At any given moment on any given day, if you’re hungry in Bangkok, you’re in the right city. A mind-numbing variety of street food, night foodie markets, morning foodie markets, restaurants of every cuisine, rooftop bars, family owned food huts…. They all exist for your foodie pleasure. A foodie’s dream is only hampered by one problem: HOW DO YOU CHOOSE THE BEST THAI FOOD in Bangkok?! Especially when there’s no YELP in Bangkok!? (The usual way I find my food destinations when traveling).
Solution: Join Bangkok Food Tours. Which tour? The answer is any and possibly all of them. I booked two tours through Bangkok Food Tours, and at the time I thought it was kind of excessive- shouldn’t I check out other companies? But they were well reviewed on Trip Advisor and I didn’t want to leave much to chance… so I chose to go on the Historical Bangrak food tasting and cultural tour, and also the Yaowarat Night Foodie Walk (Chinatown). The only criticism is directed at myself- I wish I booked their Floating market tour (and maybe midnight tuk tuk tour too!) But really: As a first timer in Bangkok, it was a perfect way to see the city. If we stayed longer, I would choose to return to many of the places we hit. As explained by our Chinatown guide, Kai, Bangkok Food Tours has chosen these places carefully- they want food that’s a little adventurous, that would be unique enough for most foodies, but would appeal to a wide variety of palettes. My friend and I are very adventurous and had our fair share of great Thai food before going on these tours, so we worried that the dishes would be repeat dishes for us, designed for generic tourists. Nope. Both tours did an amazing job of choosing foods that are uniquely Thai, enjoyed by locals and included food spots I wouldn’t have chosen or noticed on my own.
Yaowarat Night Foodie Walk (Chinatown): We were told by many Thai people that Chinatown is where it’s at when it comes to the best street food in Bangkok. I’ll be honest- the only reason I booked a tour is because of the whole “Thailand Coup” business. I was hesitant coming from overseas, not knowing the safety level in Bangkok. Well it turns out that fear was unfounded, but I’m still glad we booked the tour. Our guide, Kai, is clearly a foodie who celebrates the Thai cuisine in his personal life as well as on the tour. The fun part is that my friend and I were the only two people who booked for that evening, so it was just the three of us. Which was convenient considering Chinatown, and each stop we chose was packed full of locals. A few favorites: Dim Sum (Thai and Chinese style), Grilled prawns, and the most amazing, crispy pork and noodles soup. Kai said that there’s a saying: “If you haven’t had this soup, you haven’t been to Bangkok.” It’s famous for a reason. You can go safe, or you can step out of your comfort zone and have them add pig stomach, tongue and liver. I surprised myself by trying all three, and when I got over the mental “ew” it was delicious. There were many other delicacies including duck cheek and Thai desserts- and we were happily stuffed at the end of the evening. Each location gets very busy and is popular with the locals so you know they’re good Kai was very knowledgeable about Thai cuisine, spices and history. Even though rain came down pretty much all evening our foodie souls were satisfied. Just a suggestion... you do not need to eat before you go on this tour. You will be pleasantly satisfied. I ate before I went and was so full by the end.
Historical Bangrak Food Tasting/ Cultural Tour:
I booked this tour along with Follow Me Bike Tour’s afternoon ride. The two companies hooked up to design a full day experience called “Bites and Bikes.” It was a long day, but the morning definitely fueled me for the afternoon’s intense bike riding. The whole morning was delicious, and our guide Nushi was fun, giving lots of information about the variety of regional cuisines, spices and local history. Once again I was completely stuffed- but there were a few standouts. In a small, hole-in-the-wall restaurant across the river from the Oriental pier was a spot frequented by locals. They’re known for their salted fish and delicious Isan dishes (A spicy regional cuisine from the north of Thailand). The most popular Isan dish is probably the papaya salad, which I had several times in Thailand. However, the spicy pork dish at this restaurant was the winner. If you like it spicy, these flavors are complex, completely addictive and perfect with the sticky rice to neutralize the bold flavors. The other dish, fried chicken with fried lemongrass, was unlike anything I’ve ever eaten. Mmmmm…. If only I could transport myself there, I’d eat there weekly. We enjoyed Muslim-Indian food (yellow curry and Murtabak, yum! Eat it with the cucumber salad in the same bite!), Thai-muslim food, Thai Chinese food (duck over rice) and another favorite, the best green curry I’ve ever tasted at a restaurant called Kalpapruek (we went back to that restaurant a few days later and had several amazing dishes).
The sad end of my trip was spent on a floating market tour, NOT booked through Bangkok food tours. It was sorely disappointing, only visiting the most touristy market with almost no local flavor, food or otherwise. All I could think about was how much better the experience would be if I booked BFT’s floating market tour, visiting floating markets loved by Thai locals with delicious food sold from boats. This tour is only on weekends, and I wish I booked it as well. The Damnoen Saduak floating market is very touristy with the boats taking you up to each vender trying to sell you the same imported souvenirs. The 'guides' (if you would even call them that) gave no direction except a drop off and a sign when to be back. There was no explanation or elaboration on anything that we were doing. You didn't know if you should go to the bathroom because the next part was going to be a long excursion or where bathrooms even were. There was no direction on food or what was upcoming on the itinerary. It was definitely the least liked tour of the bunch. My friend almost got hit by the train during the Maeklong train market. The local venders have their produce/products on the tracks and then when train comes they quickly move them and everyone has to stand back. No one told us just how CLOSE the train comes to hitting you. If it wasn't for a guide on a DIFFERENT tour grabbing her shirt and pulling her back even farther she may have been hit by the train. Smh ...We lost money on this deal and almost a life. : / Again, this was NOT Bangkok food tours, but everyone should know maybe to make sure if they do go to the Damnoen Saduak floating market and Maeklong market they should pair it with other excursions and make sure they know the exact itinerary.
Bangkok food tours was such a great introduction to navigating the cuisine in a city designed around food. Thank you Bangkok food tours!