Khao San Roadin Bangkok has a number of different spellings including Kao San or Kao Sarn. But which ever way you spell it, it's the same place. Khao San road is a famous backpacker hang out in Bangkok. There are plenty of cheap guest houses, restaurants and bars but more recently, the Kao Sarn road made more famous by Leonardo Di Caprio's movie, The Beach, has become a more up-market place for people to stay and it's no longer the domain for those on a very tight budget.
Khao San road used to have only very cheap guest houses offering rooms for next to nothing. The rooms were tiny and sparsely furnished and with a ceiling fan that worked if you were lucky. Nowadays, guest houses are going up market, restaurants and bars are attracting the Thai party crowd and it's a hip and trendy place to be. Prices have gone up too. The days of cheap everything have gone.
There has always been an attraction for backpackers to start their trip to Thailand at Kao San road and this is primarily because it is cheap but also because many other like minded people are there and because there is a lot of transportation to many of the holiday destinations. For those who can't or don't want to afford the now cheap flights to the southern islands or northern areas, Kao San offers cheap travel by mini van or bus.
Why Stay At Kao San Road?
It is still cheap. If you look around and stay in the guest houses down side streets and slightly away from the main strip, guest houses will be reasonably priced.
There are many other people in this area all looking to do the same thing and so it's a great place to hook up with like minded people, make new travel friends and to feel a little safer by being around other visitors to Thailand.
If you only intend staying in Bangkok a day or two before heading north or south, Khao San provides excellent access to the main tourist sites such a The Grand Palace, Golden Mount Temple, Wat Po, Wat Arun and a few other places of interest. It also has plenty of places to eat cheaply, either in cafes and restaurants or at road side stalls selling Thailand's staple meal: "Pad Thai".
Also available in this area are plenty of cheap stalls offering MP3 music CDs, sandals, t-shirts, shorts, swimming shorts and most items people will want for a week or two on a beach.
The nightlife is pretty good too with a number of quality bars now open and more Thais enjoying the late nights and the chance to mingle with tourists and, for some Thai girls, the chance to find a non-Thai boyfriend.
Why Not Stay At Khao San Road?
This is subjective more than anything, but by going to Khao San Road, you fall into the backpacker trap of doing what everyone else does. It's too easy to hang out in that area and not really do anything. It's too easy to go to those restaurants, those bars and clubs. You'll be mixing with all the other backpackers and not getting out and about meeting the locals and going where the locals go.
There is lots to see and do and by staying in the traveller's area, but you also miss out on all there is on offer elsewhere.
What Not To Do
If you are coming all the way to Thailand, don't waste time hanging around the cafes and restaurants watching movies. You can do that at home. Take the opportunity to get out and about and see as much of the area as you can. If you are waiting for a friend to arrive or a bus to leave, nip around the corner near the river and have a coffee there.
Don't get involved with any offer of drugs (more on this laterr) and don't accept drinks from strangers as date rape drugs are used here and it's not unheard of for people to be robbed or worse.
Drugs are a "no no" in Thailand although they are often readily available. If you get caught you could find yourself spending time in a Thai jail or paying a lot of money to the police to bribe your way out. Either way, your holiday will be in ruins and it's really not worth it.
Ecstasy, Pot, Heroin and the local drug "Ya Ba" can all be had but it's worth noting that police sometimes raid bars and clubs making everyone provide a urine test. Not only that but the very people who sell you the stuff will often be the ones who turn you into the police. This way, they make the sale and get a part of any money the police successfully squeeze out of you.
If you get busted, your face will probably be on the front pages of the newspapers and once you've spent a few nights in the local jail, you'll either be spending further time in the jail or deported.
Hotels Near Kao San Road
Hotels are booked through Agoda which offers excellent discounts.
SAWASDEE BANGKOK INN HOTEL, BANGKOK
Budget hotel located on Kao Sarn Road. You can't get any closer.