The Thai capital’s world famous street food scene may soon be a thing of the past. Authorities say they want to impose order and cleanliness, but for many street food is a part of the culture.
All street food stalls will be cleared from Bangkok’s roads by the end of the year in a bid to bring order and hygiene to the Thai capital’s streets, a city official said Tuesday.
“All types of stalls including clothes, counterfeit goods and food stalls will be banned from main city roads,” Wanlop Suwandee, a chief advisor to Bangkok’s governor, told AFP.
The controversial drive comes a month after US TV network CNN named Bangkok’s street food the best in the world for the second year in a row. “It’s impossible to avoid street food in Bangkok, where sidewalk vendors in different parts of the city operate on a fixed rotation” of breakfast, lunch and dinner, CNN said of the city.
For many, the roadside restaurants serving up cheap bowls of chicken soup and pad Thai are part of the city’s charm and culture.
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“If you want to clean out all the vendors it’s like you are cleaning out our culture itself,” Chiwan Suwannapak, who works for a Bangkok tour agency, told AFP.
Employment and tourism
Street food stalls employ thousands of people and are a major draw for tourists.
“If they go against the vendors, that will affect business and it will affect the charm of Khaosan,” said Sanga Ruangwattanaku, the president of a business association on Khaosan Road, a major tourist area.
Food stalls also bridge socio-economic divides, with everyone from business owners to taxi drivers sitting down at plastic chairs to slurp down a bowl of soup or eat a skewer of grilled meat.