Midnight Tuk Tuk Food Tour in Thailand Review | @brittsbellavita Travel Blogger and Photographer
Thailand and food go together like peanut butter and jelly, they are very much synonymous with each other. If you are planning to come to Thailand, you may across some tourist naysayers that say "get the hell out of Bangkok," but before you blindly follow this advice I hope this article can give you a different perspective. My husband and I planned an entire two weeks in Thailand and ALMOST skipped the cultural hub of Bangkok because we had heard from multiple people that Bangkok was "dangerous" "dirty" "a crowded mess," and honestly yes it is some of those things or maybe all frankly, but it is also a city with Michelin star street food and an abundance of personality.
If you are a total FOODIE, then definitely add this Tuk Tuk Food Tour to your bucket list. So you might be thinking what is a Tuk Tuk? Well they are three wheeled zippy little taxis that are a fun way to zoom around the city. Although they are more of a novelty for tourists, they are such an exhilarating experience that I recommend doing atleast once. Tuk Tuk drivers do have somewhat of a reputation and can be somewhat "scammy" depending on where you find your ride. One scam is that they will offer to let you ride for very cheap, but they will force you into going to different shops and try to get you to buy products. Luckily we had been forewarned about this, so this food tour was a perfect way to have the Tuk Tuk experience but also feel safe riding in one without being scammed.
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 got their own Tuk Tuk to chauffeur for the night. Summer nights in Bangkok are hot so it's nice feel the breeze rush through and cool you off as you zip around the city. Take a deep breath, unbuckle your belt, and get ready for an adventure you will never forget.
So if you don't know I am hard core foodie, so coming to Thailand was sensory overload, in an amazing way, much like Disneyland for some (even though I hate Disney- LOL sue me). Food to me is an experience, it symbolizes an identity of people, it tells a story about someone's dream, and transmits a connection from one soul to my belly. If food is a story, you can call me a proud book worm :)
The tour started off STRONG, I'm glad we showed up hungry because they served us up beef soup, rice, papaya salad and crispy pork belly with some delicious spicy sauce. GOD DAMN that pork belly would even make your taste buds drool. I'm not sure why pig tastes so much better in Thailand than it does in the states. It has to be the char-grilled cooking methods that makes the flavors and texture so bomb. What I love about Thai food is that is it super savory , spicy and salty, but also paired with clean fresh and palette cleansing flavors.
This was a very hole in the wall joint, family run as they had their little children hanging out watching TV in the next room. It was nice to try a local joint without any tourists in sight (except for us!)
Ok- so we get back into our Tuk Tuk and prepare for the next stop on the itinerary. Every time you get off the tuk tuk it's like getting off your favorite rollercoaster ride, you feel that exhilarating rush through your body and the adrenaline keeps your energy alive to get you through the next destination.
Our next stop was a special one, and yes I will probably say this about every stop because it truly did just get better and better. The restaurant is called "Ann Guay Tiew Kua Gai" and is famous for their "chicken fried noodle." Just when I thought that the food here in Thailand couldn't get any better, we were hit with this flavor bomb of goodness.
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 perfection, they are simple, yet bursting with salty savory flavors from the Wok out back. You get the choice of a runny or cooked egg which compliments the noodles and juicy chicken. Then the real MAGIC happens. The toppings and sauces, displayed freely on the table for your pleasure, apply chilli vinegar, dried chilli flakes, white pepper and sugar, Thai chili sauce, sour vinegar and spicy peppers. SAUCE BOSS 101- try a little bit of everything :)
To compliment this hot and salty meal, is a nice cold old fashion bottle of coke, just the perfect cherry on top. Not sure why it was served with a straw but it took me back to being a kid, and taking that first sweet carbonated sip of Coca Cola. After our meal, our tour was invited to the kitchen...
The kitchen is outside in the back alley, where the cooks are sweating their asses off over the open flame wok grills. What I love about Bangkok is you can get authentic street food from the back alley kitchen but also enjoy the air conditioned comfort from inside. Don't get me wrong - I do love the feeling of sitting outside in the swampy heat with a cold beer, but when you are on a 6 hour food tour it was nice to have some comfort.
Okay so wow, we've gone to two stops already, and both restaurants served us full on meals. First, I am thinking, thank god I wore a dress, because pants would not bode well for this stomach gorging situation. Secondly, I start to question my stomachs ability, can I really get through the next 3 stops without tapping out?
