Photo by Riccardo Bresciani
Navigating through the chaos of people, cars, motorbikes and tuk-tuks in Bangkok can be overwhelming, especially for the first-time visitor. Even though many Thais speak English, not all do and deciphering what’s on the menu at a food stall can be downright intimidating. Fortunately, there’s an easy, enjoyable solution to this problem. Enter the food tour.
Taste of Thailand Food Tours
Although we had limited time in Bangkok, we wanted to experience the food, markets and tuk-tuks so we chose a local food tour. Taste of Thailand Food Tours are led by local, English-speaking guides with a wealth of knowledge of the city and the best places to eat like a local.
Tuk-Tuk Urban Odyssey
We met our guide, Thee, at the Skytrain station and found we were the only people on the tour that night. We got a private tour at a group tour price -score! Thee is a great guide, very personable and friendly. We climbed into our tuk-tuk and off we went through the streets of Rattanakosin, Bangkok’s Royal District. On our first stop we tried a rice soup called congee. The rice cooks for several hours in an abundance of water, breaking the starches down into a porridge-like consistency. Eat as-is or with meat and condiments like chopped scallion and soy sauce. This is total comfort food!
After sampling some noodle dishes, we stopped at The Deck for a refreshing drink. Working our way through several dining areas and up a spiral staircase, we emerged on the outside deck overlooking the Chao Phraya river directly across from Wat Arun. I imagine this is the place to be as the sun sets behind the glittering spires of the temple. After enjoying our drinks, we strolled through the nearly-deserted grounds of nearby Wat Pho before meeting up with our tuk-tuk driver for our next stop.
Pak Khlong Talat
We walked through busy Pak Khlong Talat flower market where vendors prepare beautiful flowers for the next day. Everywhere you look you see jasmine, roses, orchids and marigolds in day-glo colors. Suppliers wend their way through the narrow rows to deliver the next day’s goods. Toward the back of the market is a large area of produce vendors. Flowers are offerings to religious deities in temples and home shrines and are an essential component of Thai life. Often you will see flower garlands hanging from the rear-view mirror in a taxi or tuk-tuk. There were many exquisite floral displays around the city in tribute to King Rama IX who had recently passed.
Our final tasty treat of the night was the legendary Pad Thai from Thip Samai, founded in 1966. The cooks still use charcoal stoves to stir fry the many variations of the famous noodle dish. Thip Samai probably has the best Pad Thai in Bangkok as the long lines of hungry diners indicate. Since the service is quick, the wait is never too long. After our meal, we purchased a selection of palm fruit treats from a sidewalk vendor for dessert.
Taste of Thailand Food Tours Tuk Tuk Urban Odyssey is a great way to experience riding in a tuk tuk – a must for any visit to Bangkok – without the uncertainty and haggling. We never would have found the eateries we experienced on our own. Even though they don’t cater to vegans and vegetarians, we definitely recommend this company! We hope that they will create a special itinerary for vegans/vegetarians in the near future.
Thip Samai 313-315 Maha Chai Rd, Khwaeng Samran Rat, Khet Phra Nakhon, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10200, Thailand +66 2 226 6666
* No compensation was received for this review. The opinions expressed are my own, based on my experiences with the tour company.