Thailand's Center

KHAO SAN ROAD

 

Description : The backpacker's Capital of Thailand, if not Asia

Comments : OK, you might wonder why Khao San is referred to as a locality as it is only a street of Bangkok. Well, visit it and you will understand real fast why it is rather different from the rest of the city. Actually, western & Thai tourists are now touring the place !

What to do ? Sell everything as some places buy everything / Buy everything as shops sell everything, from crucifix to special massages / Get your hair dressed "Rasta style", your body decorated or your tongue (or anything else) pierced / Compete in the most outrageous dress (or undress) round-the-clock competition / Spot transsexuals / Test snacks, from banana crepes to roasted scorpions / Watch western movies in restaurants, any time of the day / Become an official student or journalist within 5 minutes / Watch street performers (for girls) & pretty Thai ladies (for men but are you sure those are real girls ?) / Shop for plane, bus or heaven (maybe soon) tickets / Head to the Police Info kiosk on Chakraphong Rd for advices & bus schedules (smile however optional) / Train Muay Thai boxing / Visit temples (yes, there are actually two nice temples in the area) / Bargain for souvenirs /

What you may not like ? The whole place altogether / Seeing western & Thai tourists touring the place like they would visit a zoo / The feeling that this is indeed a western zoo with some very interesting specimens / The ruddiness of some shopkeepers / The sometimes unreliable info from the agencies / Some rip-off as well / The continual offering of goods or services / The non-stop activity / The drunk after well past bed time / Some local people who have long forgotten that Thailand is the Land of Smiles (Oups ! Forgot that Khao San Rd is not Thailand...)

How long ? As long as you can stand it, have movies to watch or things to buy...

Where to stay ? 

Hotels  << Get precise info, book online and save money !

Nearly every backpacker now seem to stay in Banglamphu area, in particular in and around Khao San Road. Indeed, with more than a hundred guesthouse and a good central location, this area is difficult to avoid.
Recommending a place is however tricky as most of the guesthouses look similar : very basic and small fan Sgl with shared toilets go for B70 to B100 while Dbl are in the B100 to B150 bracket. Also, it is also likely that you will be met by a few "sorry, full !" during HS, if you arrive late afternoon or if looking for the cheapest rooms. The way to find a GH is therefore to pick up an area (see below) and go from one place to another until you find your available paradise... 

Khao San Road itself if the busiest place and should be the choice for night owl. This being said, quite a few places are a bit off the street and therefore more quiet than it may look. If you wishes to stay there, explore and remember that the noise really start at night !

Some of the GH on the alleys just off Khao San Rd or just South or East might offer a more quiet yet central alternative. In this latter area :

bulletNat II GH (282011), 91-95 Soi Post Office Rajdamnern, East of Tanao Rd, near the Democracy Monument / Sgl 100 or 150 w. shower, Dbl 150 (no window), 180, 200 (shower) or 240 (bigger) / Movies / Go there for the cheapest Sgl w. shower
bulletSweety GH (2802191), opposite the above / Sgl 100 or 120 (window), Dbl 140, 160 (window) or 200 (shower)
bulletCentral GH (2820667), on Soi east of Tanao Rd, north of the above / Sgl 80, Dbl 140 / Go there for the relative isolation, the correctly sized Dbl, the cheap Sgl / What you may not like : the size of the Sgl and the partition that does not reach the roof

More relaxed and quiet but also active at night is the area just at the west of Khao San, around Soi Rambutri, behind a temple. This is a popular and rather laid back area so the cheapest rooms go fast. From Chakraphong Rd, from the northern part toward the southern part, you will pass :

