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Michelin-starred restaurants, shopping malls with massive food courts, street stalls galore. You often hear about how great the food scene is in Bangkok but the first several times I visited Bangkok I was completely clueless about where to eat.
There is food EVERYWHERE. There are THOUSANDS of restaurants. How do you even begin to narrow it down or try and fit in as much taste testing as possible? (And don’t say TripAdvisor – I don’t want to base my restaurant choices off of a tourist’s single experience…)
Now, every time I go down to the capital I have a list of places I want to check out. This is partially because I’ve now been regularly going to Bangkok for years and each time get more familiar with the city checking off another hotspot but also because I now know better how to find suggestions on where to eat or little tricks for fitting a lot in.
Be warned – you’ll get completely sucked into this site. From daily restaurant news and reviews of new openings to themed food guides, listings by neighborhood, awards and even dining guides focusing on a single street, BK nails it when it comes to sharing what’s new and noteworthy about where to eat in Bangkok. This is the resource I turned to most when planning my stay in the city.
Nahm, a Bangkok fine-dining institution, offers a 5-course tasting menu for 2,800 baht per person or about $88 US dollars. I have no idea what a Michelin meal is in Europe…but I know it’s more than that.
While 2,800 baht is pricey compared to a 50 baht plate of phad thai, it’s also more within reach for a lot of travellers than it would be elsewhere and 100% worth the splurge.
The Michelin Guide Bangkok is still new to the city (now just on its second edition for 2019) but offers a ton of listings which are fully available online. Along with 26 starred restaurants, the guide includes a ton of additional restaurants that didn’t receive stars but are still recommended by the Michelin judges. These range from high-end restaurants to casual eateries and simple food stalls, so even if you’re on a budget they’re worth checking out.
The TimeOut brand has a Bangkok site that also features several dining guides, although it doesn’t seem to be updated as regularly or thoroughly as BK. Its “Best of…” lists (like the best ice cream in Bangkok or best afternoon teas in Bangkok) are pretty helpful though.
I wouldn’t do a cooking class in Bangkok (save that for when you’re in Chiang Mai or on the islands) but I have done a food tour and would so again. Especially if you’re unfamiliar with the city, this is one of the best ways to fit in a ton of flavors in a short amount of time plus actually learn about what you’re eating. Typically tours, like the one linked above from Withlocals, offer a mix of predictable favorites – phad thai, green curry, mango with sticky rice – with some more unusual but locally popular dishes, snacks and sweets thrown in. Food tours are also a great opportunity to ask questions about how to order, local ingredients, cooking styles and eating customs that you wouldn’t figure out as easily or quickly on your own.
You’ll find food literally everywhere in Bangkok. Step out of your hotel, with its multiple restaurants and breakfast buffet, and you’ll walk right into a street vendor. Certain districts and even specific streets offer a convenient concentration of eating places however and are a good way to both narrow down your options and allow you to hit several spots within a close vicinity at the same time – pick a neighborhood then just look up options there rather than trying to research the whole city.
For example, Bangkok’s Chinatown along Yaowarat Road is filled with small street vendors, large Chinese restaurants and seafood specialities. While touristy, the Rattanakosin district around the Grand Palace has some super-cute spots serving up elevated Thai classics and riverside dining (like Err by the same owners of Michelin-starred Bo.Lan and Supanniga Eating Room at Tha Thien or the Supanniga Cruise for dinner and drinks).
In the trendy Thonglor district, too many popular restaurants and cocktail bars to name are clustered along the main drag of Sukhumvit Soi 55 (also known as Soi Thonglor) or immediately off of it on a small soi.
The Sathorn district is home to a number of high end restaurants and international eats while the Khlong Toei has a range of smaller but popular places people are willing to travel for as well as the city’s largest wet market selling meat and produce which leads us to…
Whether you go to a craft market or a fresh market, you’ll find plenty of food options. Night markets always have a variety of stalls and vendors while some longstanding local markets, like Nang Loeng Market and Wang Lang Market, are known for their multitude of food offerings. Markets are a great place to graze as you go but they can be overwhelming and intimidating to the uninitiated or if you have eating restrictions. Don’t worry – there are still more places to eat in Bangkok like…
Mall food courts are one of my least favorite places on Earth. Even as a teenager, they made me feel icky. And the food was shit. I still don’t love them in Bangkok but do admit they’re about 200% better than what I grew up with and are incredibly convenient for trying a bunch of completely decent, affordable dishes at once (in air-conditioning!). Just like Bangkok’s sprawling shopping centers, the food courts are totally over the top with way more options than is really necessary. Many also have surprisingly nice atmospheres.
Eatthai in the upscale Central Embassy mall features only Thai classics within a charming atmosphere honouring Thailand’s culinary heritage. The sleek Quartier FoodHall at Emquartier offers everything from ramen to raw oysters. Of course, the malls for the masses like, Siam Paragon, Siam Discovery and Terminal 21, all have massive food courts as well. While dishes don’t tend to be the best thing you’ve ever eaten, they’re pretty good and offer an easy way to try several things at once.
So, there you have it. I may have just complicated your ‘where to eat in Bangkok’ research even more, but at least now you’re on the right track unlike I was the first few times in the city aimlessly wandering around.