Bangkok/Khao San Road
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Khao San Road (Thai: ถนนข้าวสาร) is a small road located about a block from the Chao Phraya River at the northern side of Rattanakosin. Backpackers and budget travellers are drawn here by some of the cheapest accommodation and travel deals in Thailand. This article also deals with the wider Banglamphu area that hosts a few interesting temples, as well as lots more places to stay and eat.
The syllable "khao" is pronounced similarly to the English word "cow", but since the late 1990s, backpackers have often been mispronouncing it as "coe" (perhaps confusing it with "koh", meaning "island", which in itself is incorrect and should be an abrupt "goh"; perhaps influenced by the book/movie The Beach). Please help re-introduce the correct pronunciation into the backpacker community by pronouncing it properly.
The word khao san itself means milled rice and is an attribution to the historical role of this street in the rice trade. The first business to open on Khao San Road was a small hotel aimed at serving civil servants from the provinces who came to Bangkok on business. The hotel was followed by Sor Thambhakdi, a shop selling monks' accessories. Four similar businesses moved in after, and Khao San became known as a "religious road".
Word soon spread about the easy lifestyle and friendliness of the locals. Friends told friends, and before long, the owner of the house started to charge 20 baht for food and lodging. The first commercial guest house, called Bonny, opened in 1982 with six small bedrooms.
Today, there's a lot more than six small bedrooms on offer. The hippy, laid-back, and budget Khao San Road of the past has long given away to its now highly commercial and tourist-centric atmosphere. This is the epicentre of the Banana Pancake Trail. In the span of just a couple of blocks, there are bars, food stalls, restaurants, convenience stores, pharmacies, internet cafes, money changing booths, ATMs, shoe stores, massage parlours, tailors, travel agencies, laundromats, boxing gyms, optometrists, endless warrens of suspiciously discounted designer clothes and, oh, rooms for the night.
The chaos has spilled over to the entire area, including Soi Rambuttri with its little bars and restaurants that are starting to spill out onto the road; Phra Athit Road with its colonial-style mansions and riverside hotels; and Samsen Road, a quiet neighbourhood with cosy guest houses and vegetarian restaurants. It is indeed a tourist destination and can be a little unsafe at night as instances of mugging and pick-pocketing do occur.
Khao San Road is fairly easy to get to from anywhere in Bangkok. Express boats, buses and taxis are your main options. While the Skytrain and the metro are convenient ways of getting to many places in Bangkok, there is no connection to Khao San Road (or to anywhere else in Rattanakosin, for that matter). While Khao San Road is easy to get into and out of, travelers should be aware it is located quite far (30–60 minutes) from most other areas tourists will travel to in Bangkok, such as Sukhumvit or Silom.
The Chao Phraya Express Boat is the cheapest and most scenic way of getting to Khao San Road. If you're coming from the city centre, take the Skytrain to Saphan Taksin station, where you can transfer onto the express boat at Sathorn pier. Then ride the express boat all the way north to Phra Arthit pier, which takes about 35 minutes and costs 13 to 18 baht. Make sure to get either the orange flag line or the blue flag tourist boat, as the yellow flag line skips Phra Arthit pier completely.
If you're staying in Khao San Road, the express boat is the easiest way to get to Rattanakosin and Silom. It's only a short (but confusing) walk from Khao San Road to Phra Arthit pier. First walk to the police station side of Khao San Road, then take a right and immediately a left into Soi Rambuttri. Walk along the bend of the street and take a right into Soi Chana Songkhram. At the end, take a right into Phra Athit Road, cross the road, and look for the small sign to the express boat pier (it is near Navalai River Resort). Bring a good map, have a good sense of direction, or ask help from a local if you get lost.
The most important piers are Tha Chang (for the Grand Palace), Tha Tien (for Wat Pho) and Rachawongse (for Yaowarat). All lines attend Sathorn pier, where you can transfer onto the Skytrain. From here, you can go to Silom, Siam Square, Sukhumvit and Phahonyothin. The Chao Phraya Express Boat stops running around 18:00 or 19:00 depending on the day, so you'll have to rely on other forms of transport in the evening.
The quickest (though not the most comfortable) way to get from Khao San Road to Siam Square, Sukhumvit and Ramkhamhaeng is by Saen Saep Express Boat. The closest pier to Khao San Road is Panfa Leelard, which is near the Golden Mount and Wat Ratchanadda. There you can get on the Golden Mount Line, which is a direct boat service from Panfa Leelard to Pratunam. At that pier you can switch onto the NIDA Line, that runs from Pratunam all the way northeast to Wat Sriboonreung in Ramkhamhaeng. A single trip from Panfa Leelard to Pratunam takes about 20 minutes and costs 11 baht. On the trip, you will pass the stops Talat Bobae (for the garment market of the same name), Sapan Charoenpol, Baan Krua Nua (for Jim Thompson's House), Sapan Hua Chang (for Siam Square) and Pratunam (for Pratunam and Ratchaprasong).
The bus system in Bangkok is very complex, but as Khao San Road is not connected to the Skytrain, for some destinations you don't have a choice. Some useful bus lines for travel to/from Khao San Road include the following:
- Ordinary bus 2 goes from Sukhumvit Road to Sanam Luang, and passes Ratchdamnoen Klang Road on the way, which is very close to Khao San Road. The route is handy for connections to the Skytrain, the metro and the Eastern Bus Terminal (Ekkamai), and it passes Pratunam on the way. 6-7 baht.
- Ordinary and air-conditioned bus 3 goes to the Northern Bus Terminal (Mo Chit) and passes by Chakrabongse Road (at the western side of Khao San Road). The trip costs 7 baht and takes approximately 30 minutes.
- Ordinary bus 15 takes you from Ratchadamnoen Klang Road (near Khao San Road) to Siam Square.
- Ordinary bus 53 goes from Phra Athit Road near the express boat pier to Hualamphong Train Station, taking an interesting and convoluted route through Rattanakosin and Yaowarat. It costs 7 baht and takes 30 minutes or more depending on traffic.
- Air-conditioned bus 511 travels right across the city from the Eastern Bus Terminal (Ekkamai) via Sukhumvit and Ratchadamnoen Klang Road (near Khao San Road) to the Southern Bus Terminal (Sai Tai). Warning: Ordinary (non-express) buses pass by Ratchdamnoen Klang Road, but express buses (with yellow signs) do not!
- Air-conditioned bus 509 travels from Mor Chit Bus Terminal, passing through Victory Monument (BTS) and Ratchadamnoen Klang Road (near Khao San Road), terminating at Bang Khae (in Thonburi).
The Airport Express bus, including backpacker favourite AE2 to Khao San Road, stopped running in June 2011. Another, even cheaper (although more fiddly) option is to use a local bus to get to Khao San Road. From the airport, catch the shuttle bus for free outside door 5 (on both the upper and lower floors) to the Public Transport Interchange. From there, catch bus 551 (a white van) which will drop you off at Victory Monument for 40 baht. Then take bus 59 and get off about halfway between Khao San Road and the Democracy Monument. To get to the airport, catch bus 59, which departs from Ratchadamnoen Klang Road, about halfway between Khao San Road and the Democracy Monument (look for the half-torn airplane sign on the bus stop sign). It will drop you off at Victory Monument, from where you can catch bus 551 to the Public Transport Interchange. From there, it's just a small ride with the free shuttle bus to the terminals.
Khao San Road is also the stop for the majority of long range buses from Chang Mai, elsewhere in Northern Thailand, and from Siem Reap, Cambodia as it is located on the edge of Bangkok and buses avoid the notorious Bangkok traffic by starting and stopping routes here.
Even some of the metered taxis will try to charge you a flat rate of about 200-300 baht to take you to Khao San Road, rather than use the meter (which would mean no more than an 80 baht fare from Silom, or 100-150 baht from Sukhumvit, or about 60 - 80 baht from Hualamphong Train Station). The drivers will claim that Khao San Road is "too far away" for the meter, but that's not true; the fact is, they can get away with overcharging tourists, and if you don't take it, the next one down the street might. You should refuse to pay that amount and find an honest driver — there is no shortage of taxis in Bangkok. There is no point trying to haggle, as the meter is always cheaper.
As a general rule, older drivers tend to be more amenable to the meters, while the younger ones tend to gun for big fares from tourists. Also avoid the parked taxis (dishonest drivers prefer to wait for gullible tourists) and hail a moving taxi (a red light on the dash board indicates if they are available). The majority of taxis are new (less than two years old), and its best to avoid the older taxis as their air-conditioners function poorly, and these drivers tend to be less reliable. The great majority of taxi drivers are reasonably honest though, so always opt for a taxi instead of a tuk-tuk.
