Bangkok Just Banned Their Award-Winning Street Food

One month, Bangkok is voted the world's best destination for street food, and the next month that street food is banned. What gives?

Time reports that just a month after Bangkok was voted world's best destination for street food for the second year by CNN, the Thai capital's administration has announced that all vendors will be moved from the streets. The vendors are expected to be out of the streets by the end of the year, in an effort to improve safety and cleanliness.

"The BMA [Bangkok Metropolitan Administration] is now working to get rid of the street vendors from all 50 districts of Bangkok and return the pavements to the pedestrians,” the chief adviser to Bangkok’s governor said on April 17.

"The street vendors have seized the pavement space for too long and we already provide them with space to sell food and other products legally in the market."

According to The Guardian, this move is being criticized by locals and culinary enthusiasts. Bangkok is the most visited city in the world, and it's a major destination for foodies. What will this do to tourism, which accounts for 15 percent of the economy?

One Bangkok street food blogger said that these attempts have taken place in the past and have failed. “Street food was still too popular with the locals,” she said. “Of course, it would make Bangkok less charming. But it also takes a big chunk of cheap options away from working Thais, and closes up an avenue of work for many. Where will shop employees, construction workers and taxi drivers eat?”

However, the BMA had a different take on the whole thing. “There will be no let-up in this operation. Every street vendor will have to move out,” one official said. The goal is to “get rid of stalls from all 50 districts of Bangkok.”

There is a small amount of compromise, however. The area's district chief said that push-cart vendors will still be allowed to move around, selling food -- as long as these vendors aren't obstructing the sidewalks. It's the larger, more permanent stalls with seating that will have to go.

I guess that means it's not all bad. It could most certainly be worse.