Price – Free of charge.
Khao San Road is about a block from the Chao Phraya River on the north side of Rattanakosin Island. Backpackers and budget travellers are drawn there by some of the cheapest accommodation and travel deals in Thailand. Khao San Road is known as being on the ‘Banana Pancake Trail’, a metaphorical name for a trail of places throughout South East Asia popular with western travellers.
Customer feedback – “We finished out the night at Khao San Road with great food, massages and shopping.”
‘Khaosan’ is translated as ‘milled rice’. It was a major Bangkok rice market but in the last 20 years, Khao San Road has developed into a world-famous tourist destination and ‘backpacker ghetto’. Khao San Road is in the Bang Lamphu area of Phra Nakhon District and is less than a mile from the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew.
Khao San Road is crammed with cheap and mid-range accommodation, market stalls, cafes, bars, restaurants, bookshops, massage parlours, travel agents, tattoo shops and much more. There’s a carefree vibe here unlike anywhere else in Bangkok and the area is very popular with locals too.
Customer feedback – “We ended the day on Khao San Road, where our Guide helped me haggle some great prices (sometimes, you just want that really cheesy souvenir and end up with the most comfortable pajamas ever).”
On Khao San Road and the streets either side, you can eat, drink, play and shop, visit temples and museums, or rest and prepare for your next adventure.
At night, Khao San Road turns into a big rave party where people from all around the world become friends. So much so, in fact, that the people, the peddlers and party spirit have spilled over into nearby Soi Rambuttri, which runs parallel to Khao San Road. In the evenings, Khao San Road glows with neon signs selling cheap drinks, Bangkok tours and accommodation. The strip bustles with activity and noise as passing motorists sound their horns at the sometimes crazy tuk-tuk drivers.
Love to shop? Get ready to haggle. The street stalls still sell cheap t-shirts, cheap noodles and cheap buckets of alcohol. Negotiating with hawkers is part of the Bangkok experience. The famous suit shops and travel agents are still there too!
The restaurants on Khao San Road are as plentiful and diverse as the people that crowd the streets at night and there’s plenty of delicious Thai food. Noodles and banana pancakes feature prominently along with the hot curries that are another speciality of the region. When ordering food here, make sure you make it very clear if you don’t like spicy food. We did say the food was unique, so be careful! Ever tried eating grasshopper? Indulge your adventurous palate with a bag of fried crispy fried worms or bugs here on Khao San Road, they’re good! Don’t worry if your palate isn’t that adventurous, there’s still plenty of legendary western style food offerings including two McDonalds restaurants, an Irish pub and heaps of cafés. There’s plenty to see and do on Khao San Road during the day, but things really start to happen here as night falls.
Essential Khao San Road experiences:
Arrive by boat: Getting to Khao San Road is easy but one of the best ways to arrive is by boat on the Chao Phraya river. The Chao Phraya Express Boat is the safest, cheapest and most scenic way of getting to Khao San Road. From the city centre, take the Skytrain to Saphan Taksin station then hop on the express boat at Sathorn pier. Your Thai Guide can also help you arrange a dinner cruise.
Experience Local Life – excited backpackers mix with locals, small children play, the famous Bangkok ladyboys strut their stuff and Buddhist monks browse stalls next to enthusiastic vendors.
Thanon Khao San Market – All your cheap shopping is here on Khao San Road. Bootleg DVD’s, phone cases, homemade goods, Buddha statues, fake leather goods and all kinds of bric-a-brac can be found here. Refreshing orange juice and golden cooked corn cob stalls are on every corner to help you keep going. Just make sure you take the advice above and haggle, haggle, haggle.
Visit Bangkok’s National Gallery – The National Gallery, just beside Khao San Road is a hub of art and culture in Bangkok
Some other must-see attractions nearby are Wat Chana Songkhram (an old monastery which was built some time before 1782), and Wat Bowonniwet (the final resting place of King Bhumibol Adulyadej Rama IX. The beautiful murals here reflect the influence the West has had on Thai life, art and culture).
Khoa San Road is deep in the heart of Bangkok city and is a great place to include on your tour itinerary in Bangkok if you’re into nightlife and market shopping. Do try and visit Khao San Road in the evening though as that’s when you’ll get to experience unique Bangkok life in all its raucous glory. Don’t forget your guide! Your Thai Guide guides will make sure that you get the best bang for your buck in comfort and safety on your visit to Khao San Road.