A little common sense goes a long way when it comes to eating Bangkok street food, or more specifically, to enjoying street food without getting sick. There’s no foolproof plan, but follow these quick tips to help stay healthy.
Do carry and use hand sanitizer before handling any food. Bleach-free wipes, for utensils of questionable cleanliness, come in handy, too.
Don’t eat fruit that’s already peeled and chilled on ice. Stick to fruits either freshly peeled in front of you or that you can peel yourself. Opinions differ on fruit shakes made with ice, though to be on the safe side, opt for shakes served at cafés, food courts, and stationary stalls.
Do be mindful while eating meat and seafood. It may be perfectly safe and sanitary, but to be safe, make sure street meats are from a properly sanitized stall that has not been in the sun all day.
Don’t assume that streets are the only place to find tasty Thai street food. Bangkok has exceptional—and sanitary—indoor food courts that are cheap, cheerful, and offer authentic street foods. The food courts at Platinum Fashion Mall, Siam Paragon, Central Food Hall in Central World, and Eathai in Central Embassy are all recommended.
Do follow the locals’ lead. There are exceptions to the rule, but in general there’s good reason why some vendors may be attracting more customers than others. Brisk business also means faster turnaround and fresher foods.
Do look for obvious sanitary issues. For instance, gloved or not it’s a bad sign if a vendor is handling money and ingredients with the same hand(s).
Don’t let these tips scare you off, and don’t be afraid to try new things. Sampling street food and interacting with the vendors is a distinct pleasure in Bangkok—use your head and feast!