CNN recently named Thailand’s capital, Bangkok, as the world’s top city for street food. It’s not hard to see why, with sidewalk vendors heavily populating the streets from breakfast to late night selling local favorites like fragrant rice with poached chicken, fried mussel pancakes, and phad thai noodles.
Sadly, it seems that Bangkok won’t be able to hold on to that honor for long, as the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) just announced that by the end of the year, these vendors would be banned from the city’s streets.
The Nation reports that the BMA came to this decision in an effort to “beautify Bangkok” and “reclaim the pavement for pedestrians.” The efforts have already begun, with Siam Square, Putanam, and a popular flea market already being cleared out, with internationally renowned areas like Yaowarat and Khao San Road the next targets of the administration.
Wanlop Sudanwee, the chief adviser to Bangkok’s governor, told the Nation that the street food stands in these areas were being run by “illegal vendors” and that there would be “no exceptions” to clearing out vendors in these areas.
“The street vendors have seized the pavement space for too long and we already provide them with space to sell food and other products legally in the market, so there will be no let-up in this operation. Every street vendor will have to move out.”
While some Thai citizens were caught off guard, one told the Nation that she agreed with the decision but would like to see a new area set up for these vendors. At least if that happened, they could continue to do business and sell their authentic fare to tourists and locals alike.
One thing’s for sure: if you were thinking of going to Thailand to check out the busy street food scene, I’d do it really soon. Otherwise, you may not get a chance to experience it for yourself once the crackdown is fully completed.