Khao San Road, Bangkok — The one place you must visit in Asia!
Khao San Rd is a five hundred metre stretch of road in central Bangkok, near the Chao Phraya River and close to the major tourist spots of the city, however, it is far more than just a line of pavement. It is half a kilometre of backpacker paradise. Let’s summarise Khao San as a fun and comfortable place where people arrive determined to chill out and have fun.
Along Khao San, you will find low-cost accommodation, from hostels to mid-range hotels, cheap eateries with a multitude of cuisines, sports bars, small bars, and larger nightclubs. The street itself is filled with dozens of stalls selling everything imaginable. There is food, stalls with t-shirts, clothes, shoes, computer accessories, SIM cards, fake IDs, fruit, fruit juice, lizard or Scorpion on a stick (yum yum), and everything a traveller might need to enjoy the day and night.
Let’s start with why you should go. The best part of Khao San is the people, good and friendly people visit and hang out here. Sit down at an open street cafe, or in a bar, or a restaurant and you will see people from a dozen different countries from all backgrounds, who with half a chance will start talking to you. “Where do you come from?”, “Where are you going next?”, “Have you been to?” questions will abound. Travel advise, invitations, friendships, and even romance has been known to take place.
One thing to keep in mind is that Khao San is not only for young people but also for the young at heart. You will meet people of all ages. Don’t be shy! Say hello to the old guy.
After you have gotten to know the people, get to know the street—it is a buzz. Just walking along at night is exciting. A busy and vibrant locale. Meander for a while, sip a street smoothie, eat a snack, watch the people, have a 200 baht ($6) foot massage, or an oil massage for $10, then chose a nightclub and see what happens. Whatever it will be, it will not be boring.
To be clear the term ‘Khao San Rd’ refers to more than just the one road. There are several small smaller roads and alleys running parallel and across from the main road. These are a little cheaper and cosier.
If you have just arrived for the first time it can be a maze, even with a map. The best idea is to sit for a while, sip a coffee at a cafe or grab a bite at the 24-hour Maccers—where you will see (in the early hours before the low-cost residences open) a dozen or more of your backpack clad fellow travellers lounging with looks of expectancy and weariness. Then track down your bed for the week.
khao san road bangkok Nightlife
At night is when Khao San shines. After sundown, the music and the lights come on. It is a loud and vibrant place. If your room is on the main drag don’t expect to sleep until the small hours of the morning. Outside the larger clubs are touts inviting you in with vouchers and promises. Find a place that suits your mood and enter. If it is food that you fancy there is an abundant selection. If you favour street food, you might want to take just one bite from different stalls, just to try it all out.
Vegan food khao san road bangkok
For vegetarians, there are three outstanding veggie restaurants, each with a different cuisine at the eastern end of Khao San.
In the morning it all looks just a little tired, but most likely you will be in bed dreaming the dreams of the happy traveller.
After you awaken, roll out of bed, and finish a late morning breakfast it is now time to visit the mandatory tourist sites of Bangkok. These are the Grand Palace, the ‘Big Buddha’, Wat Pho, the museums and art galleries—all worth a visit. Good news! These are all next door! Within a kilometre from Khao San, however, it is best to take a tuk tuk, not to walk. There are several main roads and curious byways you must traverse before you can take your selfie with the golden Big Buddha. 50 baht ($2) is enough to save your an hour of missed directions.
Scams in khao san road
In reality, not many. The problem of Thai scams is rather exaggerated, however, prices for souvenirs, gifts, clothes and so forth from the Khao San street stalls is higher here than elsewhere in Bangkok (Chatuchak Markets for cheaper). Also, taxis and tuk tuks, either learn to bargain hard or expect to pay more—however, that is part of the run, right? …and, don’t walk around with your passport and all your money in your pocket, ok?
To help you navigate the shoals of a foreign country there are apps and the web. Various apps list the facilities in Khao San Rd, and there are several Facebook pages discussing the same. Definitely for your first visit take a look.
Cost, to be clear, you can find cheaper food, accommodation, here, and everything else in Bangkok, but also more expensive. Once upon a time, Khao San was cheap, $2 for a fan room, those days are gone. Now it is a ‘flashbacker’ road with the side alleys for the low-cost visitor, however, compared to prices in the west it is very, very cheap.
From Khao San, you can directly travel to anywhere in Thailand or in the region. Buses depart and arrive at Khao San (usually the Democracy Monument just down the road) frequently. You can speedily and cheaply travel to any destination in Thailand and Cambodia. The same booking agent can also arrange your visa (take a photo of the agent with your passport). Even recommend hotels at your next destination. Full service!
There is no trouble finding these people. There are dozens of tourist shops, all offering tourist ‘advice’. Signs abound, and your hotel will also be able to book for you. Again, ask your co-journeyers for pointers. Advice is always free.
Oh, “Khaosan” translates to “milled rice”. Once upon a time that was the street business.