Update 2016: Much of Soi 38 has shut down to make way for a new real estate development. However, about a third of the vendors are still there in a small food court and on part of the street. It’s not as good as it once was, but still a decent place for a cheap and delicious dinner.
While Bangkok certainly has some of the most delectable street food treats in the world, the scene itself can actually be quite intimidating. Several popular spots are hidden far from the comforts of the tourist centres, many stall owners don’t understand English, and Bangkok itself can sometimes be quite a difficult city to navigate.
However, there is one popular spot in town that serves as the perfect introduction to street food in Bangkok. Soi 38 in Sukhumvit is cheap, authentic, clean, easy to find, and serves some of the highest quality street food the city has to offer. If you’re a first timer in Bangkok, this is the ideal place to dip your toes into the food culture before you go wandering down alleys seeking out more adventurous eats.
How to get there
Sukhumvit Soi 38 is in the Thong Lo area, so if you’re staying around Ekkamai, Phrom Phong or Thong Lo you can probably just walk there.
If you’re staying elsewhere in the Sukhumvit area, simply get on the BTS Skytrain and head to Thong Lo station. The other subway networks interlink with the Skytrain also, so if you have access to the BRT, MRT or Airport link you should be able to get there easily enough.
In all other cases, simply get in a taxi and ask for Sukhumvit Soi 38. Every driver in town will know exactly where it is.
When you get to Thong Lo station, head to Exit 4 (I think). You’ll know which exit is correct anyway, because you’ll be able to see this from stairs:
What to expect
I was staying just around the corner from here on my last visit to Bangkok, so after eating here several nights in a row I think I managed to try something from every single stall. I had no bad experiences, and considering there’s around 20 different stalls here that’s a good hit rate. There are tables and seats outside each stall, so it’s also a great place to go with some friends and enjoy a meal and a few beers.
I didn’t have my camera handy every single visit unfortunately, but listed below are just a few of the delights you can expect to find here.
No words, just photos.
(I’m showing my ignorance here, but I don’t know the Thai names of any of these dishes. You’ll just have to tolerate the English names I’ve made up for them..)
A few appetisers to start…
Green mango salad – 60THB ($1.85)
Spicy papaya salad – 60 baht ($1.85)
Grilled pork salad – 60 baht ($1.85)
Boiled seafood salad – 100 baht ($2.50)
Crab and papaya salad – 60 baht ($1.85)
Cuttlefish salad – 80 baht ($2.50)
(This one’s my favourite!)
Fresh fruit shakes – 30 baht (90 cents)
Fresh coconut juice – 45 baht ($1.40)
Onto the main course(s)…
Roast duck on rice – 60 baht ($1.85)
Chicken rice – 50 baht ($1.50)
Fried chicken rice – 50 baht ($1.50)
Grilled skewers (chicken/pork/squid/sausages) – 15 baht each (45 cents)
Chicken satay – 10 baht each (30 cents)
Stewed pork and egg on rice – 60 baht ($1.85)
Grilled river prawns (they’re enormous!) – 150 baht per half dozen ($4.80)
And then it’s noodle time
From the moment I was old enough to eat I’ve been a total noodle freak, so if you’re like me, you’re going to love Bangkok. Collected below are some of my favourites from Soi 38. All of them are 50-60 baht (1.60 – $1.85) and the servings are quite small, so you can usually fit in around 3 or 4 at least. Ready set go…
Flat rice noodles with pork insides
Chicken drumstick and mushroom dry noodles
Green noodles with pork and wontons (this one is seriously awesome).
Pork fried rice noodles in gravy sauce
Roast duck and prawn wonton dry noodles
BBQ pork and prawn wonton dry noodles
Shrimp pad thai
BBQ pork and wonton noodle soup
Crab meat and prawn wonton dry noodles
Beef glass noodle soup
Shredded chicken rice noodle soup
Curry noodle soup with chicken
Beef and fish ball with thin rice noodle soup
And then of course, the ever famous mango sticky rice for dessert. No matter how much you’ve eaten, you’ll always have room for one of these:
Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to photograph all the stalls and map out the individual shops where you can find each dish (to be honest I was just too lazy), but just by walking around looking at the menus on display I’m sure you’ll be able to find whatever you’re looking for. There are no “hidden” stalls or anything like that. Otherwise, just save this post on your phone and show the photos to someone, I’m sure they’ll be happy to point you in the right direction!
Have fun, and happy noodling.
Friend and fellow blogger Mark Weins puts together the ultimate guide to eating Thai food in Thailand. Discover the most delicious Thai dishes, where to eat them, how to order them, complete with maps and restaurant suggestions. If you’re looking to eat your way through Thailand like a local, the Eating Thai Food Guide is for you. Click here to learn more and grab yourself a copy.