Thonburi, a five minute boat ride across the Chao Praya River from Bangkok, is a hidden gem when it comes to delicious and authentic Thai food. On a trip to Bangkok, no visitor should miss eating out at a Thai restaurant in Thonburi. Here you’ll find the most delicious Thai food, made with the freshest ingredients, and served in the traditional Thai way — and all for the price of a fast food burger in the west.
Street Vendors – Of course, before we start discussing cheap Thai restaurants in Thonburi, it almost goes without saying eating at street stalls is where you’ll find the cheapest Thai food and the most authentic too. You’ll find street vendors selling food on just about any street in Thonburi. Just pull up a plastic chair at a table and point to what you’d like. It will be made while you wait and served to you absolutely fresh and piping hot. And all for around 30 baht ($1) a plate.
Look for grilled squid, som tam (spicy papaya salad), pork leg with rice, hundreds of varieties of noodles with chicken or pork, fried rice (with chicken, shrimp or just plain), grilled prawns, fried chicken and sticky rice, rad naa (noodles and pork in a thick gravy) and, of course, the famous mango and sticky rice dessert.
Central Plaza Pinklao – While not jammed with authentic Thai restaurants, the massive Central Plaza Pinklao is a good place for cheap food if you don’t mind eating at the food court. With more than 25 stalls, all serving authentic Thai food, here too you can eat a meal for around $1. Just buy coupons at the entrance, select the food you’d like and pay with a coupon. If you don’t use them all, return them when you’re leaving the food court (it must be on the same day), and your remaining money will be refunded to you.
Zoom4Zoom5 – Recommended to me by just about every Thai friend I have who’s ever been across the river to Thonburi, Zoom4Zoom5 (yes, the name is odd, but the food isn’t) is a well-knownThai staple and has even made CNN’s website, it’s that amazing. Located overlooking the Chao Praya River and near Siriraj food market, it’s a bit difficult to find on your first visit, but well worth the struggle.
When you arrive at Zoom4Zoom5 ( in Thai it’s “ZoomSeeZoomHaa” and means “off balance”), peruse the menu, pick out a couple of dishes, then go to the bar, order and pay. Your food will be brought to your table in just a few minutes. Their famous dishes are the fried salty egg cakes (amazing), the pork leg with rice, and their som tam is wonderful too.
Prices at Zoom4Zoom5 are cheap but what’s the most astounding thing about this Thonburi restaurant is the stunning view. You’ll sit outside on a second floor deck and look across the Chao Praya River to the Grand Palace and Wat Arun. Gorgeous, particularly at night when they’re all lit up.
You’ll find Zoom4Zoom5 at 96/8 Thanon Phran Nok in Thonburi.
Ruam Thai – One of those famous small Thai restaurants you’ll find all over Bangkok and Thonburi, that just about everyone has heard of, Ruam Thai has been run by the same lovely Thai lady, Khun Achara, for more than 30 years.
At Ruam Thai, curries are the name of the game and the hotter the better. Khun Achara is known for her fish kidney curry with rice (not as strange as it may sound) but her yellow curries, and chicken curries are also very tasty. With so many curries and side dishes to choose from though, and very cheap prices, the best way to order here is to pick out five or six dishes and try a nice range. Just make sure you drink a lot of fluids as some of these babies are hot.
Ruam Thai is a small open-fronted restaurant with a big red sign written in Thai. You’ll find it at 375/4 Thanon Phrannok in Thonburi.