Traveling to Bangkok (Part 2/5): Eating in Bangkok

Eat Like a Local

In the past Thai’s borders have included areas of Myanmar (Burma), Laos and Malaysia and all of the different cultures of the population, the Indians, Mon and Khmer, Chinese, Indonesians Europeans Persians and the people of Thailand have all added recipes to the fantastic array of diverse food.

Thai’s cuisine can be broken down into four styles, dependent on where you are eating, Southern, Northern, north-eastern, and central. In Bangkok you can find all four of the food styles. Bangkok itself would be considered the central area of food, eating dishes that would be familiar to travelers such as shrimp or coconut soups, with dishes featuring rice and red and green chillies. this central cuisine was originated from the royals, where coconut was used and sweeter foods where developed.

Some of Thailand most famous Northern dishes can be tasted here while on holiday. Cuisine such as Laab ( Mincr with chillies and lime.) and som tam (Spicy papaya salad), in the style of spicy food served with raw vegetables or rice to cool the food. In the past you would eat sticky rice by making a plate with the rice, then using it to eat the rest of the ingredients. Other Northern, or Isan foods are a type of black water beetles found in the rice paddies called pimps. These are a favorite in Bangkok especially the females which bear tasty orange eggs.

The city of Bangkok is a thriving array of cuisine of both Thai and western foods, often in air conditioned housing, but a traveler might want to consider the outdoors food stalls. There are many benefits to eating at these food markets, and not only due to the economy of the food. most places will specialize in a couple of dishes, and these tend to be of quality food since any low quality foods will not last long in the highly competitive streets. Each area of Bangkok has its own specialties: Dusit is well known for its Northern dishes, Chinatown is filled with street vendors selling noodles, Ubiquitous are gril;led chicken, rice porridge, Shrimp noodles and hot salads, and Phra Athit road has a large range of curries on offer as well as Indian dishes. Claims of food poisoning are generally over exaggerated; If there are groups of healthy people eating, order a batch of what they are eating. A note of warning though; all drinks that use local water, frozen or otherwise, should be avoided, since this may be contaminated and can cause illness.

Don’t always ask for chopsticks, as this will make you seem silly: Chopsticks are only used for noodles, most dishes use the usual knife and fork.

Tipping is generally only expected inside hotels and restaurants, which is the usual 10%, anywhere else the tip is generally included in the price of the bill.

As an added note, many first time travelers to Bangkok and Thailand sometimes have problems getting used to the large amounts of spicy ingredients used in most foods. The best strategy isn’t to drink water, but to eat rice or something sweet to cool your palette. try to get used to chili, since it makes the dishes more well rounded. If you do like spicy foods, make sure to tell either the cook or your waiter, so they don’t assume that you want your dishes mild due to being from out of the country.

The next part of the traveling guide to Bangkok will be about the night life of Bangkok.

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