I forget what it’s like for Bangkok to be fresh to newcomers. A city bright and colorful and still young with the stench of durian, squid, and canal breezes. Landing here for the first time is an attack on the senses in a way you’re unlikely to experience at home. The problem, however, is after making South East Asia home for so many years, you forget what life was like in those formative years when you were still fresh off the boat.
That’s true at least until you have visitors who come with their own assumptions, expectations, and with what we’ll call —-uhhh— adorable naïveté. You have to be a good host and careful not squash their enthusiasm too quickly (unless they’re moving here and then you tell them frankly that everything they believe about the world is wrong and attempt to catch their tears with a bowl of bamee).
So when I was contacted by Antonio of ‘Italian Goes Local’ for advice about where to eat in Bangkok, I had to think carefully. Bangkok would be his first stop of many this summer as he travels around the region eating and sharing his experiences with people. Doesn’t that sound noble? I couldn’t just tell the guy to throw the guide book out the window, could I?
Well, I didn’t. Here’s some of the general advice for eating in Bangkok I gave Antonio instead:
1) Wander Thailand’s Incredible Markets
I love to get lost in a market as a sort of ritual whenever I’m traveling. There you get an idea of the sheer variety of things on offer in an area. This is definitely true of Bangkok.
Antonio was way more excited about Chatuchak Market than I anticipated…
If you really love food you’ve wandered through many markets, but even here in a short time you can make some pretty memorable experiences wondering through places like Aor Tor Kor Market, Ampawa floating market, Wang Lang, and maybe even Khlong Toey (if you’re brave and have good shoes). Years later I’m still finding hidden gems in each of these special places!
2) Eat on the Street AND in Great Restaurants
There’s a lot of newbies who hit Bangkok and upon seeing the quality and variety of street food declare they’re never eating in a Thai restaurant again. I would like to say they’re all idiots, but instead I’ll just say giving people that type of advice is shortsighted (sorry, not sorry writers at Roads and Kingdoms).
Food Photo: Chicken and Spicy Sauce at a Hainese Chicken Rice Stall (Kow Man Gai) on the Streets of Bangkok
You may not be around long enough to suss out the phenomenal restaurants from the average, but that doesn’t mean you should knock eating in one of Bangkok’s lengthy list of quality restaurants. If that wasn’t the case I would have definitely given up blogging here long ago!
3) Overdose on Thailand’s Delicious Tropical Fruit
No doubt most of you have heard about the great fruit available in Thailand. Sure some fruits can be seasonal, but you can get great fruit in Thailand almost year around. The fruit produced is usually more diverse, cheaper, and sweeter than what’s produced in neighboring countries in the region too. You guys also may know I don’t let the opportunity pass to take someone’s durian virginity.
I wasn’t able to warn Antonio quickly enough that he needed gloves… my bad…
So Antonio, whether he wanted to or not had to try this strange and spiky fruit that everyone has a strong reaction — either love or disgust. Don’t worry, I also gave him the opportunity to wash it down with a few mangosteens and the pomegranate juice that’s so plentiful in Bangkok’s Chinatown.
4) Never Skip Dessert in Thailand
If you’re not a diabetic, you may be soon. Not only because there seems to be sugar sneaking into everything here, but also because dessert time is a religious ritual in Thailand. There’s traditional Thai desserts, some type of cake on every corner, french fried fritter everything, and all the trendy, fattening things you can eat around the world (donuts, lava cakes, and the local version of world renown mango and sticky rice).
#Bangkok #BananaPancakes, where have you been all my life? Hands down the best dessert I have tasted so far in the city. Also tried flippin’ me own pancakes and I think I’ll stick to just eating and enjoying every single bite! #throwback #ItalianGoesLocal A photo posted by Antonio (@antoniotravels) on
Bottom line? Never skip dessert in Thailand!
For more on Antonio find his Facebook page ‘Italian Goes Local’ or on instagram as @AntonioTravels. You’ll see he did take some of my advice and had a great time eating around Bangkok. He’ll be back here after traveling around more, so to go hunting great eats in Bangkok together soon.
There’s also gonna be a ton of other foodies like Antonio coming through Bangkok this year, especially as we approach October’s TBEX travel conference. I hope to hang out with some of them, feast together, and introduce them to you here.
Got more advice for newbies dining in Bangkok?
Leave it in the comments below!
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