Eat and Drink in Bangkok

Bangkok ? the name explodes off the tongue, filling the mind with steamy images of the archetypal Southeast Asian metropolis. As you emerge from the air-conditioned airport, the thick, jasmine-scented air immediately envelops your body, while the oceanic reverberation of distant traffic fills your ears. Your heart beats perceptibly faster, sensing that Bangkok is a place you?ll not easily forget.

Wherever you go in Bangkok, there is food. R?t khěn (vendor carts) deploy across the city outfitted with portable woks, charcoal stoves or deep-fryers ready to whip up a quick snack or a sit-down meal. There is so much variety on the streets themselves that you can go weeks without stepping inside a restaurant.

Appreciation of Thai food is so central to Thai cultural identity that foreign visitors or residents won?t be asked simply whether they like to eat Thai food. Rather they will be asked ?Kin aahǎan thai pen mǎi?? (?Do you know how to eat Thai food??)

Of course the one aspect of the cuisine that does require getting used to for many people, even other Asians, is Thai food?s relatively high chilli content. This is why the second-most common question asked of a foreigner about to slip a spoon into a bowl of kaeng khǐaw-wǎan (green curry) is ?Kin ph?t d?i mǎi?? (?Can you eat spicy food??)

Weave through buddhas, flowers and roosters at Chatuchak Weekend Market, enjoy a t?k-t?k ride and visit the Oriental Hotel where literati have been inspired. Take a canal taxi past teak houses on stilts, experience the splendid Grand Palace and indulge in a steaming bowl of t?m yam. Shop in bustling market stalls or gleaming shopping malls, drink in the view with cocktails at Vertigo, or chill out at Ayuthaya or Kanchanaburi. Whatever your taste for Thailand, Bangkok will leave you hungry for more.

From Lonely Planet?s new guide to Bangkok.

6th edition
ISBN 1 74059 460 6
296 pages, 42 pages colour, 199 maps
A$ 29.90