Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Thailand - Khao San road

Recently, Yahoo Travel categorized Khao San road at Bangkok as one of the best night markets in Asia.

Khao San road is also considered as Asia's backpackers mecca. From this place, one can easily arrange his/her travel by land, water or air to other touristy places in Thailand, Cambodia, Nepal, Malaysia and other countries. One can even buy a decent suit for an affordable price. Want to have a fake Thai ID? Henna painting? Tattoo? Body piercing? Pirated DVD? Or simply relax and chill out with fresh fruit shake while having Thai massage.

Money transfer? I received my vacation allowance sent by my wife through Western Union in Thailand Baht; my company remits my salary direct to Philippines. Unlike in Philippines where you have an option to withdraw the money in USD, in Bangkok, WU normally dispenses money transfer in local currency.

There are plenty of hostels, Inns, bars/restaurants, vendors, tour counters/operators and so on along Khao San road. Not to mention Rambuttri and Tani roads which act as its buffer zone.


my favorite bar at the middle of Khao San
mobile ATM and currency exchange


makeshift bar
vendors showing their wares

I remember when I was in Grenoble, France many years back. Struggling artists were performing along the road and earn their living from the donations given by their impromptu audience. The Asian artists have catch up with their European brothers.

A football exhibition in-front of Lucky Beer bar and restaurant. I have seen this exhibition twice and this guy is good. He can change his shirt, jump, walk, sit, etc without causing the football to fall to the ground. I gave him 100 Baht. I used to play football during my high school days at Don Bosco.

This one is my favorite. Long live rock and roll! This human mannequin is playing his rock guitar. He has a small and portable amplifier with him.

a puppeteer
road artists

dance exhibition - you may put your donation on the upturned blue cap

I can confidently say that Khao San road is safe for tourists to explore and enjoy the night life. There is a police station in that area aside from their visible routine patrols. I have been to Khao San road countless of times since my hostel is just two streets away. I always stay at Nappark hostel whenever I am in Bangkok; except when the wife is with me. During those times, I have never heard or seen any locals scamming the tourists; except the vendors unless you know how to haggle, LOL. In fact, I have seen several times some drunk tourists lying on the pavement; nobody was touching or bothering them. More tellingly, drunk ladies were also being treated well by the locals.

There are several fast food joints along Khao San such as Mc Donald's, Burger King, KFC and 7 eleven outlets. I used to take my breakfast and caffeine shots at Mc Donald's and Subway. In case you are tired of local foods then you can easily take a bite of your favorite burger or chicken. In my case, I buy cheap beers and water at 7 eleven. Likewise, if you arrive at Khao San during wee hours of the night you can spend your time inside McDonald's. It is open 24 hours and they accept visa card. From time to time I see sleepy tourists waiting inside McDonald's whenever I take my breakfast.

I enjoyed Thai foot massage at Charlie Salon and Spa. I paid 200 Baht for 1 hour foot massage. I've been there twice and enjoyed a big bottle of Chang beer while having a massage. I even had my haircut and dye my hair at Charlie salon. Their staff are very nice and professional.

If you plan to stay here, the main draw back is the unavailability of public transport system. You need to haggle always with the tuktuk and taxi drivers. There is no train nearby and public buses have no use for foreigners unless you know how to read Thai. I used to come here by  airport link/train up to Ratchaprarop station then flag down a metered taxi. I pay 40 Baht for the train and around 70 Baht for the taxi. However, going back to airport is a lot easier. You can book for airport trip at any tour operator counter along Khao San road. The fare normally ranges from 100 to 130 Baht per person. Hence, if your group is  more than 3 then it is advisable to take metered taxi, otherwise 130 Baht is reasonable for a single airport trip. Just be prepared to travel with with other tourists in a Toyota 12 seats Commuter van.

Though seems isolated, Khao San road is actually near to Bangkok's main attractions such as The Grand Palace, Emerald Buddha, Reclining Buddha (Wat Pho), Wat Arun, Democracy monument, the Golden Temple Mount, and so on. To add, due to its proximity to Chao Phraya river, you can easily explore Bangkok using Chao Phraya river boat.

pad thai vendor

It is preferable to explore Khao San during night time to enjoy its night market, street foods, makeshift bars and restaurants. All the bars in Khao San area offers clean fun or night life. There are bars that show sports channel while some have live folk/acoustic/reggae singers.

I love the street pad thai and chicken kebab. I always order pad thai with chicken and egg. It costs me 50 Baht. Much cheaper than any Mc Donald's and KFC meals.


Few days back, I returned to Khao San road with my wife and two kids. We strolled around for few hours. My daughter enjoyed her first Thai foot massage at Charlie while wife and youngest kid enjoyed Blueberry flavored Cornetto which wasn't available in Philippines.


However, having visited Platinum, MBK and Chatuchak, they were disappointed with the market price at Khao San road. A Nana Voodoo keychain doll bought from Chatuchak can easily double its price in Khao San market. Nevertheless, haggling is widely practiced here but due to location expect the merchandise to have premium price.

It was a memorable experience for them to see and explore Khao San road. My kids were truly elated while exploring Khao San. On the other hand, my wife was a bit apprehensive upon seeing those bars and beer ladies. Yes, as marketing strategy, some beer companies employ nice looking local ladies to promote their brand.

I shot my own foot for I need to chat now with her every night to assure her that I am not gallivanting whenever I am in Bangkok, especially when I am in Khao San. What a life.


You can have a taste of authentic pad thai and enjoy a bottle of beer cheaply in Khao San road. DON'T enter any bar or restaurant, simply buy your pad thai from any street vendor, it normally costs 30 Baht for plain or 50 Baht with egg and chicken. You can enjoy your pad thai while exploring Khao San. For the beer, after finishing your pad thai, buy a 500 ml beer can for 40 Baht from several 7 eleven shops or if you are not a beer drinker, you can have a bottled water for 6 Baht. Otherwise, be ready to shell out around 200 Baht for the same pad thai and beer at any bar/restaurant along Khao San. Don't worry about the street foods, I have eaten countless of times from these vendors and I've never experience any single stomach upset. 


Platinum mall, Bangkok
Pratunam market, Bangkok
Roaming Around Bangkok - part 1 (Pratunam area)
Roaming Around Bangkok - part 2 (Khao San area)
Pantip Plaza, Bangkok
CentralWorld mall
Chatuchak Weekend Market
J - Trends in Town Celebration
Wat Pho (The Reclining Buddha)
Wat Saket (Temple of Golden Mount)
Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn)
The Grand Palace - Bangkok City

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