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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
When traveling in deep Mexico I always wanted to eat from the food carts. However, upon expressing this desire I was promptly counseled to NEVER eat off a food cart due to sanitation and hygiene issues. After observing the truthfulness of this, I resisted.

Now, when watching shows such as Bizarre Foods, or Anthony Bourdain I see them in Thailand, and in cafes off the street, whereby the food is touted as excellent. I hope this is the case, as I prefer this type of meal to a fancy restaurant - a good bowl of Tom Yum with rice noodle and vegetables I think is better than a fancily prepared chicken dish which costs 3 times as much (although I'm sure this is also welcome at times).

So, question is (after all that dribble): Can one eat off the food carts, sidewalk cafes, etc., and not worry about the wrath equivalent of Montezumas Revenge?

Ignorant question, but I hope to be enlightened... :confused:
 

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They buy it (and sometimes grow it), they cook to order and then once all is sold they go home to their famillies. In contrast to a hotel who buy it freeze it..........

The better ones have regular customers so go to the busy food stalls. When buying deep fried chicken- take a look at the oil it is fried in, if its black then its probably old and you should steer clear.

If the vendor looks clean and the customers look clean its probably going to be good. Same applies throughout the world.
Enjoy and Bon appetite


When traveling in deep Mexico I always wanted to eat from the food carts. However, upon expressing this desire I was promptly counseled to NEVER eat off a food cart due to sanitation and hygiene issues. After observing the truthfulness of this, I resisted.

Now, when watching shows such as Bizarre Foods, or Anthony Bourdain I see them in Thailand, and in cafes off the street, whereby the food is touted as excellent. I hope this is the case, as I prefer this type of meal to a fancy restaurant - a good bowl of Tom Yum with rice noodle and vegetables I think is better than a fancily prepared chicken dish which costs 3 times as much (although I'm sure this is also welcome at times).

So, question is (after all that dribble): Can one eat off the food carts, sidewalk cafes, etc., and not worry about the wrath equivalent of Montezumas Revenge?

Ignorant question, but I hope to be enlightened... :confused:
 

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Thai street food for many years had a bad reputation and was strictly “taboo” for most tourists to Thailand, it was generally viewed as somewhat unhygienic, and rumours abounded that consumption of it could lead to serious stomach complaints(if you know what I mean!!).

I remember reading an article a few years ago that stated that "the average Thai person eats a meal outside of the home seventeen times PER WEEK", now I would never have believed that had I not actually lived here and seen it for myself!.

Generally, food in Thailand is so cheap, that it is often cheaper to eat out than to prepare & cook at home.

Given the choice of eating in a swanky air-conditioned "restaurant" or a roadside traditional Thai "eatery", personally I would choose the eatery EVERYTIME.

As a useful guide here is a "Top Ten" list of Thai street food dishes.


* Som Tam - a spicy salad with shredded papaya
* Khao Mun Gai Tom - steamed chicken served on rice cooked in chicken broth
* Rat Naa - fried flat noodles and pork in a thick gravy
* Ba Mee Nam - yellow egg noodle soup with wonton
* Pad Thai - fried noodles with dried shrimp and tofu
* Johk - a thick rice soup excellent for breakfast
* Pad See Iew - pan-fried noodles with pork & green vegetables
* Khao Pad - fried rice
* Pad Krapow Moo - pork fried with basil served on rice
* Khao Moo Daeng - red pork with rice
 

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Eat away!

There is always a risk of food poisoning wherever you eat - on the street or posh hotel.

However I do not believe that simply applying a few half-baked "western" ideas on how we should get food poisoning from street food is very helpful.

Street food has been around for years and is designed to be consumed in Thailand's hot and humid climate.
You can never be 100% wherever you eat, but one thing I'd bet on is that you are more likely to contract something from one of those Western buffets you see lingering around in the hotel dining rooms than you are from your average street stall.

Many people are unaware of how you can contract food poisoning and similar illnesses: often many cases of "food poisoning" are blamed erroneously on the last meal eaten, and furthermore few people seem to realise that a dose of the "squits" is often self-inflicted by hand to mouth contamination - biting fingernails, not washing hands touching your face, etc.....just think about where you hands have been on an average day's touringin Bkk!!!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Now for street vendor pricing

Okay, hygiene aside, and I agree with WildFK about the personal cleanliness affecting our health, I wanted to find out what one would be paying for various dishes?

Can you give me a sampling, something like, how much would it be for street vendor food such as:

(1) whole grilled duck
(1) bowl of tom yum, or thai boat noodles
(1) Noodle dish with chicken or pork​

I understand that in Bangkok the price may different, so, if you can, give a range in baht, and I'll do the math (see, I'm willing to work <smiling>).

Also, if you can tell me what else is available on the carts, and those prices, that would be great... drinks too.