Coming to or from the airport, a taxi is by far the easiest and quickest way to Khao San Road. A metered taxi should cost between 300-450 baht, if using the toll roads (known by Thais as toll way) which cost up to 65 baht. Traffic during the day can make the toll roads very worthwhile, as they will save time and money. The trip takes around 45 minutes in good traffic, but allow considerable leeway during rush hour as the area around Khao San can get very congested. If you arrive after midnight, expect to pay around 500 baht. This 500 baht includes all tolls, the airport fee of 50 baht and the price stated on the meter. Taxis are your only option at night, as the Airport Rail Link stops running at midnight.
Although there aren't any famous historical sites to speak of on the road itself, Khao San is a part of Rattanakosin and actually one of the oldest neighbourhoods of Bangkok. Around the street, there are a number of old shophouses and noteworthy temples. Aside from the interesting architecture, the area shows a mix of peoples and heritages that is typical for Bangkok. There are Buddhists, Chinese, Muslims, Mons, and of course a great number of foreigners in this small part of the city. All of this makes the area an interesting place for a glimpse of Thai life.
- Democracy Monument (อนุสาวรีย์ประชาธิปไตย), Ratchadamnoen Klang Rd (at the Ratchadamnoen Klang Road and Dinso Road intersection). Completely occupying a roundabout on a major thoroughfare is the Democracy Monument. Its distinguishing features are the four 'wings' which are located at four equally spaced points around a smaller central shrine. The wings are decorated with artworks of war and war-related events. Quite impressive when seen from a distance (especially at sunrise and sunset), but maybe not worth the hazard involved in running across five lanes of Bangkok traffic for a closer look. It commemorates the June 1932 military coup d'état that led to the country's first democratic constitution in place of absolute rule. Demonstrators gathered here in 1973, 1976 and 1992 in their struggle for democracy, signifying the important role this monument has played in recent Thai history. Free.
- October 14 Memorial (อนุสรณ์สถาน 14 ตุลา), 14/16 Ratchadamnoen Klang Rd (at the Ratchadamnoen Klang Road and Tanao Road intersection). 14 October 1973 is one of the most important dates in modern Thai history. Millions of pro-democracy protesters gathered at Ratchadamnoen Klang Road against the military dictatorship of Thanom Kittikachorn. The junta attacked the masses with snipers from rooftops killing dozens of civilians. Eventually the regime was toppled and Thailand became a constitutional monarchy. This memorial commemorates those who died that day, as well as those that died at similar protests in 1976 and 1992. You can read more about this hectic period in Thai history in the small museum. Free.
- Phra Sumen Fort (ป้อมพระสุเมรุ), Phra Athit Rd (inside Santichaiprakan Park). Best viewed from Santichaiprakan Park, Phra Sumen Fort is one of two remaining towers of the historic city wall that once surrounded Rattanakosin Island completely (the other being Mahakan Fort). The historic city wall that followed the Chao Phraya River and Khlong Rop Krung used to have fourteen of these watchtowers, but twelve of them have not endured the test of time. Phra Sumen Fort was constructed in 1783 during the reign of King Rama I to protect the city from potential foreign naval invasions. The fort has an observation tower and two levels of battlements with its original canons still in place. Free.
- Santichaiprakan Park (พระที่นั่งและสวนสาธารณะสันติชัยปราการ), Phra Athit Rd (near Phra Arthit pier). 05:00-22:00 daily. This small, green park has a great view of the Chao Phraya River and the modern Rama VIII suspension bridge that crosses it. There's an open-air pavilion, the Phra Sumen Fort and (supposedly) the last two lamphu trees of the area (these trees used to be all over Banglamphu, as that's where the district got its name from). Activities held in the park include Thai classical music, juggling and (at 18:00) aerobic exercises. The park has also become a gathering place for breakdancers to exchange their techniques. Free.
- Sunset Street Art Gallery (ซันเซ็ทสตรีท), 199 Khao San Rd (inside the Sunset Street complex), ☎ . 12:00-22:00 daily. Yes, there is one sight on Khao San Road itself and unsurprisingly, it is an art gallery. This colonial-style interior has plenty of paintings on the wall, most of them in a kind of traditional Thai-style. It is quite small, but still fun for a short visit. Free.
- Wat Bowonniwet (วัดบวรนิเวศ), Bowonniwet Rd (at the corner of Bowonniwet Road and Phra Sumen Road), ☎ . 08:00-17:00 daily. Built in 1829, this is the shrine-hall of Phra Phutthachinnasi, a very beautiful Buddha image that was created around 1357. This is one of the most important temples of Bangkok, whose one-time chief abbot was King Rama IV before he ascended the throne. King Rama IV and King Rama VII, as well as HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej resided here during their monkhood. Be careful in the afternoon, you must take your shoes off, but the ground can start to cook from the heat. Wearing socks could be a good idea. Free.
- Wat Chana Songkhram (วัดชนะสงคราม), Soi Chana Songkhram (opposite the western end of Khao San Road), ☎ . 10:30-22:30 daily. Centuries ago, following a war with the Burmese, the Thai government gave land in this area to people from the Mon minority who had fought beside the Thai. The Mon established a community here, including this temple, that is also known as the War Victory Temple. Many travellers use the temple grounds as a shortcut between Khao San Road and Phra Athit Road where the ferry pier is located. The temple is worth a visit, though, with nice murals, crisp sounding temple bells hanging from the eves, Bougainvillea vines and beautiful trees. There is no charge for admission and you are welcome to pay respect to the Buddha images or just find a little tranquility away from the throngs of backpackers on Khao San proper. Free.
Activities on Khao San Road are not particularly high class. Many backpackers just chill out in a cafe and watch reruns of Friends while sipping a cold Chang beer. People-watching is also a major activity: this can be done in many roadside bars and pubs along Khao San Road. When all this becomes too stressful, there are plenty of massage parlours around.
- Madame Joe's, 81 Trok Mayom (walk south along Chakrabongse Road, then into a small alley on the left), ☎ . 10:00-23:00 daily. Fully qualified staff and a warm and friendly atmosphere. Thai massage, foot massage and oil massage offered. Fully air-conditioned. You can also take the 25-hour massage course for 8,000 baht. It takes five days with five hours each. 180 baht/hr.
- Shewa Spa (ชีวา สปา), 108/2 Rambuttri Rd (at the end of Susie Walking Street), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 09:00-01:00 daily. A bit more expensive than other massage parlours in the area, but feels a lot more professional. Very clean and cute decor. The masseuses are well-trained and friendly. Thai massage, oil massage, herbal massage, foot scrub and hair removal offered. You can also follow a 20-hour massage course for 5,000 baht that takes ten days. 230 baht/hr.
- Maliwan Thai Cooking Class, 9 Sip Sam Hang Rd (use the rear entrance of the building near the Chinese temple on Krisi Road), ☎ . 09:00-20:30 daily (except on the 1st of each month). Classes are run by an English-speaking Thai chef in a clean and well-equipped kitchen. Their half-day lessons open with a demonstration, after which you can start preparing and cooking the food at an individual work-station. Classes are relatively small, limited to a maximum of eight people. At the end of the lesson, you can enjoy the food you have prepared in an informal atmosphere. The class ends with a course certificate. 1,000-2,000 baht/class.
- May Kaidee's 2 Cooking School, 33 Samsen Rd (near the intersection with Samsen Soi 1, look for the purple front), ☎ . 09:00-13:00, 13:00-17:00 daily. A vegetarian and vegan cooking school in the Samsen area north of Khao San Road. You'll shop at the local market to pick fresh ingredients and learn meat-free traditional Thai recipes (as well as unique food such as the delicious pumpkin hummous). The owner has been an experienced vegan cook for many years and has a recipe book available for purchase. Those interested need to give at least a day or so advance notice (if lucky, you can just try to show up at the morning session and they might let you in). The school also has a restaurant with many vegetarian dishes and as a guest house attached to it. 1,200 baht/day.
- Sor. Vorapin Gym, 13 Trok Kasap (at the end of a dusty alley off Soi Rambuttri), ☎ . 07:30-09:30 and 15:00-17:00 daily. If you dare, you might want to learn muay thai (Thai boxing). Beginners and walk-ins are welcome. Shorts and gloves are provided at the course. The English instruction may not be too detailed, but key phrases like "punch", "kick", and "one-two" are in place. Wear protection though! If all this is a bit too heavy for you, it's also possible to sit on a bench outside and watch the trainings take place. Saves you 1,000 baht on an actual muay thai match! 400 baht.
