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 road 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 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 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 in the right place. They’re fried, caramelized, and even sweet. Some are crunchy, and some are gooey on the inside. Ewww…
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, 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 massages as well as 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 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 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 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 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 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.
And let’s add an extra one!
11. Sightsee Historical Places!
One of the best things Khao San Road has is location, location, location. It is within walking distance to The Grand Palace, Wat Pho, and the stunning Wat Arun (after taking the short ferry).
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 these tours around Khao San Road and these other tours around 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?
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