A big part of the Bangkok experience is trying and tasting the wide variety and sometimes downright weird food that’s available here; you really can give your taste buds a trip they will never forget. It’s not just about tasting dishes you might already be familiar with either; it’s the perfect opportunity to try something a little different. We’ve chosen 21 dishes and beverages that you may want to try out if you’re looking for food to eat in Bangkok. Some will sound delicious, some less so; but they will all give you an experience to remember.
We’ll take you on a journey from street food vendors to restaurant tables, and from spicy and sour to some of the best desserts around. If you want some advice on what you must eat in Bangkok, read on.
A Taste of the Streets
Street food is a major way of life in the Thai capital and it’s perfect for a midday snack, or a tasty treat on a night out. But what are some of the best street foods to try, and where can they be found?
1. Noodles of Your Choice
It’s not difficult to find street vendors selling noodles in Bangkok. They are probably one of the most readily available snacks around. Of course you may have to take several taste tests before you decide on your favourite noodles from a long list including;
- Sen Yai (rice river noodle) – These noodles have a flat shape and are made from white rice flour.
- Bah Mii – You will notice these noodles as they are yellow in color. They contain a mixture of wheat flour and egg.
- Woon Sen (glass noodle) – Made from soya bean flour, these are thin noodles that have no colour.
- Gieow (wonton) – Something a little different with minced pork, boiled and encased in a yellow dough.
One of the best places to find a selection of Noodles is the street food market at Sukhumvit Soi 38. The place is alive with a variety of stalls, and you can get plenty to eat for less than 150 baht.
2. Boat Noodles (Kway Tiao Rua)
Okay, we know we’ve already listed noodles as a street food of choice, but boat noodles are something a little different. Their name comes from the fact that they used to be sold from boats floating on the canals. Boat noodles consist of rice noodles served in a thick broth that is made from a mixture of pig’s blood and stock. If you are in the vicinity of Victory monument then you are surrounded by “boat noodles alley” which exists along the banks of the canals. You can buy a bowl of this familiar dish for approximately 9 baht (small portion). If you’re trying to find one of the more unusual must eats in Bangkok then you may want to try this traditional snack.
3. Grilled Pork (Moo Ping)
This is probably one of the most familiar items of all street food to eat in Bangkok. It attracts your sense of smell long before it delights your sense of taste. The pieces of pork are marinated in soy sauce before being grilled and served on skewers, usually accompanied by a portion of sticky rice. You normally pay around 10 baht for the Moo Ping and 5 baht for the sticky rice. As it’s so popular, moo ping is available from many street vendors, but one of the most popular is situated on Silom Road, just outside 7/11. The Moo Ping Hea Owen cart was first established in 1983 and is renowned among the local community for its high quality. You can get a stick of Moo Ping from the cart for just 10 baht. This venue is open from 10pm until early morning. There is another Moo Ping Hea Owen venue at Central Embassy which is open during the day but the sticks cost twice as much here.
4. Sweet Potato Balls (Kanom Kai Nok Krata)
These tiny delicacies are not as popular or readily available as Moo Ping, but they’re no less delicious. If you’re looking for food to eat in Bangkok then you can’t go far wrong with these deep fried spheres containing sweet potato, sugar and tapioca. You’ll probably need several balls to satisfy your hunger, due to their diminutive size. So, when you find a cart that sells these treats don’t lose it, as you may want to return for more. The best place to search for such a cart is around the traditional street food havens of Pratunam and Sukhumvit Soi 38.
5. Yam (Thai Salad)
There are so many different versions of this traditional Thai dish that it’s difficult to choose just one when you’re looking for Thai street food. There’s an amazing Thai salad cart in Sukhumvit Soi 38 where you can choose your preference from a menu. You can get great salads for a reasonable price, including Som tam boo maa, papaya and blue crab salad which costs 160 baht.
6. Crispy Pancake (Kanom Bueang)
You know when your mom tells you not to snack when you’re a kid, because you won’t eat your meals? Well, if you’re really worried about having room for that big dinner, these delicious snacks are just light enough to make sure that happens. They’re a crispy delight that at first glance look a little like tacos. Check out the crispy pancake carts at locations such as Soi Rambuttri, Banglamphu District, and you can sample a myriad of toppings, from sweet coconut to savoury scallions or fried egg.
For Your Sweet Tooth
If you love anything sweet and are on the lookout for sweet food to eat in Bangkok; there are plenty of options to choose from.
7. Sticky Rice Mango (Khao Neow Mamuang)
If you’re taking a walk along Sukhumvit Soi 38, especially during mango season from March to July, you’re sure to see a couple of carts or stalls selling one of the most famous Thai dessert dishes, sticky rice mango. This refreshing treat consists of sticky rice, coconut milk and mango, and will usually cost you around 60 baht to buy.
8. Ice Cream Topped With Egg (Itim Gati Kai Kaeng)
This may seem like a strange combination but it actually tastes delicious. The twist of a little sweet coconut ice cream, with a slight savoury touch from the egg, goes down very well. The dish is just waiting for you to eat it at Mook Dow Tung, a famous Thai dessert restaurant on Sukhumvit Soi 38. You can expect to pay around 30 baht for this taste bud sensation.
9. Fried Banana Pancake (Prata – Roti Gluay)
It’s a pancake, and it’s banana, what’s not to love? If you’re taste buds hanker for a sugar rush then stop off at one of the street carts, in Pratunam or Silom, and you’ll get a mouthful that won’t leave you feeling too full to explore Bangkok for the day. Even better, you can choose a topping, such as sugar, Nutella or that perennial favourite, chocolate.