As always, thanks in advance... :peace:
 

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I will be going to Thai. in Sept. it will be my first time. I hope to do most of my eating from street vendors, I love foods and learning so what better way to have a variety! Most seems to be cooked and prepared after ordering, if cooked correctly it should take care of most problems. Most people seem to specialize in just a few dishes and thus over days, months or years are very professional at what thay do. And like mentioned before, unless it is completly obvious that the place is unsanitary, you are just as likely to get sick at fancy restaraunts. just about everything on the streets are fresh!
 

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(1) whole grilled duck - no idea - but the ducks you see are usually for selling with rice or noodles - 50 to 80 baht.

(1) bowl of tom yum, or thai boat noodles - noodles are usually 25 to 40 baht a bowl. If you want more ask for "haeng" - without the liquid

(1) Noodle dish with chicken or pork - pad Thai again 40 to 80 baht

Basically street food should be between 20 and 80 baht. Some things can be a bit dear - e.g. duck.

There are also many other dishes both sweet and savoury......fruit, pancakes, fruit and beans in syrup, mango and sticky rice and SOM TAM - which is available in countless variations.
 

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If your sat on a bus waiting for it to leave and someone comes on offering cold fried chicken for sale - avoid it like the plague.
It looks great, but the consequencies may be dire.
For me - 3 days at deaths door. Lost about 12lbs. Learnt a lesson. Avoid cold precooked meats.
 

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THis illustrates a problem people have with attributing the correct source of their bad stomach.

Whereas it is possible that the chicken caused the problem it is by no means the certain..
Just blaming your last intake of food is not a reliable method. Bacteria that release the toxins that cause bad stomachs can take anything from hours to days to multiply enough to cause problems.
many times there has been a time bomb in your guts just waiting to happen - and when it does the temptation is to go for the post hoc ergo propter hoc theory, in most case it doesn't matter but sometimes it might make treatment much more effective if you can pinpoint the REAL cause of your illness..
 

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maybe just lucky, but I have never had any 'issues' with street food

remembering this is their business/livelihood it's not in their interests to have upset customers (with upset stomachs!)

my favourite locally is whole barbecued fish - one benefit of living near the coast, they get the fish from (of course) the fresh fish seller, straight from the boats, and onto the barbecue with a skewer through the body, choose your own degree of chili sauce - from mild to wild - a small bag of rice and a healthy meal.
 

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I have had an issue once with an upset stomach, but as a few of you have already pointed out, this isn't always down to the last meal you ate.

The change in weather, where you have moved to, can increase your chances of this greatly.

Go for what you enjoy eating, you would do if you were living in your own country!.
 

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THis illustrates a problem people have with attributing the correct source of their bad stomach.

Whereas it is possible that the chicken caused the problem it is by no means the certain..
Just blaming your last intake of food is not a reliable method. Bacteria that release the toxins that cause bad stomachs can take anything from hours to days to multiply enough to cause problems.
many times there has been a time bomb in your guts just waiting to happen - and when it does the temptation is to go for the post hoc ergo propter hoc theory, in most case it doesn't matter but sometimes it might make treatment much more effective if you can pinpoint the REAL cause of your illness..
So Wildfk,, why don't you give us some of your personal anecdotes instead of pontificating on other's experiences?
I know very well where my near death experience came from - as far as I know you weren't even in Thailand then, let alone on the same bus as me.
So instead of adding your 2 cents worth merely because you can - tell us of some real life experience of your own.
 

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Not a problem

When traveling in deep Mexico I always wanted to eat from the food carts. However, upon expressing this desire I was promptly counseled to NEVER eat off a food cart due to sanitation and hygiene issues. After observing the truthfulness of this, I resisted.

Now, when watching shows such as Bizarre Foods, or Anthony Bourdain I see them in Thailand, and in cafes off the street, whereby the food is touted as excellent. I hope this is the case, as I prefer this type of meal to a fancy restaurant - a good bowl of Tom Yum with rice noodle and vegetables I think is better than a fancily prepared chicken dish which costs 3 times as much (although I'm sure this is also welcome at times).

So, question is (after all that dribble): Can one eat off the food carts, sidewalk cafes, etc., and not worry about the wrath equivalent of Montezumas Revenge?

Ignorant question, but I hope to be enlightened... :confused:
This statistic from my own experience may ease your fears - after 17 years of travel throughout Thailand including the last 6 years of living here permanently I've not had any serious problem from street food , in which I continue to indulge regularly. Of course the odd brief gastric complaint from too spicy food may occur from time to time but I've never experienced serious food related conditions such as food poisoning , dysentery , etc.

Thai street food is normally bought completely fresh daily and properly cooked right there and then - vendors are careful only to buy , prepare and cook just what they know can be sold during their few hours of daily business operation on the street and there is seldom any wastage.
 