- Thai Cooking School BKK, 35 Samsen Rd (diagonally across from 7-Eleven and Samsen Soi 2), ☎ . 09:00-18:00 daily. A Thai cooking school that has different kind of classes available. The four hour-class includes a market trip, preparing and cooking the food, and then eating each of the five dishes. Other classes include a fruit sculpture and vegetable carving class and learning to make food from scratch. Making a registration in advance is recommended, but drop-ins are welcome. 1,200 baht.
Obviously the first place to go shopping is Khao San Road itself. Simple stores line up the street selling dresses, shirts, skirts, accessories, shoes, and bags, usually for a bargain. Many of these are vintage, as that's popular among the Khao San crowd. There are also the usual souvenir and handicraft stores.
Hill tribe women dressed in ethnic clothing walk up and down Khao San Road all day, usually with the croaking sounds that come from their ornamental frogs. They approach tourists all day, trying to sell them accessories, hammocks and ethnic handicrafts. They are quite friendly, and back off with a clear "no", but once they know you're interested, many of these sellers congregate around you hoping to make some profit.
Always beware of getting ripped off. Never buy anything valuable in this area as there are many scams and tricks being played. Khao San Road is home to many wholesale silver jewellery stores, but don't even think about buying there. A common scam is to ask a lot more for a gem than its real value. Touts for suits approach men walking along Khao San Road, but never go with them — getting tailored clothes in Khao San Road is a complete waste of money as quality is extremely poor. If you really want a suit, head to the city centre for better alternatives.
Other problematic products for sale include counterfeit clothes, pirated films and even fake diplomas. The authorities here don't seem to care, but you might get in trouble once you arrive in your home country. The Banglamphu Market north of Khao San Road is a good place to pick up cheap Thai knock-offs of everything, from jeans to Italian sneakers, as well as a few posh Thai silk stores. Food stalls are also abound in this area.
As plenty of travellers use Khao San Road as their base on the way to the beaches, a number of second-hand book stores have congregated in this area. Expect dusty stores with books completely worn out — but usually prices are cheaper than elsewhere. Some of the newer book stores have a fresher appearance and even sell new books. The usual English fiction titles are available, including backpacker favourites like The Beach. If you're into non-fiction, get one of the titles on Thai or Southeast Asian history and culture. Some book stores have a buy-back scheme, so you can sell the book back to the store for half the price after you have finished your trip.
- Book Lover, 60 Soi Rambuttri (before the bend in the alley if you're walking from Chakrabongse Road). Tu-Su 12:00-22:30. One of the cleaner and more organised book stores in the area. They have a good selection of titles about the history of the countries in Southeast Asia. Of course they also have the usual stack of fiction titles, travel guides and maps. They also have dedicated language sections with books written in Dutch, French, German, Japanese, Swedish and some other languages. The staff are pleasant and more helpful than in other book stores. When you buy a book, they will mark it. At a later date, you can sell it back to them for half the price.
- Bookazine, 62 Khao San Rd (opposite Shaman Books), ☎ . till 22:00. Another branch of the Bookazine chain, this one right on Khao San Road. Beside English-language books and travel guides, they have a fairly large stock of foreign newspapers and magazines. Also English-language newspapers about Thailand are for sale here. It is only a small shop, so you might finish browsing rather quickly.
- Moonlight Book Shop, 46/1 Khao San Rd (in the alley that goes to Hippie de Bar). 11:00-23:00 daily. Not so much a book store, more like an alleyway with many used books for sale. It's a typical Khao San Road-store that sells easy to read fiction titles. All the usual hippie and backpacker favourites are available.
- Rim Khob Fa Books (ร้านหนังสือริมขอบฟ้า), 78/1 Ratchadamoen Klang Rd (at the Democracy Monument roundabout), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. 10:00-19:00 daily. This is a big and upscale store that looks a lot more professional than the other book stores around Khao San Road. Most of its customers are Thai students who come for the large stock of English-language academic books on languages, arts and history. But they also have plenty of general interest books, such as travel guides and cultural books.
- Shaman Books, 71 Khao San Rd (opposite Bookazine), ☎ . 08:00-23:00 daily. Biggest bookstore of Khao San Road, very dusty and seems uncompelling, but has the largest collection of used books. It has the typical English language novels and classics, but also, as the name 'Shaman' may suggest, a selection of collection of religion, meditation and culture books. Some shelves have books in Dutch, German, Spanish and Scandinavian languages. A used copy of Homer's "The Odyssey" costs around 150-200 baht. The staff seems uninterested, but you can just browse yourself. They also opened a second branch in Susie Walking Street.
- Ton's Bookseller, 327/5 Rambuttri Rd. 10:00-20:00 daily. This small book store only has one lane of general knowledge books in English as the left corridor is filled with books in Thai. At least there is a good selection of books on politics and the Thai language, along with cultural, historical and religious books about Thailand and Southeast Asia. Also a small amount of fiction titles.
|This page uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:|
|Budget||Under 100 baht|
|Splurge||Over 500 baht|
Khao San Road offers some of the cheapest and most diverse food selections anywhere in Bangkok. Travellers from all over the world attend the road, so there is a high demand for all kinds of ethnic food. Alongside the usual Thai dishes, Indian, Italian and Jewish cuisine are especially well-represented, as are restaurants specialised in vegetarian food.
Street carts on the road sell decent pad thai (fried noodles), quail eggs, roti (like a pancake), falafel, hummus, various bugs and some sell just cocktails. However, it's worth noting that much of it is specifically geared for backpackers — even the local pad thai, especially the 10 baht variety, saves money on the ingredients and uses soy sauce instead of the traditional tamarind sauce.
As Khao San Road leaves its backpacker roots, standards (and prices) are rising. In the last ten years, many popular international food outlets have set up branches in Khao San Road, including Burger King, McDonald's and Subway. More mid-range restaurants are opened on a daily basis, but don't expect to splurge. Those looking for truly good food would be advised to head elsewhere, such as to Sukhumvit.
- Chabad House Kosher Restaurant (ชาบัด เฮ้าส์), 96 Rambuttri Rd (in the middle of Rambuttri Road), ☎ . Su-Th 10:00-22:00, F 10:00-15:00. This restaurant is part of an international Hasidic chain with more than 2,000 branches all over the world. It is ideal for Jewish travellers that keep kosher. There is a large meat menu with the opportunity to taste some great kosher Thai cuisine. Or get a schnitzel with hummus. Finally something different than the usual pad thai that's on every street corner! They also have a synagogue (services daily at 10:00) and a small store, where you can purchase packet soups, matza, and other kosher items. 50-100 baht.
- May Kaidee's 1, 111 Soi Bowonrangsi (in the alley behind Burger King), ☎ . 09:00-23:00 daily. One of the best vegetarian restaurants in the area that has been serving hippie-types since 1988. Ordering is straightforward, as you can just pick a dish from the laminated placemat with photos. Try the papaya salad or go for something completely new. May Kaidee's 3 from the same owner is at the other side of Soi Bowonrangsi, just a 100 metres walk from this branch. 40-80 baht.
- Mr Yim's, Soi Rambuttri (opposite Merry V guest house, right at the temple wall). Mr. Yim had to move out of his building and now sells his food as a (permanent) street vendor at the same corner, using the temple wall as the back wall of his place. Food is still a great value, with a wide selection of quality products, including veggie options. The big baguettes, and the breakfast, are well worth it. 30-70 baht.
- Oh My Cod!, Rambuttri Village Inn Bldg, 95d Soi Rambuttri (in the middle of Soi Rambuttri), ☎ . 19:30-23:00 daily. An ultra-clean and modern British cafe. It is inside the bricked courtyard at the entrance to Rambuttri Village Inn, where the noise of the alley fades away. There's plenty of food available, like burgers, steak, fish and chips, and eggs. They can also make a special order on request. They have plasma screen televisions and a friendly staff. 60-100 baht.
- Popiang House (พอเพียง เฮ้าส์), 43 Soi Rambuttri (in the middle of Soi Rambuttri), ☎ . 24 hours. A typical Khao San Road restaurant that is actually on Soi Rambuttri. It's a street restaurant with red plastic chairs and cheap yellow tables. Mostly known by backpackers for delicious seafood; their grilled fish is a good option. It is also a great place to meet other backpackers while enjoying a cheap beer (only 50 baht for a large one). As a result, it can be crowded on evenings. 60 baht.
- Roti-Mataba, 136 Phra Athit Rd (in front of Phra Sumen Fort), ☎ . Tu-Su 09:00-22:00. This immensely popular eatery is one of the few in the area serving Thai-Muslim dishes, such as roti, mataba (a kind of stuffed pancake) and massaman curry. Sitting downstairs gives the best local experience, as you can smell the food being prepared and it feels very cramped. Upstairs has air-conditioning and is more comfortable. A bit of a downer is that the snacks are fairly small, so order two or more meals if you are really hungry. 50-100 baht.
