Bangkok – The Street Food Capital of the World

Street stalls at Silom Soi 22
Street stalls at Silom Soi 22. Photo by Discovering Bangkok

A trip to Bangkok is incomplete if you don’t enjoy Thai street food. You will find carts lined up on the corner of every street, which makes it easy for the tourists to experience the flavors of the Street Food Capital of the World. Scrumptious and delightful Thai meals from Noodle Soup to Fish Cakes to BBQ Pork, you are sure to experience a punch of aromas and flavors when in Bangkok. The street food is safe, delicious, and cheap. Also, you get to interact with the locals while contributing to their local economy.

Pad Thai Som Tum Ruen Thep
Silom Village at Silom Road, where you can enjoy Phad Thai and Som Tum, among other dishes, while watching a show of Ruen Thep Thai Classic Dance. Photo by Discovering Bangkok

Separate mention deserves 2 dishes ubiquitous in almost every street stalls or carts in Bangkok: Thai green papaya salad, known as Som Tum ( ส้มตำ), one of the most widely present and frequently eaten meals in Thailand; and Phad Thai ( ผัดไทย), a Thai stir-fried noodle dish with rice stick noodles, shrimps, chicken, fried tofu and eggs. It is covered with crushed peanuts and served on the side with fresh chives, lime wedges, and condiments including sugar, fish sauce, and chili powder.

Silom Road

Silom Road ( ถนนสีลม) is the central business district of the city and hence many people are walking around looking for a quick meal in between their office hours. You are sure to find a lot of food options in Silom Road from Soi 20 ( สีลมซอย 20) and Soi Convent ( ซอยคอนแวนต์) where you can gorge on some really flavorful yet cheap Thai food.

Food cart in Soi Convent
Food cart in Soi Convent selling Khao Mok Gai. The best rice in town. Photo by Discovering Bangkok

The options are endless: Kway Teow Soup ( ซุปก๋วยเตี๋ยว), a noodle soup; Khao Mok Gai ( ข้าวหมกไก่), a Thai-style chicken Biryani; Khao Moo Daeng ( ข้าวหมูแดง), Thai red pork and rice; Khao Man Gai ( ข้าวมันไก่), the Thai variation of Hainanese chicken rice; Deep Fried Spring Rolls ( ปอเปี๊ยะทอด), in any of its variations; Gai Tod ( ไก่ทอด), a Thai-Style Fried Chicken; Tau Hu Tod ( เต้าหู้ทอด), a Fried Tofu with Chili Sauce; and the list goes on.

Charoen Krung 

The first road to be built in Rattanakosin ( รัตนโกสินทร์), also known as Rattanakosin Island or the historic center of Bangkok (old Bangkok) was Charoen Krung Road ( ถนนเจริญกรุง). It was constructed in 1861 during King Mongkut’s reign (Rama IV).

A walk down Charoen Krung Road, along 8.6 km flowing parallel to Chao Phraya River, meets nearly all the historical-cultural threads that tie this fascinating town together, from the Grand Palace to Little India and Chinatown, through the historic European Quarter and on to the beginnings of Bangkok’s modern business district.

Charoeng Krung
Roasted duck hanging in a stall at Charoen Wiang. Photo by Discovering Bangkok

In the Bangrak District ( เขตบางรัก), close to Saphan Taksin BTS station ( สถานีสะพานตากสิน) you’ll find opposite the Robinson Department Store a street full of stalls and carts, Charoen Wiang ( ถนนเจริญเวียง), also in the vicinity of the mall in both sides, one of them mostly devoted to fresh fruits.

The smell of stir-fried garlic, fragrant noodles, roasted duck and freshly sliced fruit penetrates and saturates the atmosphere with a cloud of wonderful Thai street food.

Chinatown

Chinatown ( ไชน่าทาวน์) is your go-to in Bangkok if you are in for experiencing the real and authentic Thai food. From street stalls to carts to markets, everything is loaded with a multitude of aromatic and tasty food options. Chinatown is the street food hub of Bangkok where the street food trend actually began about 200 years ago when the city used to be the trading center of South East Asia.

Food stall in Chinatown
Food stall in Chinatown. By Kieron WoodOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Look around for some ad hoc stalls, feast on food, and top it off with a Singha Beer ( เบียร์สิงห์), the first Thai beer ever to be brewed. While in Chinatown, you must give a shot to their Thai noodles served with gravy to treat your taste buds with the ultimate flavors.

Victory Monument 

Victory Monument ( อนุสาวรีย์ชัยสมรภูมิ) is such a good area for street food because it’s one of Bangkok’s main transportation hubs – countless buses load and unload at this huge roundabout every day, and it’s also served by the Victory Monument BTS station ( สถานีอนุสาวรีย์ชัยสมรภูมิ). Wherever there are lots of people, there’s always lots of food.

