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Literal Backpacker’s Mecca
Khao San Road Bangkok
Khao San Road

Khao San - the legendary backpacker’s domain and headquarters, is simply put a shopping and dining tourist heaven where a thriving community caters to every need of the budget traveller. For over 20 years this has been the base camp of choice for backpackers all over the world exploring Thailand and Southeast Asia. It's just a little wonder that everything backpackers could ever need or want can be found here: budget guesthouses and cheap hotels, internet cafes, coffee shops, restaurants, market stalls, massage parlours, travel agents, clubs, bars, photo and bookshops, tailors, laundry, chemists, tattoo shops and much, much more. All brought off with the spirit of neverending party and vibe cosmopolitan atmosphere that makes people happy and brings smiles.

Khao San Road at Twilight
Khao San Road at Twilight

During the day Khao San Road is quite a different marketplace altogether compared to the evening extravaganza, even so the prominent diners and coffee shops rolling nonstop videos are constantly occupied at all times - the food, snacks and refreshments are yummy and cheap. This is where backpackers meet and plan their travels. Daytime market can be easily skipped, though at night it's worth a look as it transforms to a veritable array of urban and stylish clothes, bags, shoes and accessories which are laid out for you to pick up. Hot vintage clothing and the bags are gorgeous. Don’t bargain too hard and always stay friendly, as the prices are basically reasonable and occasionally even cheaper than elsewhere including the illustrious Chatuchak (also known as Jatujak or J-J) Weekend Market.

People on Khao San Road
An exuberant tourist community in the heart of Bangkok

Khao San Road Coffee Shop
Khao San Coffee Shop

In recent years Khao San Road has become popular with local residents, especially artists and art students. The road hosts a number of pubs and bars, where people of many nationalities meet and discuss their travels. Khao San and the streets nearby are also Bangkok's center of dancing, partying and splashing water during the Thai New Year (songkran in Thai) festival that rolls around from April 13 to 15.

Shop on Khao San Road
Shopwindow On Khao San Road

One Thai writer described this one-kilometer-long road as "a short road that has the longest dream in the world". The street certainly attracts some bizarre characters the world over, and is definitely one of Bangkok's most vibrant streets. Any visit to Bangkok is incomplete without a glimpse of Khao San. An experience that could only be compared to a visit to a zoo. Such a variety of wild, untamed humanity on display, that if you come to Khao San Road to do only one thing it should be 'people watching'.

Khaosan means 'milled rice' in Thai. Before it became a tourist hotspot, the street was a major rice market in the Old City (during early Rattanakosin period) since 1782, when Bangkok was set up as the Thai capital. At that time, Europeans called Bangkok the 'VENICE OF THE EAST', as it was laced with canals, and waterways were the most important means of transportation and trading. Traces of the Rattanakosin period such as age-old architecture and traditional ways of life are still more evident by the river (mae nam in Thai) and canals (klong in Thai).

Food on Khao San Road

Chabad in Thailand
Scenes in Khao San Road Vicinity

The road is located in the heart of the Old City in Banglamphu district, a rather short distance north from the Grand Palace and the Temple (wat in Thai) Phra Kaew. Not so far is the Phra Arthit road, along the Chao Phraya River and the area of hidden historical charms: the ancient Phra Sumen Fort, the small tranquil Suan Santichaiprakarn Park, the trendy hole-in-the-wall restaurants and bars are popular with hip young Thais. In the evenings, there are often free activities like music, juggling, breakdancing, hip-hop or rap taking place.

To be continued...

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