My first trip to Southeast Asia was when I was 19 years old. I was all set to meet my older brother in Thailand and travel with him for 3 weeks of my winter break from college. He gave me specific instructions to head to the taxi stand at the airport in Bangkok and tell my driver to take me to Khao San Road. I found it strange he wasn’t giving me a hotel or hostel address but rather just telling me to meet him on a road, never the less I agreed to what he said.
Khao San is hard to explain and can be a bit overwhelming when you first lay eyes on it. I’ve compiled my fool-proof list of everything you need to know about Khao San Road
The unofficial meeting ground for backpackers in Bangkok
A lot of backpackers spend their first night or couple of days on Khao San and then map out their path from there. Khao San is great place to meet other backpackers, hear their stories, listen to where they’re from and where they’re going. If you are traveling solo, but would like to connect and even possibly travel with other backpackers, Khao San is definitely a place you should stop.
The backpacker culture can be found clear up and down the entire street, but my favorite spot is The Happy wall with Hunter S. Thompson’s famous quote:
A road you can’t drive down
Driving down Khao San proves to be nearly impossible. Squeezing a motor bike down the road might be manageable, but a car never drives down Khao San. The entire length of the road is covered in hostels, clothing, food carts, restaurants, night clubs, and trinket stores.
Be prepared to barter for souveniors
Buying things on Khao San can be a double edged sword. On one hand, you’ll find some of the most unique things you will ever see. On the other hand, a lot of it can be cheap and breaks quickly. I’ve bought plenty of souvenirs here, but I always bartered back a forth on a price.
Great food for all budgets
Khao San has tons of variety when it comes to food. Carts parked in the street will be selling fresh fruit smoothes, Thai pancakes (seriously, the best things ever), and pad Thai. If eating off a street cart isn’t your thing, Khao San boasts tons of restaurants ranging in classiness and price.
Don’t get accommodation here
Because Khao San is such a busy place, I do NOT recommend booking accommodation here. The restaurants never close and at night music from the various night clubs can be heard blaring blocks away.
Massages are a must
For about $4 American you can stop at one of the many massage parlors and get an amazing 30 minute foot message. Want a back massage instead? no problem! You can get an hour long back massage for less than $15 American.
Khao San is crazy, chaotic and as one-of-a-kind as a place can get. If you’re in Bangkok and have a half a day to kill or a layover, head to Khao San. Buy some souvenirs, drink a Singha, get a massage, and RELAX.