Whether you’ve been to Thailand or not, if you enjoy backpacking, the chances are that you have already heard of Khao San Road in Bangkok. How could one road be so famous worldwide? Well that’s simple, it’s Bangkok’s central hub for backpackers and travellers – a place to start and end your amazing adventures around Thailand.
On my trip around South-East Asia, I had originally flown into Bangkok and spent a couple of nights on the famous strip before heading straight for the Thailand-Cambodia border. Travelling overland through Cambodia and Vietnam, I then flew back to Bangkok from Hanoi to start exploring Thailand properly, once again finding myself on Khao San Road for a few nights whilst I organised my travel itinerary.
It is a regret of mine that I didn’t spend more time exploring the city of Bangkok, but in my eager early twenties I was more keen to spend my city-break in a bar full of like-minded backpackers, before making a quick dash for the South Islands, the beaches and the full moon parties as soon as humanly possible! So whether you use Bangkok as a stop-gap to explore the South Islands of Thailand, or if you hang around longer to get a real vibe for the city and it’s culture, either way you will inevitably find your way on to Khao San Road at some point. So here’s my quick backpacker’s travel guide to the infamous strip:
Where to Stay
I tried out a few budget hotels and hostels along Khao San Road when I first arrived in Bangkok, again when I flew back from Vietnam, and thirdly when I returned to Bangkok from the South Islands to fly on to Australia. Easily my favourite was the D&D Inn situated on Khao San Road itself. Offering a range of budget hostel-like rooms, as well as more upmarket hotel-like rooms, there is something to suit every budget. The rooftop pool offers a Thai oasis in the middle of the big smoke, looking own over the bustling streets of Khao San Road. There is also a tourist agency based out of a little building on the rooftop, which is a perfect place to plan all your adventures from; they can help you with everything from visas for Cambodia, to sleeper buses to the South Islands, diving trips, accommodation bookings and more.
Where to Eat
There are offerings aplenty lining the streets of Khao San Road and it’s surrounds. Throw yourself into the culture of Bangkok by eating at one of the many street food stalls in the area. When I’m backpacking, I love eating at street food stalls because you get to sit in the middle of it all, absorbing the atmosphere of your new surroundings, and people-watching, whilst dining on possibly the best Thai food you’ll ever eat at the cheapest prices you’ll ever pay for it!
Where to Party
Again, there isn’t one or two specific places I would recommend for a place to spend your nights here. There’s so much to choose from, catered to the backpacker rather than the luxury traveller, in and around Khao San Road. You can choose from bars that are situated up above the busy street so that you can sip on a cocktail (or a bucket!) whilst looking down over the bustling night markets below, Irish bars aplenty for a spot of live music, or an array of different pool bars which – for me – seemed to be the staple way to meet like-minded people on the road (better brush up on your pool skills before you set off!).
What to Do
Khao San Road is lined down both sides with market stalls. Operating day and night, you can buy anything here from Thai souvenirs, electricals, make-up and cosmetics, knock-off handbags, cheap clothing, food, alcohol and everything in between. The atmosphere is electric here, and well worth the stroll even if you’re not looking to bag yourself a bargain in the process. I picked up a few pairs of funky sunglasses to take down to the South Islands with me, and before leaving Thailand I headed back to get some souvenirs!
D&D Inn – Rooftop Pool (Photo Credit: Agoda.com)
Khao San Road – By Day
Khao San Road – Market Stall
Khao San Road – By Night
Khao San Road – People Watching from a Bar at Night