Ask anyone who has been to Southeast Asia and one of the first things they will probably say is how amazing the food is. In some cases, the food is quite amazing, but one has to be careful in the realm of street food. The standards for health and sanitation are extremely low; every once in a while my friends and I will turn to each other and joke about a certain food stand, and if it would meet the “health code” in the states. Getting sick from street food is very common. I have been extremely lucky and after almost 3 months, I haven’t gotten sick from the street food!
My all-time favorite place to get street food is on Suthep- the main road off of where I live. Every afternoon, around 4pm, street vendors begin to set up and prepare to serve the mob of hungry students and citizens for the next 6 hours. I have found many delicious food stands among the 40 or so that set up along Suthep, but without any question, my most visited stands and all-time favorite dinner comes from 3 separate stands:
Here are some helpful tips for eating street food, if you ever find yourself in Thailand or Southeast Asia:
- Looking for the best place to eat? Take a look around the street or market and head towards the vendors that have the longest lines. The stalls that make people sick will not have a long line of customers!
- If you order something that needs to be cooked first, watch your food being cooked. If anything looks funky like unclean surfaces or unsanitary conditions, then choose somewhere else to go.
- Steer clear of anything made with water or ice. The tap water in Thailand isn’t safe to drink. Smoothies, juice, and free drinking water (usually in a jug) on the street should be avoided.
- Be careful of the spice level!!! (!!!) Enough said.
- Be prepared for anything. Even being ultra-cautious about eating street food won’t be sufficient sometimes. Food poising is extremely common, so carrying anti-nausea and antidiarrheal medication is a good idea!