Khao San Road (or Khaosan Road) is a small road located in Bangkok’s metropolitan area. There are so many things to do in Khao San Road that you’ll never have a dull moment. This is because it is also the backpacker central in Thailand.
As one of the best budget destinations, travelers are drawn here thanks to all the cheap accommodations, drinks, food, crazy atmosphere, and the unmistakable party and laid-back scene.
Love it or hate it, you’ll never wonder what to do on Khaosan Road. Here are some of the things you will either love to do or challenge yourself to do in this buzzing street.
Disclaimer: While the term ‘lady boys’ is a rough translation of the Thai word ‘kathoey’ and may be acceptable in Thailand, in the west it is not. That is why this post will use the word ‘kathoey’ instead.
What to Do in Khao San Road
So, what is Khao San Road famous for? The Khao San Road area is in central Bangkok, which means you’ll be near some of the best bars, top attractions, live music and will be able to find food for all palettes.
1. Stay Up All Night
Khaosan Road, Bangkok, never sleeps, so you will find people walking the streets, partying, or just hanging around any time of the day.
Some bars close around 2:00 am, but after that, the patrons flood the road by moving the party outside.
Actually, staying up all night was the first thing I did when I got to Bangkok. It was also one of the best ways to enjoy Bangkok, as I was immediately welcomed by a group of locals, travelers, hookers, ex-monks, and whatnot.
The least I can say is that it was crazy! Also, make sure to watch the monks as they walk out of the temples in the early morning hours.
If you’re up for partying all night long, I highly recommend staying in a hotel right on Khao San Road or at least in the Khao San area so you can take breaks through the night and have an easy, safe return to your hotel once you’re tired, waster, or whatever in between.
I recommend checking TripAdvisor for reviews on the best hotels in Khao San Road. Or, check Booking.com for its latest hotel deals!
2. Drink at Bars Within Walking Distance
It’s almost inevitable to drink when you have so many bars lined up, one next to the other. The beer is relatively cheap, and you can even buy the drinks by the bucket!!
Buckets usually come filled with whiskey (the local Sang Som) and Coke, but you can pick other drinks too.
When an establishment advertises with ‘We do not check IDs’, it is pretty sure you’ll find a crazy audience there.
Check out Mulligan’s Irish bar, Brick Bar, and Adhere The 13th Blue Bar for some of the best beer, the most fun, and a great night all within a short walk from each other.
3. Eat Bugs!
Ever cared to try a crunchy cockroach, grasshopper, spider, and even scorpion? You’re in the right place, as you can find vendors and their pushcarts all along the main strip.
They’re fried, caramelized, and even sweet. Some are crunchy, while some are gooey on the inside. Ewww… I mean yum!
For real, you must try them.
4. Get A Massage
What to do in Khao San Road when you’re jetlagged, hungover, and have aching legs from walking and dancing all night? Get a good massage, I mean, the grandma-proof massage…
Not only is an hour of a traditional Thai massage so cheap here, but they’re also soooo good and relaxing! This is perfect for getting rid of your tired self after a long day of sightseeing.
There’s a popular massage place right on Khao San Road. You won’t miss it as you’ll see the masseuse outside in addition to several chairs to get foot, neck, and back massages. The Thai massages are given inside.
5. Get A Tattoo
Ok, this one I didn’t do, but so many backpackers get a tattoo while looking for Khao San Road things to do (especially after too many drinks).
It’s so easy to find a tattoo shop here; they are as common as souvenir shops and bars. Not into permanent ink? Get a henna tattoo… that one I did get!
6. People Watch and Listen to the Chaos
It is hard not to stare at all the chaos surrounding you.
Young backpackers roam the streets, street vendors shout their products, the Khatoey community might make acquaintance with you, and tuk-tuk drivers try to scam you. (I got scammed. Ooh, the things I wish I knew before going to Thailand!)
Every ten feet, there’s a different tune being played in a bar, store, or nightclub. Of course, you will hear the backpacker anthems of Red Hot Chili Peppers and Bob Marley, among others. Don’t miss watching the street performers!
7. Shop and Bargain
There are so many street markets and stores on Khao San Road selling everything from t-shirts, bohemian clothes, souvenirs, formal suits, tours, and whatnot.
Since this is such a popular place, prices will be a bit high, so you’ll have a challenge bargaining. This is the perfect place to fine-tune and master the art of bargaining.
8. Eat Street Food
Khao San area is one of the best places to stay in Bangkok, thanks to all the delicious street food you can find there. You won’t go wrong trying the Pad Thai and Roti.
There are so many street carts there that you will inevitably fall under their spell. But their Thai food is delicious and cheap.
For around 20 to 40 baht ($0.61 to $1.20), you can have a decent Pad Thai meal. Finish it with a Roti (about the same price) -a type of pancake. It is one of the best desserts I’ve had so far!
If food is your thing, you can take a traditional Thai cooking class or check out all these food tours available in Bangkok, which will take you to the best eateries and markets in the city.
9. Watch the Monks Collecting Alms at Sunrise
Before, Khao San Road was known as a “religious road”, but not anymore.
Still, some of its ancient religious traditions that date back to the 14th century linger thanks to the temple located at one of its ends, Wat Chana Songkhram Ratchaworawihan.
If you stay up until late or wake up by sunrise, you’ll see locals waiting quietly by the roadside to give their gifts.
Monks cannot ask for anything, but if you feel like donating some food, place it in front of them or in their basket.
10. Meet New Friends
Whether it’s by staying up all night (#1), or by chatting with the street cart lady, or just being friendly with others, you will easily make friends while staying at Khao San Road. This is the backpacker’s mecca, so there’s always a friendly atmosphere.
