Wondering if it’s possible to eat vegetarian street food in Bangkok? Even though the Thai capital isn’t the easiest to navigate as a vegetarian, it’s definitely possible!
One of the things Bangkok is known for its vibrant street food scene, with a plethora of food stalls and markets lining the streets.
But for vegetarians, finding options that cater to their dietary needs can be challenging. However, fear not!
Bangkok has a wide variety of vegetarian street food options that are just as delicious and flavorful as their meat-based counterparts.
In this post, we’ll take you on a culinary journey through the bustling streets of Bangkok to discover the best vegetarian street food dishes that the city has to offer.
From savory pad thai to spicy som tam, we’ll explore the diverse and exciting flavors of vegetarian street food in Bangkok.
So, whether you’re a seasoned traveler or a first-time visitor, join us on this adventure to discover the best vegetarian street food in Bangkok.
- Is there vegetarian street food in Bangkok?
- Vegetarian Street Food in Bangkok
- 1. Vegetarian Pad Thai
- 2. Papaya Salad
- 3. Fried Tofu
- 4. Chao Kuai
- 5. Roti Sai Mai
- 6. Naem Jay
- 7. Khanom Kai Nok Krata
- 8. Khao Lam
- 9. Kanom Buang
- 10. Pad See Ew
- 11. Mango Sticky Rice
- 12. Khanom Krok
- 13. Miang Kham
- 14. Mee Krob
- Navigating Street Food in Bangkok as a Vegetarian
- Where to Stay in Bangkok
- Vegetarian Street Food in Bangkok: FAQs
Is there vegetarian street food in Bangkok?
Yes, there is vegetarian street food in Bangkok.
While the city is known for its meat-based dishes, there are plenty of delicious and flavorful vegetarian options available as well.
In fact, Bangkok is one of the best places to visit in Thailand for first-timers who are vegetarian as you’ll find a plethora of food options.
Vegetarian Street Food in Bangkok
1. Vegetarian Pad Thai
A popular dish among locals and tourists alike, this flavorful twist on the classic Pad Thai replaces meat with tofu and an abundance of veggies.
Pad Thai is one of the most iconic and beloved street food dishes in Thailand.
It is a stir-fried noodle dish that typically includes tofu, bean sprouts, and eggs.
The noodles are coated in a sweet and savory sauce made from tamarind paste, fish sauce, and palm sugar, giving the dish its distinct tangy flavor.
The dish is often served with a wedge of lime and crushed peanuts on top, adding a refreshing citrusy kick and a satisfying crunch to each bite.
What sets pad thai apart is its versatility and adaptability; it can be customized to suit any taste preference or dietary restriction, making it a popular choice among both locals and tourists alike.
2. Papaya Salad
Also known as Som Tum, papaya salad is another popular vegetarian street food in Bangkok. It’s packed with fresh, zesty flavors that perfectly capture the spirit of the city.
To make this delicacy, street vendors combine shredded green unripe papaya with a dressing made from fish sauce, lime juice, palm sugar, and chilies.
Don’t worry, you can easily request a vegetarian version by asking them to skip the fish sauce or substitute it with a soy sauce.
Again, remember to specify that you want your Papaya Salad vegetarian.
Be cautious with the heat, though. Some places can make the salad incredibly spicy. Adjust the number of chilies to your liking, or stick to a milder version if that’s more your scene.
Pair your Papaya Salad with some sticky rice to subdue the spicy kick and enjoy a filling meal.
3. Fried Tofu
Tofu served in Bangkok is often golden, crispy, and full of flavor. They’re bite-sized and perfect for a quick snack on-the-go, or as a scrumptious meal.
As you munch on your scrumptious tofu treat, don’t forget to pair it with one of the available dipping sauces.
You’ll come across various sauce options, such as the sweet and tangy tamarind sauce, a spicy and sour Sriracha sauce, or even a creamy peanut sauce.
Each will add a burst of flavor to your taste buds, taking your tofu experience to new levels.
Keep an eye out for fried tofu topped with crushed peanuts or fried garlic, as these added bits enhance the overall texture and flavor.
