Khao San Road

This “anything goes” street is a hot spot for budget travelers who want to buy cheap clothes and souvenirs, people-watch or party all night.

Khao San Road stands in stark contrast to the majestic temples and palaces that surround it. The care-free vibe of this busy hub in Bangkok’s Old City (Rattanakosin) makes it a Thai icon for backpackers. The short street is packed with tourists, hawkers, tour operators, bartenders and tattooists. Daytime visits offer pleasant strolls past the shops and food stalls, but expect a sensory overload at night.

Alongside neon signs advertising cheap drinks, tours and accommodation, you’ll hear a cacophony of scooter horns, tuk-tuk engines and hawkers’ cries competing for your attention. Prepare to haggle for anything you want to buy. Hearing skilled hawkers pushing everything from clothes and jewelry to tattoos is all part of the fun.

Sit at a bar and share stories and cold Singha beers or cocktails with other travelers or head to a club for a night of partying. Food is as abundant and multicultural as the crowds that pack the street. You’ll find pad thai (thick noodles), Indian curries and banana pancakes. Just don’t forget to say “mai pet” if you don’t like spicy food.

Khao San Road’s history dates back to 1892, when Bangkok was established as Thailand’s capital. Its name means “milled rice.” For two centuries it was a quiet street. In the 1980s, travelers in need of budget accommodation began renting vacant rooms from the street’s residents. In 2000, the road was featured in the popular movie The Beach, spawning a rush of international fast-food and coffee chains that set up shop for the crowds of young travelers.

Khao San Road is located in the Banglamphu district of central Bangkok. Getting to Khao San Road is easiest by tuk-tuk or taxi. Alternatively, hop on a ferry or bus. There is a direct bus from the airport, an hour-long drive away. Come here any time you like; this road never sleeps.

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