And last, but not least…
11. Sightsee Historical Places!
One of the best things about Khao San Road is location, location, location. It is within walking distance of The Grand Palace, Wat Pho, Wat Saket, and the stunning Wat Arun (after taking The Chao Phraya express boat).
At most, you’re a short tuk-tuk ride away from most major historical sites in Bangkok, which makes Khao San Road such a good location.
I recommend checking out these tours around Khao San Road and Bangkok to get the full experience and historical background of Bangkok. I did the bike tour around historical Bangkok and loved it!
Have you been to Khao San Road? What did you do?
Essential Info: Logistical Tips and Tricks to Book your Trip
BOOK YOUR FLIGHT
Regarding cheap airfare, I highly recommend using Skyscanner and Expedia. These are two of the sites I use the most due to their exhaustive search on several websites and airlines around the world. They usually bring the cheapest fares.
Additionally, I recommend getting the WayAway Plus membership to save money on cheaper fares and earn cashback (sent straight to your PayPal) on your bookings.
BOOK YOUR ACCOMMODATION
For hotels, guesthouses, apartments, and other types of accommodation, I highly recommend Booking.com. They are my go-to booking site because they usually have the cheapest fares.
If you’re a registered Booking.com user (“Genius”), you can take advantage of their “Genius discount” to save even more money. I almost always book my accommodation with Booking, and I’ve saved thousands of dollars with their Genius discount.
And of course, as one of the largest travel booking sites in the world, Expedia is another excellent accommodation booking site with a free reward program and discounted member prices.
If you’re looking to save money by staying at a hostel, HostelWorld has the largest inventory of hostels with shared dorms and private rooms. On the other hand, Vrbo offers a wide variety of rooms and apartments at affordable prices.
DON’T FORGET YOUR TRAVEL INSURANCE
Travel insurance with comprehensive coverage will protect you against unexpected events like theft, cancellations, injury, and illness.
I use HeyMondo to insure my trips and recommend them. Their affordable plans offer a 24/7 assistance platform for claims, medical coverage for every traveler, adventure sports and covid-19 coverage, and more. And better yet, GloboTreks readers get 5% off their plan! Get a quote.
Alternatively, if you’re a nomad and travel often or long-term, then SafetyWing could help you save a lot of money on long-term travel insurance.
FIND THE BEST TOURS AT THE BEST PRICES
If you’re looking for the best day tours and cheapest ticket entrances to local attractions, I recommend checking Viator, as they have the largest selection of attractions, passes, and activities all around the world.
BOOK YOUR LOCAL TRANSPORTATION AHEAD OF TIME
Bookaway offers the easiest and most accessible way to book overland transportation with local operators, be it by bus, train, ferry, plane, mini-van, or even private transfers.
If renting a car, then I highly recommend DiscoverCars to get the largest car selection at the best price.
OTHER TRAVEL AND MONEY-SAVING TIPS?
Lastly, check out my resources page for some of the best products and companies to use for your trip. If you like saving money (like I do!), then this page will help.
LET ME HELP YOU TRAVEL MORE BY GETTING ADDITIONAL TIPS AND INSPIRATION VIA THE MONTHLY NEWSLETTER.
Plus, receive a short e-book with 15 Beginner Tips and Tricks to Start Travel Hacking!
#10 is always a good one no matter where you go. That looks like an incredibly busy road and can’t say that I would be up for an all nighter there. Maybe some of these tips are for the more young at heart! 🙂
True… #10 is good anywhere you go! That road is incredibly busy. In fact, if you’re looking for a place to relax and have a good night sleep, avoid it at all cost since it is noisy and chaotic!
I would love stay up all night, get a massage but skip the eat bug part. lol Maybe my fiance will do that but not me. I’m scared of bugs already..lol
lol… the bugs are a bit scary to look at and even to eat. I’m not a fan of them either, but I had to try them. 😉
This is unbelievable but I have been to Bangkok twice but never KSR, I kept meaning to go people watch and always got distracted by other things.
LOL… maybe the third time will be the charm! 😉
Wow, that picture truly is worth a thousand words. It looks so insane. I would love to eat bugs and get a great massage. Preferably at the same time.
ha! Getting a massage while eating bugs… that would be interesting! 😛
sounds like 10 pretty awesome things to me!
i wonder what the monks think of all the happenings as they make their way in the early morning.
I’m sure they must be so used to the drunken chaos around them… What I wonder is how they deal with all the noise at the temple that is right next to KSR. ear plugs? lol Also, I bet they must take an advantage of KSR tourism since backpackers love to give food and donate goods just for the experience of giving something to the monks, thus making the monks life easier when trying to find food.
this has helped me tremendously. Planning a solo trip to Thailand in november. Can’t wait to experience all of this. Maybe even the bugs 🙂 Thanks for sharing!!
You’re Welcome Laura! Let me know if oyu need any more info on Bangkok or Khao San Road. I’m sure you will enjoy it!! 🙂
Love the last thing to do in your list. Meeting new friends from different walks-of-life is A W E S O M E !
Definitely, meeting people on the road is one of the best things about travel!
Stay up all night, binge on cheap alcohol, eat bugs, get a massage from unqualified and eploited workers subsisting beneath the poverty line and engage with hookers and low lifes. Sorry buddy, none of what you describe sounds remotely appealing or fun. Maybe it’s cool in the mindless fraternity/spring break holidays that you aspire to but to me it sounds pretty horrific. Each to there own pal, enjoy your next holiday…
You can meet people everywhere on travel but the khaosan road is definitely one of the easiest places to meet a lot of different people in a short time.
Iam travelling solo for 2 weeks in October staying at D and D inn right on Khoasan road, the place looks great, thanks for the info, can’t wait?
I am traveling to Bangkok next month. I did not know about this place, bookmarked this article. Now I will surely go there