When you think of street food, your mind instantly wanders to South East Asia. Think old ladies stirring big pots on the street, roaring open fires, sizzling BBQs, and many, many happy locals.
In Thailand, it is the way to eat. You’ll see everyone and their nan pulling up next to a Thai street food vendor to get themselves a cheap Pad Thai or Chicken and Rice. For us, exploring the street food stands is one of our favourite things to do in Bangkok.
It’s hard not to find a street corner with a row of carts selling Thai meals like noodle soup, BBQ pork, fish cakes, and delicious curries in Bangkok – but they are not all the same.
If you’re wondering where is the best Thai street food in Bangkok then read on to see our favourite places!
- What is a popular Thai street food?
- Why Eat Thai Street Food?
- How Do You Know Where to Eat Street Food in Bangkok?
- 10 Best Places to Eat Thai Street Food in Bangkok
- FAQs About Thai Street Food
- Popular Bangkok Food Tours
- Before You Go
- More Thailand Inspiration
What is a popular Thai street food?
But first, what can you find when looking for street food in Thailand? The most popular dishes are fried noodle dishes such as Pad Thai and Pad See Ew.
You should be aware that the food changes depending on where in Thailand you are. For example, in the South in Phuket and Krabi, you’ll find the food to be a lot spicier. In the North in cities like Chiang Mai and Pai, they are famous for their curries such as Masaman curry.
In Bangkok though, you’ll find a variety of these regional cuisines, as well as dishes you can find all over Thailand such as BBQ meat (Moo Ping) and vegetables or spring rolls (Poh Pia Tod). You can also find some desserts too such as banana crepes, fried bananas (Kluay Tod) and mango sticky rice, but these are more in touristy areas.
Some dishes we recommend you try are Tom Yum Goong (Shrimp Noodle Soup), Pad Thai, Gaeng Keow Wan Gai (Green Chicken Curry), Tom Kha Gai (Chicken in Coconut Milk Soup), Som Tam (Papaya Salad), and Kao Pad (Thai Fried Rice).
Other popular dishes are Pla Pao (Grilled Fish stuffed with lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves), Pad Kra Pao (Fried Thai Basil, which is very spicey), Gai Tod (Fried Chicken), Yellow Noodles (Egg Noodles with Curry Sauce).
Why Eat Thai Street Food?
The good news is that eating street food has many benefits for you as a traveller – it’s generally safe (you can see what’s being cooked and it’s fresh), you get to interact with the locals, it’s authentic, delicious, and the best way to give back to the local economy and support the local community.
Eating Thai street food in Bangkok is incredibly cheap, as is the street food in all of Thailand. A bag of fish cakes will set you back 40 baht (around $1) and a bowl of noodle soup around 60 baht ($2).
Top tip: If you don’t like spicy food, ask for your dish “no spicy” or “no chillies” and then add chili flakes or sweet chili sauce if they have it. This means you can make it the spice level you like. Especially when ordering dishes like Fried Thai Basil. Otherwise, prepare for fire in the mouth!
If it’s too spicy, put some sugar in it to soften the blow.
How Do You Know Where to Eat Street Food in Bangkok?
Craig and I really believe the best Thai street food is on the street you are on. You really don’t need to wander far to find good food, and many of the street carts don’t exactly have a Google Maps rating.
Go to the areas that are thriving with locals—always a sign that the food rocks. Especially if those locals have rocked up on a scooter to order – I mean, who drives to a food cart, unless it’s good, right?
If there’s no one around, a Thai friend of mine said:
“Always look for the Thai food stand with an old woman cooking. If she is cooking over an open fire, you know it’s going to be good.”
Know the name of a few of your fave dishes in Thai, so you can order the right thing. Have it written down in the Thai language on your phone using Google Translate if you can. If all else fails use your eyes to choose and then point and smile.
10 Best Places to Eat Thai Street Food in Bangkok
I know most of you are eager to really eat at the BEST places for street food in Bangkok. There has to be a list somewhere right?
Well according to our guide Tim, from Absolutely Fantastic Holidays, there is. Tim is a Bangkok local and shared with us what is widely considered throughout the Bangkok community to be the
OMG, if you love authentic street food you will love visiting Chinatown in Bangkok. There are hundreds of food stalls, markets, carts, and restaurants. Nighttime is when Yaowarat, as Chinatown is also known, will rock your taste buds.
