South East Asia has a number of beautiful cities and when you are travelling in the region, especially anywhere in Thailand, one of the many joys is that of savouring the varied street foods Thailand has to offer. You will find food vendors on every corner and street and there is something to suit every palate. You will find foods ranging from ice cream sandwiches and corn on the cob and fresh fruits to grilled pork on sticks or Moo Ping.
However, you will find that many foreign tourists and travellers tend to give these food vendors a miss and opt to eat at regular standalone restaurants or at the in-house restaurant at their hotels or resorts. This is largely on account of the fear they have of consuming unhygienic food or because they aren’t too sure of what these foreign dishes are and the ingredients they contain. In some cases, people that are curious and would like to try the street fare, find that the language barrier holds them back. Well, the fact is that none of these are very tangible reasons.
If you choose wisely, you will find that the streets of Thailand have a large variety of delectable foods to offer anyone with a curious and experimental palate. You can pick up a quick snack when you are walking around the cities and taking in the sights and sounds of the place. You will also find many food vendors at the local markets and shops and some of these places also have basic sit-down facilities where you can grab a bite as you watch the world go by. Some foods are available for amounts as little as 30-60 baht.
If you’re concerned about the hygiene and food safety aspects, here are some tips to choosing the right street food vendors in Thailand:
- Look for vendors that display signs such as ‘Clean Food, Good Taste’. This isn’t something they state to attract customers; it’s a merit that the Thailand government gives not just to vendors but restaurants as well; it is awarded to food places that maintain specific food and preparation hygiene standards.
- Look for places that seem to be well-frequented by Thais. These places are far safer than ones that don’t see too much foot traffic. Many locals will eat at the same places every day and tend to quickly move out if they find the food isn’t up to the mark. Of course some locals will eat anywhere cheap and that isn’t an indication that the food will be of good quality. This is why you should look for vendors that cater to more professional-looking patrons. These are the places where you will generally get good food.
- If you are concerned or shy about the language barrier, you can simply use hand signals; most locals are very friendly and if you smile they would be more than happy to help.
The bottom line is – don’t shy from experimenting. One way of getting a feel of any new city or town while you are in Thailand is to try the local cuisine; while most restaurants will also have local fare on their menu, it’s an entirely unique experience to try the local foods that street vendors offer.
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