bulletSawasdee House (281 8138), 147 Soi Rambutri / Sgl 180 or 250 (balcony), Dbl 350 or 390 (balcony) / The lobby is impressive & busy but the clean rooms are rather small with no window for the cheapest
bulletChusri GH / Sgl 80, Dbl 140 / Go there to check the rooms
bullet My House GH / Sgl 120 or 160 w. shower, Dbl 200 or 300 w. shower / Relaxed lobby / Clean
bulletMerry V GH (2829267) / Sgl or Dbl without window 100 or 150
bulletGreen GH (6293025) / Dbl 130 or 190 (window) / Go there to see the rooms & to check if the staff has now learnt how to smile
bullet Bella Bella GH (no name outside) / Sgl or Dbl 120 or 220 / Basic but very clean and apparently quite empty as low profile. Some rooms have a nice view over the temple
bulletMango GH / Sgl or Dbl 120 or 220 / Go there to check the room, a bit off the road passing a tiny garden
bulletRoof Garden (Sun) GH / Sgl or Dbl 100 or 180 / Go there to check the rooms if you are accepted in as there is apparently a guest selection... Good idea from the safety point of view.
bulletSawasdee Krungthep Inn (6290072) / Dbl w. cable TV & HW shower 350 / Go there for a bit of luxury (basic deco) in a good location
bullet NP "Ngampit" GH (282 8114), 28/2 Trok Rong Mai, south of Apple GH (not recommended), hidden off Soi Rambutri at the turn / Sgl 70, Dbl 100 or 120 / Go there for the relative isolation yet good location just west of Soi Rambutri, the windows room, the cheap prices and the acceptable cleanliness / What you may not like : the size of the room, the closed doors from 2 to 6am and disturbing the "special" grandma...
bulletBaan Sabai (629 1599), 12 Soi Rongmai / Sgl 170, Twin 270 / Relaxed restaurant "Bangkok Time" / Clean & relatively big rooms but expensive as no window
bulletSawasdee Smile Inn (6292340), corner Soi Rongmai & Soi Rambutri / Sgl or Dbl w. cable TV but inside window 220 or 240 / Small, basic & not so clean basic rooms but the cheapest TV.
bulletChai's House, a bit off Soi Rongmai / Sgl or Dbl 100 or 200 / Go there to check the rooms
bulletWelcome Sawasdee Inn (629 2320), 5-7 Soi Rongmai, off Soi Rambutri / Dorm (5) 90, Sgl or Dbl w. inside window 190 or 210, Sgl or Dbl w. HW shower 260 or 300 / Relaxing lobby w. pool table / Expensive as small, basic and not so clean
bulletSunshine House (629 2647), south of Soi Rongmai / Sgl 100, 120 or 160 (window), Dbl 200, Trpl 250 / HW / Go there for the relative isolation & to check the room

For more isolation, go to the North of Banglamphu, 5mn walks from Khao San Rd crossing the Khlong (water canal). On the west of Samsen Rd or North of relaxing Phra Sumen Fort's area : 

bullet The River GH (2800876), 18/1 Soi Samsen 3, turn right after Wat Sangwet / One tiny Sgl 70, Upper Sgl 100, Dbl 130 & 150 / Go there for the small inside garden, the great relaxing atmosphere, the morning newspaper and, last but not all, the nice clean rooms at good price / What you may not like : the barking dogs next door or the rooster (they alternate), the mosquitoes, the bad isolation between the upper rooms & the too speedy fan
bullet Home & Garden GH (2801475), just after the above toward the river / Sgl 70 or 80, Dbl 130 or 150 / The "garden" & rooms here are not as nice as the above but it is clean, quiet and the Sgl are really a bargain. But make sure you obey the dozens rules, written in every language !
bulletVilla GH (281 7009), Soi 1, small street opp... Bonny Int. Co., just before the temple / Dbl 450 or 500, Sgl 250 / Traditional wooden house in a small garden / Go there for the beautiful decorated rooms full of charm & the peace of the place / What you may not like : not having attached bathroom nor modern facilities at this price !
bulletBamboo GH (282 3412), Soi 1, continuing after temple / Sgl 150, Dbl 200 / OK clean basic rooms in a traditional wooden house but expensive.
bullet "Pinn" Thai House (2820906), 5 Soi Watsungwait, south of the above, cross the bridge at Phra Sumen Fort and turn left / Sgl 80, Dbl 150 / Go there for the correctly sized wooden clean rooms & the original neighborhood with houses on water / What you may not like : the basic rooms & the rather dirty neighborhood 


