Khao San Road is a road in the Banglamphu area of downtown Bangkok (northeast of the Grand Palace area) that is known among travelers as the place to go for budget hotels, restaurants, bars, clubs, stores, travel agents — anything that caters to travelers to Thailand and neighboring countries. It has been a popular place to stay for backpackers and budget travelers since the early 1980s. Now the area still has many low-priced guest houses that cater budget travelers, but it has also become a destination for foreigners and locals alike for night life with many restaurants, bars, and night clubs opening til late.
I learned about Khao San Road from the guidebooks that I read before going to Thailand (or really any travel guide to Bangkok these days would mention the place). Even though there are many cheap accommodations that could be found there, for us personally we would prefer staying away from this crowded place. We came to Bangkok to visit some landmarks and experience the traditional cultures, and we were not into the nightlife scene, so being close to the happening place was not really a priority. But for travelers on shoestring budget, or those who are more intrepid and like to ‘play it by ear’ and not doing advanced planning, coming to Khao San Road area might be a good idea as they would be guaranteed to find a place to stay that meets their budget, and there are many travel agencies that could help arrange travels in the region. You could also meet other travelers in similar situations there.
We visited the Khao San Road area after we finished with our culinary experience in the Sao Ching Cha area. The walk from the Sao Ching Cha area to Khao San Road was not too far. It was interesting to observe, however, that we hardly saw foreigners in the Sao Ching Cha area (which was mostly residential and local commercial), but once we crossed the last main road near Khao San Road area, we started seeing foreigners (westerners) everywhere. Once we got the actual road, walking along the road was like going to a tourist attraction for foreigners — there were more foreigners than locals around, and all the stores had signs in English (quite a contrast compared to our visit to the Sao Ching Cha area where we couldn’t even read signs and menus in restaurants because they were all written in Thai). There were also American fast food chain restaurants like McDonald’s, Subway, Burger King, and Kentucky Fried Chicken, and many restaurants would serve international fare (Italian, Japanese, etc.). I suppose this would be a good place for foreign travelers who are homesick and would like to take a break from the local cuisine and get the food that they’re used to from home.
The photo below was taken by my cousin Kristi as we walked along Khao San Road. You can see many foreigners around. The road was pretty much closed for motorized vehicle traffic (with so many pedestrians around), and street vendors lined up the side of the road selling souvenirs or snacks.