Lonely Planet Writer

Bangkok's famous street food is here to stay after ban on vendors is reversed

Foodies of the world rejoice; Bangkok’s incredible street food is here to stay after authorities decided to reverse their decision to clear the streets of vendors.

Some of the most famous Bangkok street food is in Chinatown.
Some of the most famous Bangkok street food is in Chinatown. Image by Andrea Pistolesi

The street food ban, which was announced earlier this week by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, was met with unanimous dismay amongst travellers and there was a lot of concern in the local community about how lower-income workers would be able to afford to eat. Tourist-heavy areas of Khao San Road and Yaowarat were next on the list to be cleared of street food stalls but in an announcement on Facebook, Thailand’s Minister for Tourism, Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, effectively reversed the decision.

Acknowledging the global draw of Bangkok’s street food, she announced new codes that all vendors must comply with, including universal hygiene standards, attendance at the city’s training courses and ending the practice of washing dishes on the street pavement. These would now be the regulations for vendors in all areas of the city.

The governor of Bangkok followed up this announcement with a press conference on Thursday morning, reaffirming that vendors would still be allowed to operate with some conditions. “Street food and street vendors are still allowed in the zoned areas, as we are trying to make the areas tidy and clean, but sellers must comply with the law”, said Wanlop Suwandee, advisor to the governor. 

Bangkok street food is considered some of the best in the world.
Food at Damnoen Saduak Floating Market in Thailand.

He also stated Bangkok street food vendors will still be allowed operate in the streets and small alleys once they do not interfere with the movement of pedestrians.

The news will likely be met with great joy by the estimated 21.47 million visitors the city is expected to receive this year. Reaction at the ban from social media showed people were dismayed and disappointed, with some even questioning whether they would return to the city if the ban was put into place.

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