On the east of Samsen Rd :

bulletNew World Lodge Hotel (281 5596), Soi 2, a Soi off Samsen Rd full of small restaurants / Acceptable Rooms 140(1) or 170(2) / Basic shower
bullet Rajata Hotel (281 8977), north of Soi 4 / Dbl w. TV, cold shower 300, room w. AC 360 (1) or 480 (2) / Go there for the nice big rooms, the small balcony, the quiet environment, the hotel little extras / What you may not like : having only the local TV in the rooms
bullet Nakorn Pink Hotel (2816574), Soi 6 / Dbl w. start TV, fridge & cold shower 280, w. AC 380 / Rooms here are not as fresh as the above & there is no balcony but they are also big and you get cable TV !
bulletVimol GH (2814615), Soi 4 / Sgl 80 or 100, Dbl 120 or 140 / Basic rooms with bad isolation & real messy !
bullet AP GH (2825530), well isolated from Soi 4 / Sgl 60, Dbl 120 / Go there for the cheapest Sgl and the friendly family atmosphere thanks to the cheerful character of "mama". But do not expect luxury !
bulletSuksawadi Hotel (2817622), 90 Samsen Rd / Dbl w. local TV & shower 250, w AC 350 / Not as nice as the other hotels but cheaper. 


Off course, the above is only a small selection as we did not check all the places and could not see all the rooms in the places we checked (like we said, it is often full !). So if you find an original unknown place with good quality price ratio, we will be happy to include it as well...

Backpacker's Tips : Stefan Westerheide, Germany (Jan 05)
 
New Siam 1 GH dbl br kw fan very clean 450 B good value. Small discount due to construction works during daytime.


Travel Agent ?
  

Here also, changes are fast so it would be advisable to compare & walk around before committing big money. Too cheap tickets would need to be treated cautiously as scams do occur. One of those is to find an inflated price once you have paid the deposit and come to collect your ticket. Using an agency with no computer and an office in the street is asking for troubles...

Also, do not always believe the agencies when they tell you that there are no seat on trains : they might simply prefer to sell you more expensive bus tickets... 

Commissions for train tickets are usually 50B while arranging for a visa should cost an additional 150 to 350 : shop around !

Buses to popular places can also be arranged but this is a bit of a jungle as prices & types of bus vary a lot. Some agencies like Cheap & Smile were offering great deals at the time of writing : a VIP night ride to Chiang Mai for B120 for example while other agents where charging B330 for the same bus ! Before committing, you might therefore wish to check the kind of bus (or minivan) the night before and compare prices. Most are leaving from Phra Athit Rd, next to the river at around 6pm.

The following agents were courteous, helpful, relatively patient & knowledgeable at the time of writing. We however offer no guarantee whatsoever as for the standard of service in the future :

bulletVista Travel Service (692 0129), 24/4 Khao San Rd (west)
bulletRIS Nathalie Travel (2818841), 206 Khao San Rd (east)
bulletCFT Tours (629 3498), 279 Khao San Rd (east)
bulletTami Tour, 18-20 Pra-Athit Rd, inside New Merry V GH

 

Where to eat ? Plenty to choose from but this is basically the same western stuff everywhere at relatively high prices. You pay for the ambience or the movie... Food stalls also set up there in the evening for cheap tasty bites. 
For more traditional cuisine, small restaurants & food stalls, head toward Rambutri Road, just north of Khao San via Chakraphong Rd or, even better, follow Chakraphong Rd toward the north, cross the bridge and turn right at Soi 2, off Samsen Rd.

