Before you start sniggering, Big C Bangkok is NOT a gay club and the “C” stands for “Central” (not whatever else you were thinking of). Big C Supermarket is a Thai grocery chain, and thanks to our obsession with crazy delicious Thai food, it’s now one of those must-visit places on every Singaporean’s Bangkok itinerary.
Even if you’re not into junk food yourself, you’ll still want to make this a pit stop on your last day in Bangkok. Why? Because in Singapore, coming back from a Bangkok trip without handing out Thai snacks to your whole office is social suicide.
Big C Bangkok Supercenter
Hands down, the best outlet to head to is the massive Big C Supercenter on Ratchadamri Road, near Chit Lom BTS.
It’s very close to the two shopping meccas in Bangkok: the string of posh shopping malls near Siam BTS (Siam Paragon, CentralWorld) and the cheap wholesale shops in Pratunam (Platinum Mall), so you’ll probably want to combine them. Or just go ahead and book a Pratunam hotel for maximum convenience.
The Big C Supercenter is way more than a supermarket – it’s an entire complex complete with shops, food court and a cinema. Best of all, the supermarket is open from 9am to 2am so you can just pop by late at night.
Be prepared to queue with the heaps of tourists (yes, fellow Sinkies included) who visit this supermarket to buy Thai snacks, fruits and nuts in bulk. After payment, you’ll be directed to a packing area where you’ll need to pack up your loot in cardboard boxes (BYO masking tape!).
By the way, if you want to pre-order your haul, you can do so via the Big C Supermarket website. This will save you quite a lot of queueing time.
Don’t know what to buy? Here are our picks – the 17 best snacks that you must buy in Bangkok’s Big C Supermarket:
Remember those dried cuttlefish snacks from your childhood? Bento Squid Snack is like that, but on steroids. The dried squid sheets are baked to a crisp and coated in this amazing sweet, spicy and salty glaze. No matter which flavour you get, these are always gone in a jiffy.
By the way, this cult item can be found in Singapore too, but at way higher prices. I saw one selling for over $2 at a mama shop. Crazy when you consider how little it costs in Thailand!
For those who prefer to split their holiday souvenirs into neat little packs, they’re also available in multi-packs (12 packs x 5g each) at 49.50 baht, or $2.11.
Calbee Jack Potato French Fries (19 baht / $0.85)
I can’t imagine why Calbee Jack Potato French Fries are not available here, given how Singaporeans are obsessed with Calbee Jagabee (so much so it’s offered as a top tier prize under the 7-11 rewards programme).
Calbee Jack is basically Calbee Jagabee, only in a large pack instead of the single-serving packets, and each pack comes with tomato sauce, chili sauce or chocolate dip. Yes, CHOCOLATE DIP. Abandon hope all ye who enter here.
Lays Grilled Scallops Garlic Butter (29 baht / $1.23)
Speaking of potato products, another must-buy in Bangkok is Thai Lays potato chips. In Singapore, we only get boring flavours like “salted” and “sour cream & onion”.
In Thailand, Lays come in all kinds of crazy flavours like spicy shrimp, miang kham, grilled pork, sweet basil and my favourite, grilled scallops with garlic butter. Fancy AF. At 20 baht ($0.85) to 29 baht ($1.23) depending on the pack size, these deliciously empty calories won’t break the bank either.
Tao Kae Noi Crispy Seaweed Snack (51 baht / $2.16)
One of the best things to stock up on while in Bangkok are dried seaweed snacks – they’re flat and light so they take up no space/weight at all. The brand that needs no introduction is, of course, Tao Kae Noi, which is still the market leader in Thailand.
If you don’t want your friends to accuse you of buying souvenirs from NTUC FairPrice, other crispy seaweed brands you can try in Thailand are Tawandang and Masita.
Taro Fish Snack (18 baht / $0.76)
Like dried cuttlefish, dried fish strips are another childhood snack that some of you dinosaurs might have fond memories of. They’re hard to find in Singapore now, but are still thriving in Bangkok.
The best brand in Thailand is Taro Fish Snack, and I love that it comes in tons and tons of flavours (because the dried fish tastes gets kinda old) – spicy, BBQ, seaweed, kimchi, salmon…
The little 30g bags cost a mere 18 baht each so you can try them all, but if you want easy distribution, some flavours are available in sets of 12 fun-size packets for 49 baht ($2.07).
Cornae Crispy Corn Cheese Flavour (20 baht / $0.94)
Corn-based snacks like Twisties and Tohato Caramel Corn (i.e. the Daiso snack) aren’t my thing – I hate the grit stuck in my teeth – but this Cornae Crispy Corn Snack seems to be one of the most popular Thai snacks in Bangkok.
It also comes in “original”, but c’mon, who would pick that over the artificial cheese flavour?
Koh Kae Peanuts (65 baht / $2.75)
Whether you’ve been to Bangkok before or not, you would probably have seen those distinctive cans of Koh Kae Peanuts around because these are one of the most popular souvenirs among Singaporeans. (The packaging is optimal for check-in luggage.)
