Khao San Road in Bangkok is probably one of my favourite places in the world. Yes, it’s touristy and full of dirty backpackers, but beyond that, it’s a really fun place to get the feel of “touristy” Bangkok or Thailand. When I hang around Khao San Road, I actually don’t make friends with backpackers but I tend to make friends with local Thai people who work there or who visit frequently. I actually know lots of people who work on Khao San Road and I can call them my friends. So every time I return I tend to meet up with them and have a great night out.
So what’s the fuss all about?
Khao San Road is everything you expect from Bangkok. Flashy neon lights, stalls selling cheap knock-offs, street food, street sellers, beggars, backpackers and loud and I mean very loud bars blasting music on literally every corner. It actually seems like each and every bar competes with each other who can play music louder- nothing to complain about, right?
So let’s narrow it down to a list of things what makes Khao San Road great and not so great…
Street food on Khao San Road
Okay, many people flock to Khao San to sample delicious Thai food, but guess what? Khao San Road is actually shit for street food. Pad Thai is mediocre at best and there are more kebab sellers than pad Thai chefs. You can get Thai pancakes, Nutella pancakes, grilled meats and plenty of insects. Now these insects ranging from scorpions to crickets are fucking expensive, so expensive they are not worth it. But don’t let the food put you off Khao San Road, actually there’s another road parallel to Khao San- Rambuttri Alley, a 2-min walk if you turn right of Police Station at the end of Khao San, now this street is great for eating out. There’s a wide selection of restaurants and street vendors.
Bars on Khao San Road
Bars are probably the biggest draw for people visiting or staying on Khao San Road. As I mentioned earlier, nearly every bar competes with each other which one can play music louder. And if you’re a party animal like me, you will love it. If you come around 8pm, you might think Khao San Road is boring but generally after 10pm the whole road turns into a massive street party, especially outside Golf Bar and Chang Bar. If you’re on a tight budget, I recommend getting a beer from 7/11 and sit on the pavement, you will still hear music and you can still socialise as many people will do the same. Or instead of going to a specific bar, you can get your beer or a bucket from one of many street vendors and sit on their chairs. It’s cheap and on average you’ll pay around 150B for a bucket, or you can usually get a promotion of 3 buckets for 400B which works to be around 135B per bucket- that’s cheap! Golf Bar and Chang Bar are more expensive so I recommend going there after 10 when they start playing really loud music and when everyone starts to dance. You can dance on the street without paying for any drinks, you can still have your cheap 7/11 alcohol or from street vendors. The music is usually commercial, and in Thailand they love big drops in dance music, so you’ll hear commercial chart music remixed in a Thai style with big drops. There’s also a bar with live music and techno bar. Most bars shut at 2am, although they will still sell drinks just music will be muted down after 2am. There’s a Brick Bar which plays only Thai music and is popular with Thai students- there won’t be any tourists inside but it’s my favourite bar on Khao San.
Shopping on Khao San Road
Now, even Thai people will tell you there’s some good shopping on Khao San. Obviously, the clothes are cheap knock-offs but you can get some really fashionably pieces here. From Adidas t-shirts to Nike bumbags (fanny packs). You can get hand made fabric braceletes with things written on them like “I like fucking ladyboys” or “I like it up my bum with big dicks”, custom made bracelets available too, you just tell them what you want. I actually like shopping on Khao San, because I can get some good looking and most importantly cheap shorts or swimwear before I hit the islands in the south.
Massages on Khao San Road
I think massages in Bangkok are one of the cheapest to be had in the whole of country, much cheaper than in the south of Thailand and especially the islands. You can get an hour massage for 150B! And Khao San Road is great for getting a good Thai massage. There’s lots of places where you can go for one so just do some research before you go but I generally recommend Shewa Spa about 5 mins walk from Khao San.
The most annoying things about Khao San Road
- People trying to sell you everything and anything. The most annoying are those old ladies trying to sell you their fabric bracelets and wooden frogs which make noise. They come to you literally hundred times hoping that you’re drunk and finally you’ll give in and buy something of them. Then there are people trying to sell you suits. Taxi drivers offering you taxi rides or tuk-tuks. Honestly, the whiter you are, the more chances you’ll get harassed more. My advice- make friends with Thais.
- Drunken tourists. I mean not all drunk tourists but usually those young “lads” who think they are in Thailand and can do anything and everything they want including disrespecting locals, treating girls like sluts or people like sluts and are very rowdy. There’s no place for such people in Thailand. And believe me, even Thai people think they’re complete idiots.
- Rats. But I’m not going to comment on that, haha!
Anyway, if you like good parties and I mean good street parties, fun people, cheap buckets and loud music Khao San Road is for you. I love the place and as I said earlier it is probably my favourite part of Bangkok. It’s dirty, it’s smelly and it’s crowdy but this is Bangkok and no street in Bangkok parties like Khao San does.