Khao San Road, a small road located in Bangkok’s metropolitan area, is the backpacker central in Thailand. Budget travelers are drawn here thanks to all the cheap accommodation, drinks, food, crazy atmosphere, and the unmistakable party and laid back scene.
Love it or hate it, this small street is full of things to do, so here are some of the things you will either love to do or challenge yourself to do.
1. Stay up all night
Khao San Road 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 street by moving the party outside. Actually, staying up all night was the first thing I did when I got to Bangkok. I was immediately welcomed by a group of locals, travelers, lady-boys, hookers, ex-monks, and what not. 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 your tired, waster, or whatever in between. I recommend checking TripAdvisor for reviews on the best hotels in Khao San Road and their latest deals.
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 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.
3. Eat Bugs!
Ever cared to try a crunchy cockroach, grasshopper, spider, and even scorpion? You’re at the right place. They’re fried, caramelized, and even sweet. Some are crunchy and some are gooey on the inside. Ewww… Watch here how Adventurous Kate and Backpacking Matt ate a few bugs while at Khao San Road. Or, just look at my photo here!
4. Get A Massage
THE good massage, I mean, the grandma-proof massage… Not only an hour of a traditional Thai massage is so cheap here (though cheaper if you get it outside of Bangkok) but also they’re soooo good and relaxing! This is perfect to get rid of your tired self after a long day sightseeing.
5. Get A Tattoo
Ok, this one I didn’t do, but so many backpackers get a tattoo while staying at Khao San Road (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!
6. People Watch and listen to the chaos
It is hard not to stare at all the chaos that will surround you. Young backpackers roam the streets, street vendors shout their products, lady-boys make their move, 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 selling everything from t-shirts, bohemian clothes, souvenirs, formal suits, tours, and what not. Since this is such a popular place, prices will be a bit high, so you will have a challenge bargaining… so 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 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 food is delicious and cheap. For around 20 to 40 baht ($0.70 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!
9. Watch the Monks
Before, Khao San Road was known as a “religious road,” but not anymore. Now you might have to play “Where’s Waldo” with the monks since Khao San Road is filled with (drunk) travelers, but you will see some for sure; especially during the early hours in the morning (around 6am) when they come out of the temples in look for donated food from Buddhist followers. Monks cannot hoard, so if you feel like donating some food, place it in front of them.
10. Meet New Friends
Whether it’s by staying up all night (#1) or by chatting with the street cart lady, or by 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.
Have you been here? What did you do?
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