While the street food here isn’t necessarily Thai street food, it’s a blend of Chinese and Thai cuisines that are completely unique to this area.
You can find bao buns, tofu dessert, dim sum, and noodle soups in beef broth – all very Chinese dishes, but you can also find Stir-Fried Crab with Yellow Curry and Oyster Omlettes, which are more Thai style with Chinese influence.
According to Jim Thompson, who took us on a walking tour of Yaowarat last year, Chinatown is the place where street food first began in Thailand over 200 years ago when Bangkok was the major trading hub of South East Asia.
We can really understand why this comes in as Number 1.
Just look for the ad hoc stalls, the plastic tables and chairs, feast out on delicious food and wash it all down with a Chiang beer.
We stayed a short walk from the outskirts of Chinatown and loved wandering down for our evening meal of Rad Na (Thai Rice Noodles with Gravy). At 40 baht how can you say no?
2. Silom Road, Bangkok
Silom Road was one of our favourite areas of Bangkok for Thai Street food when we were living in the city in 2002.
Being the central business district of Bangkok there are a lot of people, hungry people wanting a quick meal in between office hours. That means you’ll find a lot of Bangkok street food options.
Soi Convent and Soi 20 is where you probably most want to go to gorge on cheap Thai food.
You’ll find many carts lining the road serving BBQ skewers and Pad Thai. It’s an area that most people end up in when visiting Bangkok as it’s right by Lumphini Park, so make sure you save room for street food when venturing into this area.
3. Soi Rambuttri
This is one of our favourite streets in Bangkok because it’s one of the few places you can escape the madness of Bangkok.
When we lived in Bangkok this street was known as “Dog Shit Alley”, because of the number of dogs that paraded up and down the rat-infested street. Doesn’t sound like the most idyllic setting for Thai street food but here me out…
At the time, the area felt very authentic and was packed with locals. We loved eating Thai food and drinking here.
Now it has become hipster and cool and has had a major uplift. It’s now a pretty Bangkok oasis.
We were surprised Soi Rambuttri made Tim’s list as it seems such a small area, but Tim assures us the food there is known to be first class. It was also really cheap – perfect for budget travelers.
We didn’t eat there this time, except for Kalyra who gorged herself on cheap banana pancakes with chocolate – one of our fave 2am treats after a night in the Alley.
When we explained why we didn’t understand how Soi Rambutri and Banglamphu were both on the list – as Dog Shit Alley is in Banglamphu – Tim explained that the street food here is a little different.
Banglamphu is the area around the river near the Golden Palace that comprises of the backpacking travel area of Khao San Road and So Rambutrri.
If you want the really great Bangkok street food, then walk to the end of Khao San Road, turn right past the police station opposite the Wat and Soi Rambuttri, and lining the streets will be many many street stalls and carts.
Also the streets adjacent to Khao San have good street food too.
Because this is a heavily touristy area, a lot of street vendors have opened up shop here.
We can absolutely affirm that this is a great place to eat the best street food in Bangkok. This was where we ate dinner most nights when we lived in Bangkok, we loved to feast on fish cakes and noodle soup.
Pro tip: the food actually on Khao San Road is usually pricier and tourist traps. Try to venture around the corner if you can. Or if you don’t fancy eating insects.
5. Soi 38 Sukhumvit (or Soi 11)
We don’t feel we had the normal Soi 38 street food experience when we visited. We were excited to feast on this street as we had heard so much about it but only felt disappointed upon arrival.
There were only a few carts lining the street, we envisioned much more, and the selection didn’t seem all that great.
Mind you, we did have a very whiny 5-year-old at the time so probably were not really focused. We ended up jumping into a small stall just to have some peace.
However, we have learned that Soi 11 down the street has more options. At night, the street comes alive with vendors selling everything from mango sticky rice to stir-fried noodles.
And you can expect to pay around 40-50 baht per dish, which is so cheap considering how popular this area is.
The Tom Yum Goong we ordered was one of the worst we have ever had. Maybe because we are so used to Bangkok street food, we weren’t that wowed by Soi 38.
Many people are impressed with it though, so I would go and see for yourself. And then wonder on to Soi 11 which is better.
6. Jay Fai (Bangkok’s Only Michelin Star Street Food)
Jay Fai is a street food artist, there’s no other way to describe her. She’s probably the most famous and most popular street food chef in the whole of Bangkok, even before she was featured in a Netflix documentary on street food in Bangkok.