Some stalls even offer tofu stuffed with minced vegetables or noodles, giving you an additional surprise to enjoy.
4. Chao Kuai
Chao Kuai is a delicious vegetarian street food that’s perfect for foodies and health-conscious travelers alike.
As you order your Chao Kuai, expect a bowl filled with various ingredients like jelly-like grass jelly, chopped fruits such as watermelon and cantaloupe, and sweet syrup.
The grass jelly is the star of this dish, providing a unique texture that perfectly complements the sweet fruit and syrup.
Not only is Chao Kuai a tasty snack, but it also has potential health benefits.
Grass jelly itself is low in calories and rich in fiber, which can aid digestion and support a healthy gut.
5. Roti Sai Mai
You should definitely give Roti Sai Mai a try when you’re exploring Bangkok’s delicious vegetarian street food scene.
This sweet Thai-style cotton candy is one of the highlights of the street food offerings in the city, particularly for those who have a sweet tooth.
The preparation of Roti Sai Mai is quite fascinating. A flat Roti (similar to a tortilla) is made from a mix of wheat flour, sugar, water, and a little bit of oil.
It’s then cooked on a flat griddle until golden brown and a bit crispy.
Meanwhile, the Sai Mai, or the cotton candy part, is prepared with sugar that’s boiled, cooled, and then pulled into thin strands.
How to enjoy your Roti Sai Mai: To eat this delightful treat, simply place some Sai Mai strands onto the Roti and then wrap it up like a burrito.
You’re in for a sweet and slightly chewy experience that perfectly balances the flaky Roti and the soft, melt-in-your-mouth Sai Mai.
6. Naem Jay
Naem Jay is another must when it comes to vegetarian street food in Bangkok.
Naem Jay is a delicious fermented salad, made with mashed cooked rice, chopped vegetables, and a mix of flavorful spices. The main ingredients include cooked sticky rice, chopped red onions, diced tomatoes, sliced cucumber, peanuts, lime juice, and chili powder.
The preparation process is what makes Naem Jay truly unique.
After combining the sticky rice with a mix of spices, the concoction is left to ferment for a few days, giving it a distinct sour flavor that beautifully contrasts with the fresh veggies and tangy lime.
To enjoy Naem Jay, you’ll often find it served on a large banana leaf, accompanied by a small bag of crispy rice crackers.
These crackers add a delightful crunch that pairs perfectly with the soft, fermented rice mixture. The salad can be enjoyed on its own, or used as a zesty topping on other street foods.
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7. Khanom Kai Nok Krata
This mouth-watering Thai snack is made from sweet potatoes and tapioca starch, which are mixed together and rolled into cute little balls that resemble bird eggs, hence its Thai name.
The balls are then deep-fried to crunchy perfection, giving them a golden brown appearance.
Street food vendors usually serve them in small bags or bamboo containers.
One of the best things about Khanom Kai Nok Krata is its versatility.
Whether you prefer your snacks sweet or savory, there’s a variation for just about everyone.
For a sweet twist, vendors usually sprinkle some sugar on top, while those who like it savory often enjoy it with a drizzle of tangy, spicy sriracha sauce.
8. Khao Lam
Khao Lam is a delicious, must-try vegetarian street food in Bangkok.
Made from sticky rice, coconut milk, and sugar, this sweet treat is cooked inside bamboo tubes, giving it a unique flavor that will surely impress your taste buds.
When you’re walking around the busy streets of Bangkok, you’ll notice vendors selling Khao Lam in various sizes and flavors.
The rice comes in different colors, such as the traditional white or the more intriguing purple. Most vendors prepare the treat using fresh ingredients sourced from local markets.
To enjoy Khao Lam, simply crack open the bamboo tube with your hands and indulge in the tasty, indulgent sticky rice inside.
It’s perfect for a midday snack on a hot day, or as a delightful dessert after a satisfying meal. Khao Lam also pairs well with other Thai street food like mango with sticky rice, or even some spicy Thai dishes.
9. Kanom Buang
Kanom Buang, also known as Thai crispy pancakes, is a must-try vegetarian street food in Bangkok.
