Bangkok will not be the same without its street vendors. From weird and wonderful knick-knacks to the most ingenious designer knock offs, and even live animals, no one does street hawking like Bangkok.
But the one thing that will stay with you long after you’ve left the city is the street food. Tasty, affordable and perfect for a late night (early morning) meal after you’re done exploring the city’s nightlife, you can find literally everything out on the streets. Visitors often regale their friends with tales of exotic foods (insects, duck beaks, worms) but Bangkok street food is so much more than that — it’s where you can savour the most authentic of Thai foods, and at half the price you’d pay in a hotel.
During my last visit in March, I was struck by the number of women that were manning the street stalls. From their small trolleys, they serve up the most delectable cuisines — think mouth-watering curries of all sorts to seafood dishes — many of them with toddlers in tow. They have their own set-up, complete with lighting, chairs and tables, some fancy, some not.
My friends and I had a favourite spot at Silom Soi 20, known for its street vendors, at a stall run by a smiling woman who looked in her 40s and who served the best Mango Sticky Rice I’ve ever tasted. The dish is a traditional Thai dessert of ripe mangoes, served with sticky rice and drenched with coconut milk. We’d go every evening and she’d be there at the same spot with who I assumed was her husband assisting her and her young son playing with his toys under the stall.
I didn’t ask how long she’d been hawking in that spot, or if that was her family’s livelihood, but she was just one of hundreds of vendors who made up that bustling street catering to a swarm of hungry, and some curious, tourists. Taking her and other vendors out of the equation will be robbing Bangkok of its very charm.