Tourists, Residents, and Food Police React to Bangkok Street Food Uproar


Video: Tourists and Residents Opine on Bangkok Street Food

Has War Been Declared Against Bangkok Street Food Vendors?

Shots were fired across the bow and social media blew up after it was reported street food was being banned in Bangkok, Thailand. The firestorm erupted after The Nation quoted Wanlop Suwandee, chief adviser to Bangkok’s governor, in saying, “The BMA (Bangkok Metropolitan Authority) is now working to get rid of the street vendors from all 50 districts of Bangkok and return the pavements to the pedestrians.”

Lovers of street food across the globe are up in arms over the alleged news the city is banning street food vendors.

Is Street Food Really Being Banned in Bangkok?

No, city officials were quick to clarify. However, Bangkok’s city government is imposing rules and regulations street food vendors must comply with, but a total ban is out of the question. Bangkok is known for its street food and travelers pour in from around the world for the experience. In fact, CNN just rated Bangkok’s street food the best in the world.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand even issued a statement clarifying the new rules and regulations.

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Bangkok Street Food
Tourists enjoy an open-air street food meal in Bangkok.

Street food is a vital part of daily life in Thailand. Residents rely on the vendors and their carts to provide affordable food within walking distance. Getting rid of it entirely would put a serious dent in the local economy and cause food-loving tourists to go elsewhere to satisfy their street food cravings.

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Creating Tourist Zones in the City

The city authorities say they are concerned with overcrowding of the city’s sidewalks and the un-hygienic conditions that are sometimes created by vendors plying their trade without regard for their surroundings.

They are trying out their new rules and regulations in two areas of the city that have become tourist magnets because of the cheap and delicious food on offer there. They are the Yaowarat area in Chinatown and Khao San Road, the famed backpacker destination.

Bangkok Street Food
The Yaowarat area of Bangkok has been declared a tourist Safety Zone.

The city plans to enforce the new regulations in these two areas and monitor whether or not they are effective in cleaning up the streets. They are creating tourist zones in these areas. Any food vendor operating within these zones will have to abide by the new rules and regulations governing street food preparation and distribution.

Bangkok Street Food
Chicken rice is a popular street food dish.

Time Will Tell if the New Rules Will Serve their Purpose

City residents and office workers are being cautious in offering any opinions on the new rules until they see the results. They are justifiably worried that the new rules would increase the distances they must travel in order to get their lunches. Instead of just walking down to their nearest neighborhood eatery, they would have to travel to food centers which might not be close by their places of business.

Bangkok Street Food
A vendor sells her fresh-squeezed juice.

Tourists are also skeptical of whether there is really a need to improve the food quality. They appreciate the fact the food is prepared right before their eyes and they can see the freshness of the ingredients before they are prepared.

Tourists and Bangkok residents alike will be watching the street food situation closely, hoping that the city authorities don’t kill off one of the most colorful and delicious aspects of life in Bangkok.

Bangkok Street Food
Police and the Army work together to keep the tourist zones safe.
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