The pancake base is made from rice flour and coconut cream, creating a thin and crispy texture.
A variety of toppings are available to suit your preference, but the classic version features a sweet and savory mix of coconut cream and a delicate meringue spread on top.
Aside from the classic version, these pancakes come in several flavors like:
- Pandan: A popular flavor with a mild, sweet taste resembling vanilla.
- Taro: A starchy, nutty-flavored root vegetable commonly used in Thai desserts.
- Mango: A sweet and tangy favorite, often combined with sticky rice in Thai desserts.
10. Pad See Ew
Pad See Ew is a popular stir-fried noodle dish that is both flavorful and satisfying.
Packed with ingredients like wide rice noodles, tofu, Chinese broccoli, and a savory sauce, Pad See Ew is the perfect meal for when you’re strolling through the bustling streets of Bangkok.
To make this dish vegetarian, you simply need to request it with tofu instead of the usual chicken, pork, or beef.
As you explore the street food stalls, you’ll notice that each vendor has their own unique twist on Pad See Ew.
Some like to add a little extra spice, while others may throw in different vegetables. This is your opportunity to sample a few different variations and find your favorite.
Pro tip: To enhance the flavor experience, don’t forget to add a few dashes of Thai black soy sauce – it really brings out the rich, umami taste of the dish!
11. Mango Sticky Rice
Mango Sticky Rice is a simple yet mouth-watering dessert that is an all-time favorite among locals and tourists alike.
It doesn’t just satisfy your sweet tooth, but it also gives you a taste of Thailand in every bite.
The dish typically consists of three main ingredients: juicy ripe mangoes, sticky rice, and coconut milk. The combination creates a harmonious symphony of flavors that keeps you coming back for more.
You’ll notice that the mango used in this dessert is of the Nam Dok Mai variety, which is exceptionally sweet and almost melts in your mouth.
The sticky rice, on the other hand, is soaked in salty-sweet coconut milk and goes through a meticulous steaming process.
These two complement each other perfectly – the subtle saltiness of the rice and the sweetness of the mango create the perfect balance.
12. Khanom Krok
These bite-sized, coconut-based pancakes are a staple when it comes to vegetarian street food in Bangkok.
Don’t be surprised to find a crowd around the Khanom Krok vendors. This popular snack is worth the wait.
You’ll watch in anticipation as the vendor pours a mixture of rice flour, coconut milk, sugar, and salt into a special round, dimpled pan.
Once the batter begins to sizzle and bubble, the vendor skillfully adds a coconut cream topping, which can sometimes include corn, taro, or spring onion.
After a few minutes of cooking, your Khanom Krok will achieve the perfect combination of textures – crispy on the outside and soft, gooey goodness on the inside.
They’re typically served in a set of 6 or 8 morsels, whisked off the pan and into a banana leaf or tiny plastic bag for you to enjoy.
13. Miang Kham
Miang Kham is another must-try when you’re looking for vegetarian street food in Bangkok.
This Thai snack, which is often served as an appetizer, is a perfect combination of sweet, spicy, and tangy flavors.
To enjoy Miang Kham, you’ll be given a plate of betel leaves, along with a variety of chopped ingredients, such as shallots, ginger, lime, roasted peanuts, toasted coconut, and fresh chilies. Make sure you state you don’t want shrimp in it.
Now, once you have all your ingredients, simply take a betel leaf, add a pinch of each topping, and top it off with a drizzle of sweet-savory sauce.
Fold the leaf into a small pocket and pop the whole thing in your mouth for a burst of flavor.
14. Mee Krob
Mee Krob is another popular vegetarian street food in Bangkok.
This crispy noodle dish, often served in small portions, packs a flavorful punch that will tickle your taste buds.
The dish typically consists of rice noodles fried to a perfect crispy texture, tossed with a tangy, sweet and sour sauce.
The sauce is made from tamarind paste, palm sugar, and a dash of soy sauce, creating a symphony of flavors in your mouth.
To make Mee Krob even more scrumptious, vendors usually add in a generous amount of bean sprouts, tofu, and chopped scallions.
