Is Bangkok Really Banning Street Food?

Recently there’s been news all around about a ban on street food in Bangkok. According to multiple sources, it is said that the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) ordered all street food vendors to be shut down by the end of the year in a move to prioritize “order and hygiene”.

To me this doesn’t make any sense. The Thai capital has long been renowned for its street food. The CNN has ranked Bangkok the city with the best street food and for the second year running as well. Every single year there is an influx of tourists visiting the city particularly for their street food. That being said, it just seemed rather unreasonable for the government to put such a ban.

I was born in Hong Kong and lived there for 18 years. Thailand, particularly Bangkok, has been a very popular summer destination for my family. Nearly every summer you’d find us catching a short 3-4 hours flight to Bangkok. Moving to England means a pause to Thailand for me but my family still do their annual summer trip there.

There are many reasons we love going to Thailand each year. The hot weather, luxurious resorts, shopping, spas & massages, so on and so forth. One that’s high on the list is food. Cheap food and restaurants are scattered all across the city. In addition, the street food scene in Bangkok is absolutely spectacular. Despite the amount of times I have visited this city, there is still so much more street food I want to try and visit.

Think about Khanom Krok (mini coconut pancakes), fried prawn cakes, Pad Thai, spicy Tom Yum soup, curries, mango sticky rice pudding, etc. The list of food is unlimited and they are the very reason for the country’s booming tourism. Certainly putting a ban on what’s profitable to the country is an utterly dumb move on the government’s part?!

From my point of view, this must be a mere case of miscommunicationq. I believe the BMA is proposing to implement regulations to street food businesses instead of banning them. Being crowned as the home to the world’s best street food, this is most probably a move to improve the street food scene by issuing stricter safety and hygiene requirements.

Some reports claim that police have already started clearing street vendors from the central district of Siam, and other street-food mainstays such as the Yaowarat in Chinatown and Khao San Road are expected to be next. In my opinion this is just a dramatic report from the media. Most likely, authorities are clearing out overcrowded pedestrians and start issuing licenses and rules to all these street food businesses. Media these days like to exaggerate and misreport a lot of things. That’s why I remain dubious on any news coming out from mainstream media nowadays.

My conclusion: think before you react. There are way too many holes in majority of the reports and it is making no sense. Street food itself has never been a problem to the country. If anything, the street food culture is the country’s pride. The issue is more about tackling hygiene and street traffic. This, I believe, is a step for Thailand’s government attempting to improve the situation, not to completely destroying it. Would Bangkok be different now? There will be changes but nothing as drastic as the media is making it seems like. Don’t worry, Thai street food is not going anywhere!