Thailand is renowned for its mixture of excellent authentic Thai cuisine. One of the best places to test out this diverse array of culinary street fare in the Land of Smiles is Bangkok’s street stalls and food markets.
Not all of them are equal in value or taste, so our aim is to guide you to the best of them and make sure you don’t waste your time by eating at the wrong places! We’ll advise you which streets to visit and also give you some tips about the types of food available, so you will be able to test out a range of authentic Thai food.
At the end of this guide, we will also reveal a hidden gem of a riverside restaurant that is relatively unknown and untouched by tourists, plus give you some additional suggestions outside of our 5 best street food stall areas where you will be able to discover some of Thailand’s most authentic everyday street food.
We hope you enjoy the read because we really enjoyed putting this guide together!
What kind of street food can you expect in Thailand?
If you are someone that likes to try a variety of different tastes, then you are in luck. Bangkok’s street stalls arguably offer the widest selection of food styles in the world. Each vendor tends to specialize in a particular style of food, so you may find yourself going from stall to stall picking up soup from one vendor and fried chicken from another.
Some street stalls like to fry all their food, others stir fry; you will find plenty of grilled and barbequed food available, and you will see huge hotpots with soups, curries, and an assortment of other cooking methods such as steaming rice in bamboo shoots.
Here are some of the food types to expect:
- Khao pad gai — fried rice with chicken
- Khao man gai — rice with steamed chicken and soup
- Gai/moo bing — grilled chicken/pork
- Som tam — papaya salad
- Sai gok Isan — Isan sausage
- Pad krapow moo — stir-fried pork with basil
- Pla pao — salted barbecued fish
- Pad thai — shrimp noodles
- Khao neow — sticky rice
Here is a list of curries you will find available:
- Khao soi — curry with noodles
- Kaeng khiao wan — green “sweet” curry
- Kaeng phanaeng — a red Thai curry
- Kaeng phet — “spicy” red Thai curry
The different styles of cooking in Thailand
Another point that we should make is that no one dish will taste the same. Thailand’s street food vendors come from all over the country. For example, you may order a green curry, but in fact, the color is yellow because the chef is from Phuket!
Here is a list of some of the styles of cooking to expect:
- Isan style (from the NE Thailand region of Isan)
- Northern style (from the Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai area)
- Cambodian Thai (from the borders of Cambodia)
- Burmese Thai (from the borders of Burma)
- Central Thai
- Southern Thai
- Chinese (from where Chinese have settled)
1. Old City (Rattanakosin)
Old City is one of the first street food areas you should visit when you arrive in Bangkok. This place has arguably the most sundry selection of Thai food in the city, including Thai-style kebabs. Take a walk around the narrow streets that seem to endlessly lead inwards to an ever-increasing number of street food vendors.
If you’re already hungry from the anticipation of visiting one of Bangkok’s most legendary street food areas, you can pick up some walk-around food such as grilled pork liver, pork, beef, or chicken sticks with sticky rice to temporarily fill yourself up before finding a vendor that offers seating, so you can sit down and enjoy your meal.
You have the choice of just about any type of Thai food there: curry, noodles, fried rice, soups, seafood, river fish, omelets, fried eggs, and a whole lot more!
Address (for taxicab): Maha Chai Rd, Khwaeng Samran Rat, Khet Phra Nakhon, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10200
Transport: BTS to Saphan Taksin, then walk to central pier under the BTS (Bangkok Mass Transit System) and catch the Chao Phraya Express Boat to Tha Chang Pier, or take bus 53 to circle around the Rattanakosin area.
2. Boat Noodle Alley at Victory Monument (Anusawari)
Victory Monument is one of Bangkok’s busiest areas because it is a central hub for people catching mini-buses, busses, and the BTS to other areas in Bangkok and around the country. As a result, a flurry of street vendors opened food stalls there to satisfy hungry passers-by that want to stop and eat before heading off to their next destination.
One of the most well-known spots there is ‘Boat Noodle Alley’. You will find the street to the northeast of the roundabout. You literally cannot miss it because every street stall there sells (you guessed it) — noodles!
The street stalls line up along the length of a small canal where you will be spoiled for choice when it comes to the selection of noodles dishes available. Plus, as an added bonus, the prices are as low as 10 to 20 baht a bowl.
- Boat noodles
- Tom yum noodle soup
- Egg noodles with roasted pork
- Northern Thai curry noodles
- Pink noodle soup
- Rolled noodles in brown pork soup
Address (for taxicab): 2/16-18 Phahonyothin Rd, Khwaeng Samsen Nai, Khet Phaya Thai, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10400
Transport: BTS to Victory Monument (Anusawari) Station.
3. Chinatown (Yaowarat)
In any city in the world that has a Chinatown area you can expect plenty of shops, markets, and food. Chinatown in Bangkok, known as Yaowarat, is no different. This is Bangkok’s (if not Thailand’s) premiere eating spot if you are looking for Chinese dishes.
What makes Chinatown in Bangkok different from any other Chinatown found in other cities around the globe is the sheer diversity of regional Chinese dishes available. Malaysian (Hokkien), Hong Kong (Cantonese), Peking (Beijing), other mainland China regions, and Vietnamese-style Chinese dishes are available pretty much on every street corner there.
We suggest heading up Thanon Yaowarat to Yaowarat Soi (Soi Texas). there you will find both T & K as well as Lek & Rut restaurants, plus a plethora of Chinese style seafood street stalls with seating areas. These restaurants always seem to be packed and sometimes it can be a bit of a bun fight getting a seat: it is so busy. The food is first class and a meal for one is as cheap as 100 baht.