- Sakura House, 4F, 98/1 Rambuttri Rd (opposite Viengtai Hotel, enter a small alley of a clinic sandwiched between Suksabai Bar and take the lift to the fourth floor), ☎ . 09:30-23:00 daily. A little hard to find Japanese restaurant, but definitely worth it once you do. It's popular among the locals for lunch and dinner, as visitors can sit at wooden tables the traditional Japanese way. For the rest, it doesn't look all that special, but it is cheap, the staff is nice and free water is served. The Japanese dishes are delicious; recommendations are listed on the menu. Try the okonomiyaki, it's good. 40 baht.
- Take-a-Seat (เทคอะซีท), 90 Phra Athit Rd (near the corner with Soi Chana Songkhram), ☎ . 08:00-23:30 daily. Simple and clean eatery with Thai and international dishes. The interior looks basic, but that's all you need to enjoy a good meal. Don't expect any English from the staff, but the menu is in English and has pictures, so you can just point to the dish of your choice. Try the green curry fried rice. 50-80 baht.
- Wild Orchid Villa (ไวด์ ออคิด วิลล่า), 8 Soi Chana Songkhram (in the alley between Soi Rambuttri and Phra Athit Road), ☎ . 24 hours. A good restaurant that offers green and red curries, and delicious tom yum soups at fairly low prices. Some of the curries can be spicy. It has a nice interior with either wooden chairs or lounge couches. Excellent for people-watching if you take a seat near the pavement. They could turn the volume of the music down a bit for lunch though. It is also a newly renovated guest house, and rooms cost 700-1,500 baht depending on facilities. 80-150 baht.
- Aquatini Bar & Restaurant (ร้านอาหาร อควาตินี่ บาร์), Navalai River Resort, 45/1 Phra Athit Rd (right in front of Phra Arthit pier), ☎ . 06:30-01:00 daily. Part of the Navalai River Resort, this luxury restaurant with Thai and Western dishes has river views over the Chao Phraya River. The interior of the indoor bar has random postmodern touches. It's best to stick to outdoors though, as the deck gives the best views. The breeze, trees and light music make the ambience chilled out. Mostly foreigners visit this place, and the staff make it feel a bit like being inside a resort (well, which you are). The kitchen sure knows how to keep their dishes true to the Thai tongue, though. Try the tom kha kai — it's whiter than white. 300-400 baht.
- Ethos, 85/2 Soi Bowonrangsi (in the alley behind Burger King), ☎ . 09:00-22:00 daily. This is a unique place with an attitude. No MSG, preservatives or artificial colours and flavours, instead you'll be eating organic dishes from Thai, Indian, Italian and Middle Eastern cuisine. A comfortable place that attracts crowds who are into spirituality and yoga. Free Wi-Fi. Also try the coffee and deserts. Some of the waiters can be rude. 150 baht.
- La Casa (ร้านอาหารอิตาเลียน ลาคาซ่า), 210 Khao San Rd (opposite Mulligan's Irish Pub), ☎ . 12:00-00:00 daily. Italian restaurant with quite a professional outlook. It's interesting how they mixed Thai elements like Buddha images into the European interior. The pizzas are good, but skip the pastas. It must be said that compared to other restaurants, you get fairly little for what you pay. But at least you have views on Khao San Road itself. Try the Calzone, a pizza that's folded over before being cooked in the oven. 275 baht.
- Ranee's (ร้านอาหาร ราณี), 77 Trok Mayom (in the small alley south of Khao San Road), ☎ . 07:00-00:00 daily. Hidden among spas and small bars and restaurants down an alley that runs parallel to Khao San Road, this Italian restaurant offers the usual pizzas and pastas, though you will be better served making a selection from the Thai dishes. The curries are delicious (but don't be surprised to find that the jungle curry is made on a watery base and not on a coconut base like other curries — this is normal for jungle curry). Serving sizes are sufficient but not large. Free Wi-Fi. 150 baht.
- Saffron, 86 Phra Athit Rd (take a right from Soi Chana Songkhram, opposite the FAO office), ☎ . 08:00-21:00 daily. European-style interior with all the typical Thai dishes. It's also a bakery, and their pies are just waiting to be eaten (try the carrot cake!). Just be warned that many of their dishes and drinks are low-fat and low-sugar, so Thai tea doesn't taste that good. Their menus are loved by vegetarians. 100 baht.
- Tham Na Hometaurant, 175 Samsen Rd (walk north along Chakrabongse Road, cross the bridge, then a fair hike along Samsen Road, restaurant on the left-hand side), ☎ . M-Sa 08:00-21:00. Many of those that cannot find May Kaidee's 2 stumble across this gem. There's some excellent vegetarian and organic food here that even the most picky meat eater would enjoy. There's a kind of homey and cosy feel with a nice staff. The owner has previously lived in the US, and speaks good English. Try the mushroom curry. 100-120 baht.
- Tom Yum Kung (ร้านอาหาร ต้มยำกุ้ง), 9 Trok Mayom (in an alley at the police station side of Khao San Road), ☎ . 11:00-02:00 daily. Named after Thailand's national dish, it is one of the best restaurants the area has to offer. It's gigantic neon sign may seem cheesy, but the restaurant itself is one of the classiest along Khao San Road. Its square is decorated in traditional Thai style, where the noise of the road cannot be heard. Try some of their authentic Thai dishes, like tom yam goong or som tam, or one of their excellent fish menus (which get you stuffed for sure). 150 baht.
- Sara Restaurant (ร้านอาหาร ซ่าร่า), Nouvo City Hotel, 2 Samsen Soi 2 (just a few metres inside Samsen Soi 2, across May Kaidee's 2), ☎ . 06:00-22:00 daily. A long-standing halal restaurant part of the Nouvo City Hotel. The interior is decorated in a modern boutique style that gives it a romantic ambience. A friendly staff serves Thai, Indian and international cuisine. Try some Thai favourites, such as tom yam, papaya salad or fried chicken with basil. 500-600 baht.
You might like a freshly brewed coffee in the early morning, or some coconut juice or iced chocolate to cool you down in the hot afternoon. There are plenty of cafes serving these on Khao San Road. Coffee World is across from McDonald's in Buddy's Shopping Plaza and there is a Starbucks in a nice converted house on Sunset Street.
Go to Phra Athit Road for a more sophisticated way of getting some caffeine. It is home to many colonial-style townhouses and shophouses that have been turned into artsy cafes and restaurants.
- Coffee and More, 102/1 Phra Athit Rd (near Phra Arthit Pier), ☎ . M-F 10:00-21:30, Sa-Su 11:00-23:00. A pleasant cafe in Baan Phra Athit overlooking a garden. It is modern, but with a cosy decor. They have a wide selection of coffees, teas and great cakes. Breakfast options limited though. Especially popular with young up-and-coming Thais.
- Ricky's Coffee Shop (ริคกี้ คอฟฟี่ช็อป), 22 Phra Athit Rd (in the same complex as New Merry V Guesthouse), ☎ . 08:00-22:00 daily. There are a number of Ricky's Coffee Shops, but this is the original one at Phra Athit Road. A nice place to relax with a cup of coffee (or a cold afternoon beer). They also have Western and Thai dishes, and while they seem simple, they taste really good (try the rice with cashew nuts!). You can also try one of their delicious sandwiches. Its interior is impressive, a bit like an old Chinese-style tea house.
Bars and pubs
One night in Khao San
While there is much more to see in Bangkok than Khao San... yeah yeah, blah blah, we all know that. Party time! Khao San Road has some of the best bars in town and spending one night of your trip here is a must.
You might want to start with a romantic dinner and views over the Chao Phraya River. No place does this better than Aquatini Bar and Restaurant. A good alternative is the seafood at the al fresco terrace of Tom Yum Kung. If you want to save money, or want to have dinner at a typical Khao San-style restaurant, go for the seafood at Popiang House.
Probably one of the most enjoyable activities on Khao San Road is people-watching. Center Khao Sarn has the best views of the bunch with many roadside seats. Mulligans is a worthy alternative, and great for conversation as there's no music outside.
We've seen enough of Khao San Road, so time to head elsewhere. The locals flock to live performance bars and so should you — Adhere the 13th if you're into blues and jazz happens at Jazz Happens! Bar. If live music is not your thing, head to Bangkok Bar, another popular bar among the locals.
Most bars close around 01:00, but if you haven't had enough just yet, head for Gazebo Club. It is a unique rooftop club in Middle Eastern style that doesn't close until the early hours. Still not done? Just head back to Center Khao Sarn or Mulligans where you can wash a cold Chang beer down 24/7.
