Bangkok; brash, bustling, boiling and brilliant! Having spent 3 days there before heading to Vietnam, I can safely say that I fell in love with the place.
After a 14 hour flight, to step outside into the 34 degree humid heat was immense. The air is filled with petrol fumes, sizzling spices and moisture (we arrived after a heavy rainfall), it smelt exotic and exciting.
Along with the usual tourist things to tick off our list while in town, such as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha (Wat Pho), the Grand Palace and taking a ride on the Skytrain, I’d also heard that the street food here is amazing, and that’s true – it simply cannot be missed during a trip here.
Of course as a coeliac, the words ‘street food’ brought me out in a cold sweat when it was suggested we sample some on our first night there, but be assured it is possible to find and eat gluten free street food, if you go prepared.
My top tips for a coeliac eating street food in Bangkok:
- Street food tends to be made to order, meaning if you keep your eye on what is going on, you can tell your dutiful street vendor if/when you don’t want any particular ingredient added to your dish. The big names in seasoning here are oyster and soy sauce; these two ingredients contain gluten so watch out for these.
- Take a card with ‘No oyster sauce or soy sauce’ written on it around with you and show it to the street vendor before they begin cooking. (I asked my hotel concierge to write this out in Thai for me).
- Look for rice noodle dishes such as Pad Thai (soy/oyster sauce is usually not used for this dish) or Pad See Ew. Rice noodles are made from rice flour and result in a white and (usually) thick, flat noodle. They’re perfect for coeliacs as they contain no gluten. Thai curries such as green and red curry are usually gluten free and coeliac friendly, they very rarely contain soy or oyster sauce (always double check), and are served with rice. Papaya salad, which is a commonly found and really delicious, is also traditionally gluten free.
Head to Chinatown or ‘Yaowarat’ as it is known locally, for loads of stalls selling authentic and delicious Thai street food. The vendors are friendly and happy to help if you speak to them about your gluten allergy (take your card and gesturing goes along way!).
Other than street food, Bangkok has a plethora of restaurants with something to suit every taste.
Here are my top 3 gluten free friendly restaurants for the discerning coeliac traveller:
- Thip Samai – 313 Maha Chai Road, Khwaeng Samran Rat, Khet Phra Nakhon, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10200. Great restaurant, vibrant and chaotic. They can provide English menus which makes all the difference for those with a gluten allergy! Many dishes on the menu are gluten free, try the Pad Thai – to die for!
- Veganerie Bakery – 35/2 Soi.Methiniwet (Sukhumvit24) behind Benjasiri Park Klongtan Klong Toei Bangkok 10110. So many gluten free choices! The bakery focuses on producing vegan food, but they also have a variety of gluten free bakes. For a coeliac visiting Bangkok this is a place really worth taking a trip to, the gluten free and vegan chocolate fudge cake is amazing!
- Nahm – 27 S Sathorn Rd, Hotel Metropolitan by COMO, Bangkok 10120. If you are after something a little fancy and pretty special, this Michelin starred restaurant is the place for you. Most of the menu is naturally gluten free and everything I sampled was delicious. Try the Tom Yum soup, it really was yum and perfectly gluten free!
So to round it up, Bangkok is definitely worth a trip, there are so many interesting things to see and eat. Gluten free travellers should not be wary, there are lots of gluten free food options available, both street food options and restaurants. There are also a few Australian supermarkets that sell Australian branded gluten free foods, in case of emergency.