sweet center.
Where to Get Street Food in Bangkok
Now that you know what to eat, the more important question is where to eat. Here are some places that you should go to for Thai street food.
Located in the heart of Bangkok, Chinatown is famous for its bustling streets lined with food stalls offering a wide variety of Chinese and Thai street food. Head to Yaowarat Road to explore the vibrant culinary delights.
Sukhumvit Road (Soi 38)
Sukhumvit Road is a major road in Bangkok known for its lively street food scene. Soi 38, in particular, is popular for its evening street food stalls offering diverse Thai dishes.
This market is located near Dusit Palace. Over the years, it has become a stable favorite among locals for its delicious street food, so you know that travelers will love it too. Ratchawat Market is also highly known for its selection of Thai-Chinese dishes, including the famous “boat noodles” (kuay teow ruea).
Pratunam Market is a bustling wholesale market famous for clothing and fashion, but it’s also home to numerous street food vendors. You can find a variety of Thai dishes and snacks to try while shopping in the area.
Victory Monument is a major transportation hub and a popular street food area for tourists, it’s also one of Bangkok’s hidden gems. The surrounding streets and alleyways are filled with food vendors offering a variety of dishes, including noodle soups, rice dishes, and grilled meats.
Banglamphu (Khao San Road)
Khao San Road is a well-known tourist hub in Bangkok, famous for its vibrant nightlife. Along with the lively atmosphere, you’ll find street food stalls offering local delicacies, grilled meats, fresh fruits, and more.
Or Tor Kor Market
Located near Chatuchak Weekend Market, Or Tor Kor Market is a clean and well-organized food market. It offers an excellent selection of fresh produce, street food, ready-to-eat meals, and local treats.
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Final Words on the Top Bangkok Street Food to Try
There you have it! Bangkok street food will definitely give you an experience of a lifetime. So don’t be afraid to stuff up while you’re at it! The food servings can be quite overwhelming, but every bite will be worth it. Are you planning to visit Bangkok soon? If you are, these street food finds plus the many other wonderful things to do in Bangkok will make your trip highly memorable and epic!
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