Jay Fai invented several of the dishes you see all around Thailand now, including dry Tom Yum, Crab omelette, and so much more.
In 2018, she was awarded the Michelin Star and is the only Michelin-starred street food seller in Bangkok.
As you can expect, the queues to eat at her stall are massive, and you can expect to pay more (around 100-200 baht depending on what you order).
But it’s definitely worth it. She opens at 12pm so come early, book a table for later, and gorge yourself on the best street food in Thailand, if not the world.
7. Jek Pui Thai Food (Best Curries in Bangkok!)
If you’re looking for somewhere that has authentic Thai curry, cooked the old-fashioned way in a big pot on an open fire, then head to Jek Pui.
The chefs here wake up early to cook the curries in the traditional fashion, and have been stewed for hours before they open for business.
There is no such thing as a packet mixture here! Only raw, fresh ingredients and herbs. You can smell the basil and garlic from down the street, it’s that good.
Locals and foreigners love this place, and it’s still reasonably priced despite its growing popularity. As of November 2022, the prices were around 50 baht per dish.
8. Chatuchak Weekend Market
The only downside to this place is that it’s only open on the weekend. However, if you plan your visit at the right time, you’ve stumbled across a street food winner.
Chatuchak Market is the biggest market in the world and is packed with stalls selling all kinds of tourist tat. But in amongst the elephant pants, you’ll find rows and rows of street food vendors selling everything from fried bananas to seafood dishes to insects on a stick.
One of my favorite street food dishes from here is actually a drink, called Butterfly Pea. It’s a sweet drink that changes colour when you add lime juice to it. It tastes great and I thoroughly enjoyed the magic show!
It’s made from some kind of flower and tastes a bit like chamomile. It’s apparently rich in antioxidants, too!
9. Terminal 21 Shopping Mall
While it’s not on the street, you can find popular street food dishes in the food court of Terminal 21 shopping mall. The reason we suggest this place is because it’s so cheap! A small mango sticky rice dish will set you back only 35 baht, and a noodle soup is around 40 baht.
You can gorge yourself silly here.
I would recommend this place to anyone wanting to try street food but is worried about the hygiene aspect. The restaurants in the food court have kitchens, not a stove on an open fire, so you can feel more at ease if it’s your first time.
10. Jodd Fairs Night Market
One place that you can guarantee good street food from is Jodd Fairs Night Market. In fact, any night market in Bangkok is a great hot spot for street food.
You can find everything from fried gyozas, dumplings, BBQ meat drizzled in soy sauce, banana roti, BBQ eggs (be sure to ask if its a fertilized egg as this is a local delicacy, usually it’s just egg white), as well as your usual Pad Thai with all the trimmings.
Night markets tend to open from 4pm until midnight, but arrive before 8pm as some vendors close early at around 10pm, and usually, all the good stuff has gone before 9pm (from my experience).
FAQs About Thai Street Food
Here’s what people usually ask me about street food in Thailand.
What ingredients are in Pad Thai?
Pad Thai is a stir-fried noodle dish with bean sprouts, your choice of meat (usually chicken, pork, shrimp, seafood or tofu) plus cilantro, palm sugar, lime juice, cabbage and peanuts. You might find other vegetables in there such as carrots and beans.
What is the most popular Thai food?
This is largely dependent on the region in Thailand, but amongst tourists, the most popular dishes in Thailand are Pad Thai, Tom Yum and Som Tum (Papaya Salad).
What Thai food should I try first?
If it’s your first time trying Thai food then a Pad Thai is a good introduction. It’s not as spicy as other dishes but uses a lot of the local ingredients you’ll find in other dishes.
Popular Bangkok Food Tours
If you want to try Thai street food in Bangkok but you’re not sure you’re up for searching, then a good idea is to take a food tour. These are with local guides who personally know the best places to eat that are safe and authentic.
Before You Go
So there you have it, those are the 10 best places to try Thai street food in Bangkok. As you can see, there’s so much to try all over the city!
If you’re every unsure, remember what our Thai friend said: look for the old lady and an open fire.
If you’re nervous about trying street food, just make sure your food is piping hot before you eat it and you’ll be fine.
Bangkok is probably the safest place to try street food as it’s so common and everyone eats it. No trip to Bangkok would be complete without trying it, so get out there and start exploring with a hungry belly!
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