The famous Khaosan Road is considered the historical center of tourist activity in Bangkok. The word “Khao,” pronounced “cow,” means “milled rice” and comes from the original role of this historic street dating back to 1892.
While often considered a mecca for backpackers, Khaosan Road is visited by a variety of tourists: backpackers and non-backpackers alike.
The half mile street is surrounded by numerous restaurant, bars, hotels, shops, and entertainment options. The easy-going lifestyle and friendliness of the locals makes this a must stop for everyone visiting Bangkok.
Khaosan Road has some of the best bars in town. With drink specials, live music, and after-hours bars, there is no shortage of things to do or people to watch. Oxxl’s Places offers a nightly special of 3 buckets for only 400 baht (~$12).
While tourists can easily find Western shops like Starbucks and McDonald’s, nothing compares to grabbing a freshly brewed coffee at a street cafe.
Travelers can find some of the cheapest and most diverse food options in all of Bangkok. Since there is such a wide-variety of travelers, demand for ethnic food is high and the results are amazing.
Avoiding the busy restaurants is an easy task with the available street carts. These options are typically the cheapest, but will often use cheaper ingredients. The Pad Thai, for example, may use soy sauce instead of the traditional tamarind sauce. Street food may be cheaper and easier, but it may not be quotes as authentic as a sit-down joint.
Many travelers are amazed at the type of snacks available on the street.
Scorpions are as crunchy as you’d imagine
While the food and drink are great, Khaosan is also in one of the worst districts in Bangkok for scams, annoyances, and locals looking to take advantage of tourists. Be stern and aware and everything will be sabaai.
Street vendors can be very “in your face.” Travelers should definitely be cautious of the custom suit stores in this areas as they often low-quality and extremely pushy. There are many better options outside of Khaosan Road for hand made clothing.
One of the favorite activities in Khaosan Road involves shopping. Stores line both sides of the street offering clothing, shoes, bags, souvenirs, and handicraft stores. Be prepared to haggle for everything, and once you show interest, shop keepers will congregate from all around.
Every traveler who visits Khaosan Road will have ample opportunities to enjoy a famously inexpensive Thai Massage.
While an hour-long foot massage might be slightly cheaper in Bangkok, it’s definitely worth a few extra baht to relax before, during, or after exploring this backpackers’ paradise.
A fish spa treatment uses lots of small fish that devour the loose bits of dead skin from your feet: think of it as aquatic exfoliation.
Some worry that the fish spa will hurt, but the feeling of little critters attacking your feet is more likely to tickle than it is to cause pain.
“In this small area one can observe the interactions and groupings of disparate characters such as well-educated young Westerners on extended leave from affluent society, high school graduates on gap year travels, Israelis fresh out of military service, university students on holiday or sabbatical leave, young Japanese in rite-of-passage attire, ordinary holidaymakers, (ex-) volunteers from various organizations, and the like.”
~ Anders Sørensen, Annals of Tourism Research