However, if it is purely street food you are looking for, then just wander around Chinatown and take your pick of anything you fancy.
- Dim sum
- Oyster omelets
- Roast or grilled duck / Peking duck
- Chinese fried rice
- Roasted chestnuts
- Flat noodles in a pepper broth
- Ice creams and Thai Chinese desserts
Address (for taxicab): Phadung Dao Rd, Khwaeng Samphanthawong, Khet Samphanthawong, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10100
Transport: Take a bus to the Yaowarat or Chinatown stop, a boat taxi to Ratchawong Express Boat Pier, or BTS to Hua Lamphong MRT station and take a bus the rest of the way from Hua Lamphong Intersection.
4. Asiatique The Riverfront — Charoen Krung Road, Sathorn
Near Saphan Taksin BTS station is a night bazaar set it what was once one of the Chao Phraya River’s bustling international trade ports. The bazaar is on an area of the river that is quite wide, and there is always a nice breeze there. It is also a very popular tourist area, so prices are higher than your average street stalls in Bangkok, but it also means that everyone speaks a reasonable level of English.
There is a large food court area in the center of the bazaar where you will discover both street food vendors and restaurants. There is a mixture of Indian, Chinese, Thai, Japanese, and Korean style restaurants and food stalls. Each food vendor has their own style of cooking depending on the region the chef is from, and if you are a seafood fan, then you will be in heaven!
Address (for taxicab): 2194 Charoen Krung Rd, Khwaeng Wat Phraya Krai, Khet Bang Kho Laem, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10120
Transport: BTS to Sapan Taksin or boat ferry to Central Pier (both are in the same location), then swap piers and catch the Asiatique river ferry, which is free.
5. Baan Klang Nam 2 — Rama III Road
This is not exactly a street vendor area, but we highly recommend paying this area a visit because of its location on theChao Phraya River and its picturesque view of the Rama 9 Bridge. If you visit this area at nighttime, the lights on the bridge glow over the restaurant area and there is a cool breeze off the river. You also have a choice of outside seating next to the river or inside with aircon.
The menus offer almost every style of Thai food you could ask for, plus there is a huge selection of fresh river fish as well as seafood. Not many foreigners know about this place, and so the clientele is generally Thai, and the waiting staff’s English is not good. The good news is that the menus are written in Thai and English, so you can just point to the dish you want on the menu.
As this place is not geared towards tourists, the prices are cheap compared to other restaurants that like to advertise to foreigners. Furthermore, the staff there always seem to be delighted to have foreign diners evident by their extremely friendly and welcoming attitude.
All in all, we really cannot speak highly enough of Baan Lang Nam 2 and this is exactly why it has made it to our top 5 list even though strictly speaking this is not a food vendor area.
Address (for taxicab): 3 762/7 Rama III Rd, Bang Phong Phang, Yan Nawa, Bangkok 10120
Transport: BTS to Chong Nonsi and BRT (bus rapid transit) to Wat Pariwat.
Other great places you can test out street vendor food
These are just our top 5 areas we would suggest trying out Bangkok’s amazing assortment of street food. There are also regular market days and temple parties in many of the local temples.
When these markets or temple parties are underway (markets are usually once a week), and you happen to be lucky enough to be passing by, then make sure you go and have a look. You will be surprised at just how much food is available there, and you will also get a taste of how much Thais revere their Buddhist roots.
One more stop on the BRT route from the aforementioned Baan Klang Nam 2 riverside restaurant is Wat Dok Mai. Every Wednesday there is a night market there where you can test out some of the street vendor food, which it must be said is delicious!
Also, there are plenty of food stall areas that can be found in any one of the many markets found around the city. The Chatuchak Weekend Market is one great example of this. Plus, many of the shopping centers have street stalls inside air-conditioned food bazaars all serving a large selection of Thai cuisine.
10 useful tips on eating street food in Bangkok
Bangkok can be quite deceiving when it comes to finding a good street food vendor. The place may look worn down and dirty, yet the food there is great. That said if you are not a local it is better to set yourself a few rules before deciding whether to order food from a street vendor.
1. Make sure the street stall looks clean.
2. Check that the vendor regularly empties and cleans the pan.
3. Only buy (peeled) fruit from street vendors wearing plastic gloves.
4. Choose places that look busy because it usually means Thais love it.
5. Ask for bottled water and don’t use ice.
6. When asked if you want spicy say a little bit (medium spicy in Thailand is extremely spicy for most people not accustomed to Thai chili).
7. Buy hand sanitizer from a 7/11 to clean your hands before you eat.
8. If you are allergic to peanuts avoid street food.
9. If you order pre-cooked BBQ meat, ask them to put it on the BBQ one more time for a few minutes, because you never know how long it has been sitting there!
10. Always be polite, say thank you, and smile. The Thai smile always goes a long way. Even if the food vendor is not friendly, he/she will appreciate it regardless of showing it or not.
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Savor food in Thailand with Asia Highlights
If you are looking for a safe street food experience in Bangkok, then why not arrange your trip to the ‘City of Angels’ with Asia Highlights.
We can arrange customized tours of the city, and along the way we will take you effortlessly to the very best food streets in the city where you can dine for breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner.
It is also possible to take you to some of the temple markets and parties around the city, so you can test out the street stalls that regularly appear there and to get a taste of Thai Buddhist culture.