Khao San Road, or KSR, in Bangkok is Thailand’s most famous street. This crazy street, right at the heart of the backpackers’ district of Banglamphu, was made for the diehard backpacker. In the evening you can pull up a chair at a plastic table in the street, have a beer and just let Khao San Road’s chaos and diversity slide past. Cheers!
Khao San Road as seen in “The Beach”
Remember the opening scene of the movie “The Beach”?
You know, the movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio wandering along Khao San Road and losing his way amid a maze of souvenir stands. Later you see him lying down in a typical Khao San Road hostel. It’s hot, suffocating, claustrophobic, dank, dirty and has cockroaches crawling all over the floor.
Is KSR still like that?
No, it’s nowhere near as extreme as it used to be. Thanks to new regulation the hostels, in most cases, have improved. The backpacker atmosphere is still there however. It’s the spiritual home of the backpacker traveling through Southeast Asia, since anyone who travels to Asia will also stop in Bangkok. And anyone visiting Bangkok will also have a stroll along Khao San Road, which stretches out for 400 meters!
Khao San Road by night
At night, however, the street is taken over by pubs, bars and live musicians, all trying to drown out each other’s sound. Laser pointers are shone on the floor ground to attract attention, you can buy fried scorpion on a stick, Indian men will try to talk you into buying a tailor made suit while at the same time you’re being approached from all sides with requests to buy something weird.
From a shot of laughing gas to petting a huge iguana; anything’s possible! And don’t forget the tuk tuk drivers that always know a great place for you to spend the night.
This place is an absolute madhouse! You have to see it to believe it!
Eating on Khao San Road
The “Khao San” in Khao San Road, roughly translates as “uncooked rice” and it lives up to its name. Here you can have a meal 24/7, whether it’s at McDonald’s, the 7-Eleven, Burger King or by buying street food that’s ridiculously cheap.
They’ll fix you up a fresh pad thai in no time. Add some mango sticky rice and you’ve just bought yourself a meal for less than two euros.
Don’t go to Khao San Road for its restaurants. The food served there is mediocre at best. Come here for a quick bite to eat, a drink in the evening and to buy a random souvenir for your friends.
An alternative: Soi Rambuttri
Can you keep a secret?
These days, there’s a street in Bangkok that’s even more fun – and it’s only a five minute walk from Khao San Road. We’re talking about Soi Rambuttri, which runs parallel to it.
The atmosphere here is nice and relaxed. You won’t hear any blaring music coming from bars, instead you can enjoy live music and the street is decorated with colorful lanterns. You won’t be hassled as much and there are lots of nice restaurants where you can enjoy both Thai and Western food.
Whenever we’re in Bangkok, we go here to have a drink. Put it on the list!
Accommodations in and around Khao San Road
Khao San Road is worth a visit no matter what. Make sure you stay in the Banglamphu area when traveling to Bangkok for the first time.
You’ll be staying within walking distance of Khao San Road and Soi Rambuttri, which means you’ll always be near a nice and familiar restaurant. Another great activity is traveling among the locals by boat along the Chao Phraya River, since the N13 (Phra Arthit) pier is within walking distance from Khao San Road. It’s an easy way to visit the Grand Palace, Wat Pho and Wat Arun.