Street food in Thailand is filling yet inexpensive. // © 2013 Mark Rogers
By Mark Rogers
Bangkok is an assault on the senses. It’s noisy, smelly, colorful and frenetic. In my experience, most travelers either hate Bangkok or love the city’s sensory overload. If your clients are visiting Thailand to listen to wind chimes as they puzzle over a Buddhist koan, then steer them clear of Thailand’s capital. However, if your clients are city-lovers who like nothing more than to explore a metropolis on foot without a set itinerary, then make sure you book them more than one night in Bangkok.
One of the joys of Bangkok is its street food. From early in the morning until long after midnight, pots are simmering in makeshift kitchens and eateries on the streets and in the alleys. Some of these set-ups may give pause to even the heartiest eaters, while others are orderly and clean, even if they are open air. In my travels around the world to 55 countries, I try street food whenever I can. Maybe I have a cast-iron stomach, but I’ve never been sick. I happen to believe the body’s constitution is stronger than we think.
There are scores of dishes to try — my personal favorite is green papaya salad — a spicy and healthy dish made with julienned green papaya, string beans, bean sprouts, peanuts, dried shrimp and heaps of fiery chili. Utensils are simple — my salad came in a filled baggie jabbed with a plastic fork.
Other street food travelers are likely to encounter are lots of fried and grilled pork and chicken, noodle dishes and sticky rice — all in a cloud of fragrant spices, from coriander to basil to curry. As far as the cost of street food, it’s important to remember that you’re dining like a working-class Bangkokian: For some dishes, you’ll pay the equivalent of a dollar and get back change.
If your clients are a little nervous about dining in a Bangkok alley, they can take a step up from dining on the street and pull up a chair at one of the city’s multitude of modest restaurants. These eateries serve simple Thai dishes, from fried fish to drunken noodles. They are a great choice when you want to sit down and relax over a cheap meal and watch the world go by while drinking an ice-cold Singha beer. Your clients will pay more than they would at a food stall, but it’s a sure bet that they still will be pleasantly surprised when they are handed the check.
Guest blog written by contributing writer Mark Rogers