Some may also include crushed peanuts, providing crunch and a nutty aftertaste that complements the sweet and tangy sauce.
Navigating Street Food in Bangkok as a Vegetarian
If you’re in Bangkok and looking for the best vegetarian street food options, put yourself at ease as you navigate through the bustling stalls with these helpful hints.
First things first: brush up on some language skills.
While many vendors speak enough English to understand your request, it’s good to know a few basic phrases.
Try memorizing these:
- “Mang-saw-reet ka/kap” (good morning)
- “Mang-saw-lang ka/kap” (good afternoon)
- “Sawadee ka/kap” (hello and goodbye)
- “Kor ahaan jay” (I want vegetarian food)
- “Jay” (Vegetarian)
Additionally, learning about common Thai food ingredients will benefit you on your search. Keep an eye out for:
- Tofu, known as “tao-hu” in Thai
- Asian mushrooms, such as “hed”
- Sticky rice, referred to as “kao neow”
Where to Stay in Bangkok
Whether you’re visiting Bangkok on a solo trip or in a bigger group, choosing the right place to stay is a must!
Here are some great options for where to stay in Bangkok for all budgets:
Mad Monkey Hostel: This hostel is known for its social atmosphere, making it a great choice if you’re traveling solo. They offer both dormitory-style and private rooms, and amenities include free Wi-Fi, a rooftop bar, and a pool.
Admiral Premier Hotel. This mid-range hotel is located in the Sukhumvit area, which is known for its shopping and nightlife. The rooms are spacious and modern, and the hotel offers a fitness center, swimming pool, and free shuttle service to the nearby BTS Skytrain station.
Mandarin Oriental Bangkok: Top choice if you´re looking to splurge on a luxury hotel. This iconic hotel has been welcoming guests since 1876 and is located on the banks of the Chao Phraya River. The rooms are elegantly decorated, and the hotel offers a spa, multiple restaurants, and a private pier for river excursions.
Vegetarian Street Food in Bangkok: FAQs
What are the top vegetarian street food dishes in Bangkok?
In Bangkok, you’ll find a variety of delicious vegetarian street food dishes.
Some of the top choices include Som Tum (green papaya salad), Tom Kha (coconut soup), Yum Woon Sen (glass noodle salad), Pad Thai (stir-fried noodles), and Tofu Satay (grilled tofu skewers).
These dishes are flavorful, packed with fresh ingredients, and perfect for satisfying your hunger while exploring the city.
Where can I find the best vegetarian Pad Thai?
To try the best vegetarian Pad Thai in Bangkok, head to the ever-popular Thip Samai on Maha Chai Road.
This legendary spot is famous for its delectable Pad Thai and offers a scrumptious vegetarian version of this iconic dish.
Another great option is Pad Thai Thip Sama located at the Chang Chui Night Market, where you can enjoy their vegetarian Pad Thai made with tofu and peanuts.
Are there any popular vegetarian street food areas or markets?
Bangkok boasts several markets and areas where you can find a plethora of vegetarian street food.
Some popular spots include the Chatuchak Weekend Market, the Victory Monument evening market, and the Silom Soi 20 morning market.
These bustling markets offer diverse vegetarian food options and a great atmosphere as you immerse yourself in the local culture and flavors.
How easy is it to find veg food while exploring Bangkok’s streets?
Finding vegetarian food on Bangkok’s streets can be a bit challenging at times, but it’s definitely possible.
Make sure to learn a few Thai phrases, like “mang sa wirat” (vegetarian) or “jay” (vegan), which will help you communicate your dietary preferences to street food vendors.
A lot of local dishes can be easily adapted to meet your needs, so don’t be afraid to ask for tofu, mushrooms, or veggies instead of meat when placing an order.
Are there any must-try local vegetarian dishes in Bangkok?
Besides the vegetarian staples mentioned above, there are some local specialties in Bangkok that you should definitely try.
Khanom Jeen Namya (rice noodles served with a thick peanut-based sauce), Laab Jay (spicy mushroom salad), and Tao Hu Tod (deep-fried tofu with sweet chili dipping sauce) are just a few examples of delicious local vegetarian dishes that you won’t want to miss.