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So Wildfk (Do I only need to add two letters to that to get the real meaning?), why don't you give us some of your personal anecdotes instead of pontificating on other's experiences?
I know very well where my near death experience came from - as far as I know you weren't even in Thailand then, let alone on the same bus as me.
So instead of adding your 2 cents worth merely because you can - tell us of some real life experience of your own.
Or are you merely trying to get your posts up to a certain number - like collecting Airmile points? As useless as they are.
Anyone will tell you that personal anecdotal experiences - especially regarding matters medical are virtually without value and also often misleading.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks to all for your insights regarding street food!

It is such a help to have those that live in Thailand, and who eat the street food on a regular basis, answer my question. Thanks!

It seems to me that, if I am discerning, select those vendors that have a brisk business, the fact that the food is fresh and I can see them cooking in front of me, that I will be in the best position to stay healthy.

Of course, my chances of food sickness are the same here where I currently live, so to dig deeper is moot.

Thanks again to all! You guys/gals are awesome! Keep up the good work in this forum...
 

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I eat off the street stalls all the time. I've been in pattaya 2 and half years so I know which ones I like. As others have stated, pay attention to the busy ones and ones that are mostly frequented by thais. The thais know where the best and cheapest food is so pay attention to where they eat. The stalls that are mostly frequented by foreigners in my experience are not as good.

I've had food poisoning twice. It happens. Both times were after eating at restuarants, not from food stalls.
 

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Many people cite the "apparent" lack of hygiene of street food outlets as an obvious cause of concern - however I believe this is not primarily the case - The industrialization of food - food processing and fast food in places like US and UK has lead to an increase in food poisoning cases..... The problem with highly processed foods is that at any stage of the processing there can be a lax in vigilance and a ***** appears in the armour against bacteria etc....subsequently these bacteria can breed above acceptable levels and food poisoning can ensue.

At present the foods on offer on Thai street stalls are relatively unprocessed and I believe that this is an important factor reducing the chances of infection. However if the wholesale suppliers of food start to use more advanced methods of preparation and distribution - e.g. freezing and chill-serve - then one could expect to see a rise in problems.

Lets just hope it stays relatively simple for some time.
 

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5 years of living there full time and numerous other stays between a day and a month over the last 12 years.
Only twice I have had really upset Bangkok Bottom, and for sure both times were because of hotel food ( my mistakes )

Whenever people travel to a new country or even region within a country the type of bateria changes, and very often this can lead to a mild upset stomach, but should not be confused with actual food poisoning which is quite different. This change in bacteria and mildly upset stomach is just adjustment by your stomach to the new bacteria.

As pointed out always take the popular places as being a good sign, additionally if teh seller wears plastic gloves, another good sign.
Lastly wash your hands, you will see Thais doing this before eating most meals. WHY? because that money you paid with, that last shake of someones hand, the last toilet door you opened has more unhealthy bacteria than you can beleive.

Go for the street food, it is the BEST
 

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you'll se many a Thai vendor wearing plastic gloves......which he uses to handle both the food and money and the next food..........

Essentially you good dip a piece of meat in dog excreta and so long as the bacteria clinging to the outside are quickly killed over a hot charcoal flame the consumer would be none the wiser.

however as I pointed pout above = self-p[poisoning from your own hands has got to be a factor. Imagine where they have been during a days sight-seeing in Bkk.

THere is also no immunity from the major poisoning bacteria - they protect themselves against anti-bodies.
As said above their are many reasons for a minor upset and blaming the last thing you ate is not really fair on that poor last meal as there are so many other possible culprits.
 

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not a food vendor, but a bad food experience, Khao Chakan is our 'second-home' as the farm property is based there. At least health authorities acted quickly.

Woman dies, 42 sick from food poisoning
4 Sept 2011

A 62-year-old woman died from severe food poisoning and 42 others in Sa Kaew's Khao Chakan district became ill and had to be hospitalised after they ate pork that was not properly cooked at a funeral, Khao Chakan Hospital director Adisorn Srisuriyasawat said yesterday.

After some 20 people went to the hospital for diarrhoea, medical staff were told that people attending a funeral at Wat Na Bon ate spicy larb moo minced pork salad that wasn't properly cooked and got sick, Adisorn said.

An epidemic investigation team and Khao Chakan health personnel visited six villages and found 42 people were sick and 62-year-old Jan Maenpeun had died. They found the pork came from a pig that died while giving birth. Its owner had cut and distributed the meat to neighbours while some meat was cooked at the funeral.

They alerted related officials and community leaders about the outbreak and gave them information for prevention and aid, plus distributed packs of oral rehydration salts. Officials urged the severely sick to see a doctor. Officials also collected samples from patients for lab tests while livestock officials checked the pork and villages for possible animal diseases
 
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