These coated peanuts come in classic foolproof flavours like BBQ, chicken, spicy shrimp and wasabi, but I think the salty-sweet coconut milk coated versions (available in coconut milk and coffee flavours) are worth trying too.
Pocky Choco Banana Flavour (12 baht / $0.51)
You’ve probably eaten the original chocolate and strawberry Pocky before, but in Thailand, Pocky comes in a whole slew of flavours like cookies & cream, almond and matcha. The standard size costs 18 baht ($0.76).
But what’s truly irresistible are the super adorable Pocky Choco Banana (monkey) and Pocky Mango (elephant) flavours. They’re kid sized (about 2/3 the size of a regular Pocky) and cost 12 baht ($0.51) each. The choco banana flavour comes in multi-packs of 10 or even 60 (WTF) if you want to buy in bulk.
Mama Cup Noodles Tom Yum Shrimp Flavour (66 baht / $2.79)
You might not feel the need to buy cup noodles in Bangkok when you can just pop down to any night market for a steaming hot bowl of authentic noodles. But trust me, after you’re back to Singapore for a few weeks, you’ll be dying for some decent tom yum goong (no, the ban mian stall kind does not qualify).
So do yourself a favour and grab this 6-pack of Mama Cup Noodles which works out to less than 50 cents per cup. Mama is probably the #1 brand of cup noodles in Thailand so they also have tons of flavours like vegetarian tom yum, yen ta fo (pink noodles), green curry, tom saab (northern Thai spicy pork soup).
Taro Fish Skin Snack Relate Flavour (30 baht / $1.27)
You know those extremely delicious but way expensive (like $20 for a packet) fried fish skin snacks that seem to be everywhere during Chinese New Year? The Thai version of it costs a fraction of the price.
Okay, so maybe it’s not quite as tasty nor is it covered in salted egg, but at $1.27 a 30g pack, I’ll take it. Taro Crispy Fish Skin Snack comes in BBQ and “Relate” flavours.
Big C Coconut Crackers with Pineapple Jam (69 baht / $2.92)
Pineapple jam coconut biscuits are one of those vintage snacks (along with gem biscuits) you’d find at the provision shop where they dispense cookies from bulk tins. They’re not easy to find anymore, but you can find them at Big C Bangkok at a mere 69 baht ($2.92) for a 500g jar.
If you really want to lug this home in bulk, you can also get a 1.5kg tin of it for just 149 baht ($6.30) too.
Little Farm Garlic Bread (35 baht / $1.48)
Another weird snack that would make so much sense in Singapore, the Little Farm Garlic Bread is just what it sounds like – a packet full of tiny, crispy pieces of garlic butter toast. I can’t imagine anyone who would say no to this.
Sold in bags of 100g, the garlic bread flavour is the best value of the series, but if you’re interested, Little Farm also makes them in butter, tom yum and black pepper flavours.
Entree BBQ Crispy Pork (20 baht / $0.85)
If you consume pork, pork rinds/crackling are one of those things you HAVE to buy for people if you’re visiting Thailand – if not you’ll get hassled non stop. You can buy them from random roadside markets, but if you’d rather buy your pork crackling from a supermarket, try the fancy Entree BBQ Crispy Pork.
The square pork crackling comes in original, garlic, tom yum goong and Thai chilli flavours, and there’s also a round pork rind version at Big C.
Nissin Cup Noodles Lime Pork (33 baht / $1.39)
Nissin Cup Noodles may be widely available in Singapore, but as long as you’re there in Big C Bangkok, you might as well pick up some of the more exclusive Thai flavours like lime pork, creamy tom yum, minced pork and tom yum shrimp sabb.
The packs of 3 have a standard price of 33 baht which works out to less than 50 cents a cup.
Sue Sat Cup Noodles Shrimp Volcano Cheese Flavour (52 baht / $2.20)
While looking for interesting Thai cup noodles, I came across this intriguing Sue Sat Cup Noodles in Volcano Cheese flavour. Love or hate the whole cheese trend, this is one for daredevils to try… even if it’s only to verify what exactly this “Volcano” is referring to.
It’s a bit pricey for Thai cup noodle standards, but still works out to less than 80 cents a cup.
Nestea Instant Milk Tea Mix (90 baht / $3.80)
Can you think of a better beverage than cha yen to wash down all the MSG-laden snacks with? There are several brands of instant cha yen, but the Nestea Instant Milk Tea Mix seems to be one of the most popular even with the locals. This 90 baht jumbo pack contains 13 sachets, so that’s less than 30 cents per cup of homemade cha yen.
Dried Mango (46 baht / $1.94)
Finally, there’s always dried mango, that old standby for
boring farts staunch traditionalists who don’t care for your cheesy cup noodles. Dried fruit (and nuts) are plentiful at Big C Supermarket and you can usually get it at quite an affordable price.
This package of dried mango, for example, costs less than $2 for a 120g pack, whereas it’d cost about $3.50 for a 100g generic packet of dried mango in Singapore.
Did we miss out your favourite Thai snack? Tell us what’s on your must-buy list!
Header image credit: David via Wikimedia Commons