Khao San Road has some of the cheapest bars in town, and these days even Thais head down to knock back a few. Khao San bars are mostly about relaxing — just sitting outside, looking at people and enjoying the atmosphere. Some just walk around with a beer in their hand. A can of Chang beer is 25 baht at 7-Eleven. Worth a look are a few street side VW vans converted to mobile bars, serving cocktails made from cheap liquor.
The tourist crowd has spread to both Soi Rambuttri and Rambuttri Road in the north. Both of them have a relaxed pace great for people-watching. The bars have many seats lined up along the road and the music is slightly toned down for casual conversation. If you want to go where the locals go, there are some artsy/indie bars at Phra Athit Road and Ratchadamnoen Klang Road popular with local art students.
- 999 West, 108/5-6 Rambuttri Rd (in Susie Walking Street), ☎ . 11:00-14:00 daily. The pub that started it all, when it still had its old name Susie Pub. It is big and dark, usually packed, and playing pop music. It is very popular among Thai locals. The owners of the pub have branched out to owning Austin Pub, Tom Yum Kung and The Club. Don't forget your ID as it is sometimes checked upon entry.
- Adhere the 13th, 13 Samsen Rd (walk north along Chakrabongse Road, cross the bridge and you will find the bar at your left-hand side), ☎ . 18:00-00:00 daily. A small blues bar. There is always a band playing on the live stage, so visiting this one is an absolute must if you're into blues. But even for those not into it, the intimate atmosphere and tight spaces are an interesting experience for everyone.
- Bangkok Bar (บางกอก บาร์), 100 Rambuttri Rd (next to Suksabai Bar), ☎ . 18:00-01:00 daily. Bangkok Bar is a popular bar with local Thais. Live performances are given. Thursdays are busy, Fridays and Saturdays very crowded. A Chang beer is 70 baht, but the locals seem to drink bottles of scotch or cocktails.
- Brick Bar, GF, Buddy's Shopping Plaza, 265 Khao San Rd (at the far end of Buddy's Shopping Plaza), ☎ . 20:00-01:00 daily. Brick Bar is an underground ska and reggae bar with live music performances. Its interior is in an old-fashioned Western style. It is very popular with the locals, and extremely crowded in weekends. Known to check IDs. Entry 150 baht.
- Center Khao Sarn (เซ็นเตอร์ ข้าวสาร), 80-84 Khao San Rd (in the middle of Khao San Road's south side), ☎ . 24 hours. Easily the best spot for people-watching on Khao San Road. It's probably the largest venue, in the middle of the street, with its seats right beside the road; and it's always open. It's a great place to chat, sip a beer and lose track of time. There's also a pool table and simple dishes are served. And if you run out of money, there's an ATM at both sides of the bar.
- Gecko Bar, Soi Rambuttri (at the corner near Bella Bella House). A relaxed open air bar on Soi Rambutri. With standard drinks prices and characterful staff, this is a great place to meet other travellers and watch the world go by. Large beer is around 70-80 baht.
- Golf Bar, 65 Khao San Rd (opposite D&D Inn). Small bar whose slogan is "Cocktails, very strong. We do not check ID card." One of the cheapest on the road with 50-baht small Chang beers and 200-baht buckets.
- Gulliver's Traveler's Tavern (กัลลิเวอร์ ทราเวิลเลอร์ ทาเวิร์น), 2/2 Khao San Rd (at the corner of Khao San Road and Chakrabongse Road), ☎ . 11:00-01:00 daily. Nowadays one might associate this kind of bar more with Sukhumvit, however this is actually the first Gulliver's and it is right at Khao San Road. It is a sports pub with billiards, and being well-known among the backpacker community, this is a place to swap stories. Beer is at rather steep prices for Khao San though, around 150 baht a pint. They also offer some mid-range priced Western food. The atmosphere is quite relaxed at daytime, while it gradually turns into a rather wild dance party as the night wears on.
- Hippie de Bar, 46 Khao San Rd (follow the Tom Yum Kung neon sign in an alley), ☎ . 11:00-01:00 daily. Psychedelic interior with mismatched furniture, but not really hippie style. Outside is a nice place to chill with a beer or cocktail. It's a bit off the main street, so no noise from there, but the reggae and tropical music are a bit too loud for a casual conversation.
- Jazz Happens!, 2F, Bar Bali Pub and Restaurant Bldg, 58 Phra Athit Rd (take a left after coming from Soi Chana Songkhram and cross the street), ☎ . 18:00-00:00 daily. Some good live jazz played by Thai jazz students along with their professor. It is a collaboration with Silpakorn University's "Faculty of Jazz". Very popular among the locals, but foreigners do not seem to know about it. It has recently enlarged and now has two live music stages, one upstairs and one downstairs. It's best to come around 21:00 as that's when the night really starts to kick in.
- Molly Bar, 108 Rambuttri Rd (on the road that runs parallel to Khao San Road in the north), ☎ . 13:00-01:00 daily. There's a really relaxed vibe in this colonial-style bar, that has been around for quite some time now. In the evening, there is a band playing in the corner. Don't expect a quality band, but the live music does give this bar its laid-back feel. It spills out onto the road with plenty of seating outside, so it is a nice alternative for people-watching. And there's a lot to see, as a diverse group of customers attend, including locals.
- Mulligans (มัลลิแกน ไอริชบาร์), 2F, Buddy's Shopping Plaza, 265 Khao San Rd (inside the Buddy Shopping Plaza), ☎ . 24 hours. Opened in 2009, this Irish pub has a daily promotion between 20:00 and 02:00, when a large beer or a cocktail sets you back 110 baht. The area downstairs is relaxed, and right beside the road, so a great place for talking and people-spotting. There is no music downstairs, but the atmosphere is still good as soft music comes from the other side of the street. Upstairs is a large Irish pub. There are often live performances there or you can just play the arcades.
- Reggae Bar, Trok Mayom (where Trok Mayom meets Damnoen Klang Nuea Road). 15:00-01:00 daily. Nice relaxing al fresco atmosphere where you can get a cold beer and some smokes while listening to Bob Marley all day. DJ Chicken performs, so you're in for a good night. You can also just watch football at the big screen or play some pool. At daytime only the small street side front of the bar opens, so you might want to kick in after dinner.
- Sabai Bar, 197 Khao San Rd (at the mouth of the Sunset Street complex), ☎ . 08:00-02:00 daily. This Thai and Western bar and restaurant offers a good view on the road. Its interior looks modern and there are many black and white cushions you can sit on. It's a relaxing place to just sit, relax and knock back a few beers or cocktails.
- Sawasdee House (สวีทตี้ เฮ้าส์), 147 Soi Rambuttri (at the corner of Soi Rambuttri and Chakrabongse Road), ☎ . 24 hours. Another people-watching spot, this time along Soi Rambuttri. The tables outside are good for conversation and people-watching, and you can smoke sheesha if you wish. You can also sit inside, but talking is more difficult as the music is very loud. The interior looks nice, with traditional Thai decoration all around. They have plenty of beers and cocktails available, as well as simple Thai dishes to go with them.
- Silk Bar (ซิลค์ บาร์ แอนด์ เรสเตอร์รอง), 129-131 Khao San Road (in the middle of Khao San Road), ☎ . 06:00-01:00 daily. Every day after dusk, this place starts to get packed with customers who want to have fun till the early night. It is touted as having the best view on the road, but this is not entirely the case. The bar's location inside a small alley makes it harder to see the road, although the balcony still does a decent job. There is a DJ playing in the evenings, and the music is at a good level, allowing you to talk with other people. They also serve simple Thai dishes.
- Suksabai (สุขสบาย เรสเทอรองด์), 96 Rambuttri Rd (opposite Viengtai Hotel), ☎ . 24 hours. Suksabai is touted as a restaurant, and they have a large menu with Thai, grill and Italian dishes in the 80-130 baht price range. While decent for budget travellers, the real attraction of this place is its outdoors seating. Seats are lined up onto the main road every night, which makes it is a good place to hang out, talk and watch football on the big screens. Beer and cocktails here are slightly cheaper than on Khao San Road; a large Chang beer goes for 80 baht. It's best to only go inside for the toilet, as its interior is rather uninspiring and messy.
- Sunset Bar and Garden Restaurant (สุขสบาย เรสเทอรองด์), 199 Khao San Rd (at the back of the Sunset Street complex), ☎ . 08:00-02:00 daily. More upclass than the other bar/restaurants around Khao San Road, it is in a little courtyard away from the road, which makes it a nice place to escape from the chaos. The courtyard and the building is in a nice European Mediterranean-style, and they have the usual coffee and beer. It is also a good place to eat, with some mid-ranged Thai and international cuisine on offer. There are live music performances from Thursdays to Sundays.
