Take the Midnight Tuk Tuk Food Tour in Bangkok for a once-in-a-lifetime gastronomic and cultural experience!
Thailand and cuisine go together like peanut butter and jelly; they are almost inextricably linked. If you are considering a trip to Thailand, you may encounter some tourist skeptics who advise you to "get the hell out of Bangkok," but I hope this blog might provide you with a different view.
My husband and I planned a two-week trip to Thailand for our honeymoon and almost skipped the cultural capital of Bangkok because we had heard that it was "dangerous," "dirty," and "a crowded mess," and while it is all of those things, it is also a city with Michelin-starred street food and an abundance of personality.
If you're a total foodie, this Tuk Tuk Food Tour should be on your bucket list. So, what exactly is a Tuk Tuk, you might ask? They're three-wheeled zippy mini taxis that are a great way to get about town. Although they are more of a tourist attraction, they are such an exciting experience that I recommend doing at least once during your visit to Bangkok.
Tuk Tuk drivers have a bad reputation and, depending on where you locate your transport, it can be a little "scammy." They will offer to let you ride for a very low price, but they will compel you to travel to other shops and try to persuade you to buy items. Fortunately, we had been warned ahead of time, so this culinary tour was the ideal way to enjoy the Tuk Tuk experience while being secure.
Okay so let's get into this. Our tour started later in the night, around 7pm if I can remember correctly, and we would be tasting food well into the night.
Every couple/group was given their own Tuk Tuk to drive for the evening. It's lovely to feel the breeze surge through and chill you down as you whizz around Bangkok on hot summer nights. Take a deep breath, unbuckle your belt, and prepare for an unforgettable trip.
So, if you don't know, I'm a die-hard foodie, so visiting Thailand was sensory overload in the best possible manner, akin to visiting Disneyland for some (even though I hate Disney- LOL sue me). Food is an experience for me; it represents a person's identity, tells a tale about someone's dream, and transmits a connection from one soul to my stomach. You can call me a proud book worm if food is a story.
The tour began with a bang, and I'm happy we arrived hungry since we were offered beef soup, rice, papaya salad, and crispy pig belly with a spicy sauce. That pork belly, GOD DAMN, would make your taste senses drool. I'm not sure why pig in Thailand tastes so much better than it does in the United States. The taste and texture must be due to the char-grilled cooking methods.Thai food appeals to me because it is flavorful, spicy, and salty while also containing fresh, palate-cleansing qualities.
This was a very small, family-run establishment, with their small children hanging out in the next room watching TV. It was good to try a local restaurant without seeing any visitors (except for us!).
So, we re-board our Tuk Tuk and ready for the next destination on our agenda. Every time you exit the tuk tuk, it's like exiting your favorite rollercoaster ride; you get an exciting surge through your body, and the adrenaline keeps your energy up to carry you to your next location.
Our next destination was really memorable, and I'm sure I'll say that about each one since it actually did grow better and better. "Ann Guay Tiew Kua Gai" is the name of the restaurant, which is known for its "chicken fried noodle." We were smacked with this flavor bomb of bliss just when I thought the food in Thailand couldn't get much better.
The noodles are wide and thin, similar to Pad See Ew back home, but they're fried in pork fat and soy sauce before being seared over an open flame grill in the back alley.
This noodles are wide and thin, most similar to Pad See Ew back home, but what makes it unique is the noodles are cooked in pork fat and soy sauce and then are seared over an open flame grill out in the back alley. The noodles are great; they're simple yet full of salty, savory flavors from the Wok in the back. You can choose between a runny or cooked egg to go with the noodles and succulent chicken. Then the true MAGIC takes place. Chilli vinegar, dried chilli flakes, white pepper and sugar, Thai chili sauce, and sour vinegar are among the toppings and sauces that are readily available on the table for your enjoyment.:)
A good chilled old fashioned bottle of coke to complement this hot and salty dinner is the perfect cherry on top. I'm not sure why it came with a straw, but it reminded me of being a youngster and drinking my first wonderful fizzy Coca-Cola. Our group was invited to the kitchen after our meal...
The kitchen is located in the back alley, where the chefs are working away over open flame wok grills. What I like about Bangkok is that you can have true street food from a back alley kitchen while also relaxing in air conditioning. Don't get me wrong: I enjoy sitting outside in the sweltering heat with a cold beer, but when you're on a 6-hour food tour, it's a different story.
