Last week, there were rumors circulating that the Thai government was going to ban Bangkok’s famous street food (which is also known for being cheap) from many of its major roads. The chief advisor of Bangkok’s governor, Wanlop Suwandee, supposedly told The Nation, that the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) is “working to get rid of the street vendors from all 50 districts of Bangkok and return the pavements to the pedestrians. Yaowarat and Khao San Road will be our next goal in clearing out illegal vendors.”
In reality, there has been a misunderstanding. Now, Suwandee claims that The Nation misquoted him, and rather that “The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration is not banning street food in Khao San and Yaowarat roads—it’s the opposite,” when speaking to CNN. Instead, “[BMA] is supporting street food by implementing hygienic measures and organizing traffic around the areas.” Both Khao San and Yaowarat (Bangkok’s Chinatown) road, mentioned in his misinterpreted statement, are known for their cheap street food. However, some people condemn the food stands’ presence. Some people in Bangkok feel that the food stalls are a nuisance because they congest sidewalks. Furthermore, the locations of some of these little shops can be traffic hazards, and the smoke and smells coming from them can irritate pedestrians. Just as Suwandee recently stated, these stands aren’t exactly clean either. Because the stands do not require registration or health inspections, they lack proper hygiene and environmentally friendly measures to dispose of waste.
While some are skeptical of the stands’ future, it is not likely that they will be forbidden. Many stalls and stands are far from problematic; their locations do not hinder traffic. There are an estimated 380,000 such vendors in the city of Bangkok which are a large source of tourist inflow. Altogether, they improve employment rates, provide affordable food, and help tourism, yet hygiene and location can be a problem. At this point, Bangkok’s government is taking steps to improve improve these street food stands to their standards. Looking at the future of Bangkok’s street food, one can expect a polished experience, but otherwise things are staying the same.