- Tak Sura (ตักสุรา), 156/1 Tanao Rd (walk to the Burger King side of Khao San Road, take a right into Tanao Road, cross Ratchadamnoen Klang Rd, walk on for 200 metres, then through a small alley on the right), ☎ . 18:00-01:00 daily. While the locals at first weren't interested in the dingy foreigner ghetto known as Khao San Road, over time it has gained status among Bangkok's indie and artsy types as the place to hang out. Tak Sura is one of those places where the locals go — particularly humanities students from the nearby universities. The place is in a mansion that's over one hundred years old, but most visitors just sit outside on the patio furniture. It is somewhat difficult to find, as it is hidden in an alley with only a Thai sign up.
Bangkok's nightlife has a difficult time living up to its notorious reputation — and Khao San Road in particular. While many roadside bars are open 24 hours, nightclubs close at 03:00. The only exception to this rule seems to be Gazebo Club, so many of the Khao San vagabonds go there when the rest of the bunch closes down. You can also hail a taxi and go to the city centre, as more nightclubs there stay open until the early hours. Always bring your passport as all nightclubs are required to check it upon entry.
- Café Democ (คาเฟ่ เดอมอค), 78 Ratchadamnoen Klang Rd (near Democracy Monument), ☎ . Tu-Su 11:00-13:00. A sleepy cafe/restaurant at daytime, this place really starts going around 20:00 when the furniture is pushed to the walls and it becomes a nightclub. While unpretentious and laid-back, it is still fun, mostly for the indie crowd that is into hip-hop, house and techno. Unless there's a special event, it doesn't get too crowded as it is slightly off the main thoroughfare. Free entry.
- The Club, 123 Khao San Rd (in the middle of Khao San Road), ☎ . 11:00-03:00 daily. One of the better clubs on Khao San Road, and you can't miss it, as it has a huge purple neon sign. It is an Ibiza-style club that basically consists of one large room in Italian style. It might feel a bit overdone and pretentious for Western crowds, but Thai locals flock to this place in large numbers. Music styles played are house, electro, techno and trance. Free entry.
- Club Culture, Ratchadamnoen Klang Rd (Panfa Leelard pier, near Wat Ratchanaddaram), ☎ . 21:00-02:00 daily. Club Culture was established in 2007 at Si Ayutthaya Road, but moved to its current location in 2010. Its placing is rather odd, far off from Khao San Road in a beautiful four-storey block of abandoned shop houses. It is one of Bangkok's leading clubbing venues, as its three to four separate music rooms serve a variety of music styles at the same time. Not all rooms are necessarily open, it depends on the amount of visitors. It caters to a diverse crowd, including the traditional Khao San indie crowd, but also to those into dance and house music. Entry fee varies, usually 200 baht including one drink.
- Gazebo Club (กาซีโบ คัลบ), 44 Chakrabongse Rd (near the Airport Express bus stop), ☎ . 20:00-06:00 daily. This is the most popular after-hours club of Khao San Road. It stays open way longer than the other clubs, so it really starts to get crowded after 01:00. It has a nice atmosphere, as it is decorated completely in a kind of Moroccan and Arabic setting (including waterpipes). Music is a combination of hip-hop, house, electro and trance. Expect a hefty bill though, as just one Heineken Longneck sets you back 200 baht. Ladies usually get in for free. Entry 300 baht including one drink.
- Sanook Bar, 199 Khao San Rd (inside the Sunset Street complex), ☎ . 18:00-02:00 daily. The feature of this small nightclub is its hip and modern interior with flashy lights and colours. It feels a bit like a VIP room or luxurious lounge bar, as it is more about chilling on seats and sofas than it is about dancing. There's a pool table and a live performing DJ. The window gives a nice view of the mansion that houses Starbucks. Free entry.
|This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:|
|Budget||Under 1,000 baht|
|Mid-range||1,000 baht to 2,500 baht|
|Splurge||Over 2,500 baht|
Khao San Road is Bangkok's main backpacker drag. Cheap new guest houses spring up and disappear on a monthly basis, therefore accommodation is hard to recommend, but there is always something available for a small budget. As hipsters and upper class folks have been starting to discover the road, it is more and more becoming an area that has accommodations for every price class.
Before checking into an unfamiliar place, always ask to see a room first, and don't be afraid to test the fan or the air-conditioning if you think you will need it. Some Khao San Road guest houses do not accept Thai guests, or any extra guests at all in some cases.
Most backpackers head straight for Khao San Road as it has the cheapest accommodation in all of Bangkok. Don't have high hopes on luxury if you're staying here. Most of these places are dark, dingy, unclean and if you're unlucky, you might have to spend the night with bedbugs. Also keep in mind that anything on Khao San Road itself will be loud and anything with exterior windows will get hot.
Try walking a block or two off Khao San proper to find something a little quieter. Soi Rambuttri, the small street past the police station, has reasonable guest houses, though can still be loud in the evenings. The street gets darker and quieter as it wraps around the temple grounds of Wat Chana Songkhram, where you can find some quiet guest houses. Samsen Road and the surrounding area is another escape from the noise and chaos with cheap guest houses at a further distance of the action.
- Bella Bella House (เบลล่า เบลล่า เฮ้าส์), 74 Soi Chana Songkhram (next to the 7-Eleven), ☎ . This budget guest house has 25 clean and new, if somewhat spartan rooms. Not the most exciting rooms, but they get the job done. There's no elevator, so take a lower floor room if you're lazy, though the upper floor rooms have a nice view at the rooftops of Wat Chana Songkhram. Internet access (not free), food and beer are all available in the medium-sized restaurant downstairs. Some complain about the rude and unfriendly managers, however. So you might want to stay elsewhere. 450-550 baht.
- D&D Inn (ดี แอนด์ ดี อินน์), 68-70 Khao San Rd (at the police station side of Khao San Road), ☎ . A huge hotel (by Khao San Road standards) with a roof-top swimming pool, massage facilities, and a very clean and efficient 24 hour internet cafe. All rooms have attached bathrooms, air-conditioning, TV, and rates include breakfast and use of the pool. They do not allow check-in until after 13:00. 750-1,100 baht.
- Green House (กรีนเฮ้าส์), 84 Rambuttri Rd (right next to Merry V Guesthouse), ☎ . A simple and functional guest house with 80 rooms close to Khao San Road. Some rooms are cleaner than others, so inspect before checking in. There's a wide range of rooms, including single, double and triple rooms with either fan or air-conditioning. Beside a guest house, it is also a restaurant, travel agency and internet cafe. 410-590 baht.
- Jennys Cafe and Guesthouse (เจนนี่ & เกสท์เฮาส์), 72/2 Samsen Soi 4 (walk north along Chakrabongse Road, cross the bridge, then follow Samsen Road and take a right into Soi 4), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Great small budget guest house situated on a quiet street just a few minutes walk from Khao San Road. Incredibly friendly Thai owner (Jenny), who speaks great English and is extremely helpful. Range of rooms from fan cooled with shared bathroom to air-conditioned doubles with private bathroom, balcony and fridge. Veggie friendly restaurant downstairs and free Wi-Fi. 200-500 baht.
- K.S. House (เคเอส เฮ้าส์), 133 Phra Sumen Rd (next to Siam Commercial Bank), ☎ . Another budget guest house that offers 55 standard rooms with either a fan or air-conditioning. They have a great cafe/restaurant with nice food set on a rooftop. Breakfast not included even though the website says so. Also, the free Wi-Fi does not reach most rooms. They do have internet terminals in the lobby, but you have to pay a fee to use them. 350-520 baht.
- Lamphu House (ลำพู เฮ้าส์), 75 Soi Rambuttri (in the middle of Soi Rambuttri), ☎ . Lamphu House is a resort-style guest house. Even its cheapest rooms have bamboo beds and rattan lamps, giving it a modern and airy feel. Cheap rooms only have a fan, shared bathrooms and no windows, while the more expensive rooms have air-conditioning, ensuite and balconies overlooking the courtyard. A big plus is that you can store your backpack here for about 10 baht a day. You don't need to be a hotel guest to use this service. 400-980 baht.
- Live Good Guesthouse, 81/2 Soi Bowonrangsi, Tanao Rd (in the alley behind Burger King, immediately next to New Central Guesthouse), ☎ . A basic and clean guest house. Rooms with shared bathrooms are small and spartan, and there are no power outlets. There are different kinds of rooms, the double fan room goes for 200 baht. There are internet, restaurant and laundry services available downstairs. 100-300 baht.
