And so freaking cheap!
Eating street food is an experience ALL travelers need to try. And if you’re in Bangkok—the street food capital of the world—it cannot be missed.
But how do you find the best street food in Bangkok?
That’s exactly what I’m going to show you today.
This week, Dayan and I went on a street food rampage in Chinatown. We stuffed our faces with 19 different dishes, explored secret back alleys unknown to most travelers, and somehow managed not to get a coronavirus.
I call that a win (although we are terrified to step on the scale).
Today I’m gonna teach you the three keys we learned about hunting down the best street food spots…
But first, here’s the video of our street food adventure!
#1.) Not All Street Food is Created Equal
Just because Bangkok is ranked #1 for street food doesn’t mean ALL street food is good.
Many travelers backpacking Thailand (myself included) just go to the stalls nearest their accommodation and tourist attractions. These limited experiences often create our perception of the entire street food scene in Bangkok.
And if you happen to choose the wrong spot, you might even get a BAD perception of Bangkok’s street food and wonder what all the fuss is about.
It’s exactly what happened to us.
We’ve been working from our sweet apartment in Bangkok for the past month and haven’t gotten out much. We’re far from downtown and there aren’t many food options nearby, so we end up eating the same street food everyday.
And to be honest, it’s pretty meh.
Dayan even had an emotional breakdown one day because she was sick of eating chicken fried rice for the jillionth time in a row.
I knew if we wanted to get a REAL taste of the famous Bangkok street food, we’d have to head to Chinatown—one of the best street food spots in the city.
#2.) Many of the Best Places are “Secret”
When looking for good eats in most destinations, you just search for “best restaurants in ___” on Google and TripAdvisor.
But when it comes to street food, it doesn’t work that way.
There are TENS OF THOUSANDS of street food stalls in Bangkok, most of them with no online presence, and many located on streets and alleyways no “normal” tourist would ever venture down.
But even if you do find some reliable reviews online (which, let’s be honest, most street food articles are written by other travelers who only tried a couple different places), there are new stalls popping up every day.
The best street food in Bangkok in 2021 might be different than the recommendations from 2020.
Regardless, most of the top spots are off-the-radar. The only people that know about them are locals who live in the area and tried them all.
Which brings me to one of my most important Thailand tips…
#3.) A Food Tour Can Save Both Time AND Money
I’m a budget backpacker at heart, and the thought of paying for a food tour makes me cringe a little.
After all, why pay someone to take you around trying different foods when you could just do it yourself, right?
If you do it alone, how much time will you waste trying different meals before you find a winner? (And how will you even know it’s a winner? )
Short term visitors have a limited number of meals in the city and no time to waste on low-grade food.
But it’s not only time. What about all the money you spend on different stalls and dishes, trying to find your favorite?
If you’re serious about experiencing the best street food Bangkok has to offer, doing it alone is possible, but it’s far from efficient.
Here’s how to do it the efficient way…
The Bangkok Backstreet Food Tasting Tour
DISCLAIMER: We were invited by A Chef’s Tour to try their Bangkok Backstreet Food Tasting Tour in exchange for an honest review, but our opinions are our own.
We honestly had no idea what we were getting into when we signed up for our tour—just that we had to show up in Chinatown, Bangkok with an empty stomach.
And it’s a good thing we did…because we were about to STUFF OURSELVES SILLY.
We met our guide and group in the heart of Chinatown. Each group had about 6-8 people with two guides.
And boy did these guides know their stuff…
Most are actual Thai chefs, grew up working in a food stall families, and have decades of experience uncovering the best hidden food spots.
Best of all, our guide spoke nearly perfect English (and even some Spanish!)
The tour lasted around 4 hours and was supposed to include 16-17 menu items, but our guides kept finding extra stuff they wanted us to try as we walked the streets.
In all, we ended up cramming a total of 19 different foods into our gullets (it’s now been 48 hours and I’m still kinda full).
It was tough to choose favorites, but I’d say my top three were…
#1.) The Worker’s Noodles (Bami Jubkang บะหมี่จับกัง)
#2.) Stewed Pork Leg (Kha Moo ขาหมู)
#3.) Soy Sauce Ice Cream (Ice Cream See Eaw Dom ไอศครีมซีอิ๊วดำ)
(Yeah, you heard that right…soy sauce)
And here are the other 15 honorable mentions (to see which we recommend trying, check out the video above):
▶ Chive Dumpling (Khanom Kuichai ขนมกุยช่าย)
▶ Suki Soup (Suki สุกี้)
▶ Pork Satay (Moo Stay หมูสะเต๊ะ)
▶ Deep Fried Fish Cake (Todmun ทอดมัน)
▶ Pennywort Juice (Naam Bai Bua Bok น้ำใบบัวบก)
▶ The Worker’s Noodles (Bami Jubkang บะหมี่จับกัง)
▶ Jek Pui Curry (Khao Kaeng Jek Pui ข้าวแกงเจ็กปุ้ย)
▶ Durian (ทุเรียน)
▶ Sweet Midget Pineapples
▶ Soy Sauce Ice Cream (Ice Cream See Eaw Dom ไอศครีมซีอิ๊วดำ)
▶ Sliced Green Mango with Spicy Dip (Mamuang Naampla Waan มะม่วงน้ำปลาหวาน)
▶ Charcoal Grilled Prawn (Kung Pao กุ้งเผา)
▶ Sauteed Morning Glory (Pad Pakboong ผัดผักบุ้ง)
▶ Classic Tom Yum Soup (Po Taek โป๊ะแตก)
▶ Crispy Chinese Donut (Pa Tong Ko ปาท่องโก๋)
▶ Mango Juice (Naam Mamuang น้ำมะม่วง)
▶ Mango Sticky Rice Khao Niao Mamuang ข้าวเหนียวมะม่วง)
Most of the things on this list I wouldn’t have dared try on my own. If there’s one thing I learned, it’s that appearances can be deceiving. The way a food looks has nothing to do with how it tastes.
So now for the million dollar question…
Is a Bangkok Food Tour Worth the Money?
Well, it depends.
If you’re one of those “I only eat to survive” type of people and care less about how food tastes, skip it.
If you’re on a shoestring budget and need to save your pennies for other Thailand highlights, skip it (and then read these tips for visiting Bangkok on a budget).
If you’re a picky eater and scared to try things that are new and unusual, skip it.
- Have some cushion in your budget
- Love trying new foods
- Are sick of eating the same ol’ Pad Thai, Pad Kra Pao, and fried rice every day
- Want to try hidden local favorites you’d never find alone
…then I can wholeheartedly recommend the Bangkok Backstreets Food Tasting Tour.
For what it’s worth—knowing what I know now—this is something I’d pay full price for.
So there you have it!
If you’re determined to try the best street food in Bangkok, head to Chinatown.
And if you want an experienced local foodie guide to show you exactly where all the secret spots are to avoid wasting time on trial-and-error, the Bangkok Backstreet Food Tasting Tour has my official stamp of approval.
Happy face-stuffing! 🐷
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Mitch is your typical nomadic backpacker. Or at least, he was. But after stopping in Colombia to take “one week” of salsa lessons, his life took a sharp left turn. He met a cute Colombian girl in dance class, fell in love, and got married. Over half a decade has passed since he left his career to travel the world as a digital nomad, and he’s never looked back.
Nowadays, he’s the blogger behind Project Untethered—where he runs an awesome email newsletter and Youtube channel teaching adventure-craved wanderlusters how to escape the rat race, earn money from anywhere, and build an “untethered life”.