Internet ? You do not have a computer for each traveler yet but not far. Internet services can be seen everywhere at a basic rate of B1 per mn, with minimum charge of 5 to 10mn. Expensive compared to other localities (usually B15-20 per hour). But do not complain : outside of Khao San Rd area, rates can be as high as 5B per mn ! 
An interesting place is Namastee Indian Cuisine & Internet Cafe (13-15 Khao San Rd, 2nd floor) as it let you check if you have received emails before starting the counter (B5 min charge) and is well equipped. Siam Computer Center (76 Chakapong Rd, next to the police station, 2nd floor, open 8 to 24) isn't too helpful but cost only B0.5 per mn before 9:30 (B10 min charge). A larger atmosphere & no minimum charge can be found at Lan Net (open 10 to midnight), just north of the bridge crossing the Khlong on Samsen Rd. 20 meters further, Internet Tunnel had a special offer at B50 per hour and did not know when it would stop. 

Money Exchange ? There are a few big banks in the vicinity but the small branch on Khao San Rd offer an equal if not superior rate well after the banks have closed. Krung Thai Bank or Siam Commercial Bank, just opposite, had the best rates at the time of writing. But there are many more around and rates changes at least 3 times per day so shop around and do not hesitate too long if you find an interesting rate. As everywhere in Thailand, there is a B23 commission on each TC

Post Office ? The Post Office near Khao San Road, opp. Wat Bowonniwet, is a good place for poste restante. All the letters are listed in a book and you need to show your passport to collect the letters. It cost B1 per letter. Banglampoobon Post Office, Bangkok, Thailand, 10203. / It is also possible to get your own mail box with a key for B150 per year. 

Developing films ? Quite a few labs on Khao San Rd : the cheapest (B3.5/small size photo on Mitsubishi paper + B30 processing) is at the eastern extremity. Inside the travel agency Goos (98 Rambutri Rd), Action Lab may offer the same deal but on Kodak Paper if you bring a few films. 

Learning Muay Thai Boxing ? Just South-West of Khao San at 13 Tog-ka-sab, Jiti Gym (282 3551, email : peraphanr@hotmail.com ) may not turn you into a Thai Boxer Champion but it will for sure make you sweat enough, 3 to 6 hours a day. It cost B300 per session, B2000 for 1 week and B6000 for 1 month, including accomodation and food. You may wish to look at the outdoor training before registering...

Visa for neighboring countries ? Bangkok is an excellent place to store on visa. See Travel Tips 

 

   Add. great info about Khao San Road



Leaving Khao San Rd ? 

Some people wishes to leave as soon as they have arrived but others forget that they have a country to visit... The Police Info kiosk on Chakraphong Rd (just North of Khao San) has got the schedules for most buses and display a map which shows where to take the bus to the followings :

bullet Airport : see the above Bangkok section for all the options. Minibus from Khao San Rd cost as little as B50 but bus No59 remains much cheaper at B3.5 !
bullet Railway station : Bus No53, 45mn, B3.5, from Phra Athit or Samsen Rd. Apparently, it is faster to go north to the terminus and change bus there (free) than to board a bus heading south toward the Grand Palace & Chinatown.
bullet North Bus Station : Bus No3, 45mn to 1.5 hours, B3.5/12
bullet East Bus Station : Bus No2, 45mn to 1.5 hours, B3.5/10-18
bullet South Bus Station : Bus No30, 30mn, B3.5/8

A lot of buses or minivan also leave Khao San Rd for northern or southern destinations (even to the islands or Malaysia). They are sometimes cheaper than the regular buses from the far away bus stations (the best example being Chiang Mai) but not always and, off course, they will be full of fellow travelers. It is also advisable to shop around : prices for the same bus sometimes vary from 1 to 3 depending on the agency...

See the official buses rates & schedules.


The trip to Bangkok : Easy ! (but apparently not for everybody...) Just leave Khao San Rd ! From Bangkok section, read travelogues to other localities...

The trip to the Airport : S / nowhere / B18 / 45mn / AC Public Bus No59
The good thing about early morning flights is that it makes you save money on transport : as there are no traffic jams, you can take a public bus !
AC buses are not supposed to operate before 6am but one did not seem to know the regulations and showed up at 5:30. The smooth ride in a not so cold atmosphere cost B18 : much more than the B5 of an ordinary bus but still a big saving compared to the Airport Bus. Even so we did not take the highway, we arrived within 45mn. During the day, you could however easily multiply this length by two.