Luckily, the next stop was a little break from stuffing our faces, and we actually got to do a little sightseeing! Our next stop was the Pak Khlong Talat Market, which is one of the largest wholesale flower markets in all of Asia. Flowers are very significant in Asia, this is something I noticed as we made our way through Bali as well. They are used for offerings, gifts, lucky charms and decoration. When we were in Bali they even had a holiday where every person garnished their motor vehicles with flowers to protect them and to honor the gods to protect them on the road. I believe Thailand has something very similar as well. The market is open 24 hours and is not packed with tourists, but mostly merchants and local buyers.
Our guide showed us how to make some flower origami, which we would later use to give as gift at the Temple down the street.
Look how beautiful this market is! And it smells amazing too of course.
After exploring the many alleyways of the flower market, we went outside to meet up with our tour group. After all that walking, our appetites came back and we sampled some of the local street vendors outside.
Our next stop, we headed to the temple Wat Phra Chetuphon, also most famously known as "Wat Pho." This is one of the most famous and visited temples in Bangkok, as it hosts the magnificent 150ft size Reclining Buddha statue and is one of Bangkoks oldest temples. The temple is actually closed to the public at nighttime, so this was a very unique experience to be able to see Wat Pho glow at night. We had actually gone to Wat Pho earlier in the daytime ourselves, and it was very much a different experience! In the daytime it is VERY crowded, but you do have access to go inside all of the buildings and see the beautiful shrines and cultural architecture. Visiting the Reclining Buddha was like waiting in line for a ride at Disneyland, pretty much butts to nuts walking through lol!
Wat Pho at night time is super calming, and you can truly take in all her beauty.
We were able to leave our flowers from the flower market at a shrine of our choice. Also you might notice that I brought a t-shirt to cover my shoulders while we visited the temple. When visiting temples in Bangkok you must dress modestly, covering your shoulders and knees.
For the next stop, we visited a Rooftop bar just across the street from Wat Pho and as you can see in the photo below we were perched in plan view across the river from Wat Arun (second most popular temple in Bangkok!). You can read more about this bar in my other blog here. Wow, there is nothing like enjoying a nice cold one and looking straight out at one of the most historical and cultural pieces of property in Bangkok.
In the video you can see Wat Pho in the distance and Wat Arun across the river. All the twinkle lights and music made this such a dreamy and romantic space. No food here, but our next stop would be one of the coolest yet! At this point it was around 11:30 and we would get in our Tuk Tuk to end the night with some of the best Pad Thai in the city.
So we are pulling up to our last destination and I notice a crowd of people still eating street food at Midnight! I'm thinking dang, people in Thailand really love their food because I can barely stay awake to eat dessert back home.
There may have been a special reason why there was a crowd this late at night. The infamous Jay Fai from the Netflix show Street Food was at her restaurant cooking up her infamous crab omelette and feeding her customers. Jay Fai is 74 years old and she is a two time Michelin Star chef who operates a street food stand in Bangkok. She does ALL the cooking and is a total warrior when it comes to street food.
Stood here for a few minutes to take in the magic happening in front of me. I never would have thought that we would come across this legend on the streets of Bangkok. I will definitely come back here one day and try her food!
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 known for being one of the oldest places to serve Pad Thai to the people of Thailand. First starting out as a small stall with one small charcoal stove, soon became a full brick and mortar with multiple levels of seating.
You might notice that the Pad Thai looks a little bit different than in the states! That's because they wrap the noodles in a very thin egg lining. Same, same but different :). Seriously though it is a very skilled technique that the chefs use, and they must practice for at least 3 months and be able to wrap 4 pad thais in a matter of 30 seconds to do this job!
The food is cooked over a hot charcoal stove, and the wood is sourced from mature mangrove trees, how freaking cool is this?!
Mmm load up on spices!
And complement the dish with a glass of sweet OJ to wash down the spice!
At about 1am we ended our tour de Bangkok- delirious, swearing to not eat for at least 24 hours, we got in our Tuk Tuk ready to jump in bed and pass out from our food coma. If you come to Bangkok and don't feel this way, then did you really come to Bangkok?
Thanks for following along! Tell me what dish you would like most in the comments!!