- My Friend Cafe and Guest House, 137 Chakrabongse Rd (from Khao San Road, walk 100 m north along Chakrabongse Road, guest house is on the left-hand side), ☎ . One of the cheapest solutions around, if the only thing you need is a bed. Has an internet cafe and free Wi-Fi. dorm 150 baht dorm, private room with shared bathroom 250 baht.
- NapPark Hostel, 5 Tani Rd (near the Tani Road and Chakrabongse Road intersection), ☎ . Absolutely great place to stay for backpackers as it has a Thai-style homey decoration with Thai cushions and garden surroundings. Rooms are dorms, but the bathrooms are among the cleanest of Khao San Road and there is free high-speed Wi-Fi throughout the building. The English-speaking staff are really nice and ready to help you 24 hours a day. You can chill out at their chic and cosy coffee bar. 480-750 baht per person.
- New Central Guest House, 81/1 Soi Bowonrangsi, Tanao Rd (in the alley behind Burger King), ☎ . This is a very basic guest house with small rooms, but it is quite cheap (and close to Khao San Road). They have no facilities, except for a free Wi-Fi hotspot, which doesn't reach every room. Toilets can be broken, and then need a bucket to flush. Ensuite showers work fine though. The doors are locked at night, so knock hard to wake up the owner and he can let you in. Unfortunately popular with the older male contingent, who can be violent towards the guests — both the hotel's and their own. 200-300 baht.
- New Joe Guest House (นิวโจ เกสท์เฮ้าส์), 81 Trok Mayom (walk south along Chakrabongse Road, then into a small alley on the left), ☎ . A basic guest house with small and simple rooms, but at least they are fairly clean. Try this place if you're just looking for a cheap place to sleep. It has a nice laid-back cafe/restaurant attached to it. They serve Thai and Western food, such as pizzas, and is set in a garden environment. 350-550 baht.
- New Merry V Guesthouse (นิวเมอร์รี่ วี เกสท์เฮ้าส์), 18-20 Phra Athit Rd, ☎ . A good low budget option for the budget conscious traveller. Its aging rooms are divided into fan, air-conditioned and "deluxe" rooms, the latter are more expensive, have a TV and don't face the busy street. Don't confuse this one with the other Merry V, which is in the middle of Soi Rambuttri. 450-550 baht.
- New Siam II (นิวสยาม 2), 50 Trok Rong Mai (in Trok Rong Mai, right around the corner from Soi Rambuttri), ☎ . One of the best hotels in the Soi Rambuttri area. It is just enough off the main drag to be quiet, but still close to the action. They advertise as having the largest rooms for the price and that claim seems to be true. The rooms are clean and well-maintained, and the staff is friendly. There are safe boxes in some rooms and lockers downstairs. The restaurant menu is basic and the food not too exciting, but the sofas are good to meet people. 690-840 baht.
- Penpark Place (เพ็ญภาค เพลส), 22 Samsen Soi 3 (a fair hike inside Soi 3), ☎ . This hotel is quite far from Khao San Road, but on the plus side, that's why this hotel is in such a peaceful environment. It is a clean and quiet place with a nice garden and river view at the rooftop. Rooms are quite large with a wide window. High-speed internet and free Wi-Fi available. A good place to relax, meet friends, and to have an early-morning coffee. 450-750 baht.
- Rainbow Guest House (เรนโบว์ เกสท์เฮ้าส์), 43 Chakrabongse Rd (opposite Gazebo Bar), ☎ . This place is basic, but its priced for it. They have air-conditioned dorm rooms that are good value. Amenities include free Wi-Fi, nice Indian food and beer, and free private security lockers for all guests (you can use your own padlock or borrow one of theirs). The noise can be troublesome though for the private rooms in the front near Gazebo Bar, but the dorms in the back are quieter. dorm 150 baht, private room 350-600 baht.
- Rambuttri Village Inn (รามบุตรี วิลเลจ อินน์), 95 Soi Rambuttri (in the middle of Soi Rambuttri), ☎ . Quiet series of uninspired buildings with small rooms, its main draw is its relaxing rooftop swimming pool. However, their website neglects to mention that it shuts down at 18:00 despite alluring photographs suggesting otherwise. Its rooms range from basic fan rooms to "deluxe" air-conditioned rooms. Biggest issue is the staff. If you have a problem, neither staff nor management will care about complaints nor will they offer refunds or compensation, even if it is the hotel's fault. They require a 1,000-baht refundable key deposit that can only be paid in cash (Thai baht only). If you cannot produce the deposit, they will not let you in your room even if you have already paid for it beforehand. There is no communal area. Free Wi-Fi. 700-1500 baht.
- Sawasdee Smile Inn (สวัสดี สไมล์ อินน์), 35 Trok Rong Mai (at the end of Soi Rambuttri), ☎ . This hotel has a unique colonial architecture, with more than one hundred rooms available. Sawasdee Hotels is a big chain with plenty of other locations as well. Things can get impersonal, the cleanliness is so-so and rooms are very basic and small. It really is for backpackers only, who do not have a lot of demands. There are other hotels in the area that offer bigger rooms, more amenities and better service for a similar price. 400-680 baht.
- Sawasdee Welcome Inn (เวลคัม สวัสดี อินน์), 5-7 Trok Rong Mai (at the end of Soi Rambuttri), ☎ . This is a decent guest house that is quiet, as it is off the busy Soi Rambuttri, but still close enough so you can walk there. Rooms are dark, and you get nothing more than a bed and a sink. Don't expect English-speaking staff either. 300-880 baht.
- Siam Oriental Inn (สยามโอเรียนเต็ล อินน์), 190 Khao San Rd (in the middle of Khao San Road), ☎ . Nice, clean and quiet rooms, both fan and air-conditioned, all with a private bathroom. There's a lively restaurant, an internet cafe where you can surf the web for 1 baht per minute and a photo-processing store. Other amenities include laundry, where you have to pay by kilogram, and luggage storage. 350-500 baht.
- Star Dome Inn (สตาร์ โดมอินน์), 104/1 Rambuttri Rd (in the road that runs parallel to Khao San Road in the north), ☎ . All rooms have a private bathroom with cold water. Hot water is only available in the more expensive rooms. Internet is available for 60 baht per hour and there are laundry facilities. The inn is next to a disco/pub, so expect excessive noise in the lower floor rooms. 400-600 baht.
- Thai Cozy House (ไทย โคซี่ เฮ้าส์), 111/1-3 Tani Rd (at the Tani Road and Sip Sam Hang Road intersection), ☎ . Family-run guest house with decent rooms that have cable TV, fridge, air-conditioning and hot shower. The cheaper rooms do not have windows. It is just far away enough from the crowds, but close enough to the action. They also have plenty of other services, including a restaurant, travel agent and internet. 550-1,000 baht.
There are several mid-range hotels in the area, with swimming pools, mini bars, etc. Mid-range covers a wide spectrum, from decent three-star hotels to upper class guest houses. Phra Athit Road is a good place to start looking, its location right beside the Chao Phraya River made it home to some more luxurious hotels.
- Amarin Inn (อัมรินทร์อิน), 96 Trok Surau Chakrabongse (from Santichaiprakan Park, walk to Phra Sumen Road, then pass the 7-Eleven and you'll see the Amarin Inn sign on the right), ☎ . It is down a long alley — far away from the noise of the main street, but only a few minutes walk from the action. It is fairly clean and spacious rooms of an older style, all with air-conditioning and en-suite bathrooms. Guests are allowed onto the roof to look at the Bangkok skyline, a rarity in the area. Wi-Fi is available on all floors and there is a free internet terminal. 800-1,500 baht.
- Bhiman Inn (พิมาน อินน์), 55 Phra Sumen Rd (in the middle of Phra Sumen Road), ☎ . This boutique hotel, with a rather odd logo, is a sister hotel of the Viengtai and is a bit cheaper. It is a fifteen-minute walk north of Khao San Road. Staff friendly, good swimming pool, but poor breakfast offering very little choice. 1,200-1,300 baht.
- Buddy Lodge (บัดดี้ ลอดจ์), BF, Buddy's Shopping Plaza, 265 Khao San Rd (in the shopping plaza behind Mulligans), ☎ . One of the few mid-range hotels right on Khao San Road. Rooms are good with fridge, TV, phone and air conditioning. It has a great rooftop pool, balcony, room service, free Wi-Fi and bar. 1,500-3,600 baht.
- Cha Cha Villa (โรงแรม วิลล่า ชาช่า), 36 Tani Rd (near the intersection with Chakrabongse Road), ☎ . Nice looking boutique hotel that is especially worth it for its amazing jungle gardens that include a waterfall and a pool. It also has a nice garden restaurant. Rooms have all the amenities, including air-conditioning, cable TV, en-suite bathroom and coffee/tea facilities. The views are a bit deceiving though. Do not leave valuables from your room, as you have to be careful with the cleaning staff. There are also no lockers available. 1,450-2,750 baht.
