With a population exceeding 12million people, Bangkok is not only one of South East Asia’s most infamous mega-cities, but is also an economic and trade hub for the region. As a highly modern city boasting some of the most progressive infrastructure in the South East Asia region, Bangkok not only attracts those from the financial sector, but is also recognised as one of the region’s most desirable cities for international visitors to engage in a wide range of reasonably priced leisure activities. Whether your passion is for shopping; for visiting historical, cultural and religious sites; enjoying the city’s diverse 24 hour nightlife; to world standard medical tourism options; to sampling the wide-array of exquisite Thai culinary options, Bangkok offers it all at an extremely reasonable price.
As return visitors to the country will attest, no trip to Bangkok is complete without sampling traditional Thai street food. On virtually every urban corner, vendors selling a vast array of scrumptious food operate throughout the day and night. Although many travellers are initially reticent about sampling street food, the beauty of eating from street vendors is that you can see the food being prepared freshly in front of you and can order it to your specific taste. Additionally, in contrast to a restaurant, where you may not have access to the kitchen to investigate the occupational health and safety protocols in place, at a street vendor stall, you can assess the hygiene standards being employed by the proprietor and can made an informed decision as to whether or not you choose to frequent the establishment.
As the capital city of Thailand, Bangkok attracts food vendors from around the nation. From sea-food based curries infused with coconut milk originating from the country’s Southern regions, to delicious handmade egg noodle dishes originating from the North, to the infamous and unique flavours of the country’s North Eastern province, Isaan; Bangkok’s street-based food vendors offer extremely reasonable priced culinary options which will have your pallet begging for more.
No foray into the smorgasbord of Bangkok’s scrumptious street food vendors is complete without sampling Thailand’s beloved national food, Som Tum. Originating from Isaan, Som Tum is enjoyed by Thais and visitors to the Kingdom for its unforgettable riot of flavours. Made from shredded green papaya, palm sugar, chillies, lime, peanuts, dried shrimp, fermented field crabs, fish sauce, grated carrots, garlic, tomatoes, beans and thin slivers of green mango ; these ingredients are infused by way of mortar and pestle, resulting in a an unforgettably crunchy taste sensation.
To enjoy Som Tum like a local, order a side dish of sticky rice as an accompaniment. Use your right hand to simply break off a piece of sticky rice and fashion it into a small ball, slightly larger than a marble. Use your sticky rice ball to combine the shredded salad with your rice ball, ensuring that your sticky rice ball also soaks up the Som Tum salad juices.
It is not uncommon for Thais to request a Som Tum vendor create the dish to suit their individual tastes, so don’t be shy to request less (or more) chillies, or to create a purely vegetarian version of the dish without fish products.
Some useful phrases in ordering Som Tum include:
“May ow prik” : I don’t want chilli
“Chan may chop goong”: I don’t like shrimp/ prawns
“Prik nit-noi”: Only a little chilli
“Chan may ging naam-plah”: I don’t eat fish sauce
At the cost of $1- $2 USD per dish, including sticky rice as a side accompaniment, there’s no reason for you not to sample Som Tum from various vendors and to experiment with different combinations of ingredients until you find the taste which most appeals to you! Chock De Ka (good luck) and enjoy eating Bangkok style!