Surrounding the traffic circle, and also on adjacent sois, you’ll find an abundant collection of restaurants and also street food stalls. On the north-east side is the famous Boat Noodle Alley ( ซอยก๋วยเตี๋ยวเรือ), where you can find a lot of boat noodle restaurants. Tasting Boat Noodles ( ก๋วยเตี๋ยวเรือ) is an experience that it’s worth checking out. They serve them all over town, but few spots are more known than this Boat Noodle Alley situated along a small canal, Sam Sen Canal ( คลองสามเสน).

Boat noodle restaurants Bangkok
Boat noodle restaurants over the Sam Sen Canal close to Victory Monument roundabout. Photo by Discovering Bangkok

Also, if you’re in the Victory Monument area, you can head over to Phahon Yothin Soi 1 ( พหลโยธิน ซอย 1), located just a 5-minute walk north of the monument, for another street with a decent quantity of street food during the day and evening.

Also, Soi Rangnam ( ซอยรางน้ำ), a fashionable street, popular with both locals and expats, is very close and it’s perpendicular to Victory Monument BTS station. There are many trendy bars, international restaurants, hotels, massage parlors, some fancier sit down restaurants, and a significant bunch of street food stalls that spring up particularly in the evening.

Sukhumvit Soi 38

Another great feasting point in Bangkok is the Sukhumvit Soi 38 ( สุขุมวิทซอย 38) where you are sure to find a variety of street food with carts lining up the streets. There are plenty of options: Kuay Jab ( ก๋วยจั๊บ), a Thai dish with wide rice noodles packed in a spicy pork stew; Khao Ka Moo ( ข้าวขาหมู), a slow-braised pork leg on rice; Khao Man Gai ( ข้าวมันไก่), the Thai chicken rice; and various other noodle dishes.

Street stall at Sukhumvit Soi 38
Street stall at Sukhumvit Soi 38. Photo by Discovering Bangkok

You will find many vendors selling different items but two to three vendors may also be selling similar dishes so you also have a taste variety. The best idea is to have a walk down the street first to find out what looks best and then start eating.

Ram Buttri Road

Ram Buttri Road ( ถนนรามบุตรี) or Soi Rambuttri ( ซอยรามบุตรี) is among the most loved food street yet less crowded and away from the Bangkok madness.  It can also be regarded as a hidden gem of the Khaosan Road, aka Khao San Road ( ถนนข้าวสาร). After a major uplift, this street looks more like an outstanding Bangkok oasis. Although the area is so small, it has made to our list due to the exceptional food that it has to offer at cheap rates.

Masaman Curry at Rambuttri street stall

“Masaman Curry, Rambuttri street stall”by agroffman is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

You will find a huge variety of dishes from curries to stir-fries and other conventional Thai dishes. Dishes that you must try: Nam Prik Ong ( น้ำพริกอ่อง), a spicy ground pork served with tomato sauce; Khai Luuk Kheuy ( ไข่ลูกเขย) a salad made from deep-fried hard-boiled eggs, cut into halves or quarters, and topped with a sour & sweet tamarind sauce; and Kaeng Massaman ( แกงมัสมั่น), chicken and potatoes in a sweet coconut milk curry. Other dishes available on the street are grilled meats, fruit shakes, spring rolls, chicken noodle soup, and many other snacks.

Bang Lamphu

Bang Lamphu or Banglamphu ( บางลำพู) is also known as the Bangkok’s Old Town and is the region around the river, which encompasses the backpacking travel area of Soi Rambutrri and Khao San Road close to the Grand Palace. It is the hub of old-style specialties of the Thai Street food. The most famous vendors of this area are around for decades and their culinary know-how has been developed and nourished through several generations.

Food eatery at Banglamphu
Khanom chin sao nam, a Thai salad made from Thai rice noodles, fish dumplings, dried shrimp, ginger, garlic, chillies, coconut milk, lime juice and fish sauce at Kanom Jean Baan Phu Karn Banglamphu. Takeaway [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Some specialties of Banglamphu include Khao Gaeng ( ข้าวแกง), Thai curry with rice; Gaeng Kiew Wan Gai ( แกงเขียวหวานไก่), a green chicken curry; Gaeng Som Goong Phak ( แกงส้มกุ้งผัก), a sour curry with prawns and mixed vegetables; and Tom Yum ( ต้มยำ), a spicy lemongrass soup , that can be made with prawns, Tom Yum Goong ( ต้มยำกุ้ง); chicken, Tom Yum Gai ( ต้มยำไก่); fish, Tom Yum Pla ( ต้มยำปลา); or mixed sea-food, Tom Yum Talay ( ต้มยำทะเล).