Tips on Enjoying Thai Street Food

Tips on Enjoying Thai Street Food

Thai street food is arguably the best kind of food in Thailand. There is no better way to experience a country’s culture, than through its food. However, there is a common concern amongst those who speak about travel, that eating street food from vendors will make you sick. I have been told this repeatedly over the years, and it makes for a trip tinged with fear of days spend stuck in your bathroom.Obviously, this idea has come from somewhere, and it’s true that if you eat from a vendor who is undercooking meat, or eat without washing your hands that you may get a serious case of the runs.

The Tips on Eating Street Food

The main tip is to be sensible: always make sure that you clean your hands after using the bathroom when travelling, I’m pretty sure that goes without saying, and if you’re not doing this then you are an absolute cretin.If you’re worried about a vendors cooking ability, have a look at how many people are eating his/her food – are there a lot of people? Are they local? Are there some grizzly looking Westerners, who clearly haven’t left this country for 30 years? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you’ll probably be all right.It’s a sad reality that you’re more likely than not to contract a case of the ‘Delhi belly’ whilst travelling, so it’s important to be prepared. It might not come from food; it can be from anything from sharing dorms to drinking directly from a bottle (many people only use straws). A handy tip is to make sure that you always have a sachet of rehydration salts with you. In the West, these generally taste like crushed dreams and dead faeries, but in Asia they have these awesome ENO salts that actually taste quite good. If you start to feel sick, headachey, or weak, dissolve them in water and knock them back. It goes without saying that you should make sure that you are constantly drinking plenty of water. A good-sized water bottle is a travel must-have. You can get bottled water from convenience stores, but the great thing about Asia is there are these wonderful water machines that dispense filtered water into your bottle for buttons, which is obviously far better for the environment as it is less wasteful (and also much better for your wallet). Many street vendors will have big coolers of water that is safe for you to drink, and will bring you glasses with ice. Ahh, ice, the other devil of potential water-borne diseases. Take a long, hard look at your ice when it comes: if it is tubular, so has a hole all the way through, it has come from a convenience store or ‘ice man’, and is totally OK to drink. If you can’t see the tube shape, do not drink it.

Why Eat Street Food?

Street food is such an intrinsic part of Thai culture; it would be a huge shame for anybody visiting to be scared of trying it out. Where else in the world will you get a full meal for $1? Whether you like noodles, rice, chicken, pork, vegetables, fish… there will always be something for you to try. I’m a fussy eater, and there are certain dishes that you can get here that I dream about (pineapple khao soy I’m looking at you), and that’s just the savoury dishes. If you have more of a sweet tooth, be sure to try mango and sticky rice, covered in coconut milk, which is hands down the best Thai food. Ever.Hopefully this little post will have alleviated any fears that you have about trying a street vendor. You could go to a Thai restaurant and get exactly the same food for four or five times the price, and it would be cooked in an identical way. By getting food from street vendors, you are helping the little guy, which is awesome, so I urge you to go out and eat as much as you can! Tell me, what’s you favourite street food? Have you had any amazing experiences? Any terrible ones? Recognise any of the food in the photos below? Let’s engage in conversation in the comments below!

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14 Comments

  1. Hi Jessica, great post! I hope to get over to Thailand at some point and try the street food! I would definitely be a bit worried about getting sick though – so many people have also told me horror stories! But this definitely gives me some tips to look out for!

    Reply
    • Hi Lauren, thanks for the comment! Just ease yourself into it! Try food that you feel safe with at first, and then build up your confidence as you try new things! The food here is sooo good and it’s such an important part of the culture, especially in Northern Thailand where they have their own cuisine, so you won’t find the same food anywhere else!

      Reply
  2. I’ve been living in Vietnam for 2 months now and I am lucky enough to have local people show me around and treat me to street food. So far no problems! 🙂
    https://chasinglatitudes.wordpress.com/

    Reply
    • Ugh I am so jealous of you, I haven’t managed to get over to Vietnam yet. How does the food compare to Thailand? Have you managed to come over here?

      Reply
  3. Thailand is definitely on my bucket list, and 90% of it is probably because of the food. No lie. Your photos are making me drooooool! My biggest street food tip is: check if locals are eating there. Like, legit locals. Even better if they’re students/labourers, the food is probably good and cheap.

    Reply
    • I couldn’t agree more, the locals are such a good indicator! Definitely try and get over here, and if you do, visit the North. They have their own Lanna cuisine here that is different to the rest of Thailand, like mango and sticky rice, or Khao Soy (you have to try it, the pineapple one pictured here comes from a little guy with a street cart and I could eat it all day!).

      Reply
  4. We lived in Thailand for a year and absolutely loved the street food.

    Reply
  5. Good tips! My favourite thai street food is, by far, Som Tam, the spicy papaya salad. Have you tried it? 🙂

    Reply
    • Weirdly enough I actually had this for the first time yesterday! Unfortunately I don’t like seafood, so I picked out the little dried shrimp and it tasted amazing! I’m a big fan of any salad that has peanuts on it, so it was a yes from me!

      Reply
  6. Thai street food is so yummy! I can’t wait to go back and try more!

    Reply
  7. “Dheli belly” dont remind me hehe. I like to call it “mummy tummy”. But seriously, the street food in Thailand was my favourite thing ever! So cheap and so many different varieties. I definitely preferred the street food to restaurant food, and it was at a fraction of the cost. And like you said, its such a big part of their culture, so its nice to eat like a local 🙂

    Reply
    • Did you try the Masaman curry? That’s up there with my favourites, it’s to die for! It’s crazy when you realise how much more you pay to eat in a restaurant, isn’t it?

      Reply
  8. I love the pad Thai knocked up on the street food stalls – but also trying random things you have no idea what they are, including some some pancake items – tasty! Ps love your description of rehydration salts being made from dead faeries!
    Katie
    http://whatskatiedoing.blogspot.co.uk

    Reply
    • We used to have the BEST Pad Thai stall near our old house in Chiang Mai, but since we moved we can’t find any that compares 🙁 The pancake items are great, I sort of love the mystery of never knowing what I’m eating, but I’m actually a fussy eater so sometimes I can’t handle too much mystery, especially when it comes to meat!

      Reply

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