A Paradise for Budget Travelers


Khao San Road in Bangkok

When visiting Bangkok of Thailand, Khaosan Road is one of the top destinations that you should not miss. Khaosan Road is located in Bang Lamphu, a city center area near the Grand Palace or Wat Phra Kaew. The construction of Khaosan Road began in 1892 during the reign of King Rama V, with more than 100 years of history of comprehensive impact in Thailand.

Khaosan Road is a colorful and vibrant city pulse of Bangkok, where Thais come to join travelers at the best bars and clubs in town and seek for the bargains in delicious local food and shopping. In a word, Khaosan Road is now the symbol of Bangkok tourism.


Khao San Road


A Short History of Khao San Road

Khaosan is translated as “milled rice” in Thai, since it was once a street known to be a center for trading rice.

Many great stories come from an ordinary beginning. The legendary story of Khaosan Road started in the early 1980s with the opening a small guesthouse. Then in the past 40 years, Khaosan Road has developed into a world-famous walking street and a hub for pedestrians, backpackers, and budget-minded travelers fond of Southeast Asia. More than 50,000 tourists visit Khaosan Road daily. The road is most well-known for celebrating Songkran Festival (Thai New Year) in mid-April, where water splashing among friends and strangers, can become a huge water fighting.

Alex Garland's 1996 novel The Beach (later turned into a film starred by young Leonardo DiCaprio) has made "Khao San" a Mecca for millions of backpackers.


Songkran Festival on Khao San Road


The Banana Pancake Trail

The so-called Banana Pancake Trail is not a specific route through Asia which is particularly popular for backpackers and professional budget travelers. The major features are typically affordable, social, thrilling, and friendly to travelers -- In conclusion, Banana Pancake Trail is more an idea than an actual route. Khao San Road in Bangkok is regarded as the typical core of the Banana Pancake Trail. Catering to the needs of backpackers comprehensively, this street and Bangkok city soon became the meeting point for backpacking travelers before they start to explore the rest of this beautiful country and even Asia as well.

However, everything has two sides. With easy access to almost all that a traveler needs, a lot of backpackers visiting Bangkok always confine themselves to a small radius of Khao San Road. Although the area is a perfect place to meet—and extremely friendly to budget travelers, only sticking to Khao San Road is not a good idea to discover Bangkok and Thailand.


Backpackers on Khao San Road


Recent Changes

Since being the epicenter for backpackers, Khao San Road has undergone a lot of face lifts. Most of the old houses have been replaced by stylish concrete constructions, and more recently, by long rows of fixed shop houses.

Bangkok city Administration wants to change the road into an international tourist attraction. However, with cleanliness and regulations replacing the original lively chaos, it remains to be found out whether the road will continue to attract so many budget travelers.

In recent years, the Administration has announced an ambitious plan of investing around $3 million to resurface the road and even add a roof along the strip. No wonder people at home and abroad keep a wait-and-see attitude toward the big plan.

Whatever big changes are likely to pop up, the sensational effect of Khao San Road is likely to go on. Above all, the area will remain a filling station for young, temporarily affluent tourists keen to let it all grow vigorously far from home.


Khao San Road


The Surrounding Area

It would be improper to define this whole area as a backpacker place. Khao San Road itself is a fairly short street situated within walking distance of Ko Rattanakosin in the heart of the old city, known as Banglamphu. With increasingly more shop houses and high-end hotels stretch outwards from Khao San, the surrounding area is one of the most charming and historic in the city.

Running parallel just north of Khao San Road and continuing across Chakrabongse Road to the west is Soi Rambutri, which was the first neighbourhood street to be swarmed in by the backpackers. Besides, Phra Athit Road runs along the river and hosts artsy cafes and bars. North of Khao San you’ll find a similarly low-key vibe amid the old city streets.

A stone’s throw to the south of Khao San is one of Bangkok’s most well-known roads, Ratchadamnoen, which was built by King Rama V in 1899 to connect the Grand Palace to Dusit Palace.  South and east of Ratchadamnoen are several canals that mingle with centuries-old streets like Dinso, Bamrung Mueang and Tanao, and major historical landmarks like the Golden Mount and Giant Swing.


Ratchadamnoen Road


How to Survive Khao San Road

Although far from the level of being dangerous, as a tourist, you are usually the moving Baht in the eyes of drivers, hawkers and vendors along Khao San Road. For instance, a smiling vendor cooking Pad Thai may easily overcharge travelers that are too drunken to notice. Also the hawkers and streets vendors will almost always ask for more money than the actual cost of the product when they realize that you are a tourist. Do hold your position while bargaining.

The tuk tuk and taxi fleet parked at Khao San Road are often professional liars and first-class sales experts. Avoid taking one of the parked "mafia" taxis and try to ask a running one. Never be attempted by a free ride or a price favored offer. It is the common trap that you will be taken to overpriced stores and unwillingly spend your valuable time in the store.

Forget the idea of making big purchases like gold or silver, gemstones and customized clothes on Kaoshan Road as the quality of these goods is always lower than that elsewhere. It can be expected that most of the works of art or "unique" items for sale are usually fake ones.


Tuk Tuk


Khao San Road Safety

Due to its extreme popularity, Khao San street is often crowded to an unbelievable level with tourists and locals, so being mindful of your surroundings is quite necessary.

Violent robberies are rare in Thailand, but pickpockets, bag snatchers and smart phone snatchers aren't. Make sure your valuables to the best of your ability, and never leave them showing up or lying around in an unattended way. We suggest you check your pockets and handbags at short intervals to check if it is there or not. Although the violent crime rate remains low, travelers were attacked when going home to the suburbs of Khao San Road; do try to find someone to accompany.

Unfortunately, don't count on the police station at the west end of Khao San Road when incident occurs. They will direct you to the tourist police which you will walk for 20 minutes for theft.

Getting to Khao San Road in Bangkok

Although Khao San Road is very popular, it is not so accessible as other tourist regions in Bangkok. There is no BTS Skytrain or subway station nearby. With The nearest railway station at Hualamphong, you still have to walk east for 50 minutes to reach Khao San Road.

As one of the most convenient choices for tourists in Bangkok, the city’s taxis will take you directly to the destination. You can hail one of these taxis right by the road, however, make sure that you ask them to travel by meter only. If you don’t care so much about cost, a tuk-tuk ride can be interesting experience for your Thailand tour.


Getting to Khao San Road


From the Airport: Since most travelers, no matter which part of the world they are flying from, come to Bangkok through the city’s main Suvarnabhumi Airport. If your flight arrives at night, your only choice to arrive at Khao San Road may be taking an airport taxi controlled by mafias. In that case, you will have to queue up pay the surcharge, meter and even expressway toll if the driver takes the way. During the day, we suggest you turn to a counter in front of the taxi queue (near gate 7) for hiring cheap minivans to Khao San Road.

From Sukhumvit: You can take a taxi from Sukhumvit to Khao San Road, which will cost between 100–150 baht.

By Boat: Another easy and cheap way to get to Khao San Road is by river boat. Boats run up and down the Chao Praya River from early morning till mid-evening so you can hop on a boat and enjoy a fun river cruise. To get on a boat, take the BTS sky train to Saphan Taksin station. Walk out of the station and go towards the river where you’ll see Sathorn Pier. Remember to take a boat heading north to Phra Arthit Pier. Once at the pier, walk out onto the street and anyone there can easily direct you to Khao San Road. It’s just about a 10-minute walk.