18 Oct 2012 6 Tips for Eating Thai Food on a Budget
Bangkok is, without a doubt, a paradise destination for all food lovers. Whether you are staying a couple of days in Bangkok or having a holiday on one of Thai stunning beaches, tasting Thai food will be an unforgettable travel experience you will never forget. Bangkok cuisine is well-known for its lightness and strong aromatic components. You will discover the new flavours of sweetness and spiciness of Thai cuisine and appreciate its freshness. The good news is you can do it at very affordable prices once you follow some rules introduced here.
#1 Avoid Touristic Areas
Visiting busy places full of tourists definitely will not increase your chances of a cheap eat. Once you go a little bit further from Khao San Road area, you will find a lot of local places where the cheap food is served. It is also likely that the portions will be bigger and taste more unique. You can either pick up a small local Thai restaurant or grab some take away meal with grilled chicken, rice and fried vegetables on the street. Take away food is cheaper than eating in, so do not be afraid of eating in a park or in your hotel room. When dining out in a Thai restaurant, try to find one-dish restaurant. You will pay for one meal only and avoid extra service charges. Moreover, going to China Town would be a perfect place for a cheap dinner and trying another cuisine.
#2 Eat Street Food instead of Restaurant Food
Street food in Thailand is sold everywhere. There are fruit and vegetable markets in every corner, small local shops with Thai sweets if you feel like having some biscuits or cookies, food markets in the city centre and food stalls across every street. There is a variety of places where you can dine out on the cheap.
#3 Share the Bill
Thai food is mostly served on a plate and it is meant to be shared. The portions might be too big for one person, so if you are a solo traveller, take a group of fellow backpackers with you, order various dishes and share the bill at the end. You will get to taste several things and feast well, whilst spending less!
#4 Go for Local Thai Food Instead of Western Food
Go for local food, do not choose places where Indian, American or other Western food is served. Prices reflect the trouble they had to learn these recipes. Did you know you can get a Thai soup with fried vegetables served with a big bowl of rice and a drink for less than BigMac in McDonald’s? It is much healthier and more delicious, not mentioning the money you can save up for attractions or some souvenirs.
#5 Learn Some Thai and Start Haggling
Once you visit the places where tourists are rarely seen, you can notice that many Thai people do not speak good English. They might struggle to understand you and you both might find it difficult to communicate. However, where there is a will, there is a way! Look up some Thai food words you need and pick up some basic vocabulary such as “hi”, “order”, “food”, “how much”, “too expensive” and go try to speak to them. If you struggle to learn them all by heart, take your dictionary with you and show them. The more language you know, the more chances you have to bring the price down local level.
#6 Always Pay in Local Currency ($1= 30Baht)
Some locals will ask you to pay for the food in $. If it happens, just cancel your order and walk away. In most cases they will try to rip you off. Basically, people who quote prices in dollars base the prices on US standards and not Thai. You will often hear “it is still cheaper than you pay in your country” while at the same time you pay twice the local price. They think $1 for a bowl of rice is not much in your country, however in Thailand for $1 you can buy a whole meal!
The prices of Thai food vary between 10 Baht and 80 Baht depending on the quality, quantity and the place. You should not pay more than 40 Baht for a typical take away Thai food (rice, vegetables, fried meat). You are quoted more, it is probably a rip-off.