I was recently asked, by two different people, what is my favorite restaurant in Bangkok. It’s a stumper, really. This is not only because there is still part of me that is intimidated by Bangkok, and its food scene. It is mostly because we have focused so much on eating nothing but street food in Bangkok, easily one of the best cities in the world for cheap street eats. That’s why we jumped at the chance to take a midnight tuk tuk tour with Bangkok Food Tours, to explore the city at night through some of its most famous street eats in a famous form of transportation.
Heading Out For a Midnight Tuk Tuk Tour
We met our midnight food tour group at the Chidlom BTS station just before 8pm. Within minutes we were down on the main road, and hopping into the back of our assigned tuk tuk, a makeshift cart pulled on the back of a motorbike. Our driver was pleasant, and although we sat in some traffic at the start, he soon began to pick up speed, taking corners on a rail, where at times I thought I would fall out the side. Luckily, there was a net up to prevent that from happening. I did not care, I was excited to be exploring the city in a new way.
The goal of the midnight tuk tuk tour was two fold: 1) explore Bangkok at night; and 2) to track down the best local eats, and that is just what we got from Bangkok Food Tours. I was not sure which part I was most excited for.
Unlike other food tours that focus on small bits of lots of different kinds of food, the midnight tuk tuk tour focused on full-sized portions of classical Thai dishes, some of which we have never tried before, mostly eaten in neighborhoods we have never been to before either, and all done at night.
Kao Mun Kai
Our midnight food tour guide explained that there are certain neighborhoods in Bangkok that specialize in a particular dish. Our first stop of the night was known for Kao Mun Kai, or chicken with rice. Essentially if someone says they are going to the Pratunam area of Bangkok to eat, it is just understood that they will be eating chicken rice. That’s what we did.
Similar to a Singaporean chicken rice, this is one of the most classic Thai dishes, and one we have never tried before. It seemed like a pretty simple dish of chicken, rice, and sauce, with the ability to spice things up with some chilis. What made this dish unique, though, was the small piece of coagulated blood served along side.
I have tried coagulated blood before, in some soups in Vietnam. I am not a fan. So, I bypassed the blood on this evening, but thoroughly enjoyed trying the Kao Mun Kai. At that point, I was trying not to fill up at our first stop, particularly because we had dessert shortly after the Kao Mun Kai.
Mango Sticky Rice
Not a new dish to me, but I was okay with that. Mango sticky rice is one of my favorite things to eat in Thailand, and this one did not disappoint. The sweetness of the mango, the stickiness of the rice, and the sweetness of the coconut milk dribbled on top, I was a happy camper, no matter what happened the rest of the evening. It was particularly tasty considering the atmosphere – a busy and bustling corner shop front, loaded with Thais out for chicken rice. I definitely felt like a local at this stop.
Guay Tiew Kua Gai
After scooting around town on our tuk tuk with a visit to the Bangkok flower market to break up the big plates of food, we stopped for another dish I have never tried before – Guay Tiew Kua Gai, or fried noodle.
Our midnight food tour stopped at another famous shop front, in a neighborhood known for Guay Tiew Kua Gai, and a part of Bangkok I don’t think I could find again. This is the one downside of taking a tour. I don’t pay attention to the map or the GPS. Instead, I was just enjoying the ride. I have no idea where we were in the city. But, I didn’t care. I just wanted to try some fried noodle.
And, this was not just any fried noodle dish, but one that came with explicit instructions on how eat the dish, how to chop up the noodles with a spoon and some chopsticks, while mixing around the not so cooked egg so that it cooked into the dish.
I was not sure how I felt about the Guay Tiew Kua Gai. I was not particularly enthralled with the noodle, but I could not stop eating it either. It was like the train wreck version of a dish. There was a texture that was a little different than what I am used to, and a strange flavor to it, even though I was used to all of the ingredients.
Finishing the Midnight Tuk Tuk Tour – Best Pad Thai
After an evening tour of the National Palace, all lit up at night, and a cold beer on a roof top bar overlooking the Chao Phraya river, the midnight tuk tuk tour continued for our final dish of the night. Supposedly we ate the best Pad Thai in all of Bangkok at Thip Samai.
It was another hopping joint, with a little bit of a line, and people crowding tables even as the clock neared midnight. It was a good Pad Thai, don’t get me wrong, and was artfully designed, wrapped entirely in a thin layer of egg. But, I was full. We did not eat a lot of dishes, but we essentially ate 3 dinners and a dessert in less than four hours. I knew when to cry mercy. Stick a chopstick in me, I’m done. Just in time, at the stroke of midnight. I felt like I was Cinderella, and although I put in a good effort to eat each of the dishes during the midnight tuk tuk tour, it was time for me to call it a night.
One of the nicer touches was that at the end of the night, when our tour ended promptly at midnight, we got back into our tuk tuk one last time, for a ride home to our apartment. It was great to not have to figure our way back home from a strange area of Bangkok at the stroke of midnight. Our driver zoomed around the back roads, as I followed along on the GPS, until he pulled up right in front of our building. It was practically door to door service. Just in time, as I was about to turn into a pumpkin.
Where to Stay in Bangkok
Mandarin Oriental, a luxury option, on the Chao Phraya river, and very historic, with rooms from $500 a night. Grab a cocktail at the famous Bamboo Bar and use the hotel river boat for transport (Check out Trip Advisor Reviews here | Book here)
Sofitel So Bangkok, a contemporary option, away from the noise of Sukhumvit, but still centrally located, with rooms from $160 a night. Their rooftop bar offers a view over Bangkok that cannot be found anywhere else. (Check out Trip Advisor Reviews here | Book here)
Pullman G Bangkok, another contemporary value option, again away from the noise of Sukhumvit, with rooms from $115 a night. They offer one of the best burgers in Bangkok downstairs, and a great cocktail bar with views upstairs. (Check out Trip Advisor Reviews here | Book here)
We received a discount from Bangkok Food Tours to take their Best Eats Midnight Tour by Tuk Tuk, but as always, my view points are my own. The Midnight Tuk Tuk Tour costs around $50 per person.