Yes we know that you don’t necessarily have to be in Bangkok to eat waffles, but if you’re trying to decide what food to eat in Bangkok, there’s nothing wrong with approaching an old friend. The Waffle is a company set up to provide franchises with the Thai version of this timeless favourite. These are mini waffles, just the right size to handle on the move and available with a variety of filings including cranberry, maple, raisins and of course chocolate. It’s worth pointing out that these waffles also come with savoury fillings if you prefer.
These franchises are popping up everywhere in the Thai capital, including Platinum Fashion Mall, Fortune Town and outside many BTS stations; you should never be far away from a waffle.
Something completely different
This is the part of our list that should probably be subtitled “we bet you’ve never tried this before”. If you’re looking to tick off some of the world’s more unusual foods we have a selection of items that you simply must eat in Bangkok. They are experience foods; the snacks that you’ll want to tell everyone that you tried, whether you like them or not!
Yes, you did read that right. Check out major food stall venues, such as Khao San Road, and you will find a stall where you can sample the delights of deep fried grasshopper; often these insects are fried with chillies so they can be a pretty hot mouthful. A little like a surreal type of popcorn they tend to pop in your mouth. We’re not sure they will catch on at movie theatres but we could be wrong. Bear in mind that this will actually look like a grasshopper when you’re eating, complete with wings and antennae. On the plus side just think how cool the photographs will be.
A lot of people won’t go near a spider, whether it’s alive or dead, but they don’t actually taste that bad, with the body of a tarantula having a similar texture to cold duck. These hairy arachnids are often sold coated in plum sauce, and can be found at the more famous insect selling venues such as Klong Toey Market (on Rama IV road) or Pahurat (the textile market near Chinatown).
At the same venues, you may find you would like another course, and beetles are very easy to find. Much like the other insects, beetles are actually high in protein, so in themselves are not unhealthy to eat. It has been said that they taste a little like chicken but we don’t think they’ll ever replace the poultry on most people’s menus. That being said, this is Bangkok and you’re on vacation so it’s time to really take your taste buds, and your nerve, on a ride. These stalls are always surrounded by tourists, some whom come to have a taste and some who just want to take photographs. Be warned that some stalls actually charge 10 baht for you to take a picture which is probably fair enough when it’s their business.
From Bugs to Fine Dining
If you’re bored of having grasshopper for dinner and you’re looking for some more upmarket ideas of must eat food in Bangkok, then you could treat yourself to some of the city’s best dining experiences.
14. The Volcano
This baked scallop in a cream sauce is a spicy and fiery taste sensation on the menu at Isao, a fusion restaurant which is known for its creative menu and situated just off Sukhumvit. The restaurant is always busy, and the Volcano is a popular menu item, so named because it looks a little like molten lava.
No, lobster isn’t only eaten in Bangkok, obviously; but you won’t forget the lobster you eat at Le Normandie Restaurant in a hurry. Located in the Bang Rak neighbourhood of the city, this is Bangkok French cuisine at its best. This particular lobster certainly isn’t cheap, but it’s not extortionately priced either, and it’s a taste sensation.
16. Seafood With Jazz on the Side
If you love seafood, and you’re a jazz fanatic, then the Living Room at Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit, has both in abundance. From calamari to Yellow fin tuna the venue knows how to cook seafood to an exceptional standard. Of course the side order of some very classy jazz music helps this food make it to our must eat Bangkok list.
17. Foie Gras
Foie Gras is not to everyone’s taste, but if you are a lover of this food, and you’re looking for somewhere in Thailand to get the best available, then look no further than The Reflexions, at Plaza Athenee. The exceptional foie gras is just one of the specialties of Chef Daniel.
And so to drink?
We’ve taken you through a varied, interesting and delicious list of some of the best creative food to eat in Bangkok. If you’re going to eat then you need to drink too. We’re going to bring our list to a close by looking at four beverages that will quench your thirst and massage your taste buds.
18. Thai Iced Tea
If you’re on a diet, or you’re more savoury than sweet, then you may not enjoy this very popular Thai beverage. It’s strong tea which has been mixed with condensed cream, and topped off with just a little more cream for good measure. For those of you with a sweet tooth it’s well worth joining in with the locals and giving this a try.
19. Herb and Flower Juice
If you would like a change from drinking bottle after bottle of water in the hot weather, then these juices are a brilliant alternative. You can get the juice of flowers such as lemongrass and chrysanthemum. The tastes are obviously different from those you are used to but they are worth a try. You will often see these juices being sold from large pots in the food markets.
The beer or “bia” on offer in Bangkok is light beer which can often be refreshing in the hot weather. The most expensive of the beers is Singha, while Leo and Chang are slightly cheaper. All of the beers go well with any Thai food. One thing to mention is that beer is served with ice in Bangkok so you need to mention if you would rather have it without.
This is an extremely popular drink with the local people, although technically the most popular Thai whiskey, Sang Som, is actually rum. All the same it’s not a bad alcoholic drink to try while you’re in the Thai capital; just don’t make too many plans for the following day.
There’s something for everyone on our “what you must eat in Bangkok list”. We hope we’ve given you some ideas, and we certainly hope you get to take your taste buds on that ride. Please help us spread the wonders of Thai food by sharing: