Khao San Road in a Nutshell

Khao San Road Transport

Khao San Road Transportm Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road Transportm Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road Transportm Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road Transportm Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road Transportm Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road Transportm Bangkok, Thailand

Getting to and from Khao San Road is easy as this area is well connected to the rest of Bangkok by bus and ferry. Most taxi and tuk-tuk drivers also know this area well, so visitors should have no trouble getting here from any part of Bangkok or the surrounding area.

There is a direct bus to Khao San Road from the airport, and the journey takes around an hour. The air-conditioned AE2 bus takes passengers to the top of Khao San Road for 150 baht, while there are also small local buses that complete the journey for just 35 baht. Those who are travelling in a group may find it more economical and convenient to catch a taxi from the booth outside the main entrance. The fare should cost around 350 in total, including a small charge to cover the toll way tax.

Khao San Road isn’t located near either the underground or sky rail system. However, the Chao Phraya River is just a ten-minute walk away and pier 13 is located at the end of Phra Athit Road. Taking the ferry along the river is a great way to see the sights and it stops at a number of different districts such as Chinatown and Thonburi. There is a Skytrain station at Central Pier, which whisks visitors into the heart of Bangkok in a matter of minutes.

Buses pass by Khao San Road on their way to most parts of Bangkok and those in the know will be able to get around fairly easily by bus. The travel agencies on Khao San Road are a good source of information and most are happy to give advice about which bus to take.

All air-conditioned taxis in Bangkok are supposed to use the meter, which starts at 35 baht. However, most of the taxi and tuk-tuk drivers that par at either end of Khao San Road have to pay a fee to stay there are unwilling to use the meter. The fee they charge for trips is often quite high and it is better to walk a few meters from Khao San Road and flag one of the passing taxis, insisting that they use the meter.

The three-wheeled vehicles known as tuk-tuks are good at nipping through the Bangkok traffic, which can save time in the rush hours. It is important to negotiate the price before getting into the tuk-tuk as fare prices are not fixed. The quoted fare will usually be high to start with, but with a little gentle persuasion it is possible to end up paying around half the starting price.

There are a number of tuk-tuk drivers on Khao San Road who offer to take tourists on a trip around the city for just 20 baht. While this may seem like a cheap way to see the sights, visitors should know that these drivers make their money by taking tourists to a number of different jewellery shops on the way. They make a commission for anything you buy and if you plan to make a purchase anyway this could still be a good deal, but unsuspecting travellers could end up with more than they bargained for.

Khao San Road Travel Agents and Dive Shops

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khao_san_road_travel_agents_1
Khao San Road Travel Agents and Diving Shops, Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road Travel Agents and Diving Shops, Bangkok, Thailand

When it’s time to finally leave Khao San Road, deciding where to go and how to get there is made simple with the travel agencies and dive shops located in this area of Bangkok. The staff in these shops are able to speak good English and discuss with travellers the full details of their trip. Many people are happy to give free advice to travellers, which helps you to take the next step on your journey with confidence.

Anyone who needs to renew their visa but is unsure of where to go or how the process works will be able to get their questions answered here and even book a trip to one of the borders and back.

Because there are so many different agencies offering plane, bus and boat tickets in this area, prices tend to be very competitive and those who take the time to shop around should be able to find a great deal. Travel agencies also provide a wide range of other services such as confirming flights, arranging accommodation and even offering tours to travellers who wish to be shown the sights by a professional guide.

If you’re not sure where to go next, simply stop by one of the travel agent shops to gain a little inspiration. There are hundreds of different trips and tours available, ranging from luxurious cruises down the Chao Phraya River to adventurous jungle tours in the north of Thailand, where travellers get the chance to interact with the people from the hill tribes that live there.

These travel agencies can also arrange package trips that include accommodation, meals and special activities such as rock climbing, trekking, volunteering or even pilot’s lessons.

For many visitors to Khao San Road, the next step on their journey will be a trip to one of the sunny southern islands to practice scuba diving or snorkelling. Thailand is widely acknowledged as one of the best places in the world to indulge in underwater pursuits, as the water is clear, warm and simply teeming with colourful marine life. Because there are so many great places in Thailand to dive and snorkel, many people like to visit one of Khao San Road’s dive shops to seek professional advice. The staff at these dive shops are extremely knowledgably and are able to use their expertise to put together travel, accommodation and diving packages for travellers. Anyone who is new to diving or snorkelling will be able to discuss the experience with these professionals and get a good idea of what to expect before they take the plunge.

Wherever you’re headed, make sure you come back to Khao San Road soon. A warm welcome is guaranteed whenever you return. ????????????????????????????????

Khao San Road Services

Khao San Road Services, Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road Services, Bangkok, Thailand
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Khao San Road Services, Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road Services, Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road Services, Bangkok, Thailand

Khao San Road isn’t just about partying. Visitors to Khao San Road and the surrounding areas will also discover a wide range of reasonably priced services. This is the perfect time to book the dentist’s appointment you’ve been putting off, visit the optician or simply post a parcel back home. Virtually any type of business can be taken care of smoothly and simply with the help of the English speaking staff in this area.

There are a number of different booths offering money changing services set up on and around Khao San Road. The staff at these booths stock a good selection of different currencies and can usually change traveller’s cheques as well. Visitors will need to show their passport before they can use the services at these booths. 

Just opposite the entrance to Khao San Road on the corner of Soi Rhambhutri is a branch of Western Union, which may come in handy if you run out of money. It is possible to wire money through Western Union from just about any country in the world. However, some people find that the percentage the company charges is rather high.
If you’ve been indulging in some serious shopping and jut can’t fit everything into your backpack, you may want to make use of one of the postal services in the area. The main post office can be found in a small lane near Victory Monument. Opposite one end of Khao San Road is a branch of Burger King and if you follow the lane behind the fast food franchise for about 100 meters you will come to the post office. There are also a number of other businesses located on Khao San Road and in the surrounding area that offer to send parcels, postcards and letters to international destinations for a small fee. 

When you’re constantly on the road it is easy for the laundry to start piling up and before you know it the contents of your backpack might smell like it’s been swimming around in a sewer for a week. Luckily, there are also people in this area that provide laundry services for a small fee. The going rate on the street and in cheap guesthouses is usually 30 baht per kilo and your laundry bag will be weighed before you are charged. However, in more upmarket hotels laundry is often priced individually and can be considerably more costly. In both cases your laundry will be washed in a machine, ironed and returned within 24 hours.

Although most people dread having their teeth examined, the friendly and professional dentists that have set up businesses in this area make the process almost pleasant. Dental procedures are much cheaper in Thailand than in most Western countries and these dentists offer a wide range of services such as checkups, teeth cleaning and teeth whitening.

Several different opticians’ shops can be found in this area as well and this is a good time to stock up on contact lenses or replace road-worn glasses.

There is also a wide range of other small, yet essential services available here such as shoe fixing, key cutting and people with sewing machines who can fix garments for just a few baht.

When it comes to taking care of business, Khao San Road has it covered.

Khao San Road Attractions

Khao San Road Attractions, Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road Attractions, Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road Attractions, Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road Attractions, Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road Attractions, Bangkok, Thailand

When it comes to sightseeing, visitors to Khao San Road never have to go far to be entertained. In fact, a large number of interesting attractions are located within a short walk of Khao San Road, making it easy for tourists and travellers to take a look around before heading back for a beer or two.

One of the most prominent sights here is Democracy Monument, which can be found at the Burger King end of Khao San Road. Situated on a small concrete island in the centre of Ratchadamnoen Road, Democracy Monument was built to mark the military coup of June 1932, which resulted in Thailand’s first democratic constitution. Democracy Monument is surrounded by four 24-meter wing shaped structures, which symbolize the four branches of Thailand’s armed forces that guard it and in the centre is a copy of the original constitution from 1932.

Just up ahead of Democracy Monument is the bell-shaped dome of Wat Saket, which is also known as the Golden Mount. This large temple featuring a glittering golden chedi and is located at the top of a hill just a ten-minute walk from Khao San Road. This is a very peaceful place to visit and visitors to climb the winding staircase to the very top of Wat Saket will be rewarded with spectacular views of most of Bangkok.

Also just around the corner from Khao San Road is Phra Sumen Park, which is located on the bank of the Chao Phraya River. This pretty park is a good place to escape from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok and read under the shade of one of the park’s large trees of watch the many weird and wonderful characters who make their way through the park. All the sun sets people come here to play instruments, jungle and play sports such as the traditional team game of takraw.

Next to Phra Sumen Park is Phra Sumen Fort, which was one of 14 forts built to defend Bangkok against potential naval invasions. The fort is surrounded by cannons and has 38 rooms for ammunition and weaponry in its centre.

At the end of Khao San Road opposite Gulliver’s Travellers Tavern is the magnificent temple known as Wat Chana Songkran. The name means war victory temple in English and was built by the Mon people, who were originally given the land in this area as reward for helping the Thai people to fight against the Burmese many centuries ago. The temple features a number of pretty murals and the grounds are a peaceful and pretty place to wander as they are surrounded by Bougainvillea vines and picturesque trees.

Art lovers will discover a number of different art galleries in this area. Just around the corner is the National Gallery, which contains work by prominent Thai artists that dates back to the 17th century. Another interesting gallery is the Queen Sirikit Gallery, which displays modern works of art by up and coming young Thai artists. There are also some small art galleries to be found here which display a wide range of art collections. 

Khao San Road Tattoo and Makeovers

Khao San Road Makeovers and Tattoos, Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road Makeovers and Tattoos, Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road Makeovers and Tattoos, Bangkok, Thailand
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When you see a traveller wandering around Thailand sporting a new tattoo, piercing or hair extensions, the chances are that they got them in Khao San Road. A number of talented tattoo artists and piercers have set up shop in this area of Bangkok and there are plenty of places to choose from.

Many modern travellers decide to get a tattoo in Thailand as it serves as a permanent reminder of their visit to the Land of Smiles. Customers can choose from either the traditional bamboo tattoo technique known as sak yant or the more common modern method. All tattoo artists provide a large catalogue of images for customers to choose from, and some even offer to create special unique images for a small extra fee.

Khao San Road is a safe place to get a tattoo, as the tattoo artists here have to have certificates and awards for their work, which are checked regularly by the authorities. A large number of famous people have chosen to get their tattoos done in this area, including the actress Angelina Jolie.

Many of the tattoo parlours located on and around Khao San Road also offer body piercing. Quality jewellery tends to be much cheaper in Thailand than in many parts of the world and this is a good time to bite the bullet and get whatever piercing has been on your mind. Again, when it comes to qualifications and cleanliness customers will find that the piercing studios in this part of Bangkok pride themselves on their high standards. Many of the piercers here design and create their own jewellery, while others are willing to use pieces that the customer brings to them from elsewhere.

Some people find that taking care of their hair while travelling is too much of an ordeal. However, Khao San Road has the perfect solution for these people as well as stalls offering hair braiding line the sides of the street. It is possible to relax with a beer and watch the world go by while the hairdressers here add colourful hair extensions or tease and tweak your hair into a range of different styles. If you’ve ever fancied dreadlocks but don’t want the hassle of letting them happen naturally, the women here can work their magic and achieve the classic hairstyle in a matter of minutes.

If all else fails, there are also professional hair salons located in this area, which offer a range of services including shampoos, perms and even head shaving.

For the final step in you Khao San Road makeover, visit one of the massage parlours and choose between traditional Thai, Swedish or oil massages. These establishments also offer services such as manicures, pedicures and waxing to leave you looking and feeling fantastic.

Khao San Road Shopping

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Khao San Road Shopping, Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road Shopping, Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road Shopping, Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road Shopping, Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road Shopping, Bangkok, Thailand

Khao San Road is a great place for shopping as there is so much to choose from. It seems that just about anything and everything is bought and sold here, including a large number of second hand goods. Market stalls line the sides of the street, while there are also dozens of small shops to be found here as well as larger specialist shops.

The best time to go shopping is in the morning, just when the stalls are setting up for the day. Most traders believe that the first sale of the day is lucky and will drop prices dramatically rather than lose their first customer.

One of the great things about shopping on Khao San Road is that most prices are negotiable and it is possible to get a great discount, especially if you speak a little bit of Thai. To ask the price, simply say “tow-li”. The seller will often put the price into a calculator and hand it too you. If the price is too high, simply enter the price you want to pay in the calculator and continue from there until a deal is struck.

There are a good number of jewellery shops on Khao San Road and in the surrounded area that specialise in quality wholesale jewellery. These shops offer some of the best bargains in the area as the jewellery here is available for a fraction of the price of many Western countries and even other parts of Bangkok.

Those who are looking for a unique souvenir to take home with them should visit one of the area’s many tailor’s shops. The talent tailors here are able to recreate virtually any design and offer customers a selection of the latest fashion catalogues to choose their garment from. Customers can also choose the fabric that will be used from a large selection of rolls on display inside the shop. The best bargain here is sets of suits, shirts and ties and it is possible to get a specially made Savile Row-style suit and all the trimming for just a remarkably low price.

The market on Khao San Road has gained quite a reputation in recent years for its counterfeit goods. Just about anything that can be copied convincingly is sold here, from Billabong shorts and Levi jeans to CDs, DVDs and even driving licences.

As you wander along Khao San Road you may be approached by one of the people who wander the streets selling a colourful collection of goods such as bags, bracelets and hammocks, most of which have been made by the Hill Tribes in the north of Thailand. While friendly, these merchants can be extremely persistent and it is best to only ask the price of an item if you are seriously interested.

Those who are short on cash can sell their surplice items at one of the stalls on nearby Soi Rambhutri. Just look for one of the sighs announcing “We buy everything”. This is a great place to trade items such as books, tents, backpacks and boots for a few baht.

Khao San Road – An Overview

Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand

Situated in the area of Bangkok known as Banglampu, Khao San Road (or Khaosan, or Kaosarn, or a multitude of other spellings) is one of Bangkok’s most famous streets. While once this vibrant road was mainly a hangout for hippies and budget travellers, over the last few years people from all walks of live have discovered Khao San Road and it has become a real melting pot.

While Khao San Road has managed to retain much of its cheap and cheerful atmosphere with budget guesthouses lining the road, this is also a meeting place for Thai students, artists and even well heeled tourists and businessmen.

A large number of travellers use Khao San Road as a base to explore Bangkok and there are plenty of Khao San Road hotels to choose from, ranging from basic rooms with shared bathrooms to top end hotels that provide all the trimmings.

Khao San Road is the starting point for many visitors to Thailand and there are a large number of businesses geared towards helping travellers and tourists find their feet.

The travel agencies on Khao San Road offer a wide range of different trips and packages and travellers can book anything from a tour of Bangkok to diving trips to one of Thailand’s picturesque southern islands.

Market stalls line the sides of Khao San Road and it is possible to purchase just about anything here, from souvenir t-shirts to artwork and second hand books. The shops along the side of the road and down the winding alleyways that branch off Khao San Road also sell items such as silver jewellery, lanterns and handicrafts.

When it comes to dining, there is an excellent selection of restaurants and cafes located on Khao San Road. While many restaurants offer a selection of both Thai and Western favourites, there are also some excellent restaurants specializing in cuisine such as Italian, Japanese, Indian and Korean food. Vegetarians will find plenty to tickle their taste buds here are cheap bites and food carts on the street provide snacks such as pad thai and barbequed corn.

Khao San Road has gained a reputation as a party area over the last few years and once the sun sets people from all over the city come here to play. This is a good place to listen to live bands as a number of bars host Thai bands that play popular Thai and Western pop and rock songs. There are plenty of places to sit with a drink or two and watch the world go by and in the evening a number of stalls set up offering cheap yet surprisingly strong cocktails.

Khao San Road is also a good place for clubbing and many of the clubs located here hire international DJs, pumping out a range of music such as house, hip hop, trance and techno.

Whatever you are looking for, you are sure to find it on Khao San Road. The only difficulty might be leaving the vivacity of this interesting area behind in order to explore other parts of the city. Luckily, there are a wide range of transport options available including taxis, tuk-tuks, boats and buses, so getting here and around is simple.

The Old Days on Khao San Road

The Old Days on Khao San RoadWhere you on Khao San Road when ‘Hotel California’ was still cool and Leonardo de Carpio still waiting to happen? If so, let us have your stories. Is it true there was tumble weed blowing down the middle of the street and a single bar called the “Titty Twister”? Is it true that there were so many Aussies on the strip that it was an Australian dependency? Is it true there were overland buses running direct from KSR to Kabul? Please explode (or otherwise) the myths and legends that have arisen about this noble strip of earth. If you have got some pictures, don’t forget to send them, too!

Responses:

Stefan Lindholm writes: “September 3, 1991. We were going on a trip around the world. Our first stop was Bangkok, Thailand. It was me and me my best childhood friend. We knew in advance that the place to stay in Bangkok was called Khao San Road, at least if you were a backpacker. The place we ended up staying in was called something like 7 Holder Guest House. It was at the end of Khao San Road (Burger King side). We paid 300 baht for the taxi from the airport, probably a big ripoff at the time, hehe. The room was a double at 120 baht. Khao san Road felt magic and stayed a few days. We only left Khao San to go to watch the shows on Patpong! I remember having breakfast at a place called Hello on the second, and we liked it a lot. Went back to Khao San in 2004, to travel overland from Bagnkok to Cambodia and Vietnam I was shocked about the change that had happen to Khao San. Both good and bad changes. The magic and the charm was gone though, as in many other places in Thailand, like Koh Samui.”

Matt Lawson (no email) writes: “My first experience of Kao San was in 1986 with my friend Vincent Smarro. Stayed at the PB (which appears to be gone now…but no surprise there) and within moments of entering was attacked by the owner\’s pet gibbon who occupied the territory between the snooker hall and the accommodation. The little guy was chained (at a height of about 2m) to a wire between the two building. This allowed him a couple of metres of travel and he entertained himself by welcoming the new guests by leaping onto their unsuspecting heads. The established guests learned to crouch while passing through his domain. The owner of the PB was an expert Scrabble player and he made short work of almost any farang who deigned to play on a rainy night (Yes, he beat me too but I was playing him and Singha beer so it was unfair).”

Pedrito writes: “I echo Pierre”s experiences of KSR and PB guest house (below) – couldn’t possibly write on a public site exactly what I saw and experienced there. I do remember pool tables with fans above each table – watched one guy lift up the cue after a shot, the cue got caught in the fan, spun around, hit him in the head and knocked him for 6. That was a while ago and times have changed. All seems a bit tame now but still a place I like to visit.”

Elise Kennedy writes: Flashback to 1991! Four 18 year old blonde aussie chicks the beginning of a six month thailand sojourn Ah I can’t to this day not smile about the memories. A thai jeweller/artist we named no name because we could never remember it. His tiny flat on a rooftop around the corner, his amazing drawings which two of us still wear on our bodies today thanks to a friend of his who was a tattooist on khao san. Doing ‘stuff you shouldn’t do’ on the rooftop overlooking the city that never sleeps. Rooms that you fell into the bed as that was all that fitted in there but for 50B a night mai pen rai (no problem} Those were the days my friend! In the four visits since then a small piece of me has cried for what once was and for how now is extinct!

Richard – England writes : My first experience of Khao San Rd was in April 1988. After 17hrs on a flight from London, via Europe and the Middle East, I arrived in Bangkok. Stepping from the air conditioned terminal was like suddenly being smothered in a hot wet blanket. Metered taxi’s at that time were a thing of the future so I got on to a number 59 bus. Long before the elevated expressways, toll roads and sky trains, the traffic then as absolutely atrocious. Two and a half hours later I staggered on to Khao San Road.

Soaked in sweat, my pack seemed to weigh twice as much now as it did when I left home. I could feel my heart pounding above the music that blared from a cassette stall as it struggled to pump blood through my veins in the suffocating heat. A girl so beautiful I thought my heart would give out altogether shouted ‘Hello you want loom?’ Yes I did want a room. ‘Have good loom for you’ she said. ‘You come holiday? How long you stay? Where you come from? Oh England number one,’ she said. A few days later I saw another red faced Farang trailing behind her. ‘Oh Sweden number onem,’ I heard her say.

The ‘loom’ as it turned out was more like a cupboard. By the time I’d climbed the steep wooden staircases that lead up to it I didn’t have the energy to object… B60 a night (about 1.50 quid at the time). No window, no bathroom, a fan mounted on the wall shuddered from side to side pushing the warm air around. The heat had flattened me. I just couldn’t imagine being able to do anything at all other than step out to the shower then lie soaking wet under the fan just to try and cool down. It was three days before I could walk to the end of the street without stopping for a cold drink.

Khao San then was not quite the Khao San we see today with its new hotels and guesthouses offering air-conditioned comfort, satellite TV and mini-bars. These days young people come to see, and be seen, at the smart new restaurants, boutiques, bars, clubs and discos. It’s a far cry from the time when bemused looking Thai’s would visit just to gawp at the mad looking Farangs. It was a time before the street was closed to traffic in the evenings, a time before glass fronted shops, Internet cafe’s and the sound of mobile phones. With instant access to the world from there there’s no longer any need for the trek down river to the G.P.O to check Poste Restante for precious letters from home.

Back in 1988 Hello Coffee Shop, which seems to have been there forever, and in a slightly different guise, was one of a few places open 24 hours a day if you wanted to watch videos all night. Times change and things move on, as they should. Like Khao San I’m older now, though not necessarily wiser, and these days I stay across town. But I’d like to think that there’s still a young girl on Khao San Rd leading foreigners to her guesthouse with the words ‘Hello you want loom’?

James LeMay writes: “I took my first trip to Bangkok 13 years ago. I just jumped on a Japan Airlines flight from Los Angeles to BKK without even knowing where I was going to stay. 30 minutes before landing I asked some travelers on the plane where I could find a cheap room. The reply, Khao San Road. I never even heard of the place. Upon clearing customs I jumped in a taxi and said, “Khao San Road” and gave the driver the name of a guesthouse that the other travelers had said they were going to stay at. I ended up arriving before the guys who gave me the advice. They entered the lobby just as I was getting my room key. The woman behind the counter looked up at them and said, sorry sold out more no room\”. I ended up offering my room to the two travelers but because it was a single bed, they declined. I wish I knew the name of the guesthouse. When I return to HSR I’m going to try to find it. Lots of great memories!”

Pierre writes: “Hello, I wont start off by saying it was better but it was – in every respect that is life ? why? prices, the night life was so much more simple and not complicated and right on Khao sarn, now everyone is in the surrounding areas as far away as Soi Samsen 28 and such another thing relations between Thai’s and falang, you used to be able to meet Buddy at Buddy beer, Mr Lou at PB gust house was always fun to hang around with, Pang, the chines guy ?? selling jewelery on the street he has been there for ages… The other thing was the kind things that happened there you can not write about as it was so off far and NOT even the slightest bit possible today. It would get your site closed to talk about it…. ahhhhh memories… we left Ngam Duphli in 84 or 85 to head here as this was the place to be a local Bus 59 from Don Muang for 15 baht? the train was 5 baht? seriously even until recently… what to say…It was fanatastic nothing less and now different but never will be the same, times change. We still come back occasionally and freak out on the changes, ha ha Where is Mr Lou?”

Paul Regan “I stayed there 17 years ago when it was a few rough n ready crash pads, Thai cafes come restaurants, couple of travel agents and cheap clothing [now I think primark is cheaper]. I’m back in Bangkok next week for the 1st time since 1990, and apart from me being all grown up, it now sounds like Magaluf or Benidorm down there, MC DS , Boots, Starbucks, drunks, avoid me thinks HELP!!! I’m off to Soi Cowboy for some culture and a quiet life! Oh how we change!

Leave your comments below:

The History of Khao San Road

The History of Khao San RoadWhen Bangkok was established in 1782, the center of the town was the Grand Palace area. For two centuries Khao San Road, which is 20 minutes’ walk from the Palace, remained a quiet residential area for the locals. Thailand’s most prominent lawyer/senator, Mr. Marute Bunnag and a billionaire medicine doctor/member of the House of Representatives, Dr. Decha Sukharom, started their careers in this prestigious area decades ago with small offices near the Police Station on Khao San Road.

How did the tranquil road turn out to be a Mecca for travelers? On the brink of Thailand’s economic boom in 1982, the Thai Government issued its policy to commemorate Bangkok’s bicentennial anniversary and celebrate the Buddhist calendar’s lucky year “2525”, by launching festive ceremonies in Bangkok to bring in tourist dollars. Tourists poured in from around the world, causing Bangkok’s hotels to overflow with bookings. The most spectacular festivities were performed in the Grand Palace.

Some backpackers, unable to get an overpriced room, successfully convinced local residents on Khao San Road to rent out vacant rooms in their houses, reasoning that, in return, the guest house owners could earn some extra income and it was convenient for them to travel to their destinations. The guest house business generated more profits than any amateur entrepreneur ever expected. Before long, more guesthouses, restaurants and souvenir shops sprouted along the road in full bloom.

Khao San Road Restaurants and Cafes

Khao San Road Restaurants and Cafes
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Khao San Road Restaurants and Cafes
Khao San Road Restaurants and Cafes
Khao San Road Restaurants and Cafes
Khao San Road Restaurants and Cafes
Khao San Road Restaurants and Cafes

The area on and around Khao San Road offers one of the widest selections of restaurants in the entire city. Diners can choose between a large variety of both traditional Thai and international cuisine, and most of the restaurants in this area have menus written in English, Thai and a few other languages. The waiters in this area are used to dealing with customers from all over the world, which makes dining here a simple and pleasant experience.

When it comes to Thai food, the options are endless as most restaurants on Khao San Road serve a selection of the most popular Thai dishes. It is possible to order dishes to taste. Simply ask for ‘mai pet’ if you don’t like chilli, ‘pet nit noi’ for medium spicy or ‘pet pet’ if you want to enjoy eat Thai curries, soups and Thai salads at their full fiery strength. If you’re not sure how much chilli you can handle it is best or err on the side of caution as fresh chillies can always be added when eating to increase the firepower. 

Khao San Road and the surrounding streets are perhaps the best place in Bangkok to enjoy Indian food, as there are most than a dozen different restaurants in this area serving traditional Indian fare. Most restaurants employ Indian cooks and waiters and the food is served fresh. These Indian eateries here come in all shapes and sizes, from cheap and cheerful street stalls to luxuriously decorated restaurants.

There is also a wide selection of other cuisines available here including a handful of Israeli restaurants, Japanese restaurants, Italian restaurants and eateries specialising in authentic British grub such as fish and chips.

Vegetarians will find plenty of places to choose from in this area as well. Not only do many of the restaurants offer a large selection of vegetarian dishes, there are also around half a dozen restaurants that serve purely vegetarian and vegan food. These restaurants often serve as meeting places for like-minded travellers and the atmosphere inside is relaxed and friendly. Vegetarian travellers can choose between Thai, Indian and international cuisine and some of the eateries offer extra services such as a bed for the night, cookery courses and massage.

One of the great things about eating in this area is that there are plenty of places for the budget traveller to dine. There are dozens of different street stalls to choose from, which serve light bites and meals from as little as 25 baht. Many of these stalls provide tables and chairs to allow customers to eat in comfort. Simply grab a table, place your order and watch the world go by while you tuck into dishes such as som tam, pad thai, vegetarian food and Indian cuisine. Many of these street stalls also serve beer to those who want to relax for a while and indulge in a spot of people watching.

Sometimes it is nice to be able to treat yourself to something familiar and travellers will also be able to satisfy their food cravings at one of half a dozen different well-known fast food restaurants.

When hunger strikes, Khao San Road is definitely the place to be.