One of the most glorious parts about visiting Bangkok is amazingly cheap and delicious food! If you are on a budget, no problem! If you are craving western-style food like burgers, pizza, or spaghetti, then you are going to be paying much higher prices. However, if you eat like a native it is cheap cheap cheap! You can eat in Bangkok easily for $1 to $5 if you follow our cheap eats in Bangkok guide!
[UPDATED DECEMBER 2020]
Where to Eat?
Just like how you would see a hotdog stand in the western world, you will see street carts along the roads of Bangkok. These carts will sell noodles, cooked meats, sweets, and other yummy food that is super cheap! Usually, street carts sell their tasty creations for $1 or less!
Food markets are similar to a food court that you may see in a mall. They are located within a plaza or square where food vendors circle the outside, and there is a large amount of seating available in the center.
You will find a variety of cheap eats here, and usually, they are all traditional Thai food. There may be the lone western-style stall, but it is unlikely due to the higher costs. By keeping with the traditional Thai food, you can expect to pay $5 at maximum for your meal plus the drink!
Walking streets are basically food markets; however, they line a street instead of a plaza. The road is blocked off on either end, so only pedestrians can enter. Often times the area is covered as well, protecting the vendors, customers, and food from the elements. Keep your eyes peeled for these hidden treasures because sometimes they can be tucked away and hard to spot.
One of the best aspects of walking streets is that some of the stalls will let you mix and match. Instead of ordering something off a menu, they will give you a bowl to fill. You can choose anything off of their stall, place it in the bowl, and they will cook it up for you. You get exactly what you want and how much you want at a super low price! The cost is usually around $1-4, depending on what you get and how much!
Maybe you don’t want to eat street food every single day, that is okay! It doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice your budget. Many restaurants provide cheap eats in Bangkok, as long as you eat like a local. The hole in the wall places are going to be the best, although not the fanciest, places to get cheap food. The city center, tourist locations are not!
Tips for Eating Like a Local
Eating like a local is simple, you just need to know what to look for!
- Hot Food
When you are a foreigner visiting a new place with new cuisine, it can have some nasty side effects on your stomach if you aren’t careful. Make sure that your food, especially the meat, is piping hot when you receive it.
- Beware of Water
In many places, they advise not to drink the water. It is pretty apparent to not go drinking out of the tap and to stick to bottled water. But, there is water in more places than you might realize. Any fruits and vegetables washed in water have the same problem, so salads are usually not advisable. Plus, ICE! Ice is always used in those delicious fresh smoothies, but they can make you sick. Be wary!
- Follow the Locals
Before selecting a location for your next meal, look at the patrons. If a few foreigners are sitting around, the place is probably just mediocre. If the area is packed with locals, that is where you want to go! It is a clear signal that the food is delicious and probably cheap, too, since these must be repeat customers. It will be worth the few minute wait to get in on this deliciousness!
If you have any kind of aversion to spicy food, then make sure to ask if the food is spicy or not. The vendors will likely understand English and give you an honest answer. Just keep in mind that spicy for them and spicy for you may have different definitions.
Cheap eats in Bangkok are easy to find, are delicious, and will truly immerse you in the local culture. Follow your nose, and you never know what you may find!
Need to walk off all that delicious food? Go exploring to find some of the amazing Street Art that covers the unexpecting alleys and parks of Bangkok. Follow our Street Art In Bangkok: A Guide to the Cities Coolest Murals.