- Diamond House (ไดมอนด์ เฮาส์), 4 Samsen Rd, ☎ . A chic boutique hotel in the quieter Samsen area. The cheaper-end rooms are not that big and do not have windows. The rooms are clean though, and have cosy Thai atmosphere. Staff is also very helpful if you have questions or problems. A tip is to book this one on their website as their walk-in rates are much higher. 1,000-2,000 baht.
- Khaosan Palace (ข้าวสาร พาเลซ อินน์), 139 Khao San Rd (in the middle of Khao San Road), ☎ . A fairly basic guest house right in the middle of the action with an impressive Thai-style entrance and rooftop pool. The rooms are a bit on the small side, but always clean and include cable television, cold or hot shower and air-conditioning or fan. The pictures on their website do seem nicer than they are in reality though. Big downside of this hotel is the noise from nearby cafes, expect excessive noise till about 04:00 if your room is at the road side. 1,000 baht.
- New Siam River Side (นิวสยาม ริเวอร์ไซด์), 21 Phra Athit Rd (from Phra Arthit pier, take a right into Phra Athit Road and walk), ☎ . A great location at the banks of the Chao Phraya River, with the express boat pier and the Khao San Road area closeby. If you're willing to pay extra for it, make sure that you actually book a "river view room", as many of the other ones face the road! Rooms are quiet, clean and just good. The breakfast is big and varied, and served buffet-style beside the pool and river. Definitely worth it. The attached restaurant can also be visited by non-guests and mains go for 100 baht or less. 1,590-2,590 baht.
- New World City Hotel (โรงแรม นิวเวิลด์ ซิตี้), 2 Samsen Rd (immediately take a right after crossing the canal at Chakrabongse Road), ☎ . This hotel is for those on a lower mid-range budget. Rooms are okay, and some of them have a fun view over the canal. Some rooms are a bit dated though. It's only a short walk to Khao San Road, but is still far enough not to be annoyed by noise. 1,200-4,500 baht.
- Rikka Inn (ริกก้า อินท์), 259 Khao San Rd (next to Mulligans and Buddy's Shopping Plaza), ☎ . The first boutique hotel right on Khao San Road with good rooms in a modern style. They have air conditioning, private toilet and bathroom, but not much more. The swimming pool on the roof is an attraction, but only open from 10:00. Small and large safe deposit boxes available at 20-40 baht/day. The obligatory 1,000 baht deposit is uncool though. 1,150-1,450 baht.
- Baan Chantra, 120/1 Samsen Rd (walk north along Chakrabongse Road, cross the bridge, then a fair hike along Samsen Road, hotel on the right-hand side), ☎ . Baan Chantra is an upmarket hotel in a beautiful Thai historic home dating from 1936. The front rooms overlook the busy road, but it is relatively quiet at night. The rooms are spotless with ensuites, air conditioning, mini-bar and a full breakfast. The staff is very helpful. 2,700-4,500 baht.
- Navalai River Resort (นวลัย ริเวอร์ รีสอร์ท), 45/1 Phra Athit Rd (in front of Phra Athit pier), ☎ . Great riverside view of the Chao Phraya as you can hear the river flowing. The room looks spectacular; the style of the interior combines Thai traditional design with modern decoration. There's Wi-Fi available that works inside the rooms. Also has a great restaurant downstairs, the Aquatini Bar and Restaurant that is listed separately in the Eat section. 3,000-4,500 baht.
- Nouvo City Hotel, 2 Samsen Soi 2 (right next to the New World City Hotel, across from May Kaidee's 2), ☎ . A new boutique hotel with very nice rooms, a roof-top swimming pool, complete spa, free Wi-Fi for guests and a halal restaurant. Buffet breakfast is included with the price. 2,800-15,000 baht.
- Viengtai Hotel (โรงแรม เวียงใต้), 42 Rambuttri Rd (at the road that runs parallel to Khao San Road in the north), ☎ . This hotel is a popular choice for Thais visiting Bangkok. Rooms are large and have air conditioning, but are not really inspiring and the ones facing the road can be noisy because of the bars. It has a big pool. The staff is superbly efficient and friendly as they are in most hotels. The breakfast is superb, offering many choices among different cuisines. 2,400-5,200 baht.
There are plenty of places around Khao San that do your laundry. The general tariff is around 25-40 baht per kilo, and it's ready to be picked up the next day. Look around, as some laundromats even offer same-day pickup if you bring it in before 15:00. The Rambuttri Village Inn offers luggage storage for 20 baht per day.
If you don't stay at the road itself, toilets can be difficult to find. There is a reasonably clean one inside Buddy's Shopping Plaza — walk all the way in and take a right before entering Brick Bar. Price is 5 baht, but there are long queues at busy nights. Another public toilet can be found all the way inside Sunset Street, passing Starbucks on the left. Entry 5 baht. You can also try Burger King at the eastern end of the road.
Khao San Road is the worst district in Bangkok when it comes to scams and annoyances. Be highly skeptical of anyone telling you that your intended destination is currently closed. If someone offers you a free whole-day tuk-tuk ride, smile faintly and keep on walking. If you agree to this, you probably will get a free tuk-tuk ride all day, but the only thing you will see are dozens of shops where you get tricked into buying worthless gems, while the driver gets a commission. Never enter a tuk-tuk if someone else is trying to get you into one. A recent scam involves cheap transport offers to discos, massage parlours etc. late at night. The unwary who take up these offers will find themselves dropped off on a quiet street (shortcut), where the Tuk-Tuk has accomplices waiting to assault and rob any gullible tourists. Better pull over a taxi yourself.
Beware of private bus companies around Khao San Road offering direct trips from Bangkok to other cities with "VIP buses". Some are reputable and will be able to provide you with a great deal, but many of them are shopfronts for scam artists and dodgy services. The so-called direct "VIP" trips may end up changing three or four uncomfortable minibuses to the destination, and the 10-11 hour trip may as well turn into 17–18 hours. Also, you are likely to be hit for extra charges for various dubious services along the way and many operators will intentionally slow down the journey so you arrive in the middle of the night and can be coaxed into choosing their guest house — invariably the crappiest place, but pays the agency the highest commissions. Worst of all, since you have paid in advance, you have no recourse of any kind when this happens. Trips to Siem Reap in Cambodia are notorious for this. You can ask around Khao San Road, as a lot of people start and end their journeys there, and use an agent which another traveller has used without any hassles. But it is probably a better idea to do the trips independently using public BKS buses from the main bus terminals.
The police station, located at the Western end of Khao San Road, could be a valuable resource for travellers in trouble. However, extreme caution should be exercised when asking them for advice with regards to booking tickets — they will often arrange a tuk-tuk to an "approved agency" for you (which seems great and normally a better deal than you would be able to arrange), but the prices offered by the agency they send you to may be 2-3 times the price you could get elsewhere. Often, the tuk-tuk driver, on seeing you come out of the first agency without having bought a ticket, will take you to a second agency "...for no extra..." only to have the same or similar price quoted.
Be sure to read the Stay safe section of the main Bangkok article for other scams you should look out for.
Internet cafes are rivaled only by tuk-tuks for sheer ubiquity on Khao San Road. Almost any guest house has at least some form of internet available. Sawasdee Bangkok Inn has three computers set up that cost 10 baht for 15 minutes of surfing. It is a short walk through an alley in the middle of Khao San Road. The standard rate in the area is about 1 baht for 1 minute. Virtually all are set up for Skype and plain old international phone calls. Be aware that some cafes have applied limitations on their terminals, such as on printing documents and saving digital files — check whether this is the case before paying for it.
You can send (and even receive) post at one of the area's two post offices. Ratchadamnoen Post Office is a short walk through the alley behind Burger King. Banglamphubon Post Office is not far either, located in front of Wat Bowonniwet. From the eastern side of Khao San Road, just follow Tanao Road in northwards direction and take a right at the roundabout.
Famous sites within walking distance from Khao San Road include the Grand Palace (with Wat Phra Kaeo), Wat Pho, Wat Arun, Sanam Luang, Wat Ratchanaddaram and the Golden Mount. See Rattanakosin for details. There are also some more adventurous options:
- If you're up for a fun walk, hike to the Royal Barges National Museum at the other side of the river in Thonburi. The walking tour goes over the Pinklao Bridge, through a typical folk neighbourhood (follow the signs) and ends with the royal barges.
- Only on weekends, the Taling Chan Floating Market in Thonburi can be reached by bus 79 from Ratchadamnoen Klang Road. Ask a local where to get off or you might get lost.