So long, Bangkok street meat??


Is this street food or an outdoor cart serving from the adjacent restaurant? I have no idea...
Is this street food or an outdoor cart serving from the adjacent restaurant? I have no idea...

Apparently one of my two favorite things about Bangkok is about to disappear. An article in The Nation, a local news outlet, is reporting that street food will be gone from Bangkok by the end of the year. The move comes just one month after CNN named the city tops in street food globally for the second consecutive year. It seems that work to clear out the vendors is already underway, with Siam Square already cleared out. Yaowarat and Khao San Road are up next, according to Wanlop Suwandee, chief adviser to Bangkok’s governor, as reported by The Nation.

Might this Bangkok street food vendor soon be out of a job? Seems very likely according to one report.
Might this Bangkok street food vendor soon be out of a job? Seems very likely according to one report.

The government is suggesting that cleaning up the streets and opening the sidewalks back up to pedestrians is key. Some locals, including district business trade groups, are less keen on the idea; they recognize the value of the street food to helping build the culture of their neighborhoods, the vibe that is so appealing to many in the city.

For me personally, losing the street meat would be a major blow. I’m already not a huge fan of Bangkok but I’ve always loved the readily accessible and cheap access to various food on pretty much every corner and soi. A typical visit for me is a quick trip to my tailor, riding the local ferry up and down the Chao Phraya a few times and eating far more street food than any one person should. If that last bit disappears I’d be terribly glum.

Plenty of vendors crowd the sidewalks in Bangkok, not just food shops. That could be an interesting follow-on to the move.
Plenty of vendors crowd the sidewalks in Bangkok, not just food shops. That could be an interesting follow-on to the move.

Yes, I get that the food scene in the city is evolving and that there are myriad options for more upscale versions of pretty much everything one can get on the street. In some cases they are set up to feel like food carts and stalls mimicking the street food, but better controlled and probably with better hygiene standards.

Fancy chicken wings and smoothies in a restaurant in one of the new shopping centers in Bangkok. Delicious, but really, really not the same as the street food I so adore.
Fancy chicken wings and smoothies in a restaurant in one of the new shopping centers in Bangkok. Delicious, but really, really not the same as the street food I so adore.

Fancy chicken wings and smoothies are delicious and absolutely part of the local scene now. But to bring that along and totally kill the old scene all at once is not an evolution of the culture or the country. At least not a smooth one.

That would really, really suck.

More thoughts on fancy foods in Bangkok:

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and .

23 Comments

  1. It’s not that the street food will disappear. It will just be tucked away in the pedestrian street. In Siam Square, Thais don’t eat street food along Rama I road (the main road.) That’s just nasty! Instead, you go in the alley behind the tutoring schools where there are plenty of street food and restaurant stalls. Some of them have been there for more than 20 years!

    1. Well, if it is now only in stalls and shops that is pretty close to having it disappear, at least to this silly tourist. I like the easy grab-and-go grilled pork lollipops and other goodies so readily available. It sounds like that will be harder to get or completely gone, depending on what you’re looking for.

      Some of the new shops and such are fine but killing off so many of the “sketchy” vendors so quickly is going to bring major upheaval to the city. I’m not a fan.

  2. Good move, the street meat stinks to high heavens. I hear the wires are going underground as well. Open things up, kill the street food. Plenty of amazing places to eat.

  3. Damn. I got SQ First pre devaluation for my wife and I, and now need to reconsider whether to spend more than a minimum of time in Bangkok.

    1. Yum. We travel to a small village about 30 minutes outside of Bangkok for some cheap fresh village meat every summer. We stay in that guesthouse for weeks at a time for some nonstop fun. Pure paradise.

  4. If they do it like Singapore, where the street stalls were just moved under one roof with access to clean water and better over-all hygiene, then it’s not a bad thing.

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