Location: Bangkok, Thailand
The street food scene in Bangkok is out of control and somebody has to take advantage of it. And that somebody is me - I’m going to eat my way through this city. I’ll be feasting on Pad Thai for $1, trios of mangoes for $0.75, bubble tea for $0.75, hot and sour pork soup for $1.25, BBQ chicken legs with rice and spicy sauce for $1.50, dumplings for $0.75, and so much more. Some people get nervous about street meat and question how long it’s been sitting out in the muggy heat. They use words like bacteria, diseases, hygiene, blah, blah, blah. I like to think of the next couple weeks as an experiment in strengthening my immune system.
I’m staying down the street from a traditional, open air Thai marketplace. It’s a little maze of stalls that provide everything from fully cooked meals to raw veggies and meat to bubble tea. Basically everything I need to eat myself into a food coma on a daily basis. The salespeople are open to haggling and the prices seem pretty fair. I don’t think many foreigners come through this part of town and I get quite a few stares whenever I wander through, but it’s not enough to keep me away from all the flavorful deals. The photos I’ve included in this post are all shots from that market.
One of the tastiest new treats I’ve stumbled upon (sometimes hunger drives you to try things you’d never give a second glance) is a crispy, paper thin pancake shaped into a mini-taco. It’s stuffed with a sweet coconut cream very similar to a fluffy meringue and its sprinkled with sweetened, preserved egg yolk. Holy shitballs was that delightful. I search for them every time I’m out and about, now. It costs about $0.25-50 cents for a bagful.
Seriously, though, every meal I’ve had so far in Thailand has been scrumptious and dirt cheap. If you’re an adventurous food lover, this place is built for you.
- Bubble Tea: $0.90
- A Full Meal: $1-1.50
- Dessert: $0.50-1.00
- If Thai locals are staring at you, don’t feel particularly uncomfortable about it (unless you’re actually doing something wrong). It’s not considered impolite in the culture. And if you leave the main tourist areas of Bangkok (Khao San, Chinatown, etc) you will get stares. Just smile, wave, and enjoy your celebrity.
- Never accept the first price someone gives you, especially in a marketplace (unless it’s written down). At least attempt to haggle. The first time I tried to buy mushrooms in the market, the woman asked me for $1.75 a packet. I stood my ground, laughed at her price, and was able to get two sets for $1.
- Don’t be afraid to order food at a restaurant or stall without an English menu. Locals assume you’re a dumb tourist that doesn’t speak the language and are often happy to help. Many menus have pictures you can point to, as well. A little bit of patience gets you a long way in this country.