So, yeah, we've already made two trips, and both eateries have offered us entire dinners. First, I thank my lucky stars I was wearing a dress since pants would hold me back from more. Second, I begin to doubt my stomach's abilities; will I be able to make it through the following three stops without dropping out?
Fortunately, the following stop provided a welcome break from gorging our faces, and we were able to enjoy some sightseeing! The Pak Khlong Talat Market, which is one of Asia's largest wholesale flower markets, was our next trip. Flowers are highly important in Asia, and I noted this as well while we traveled through Bali. Offerings, presents, lucky charms, and adornment are all done with them. When we were in Bali, there was even a celebration where everyone decorated their cars with flowers to protect them and respect the gods who would protect them on the road. The market is open 24 hours a day and is largely populated by merchants and local buyers, rather than visitors.
Our guide demonstrated how to build flower origami, which we would later offer as a present to the Temple across the street.
Look how beautiful this market is! And it smells amazing too of course.
We headed outside to meet up with our tour group after exploring the flower market's many passageways. Our appetites returned after all the walking, so we went outside to taste some of the local street food.
We went to the temple Wat Phra Chetuphon, better known as "Wat Pho," for our next trip. This is one of Bangkok's most well-known and visited temples, as it houses the spectacular 150-foot-tall Reclining Buddha statue and is one of the city's oldest.
The temple is actually closed to the public at night, so seeing Wat Pho light at night was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We had actually visited Wat Pho earlier in the day, and it was a very different experience! It is really crowded during the day, but you have access to all of the buildings and can view the gorgeous shrines and cultural architecture.
Wat Pho is especially peaceful at night, and you can properly appreciate all of her splendor.
We could leave our flowers from the flower market at whatever shrine we wanted. Also, as you can see, I wore a t-shirt to cover my shoulders when visiting the temple. When visiting Bangkok's temples, you must wear modestly, with your shoulders and knees covered.
We went to a Rooftop bar across the street from Wat Pho for our next stop, and as you can see in the photo below, we were situated in plan view across the river from Wat Arun (Bangkok's second most popular temple!). More information regarding this bar can be found on my other blog. There's nothing quite like sipping a cold one while staring out the window at one of the world's most historically and culturally significant structures.
You can see Wat Pho in the distance and Wat Arun across the river in the video. The twinkle lights and music created a lovely and romantic atmosphere. There's no food here, but our next stop is going to be one of the most exciting yet! It was after 11:30 p.m., and we were about to board our Tuk Tuk to cap the night with some of the city's greatest Pad Thai.
So, as we approach our final destination, I observe a mob of people still eating street food at 12 a.m.! I'm thinking, dang, Thai people love their food, because I can't even stay awake long enough to eat dessert at home.
There could have been a cause for the large crowd so late at night. The iconic Jay Fai from the Netflix show Street Food was at her restaurant feeding her patrons and creating her infamous crab omelette. Jay Fai is a 74-year-old two-time Michelin-starred chef who runs a street food stall in Bangkok. She performs all of the cooking and is a total warrior in the kitchen.
I paused for a few moments to take in the spectacle unfolding in front of me. I never expected to run upon this legend on the streets of Bangkok. I'll surely return here and sample her cooking someday!
As you can see, it is a very coveted spot to grab some grub! Our last meal of the day was neighboring Jay Fai and it is called Thipsamai.
Thipsamai is renowned for being one of Thailand's oldest locations for serving Pad Thai. Starting out as a modest kiosk with a single little charcoal stove, it quickly grew into a full-fledged restaurant with various levels of seating.
You'll note that the Pad Thai is a touch different from what you'd find in the United States! This is because the noodles are wrapped in a very thin egg lining. Same, same, but not the same :). Seriously, the cooks must train for at least three months and be able to wrap four pad thais in under 30 seconds to execute this job!
How cool is it that the food is cooked on a hot charcoal grill with wood taken from mature mangrove trees?
And complement the dish with a glass of sweet OJ to wash down the spice!
We arrived in our Tuk Tuk around 1 a.m., delirious and vowing not to eat for at least 24 hours, ready to hop in bed and drop out from our food coma. If you don't feel this way when you get in Bangkok, did you actually come to Bangkok?
Thanks for following along! Tell me what dish you would like most in the comments!