Lonely Planet Writer

Street food vendors in Bangkok could be a thing of the past after this year

Bangkok has long been famed for some of the world’s best street food, feeding hungry locals and backpackers alike with cheap, mouthwatering meals. Now that could all be a thing of the past as authorities say they will ban all street food vendors by the end of 2017.

A street food stall with vendor prepping food.
A Bangkok street food stall with vendor prepping food. Image by Design Pics/Ray Laskowitz/Getty Images

The move was announced by the Bangkok Metropolitan Area (BMA) who are currently in the middle of a huge operation to clear the capital’s pavements for pedestrians to use, and street food vendors are high on their list. The BMA say their priority is the health and safety of people, regardless of how popular the vendors are.

While previous efforts to remove street food vendors failed, already the proposal has been implemented in the central district of Siam. Now famous street food and tourist areas like Chinatown’s Yaowarat and Khao San Road are being targeted. Wanlop Suwandee, chief adviser to Bangkok’s governor, told the Nation that there would be no exceptions for the street food stalls attracting throngs of tourists.

“The street vendors have seized the pavement space for too long and we already provide them with space to sell food and other products legally in the market,” he said. “There will be no let-up in this operation, every street vendor will have to move out.”

Bangkok street food scene is set to be soon unrecognisable.
Khao San Road’s street food vendors are next on the list to be cleared out. Image by Didier Marti/Getty Images

It’s not the first attack on Bangkok’s famous street food culture. The Soi Sukhumvit market was demolished last year after nearly 40 years and there are concerns among many of the local community on the impact this latest crackdown will have on locals on a low-income. Many of them rely on the stalls for much of their food, which works out far cheaper than cooking in their own home.

It’s also a huge draw for visitors, no mean feat for the most-visited city in the world. With the authorities taking the matter very seriously, it looks likely that the Bangkok street food scene is about to change forever for both locals and visitors alike.

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