Ask anyone in Asia where to get the best street food, and you'll most likely be directed to Bangkok. In high-traffic places like Bangkok's Chinatown, the vendor competition is so high that only the best are able to stay in business.
It’s not just Bangkok that has the best food. All over Thailand you can have good, if not better culinary experiences. Like it said in a previous article, 11 Foods You Must Try in Thailand, there isn't much not to like about Thai food.
Food is a part of Thai culture in many ways. You’ll see it in religious offerings, business meetings, official events, family gatherings, and nightlife.
If it's your first trip to Thailand, the food experience can be quite intimidating. That's why we had Shayan, a Thai local who has been living in Bangkok for over 20 years, come up with these 5 Tips for Eating Like a Thai Local.
1. Order Variety to Share
When eating out with friends, do as the locals do – order a variety of dishes to share. The concept of individual dishes is lost on Thais. Sharing is definitely caring in their culture.
2. Go Where The Traffic Flows During Busy Lunch Hours
You'll find the best places to eat by following the crowds. You can follow students or business workers to great cafeterias or hawkers. They're often the best spots during lunch hours because foods are convenient. You can get made-to-order or dishes that were premade.
3. Be Wary of New Foods
No one can deny that we all want to eat like a local when in Thailand. Unfortunately, that can take some time and training, especially with certain foods. Be careful to choose your options wisely to avoid an upset stomach.
No one wants a case of Montezuma's revenge.
4. Go for Specialty
Specialty restaurants and vendors are always the way to go. They always sell a specific style of local food. One place might cook up a mouthwatering duck noodle soup, while another restaurant might have a killer Pad Thai.
Not sure where to go? Ask a local.
5. Know Where You're Ordering From
The local government in Bangkok is working on making street food safer to eat. While restaurants have a certain set of standards and hygiene policies, roadside vendors do not. There have been rumors that street vendors will cook with the water they've previously bathed in and often cook beside dirty canals.
Simply being mindful by observing the cooking methods and overall hygiene of the area is a good place to start. If the locals aren't eating there, you shouldn't either. Most importantly, if your intuition tells you to stay away, that's probably best.