Right in the heart of the city, Khao San Road is home to many attractions and novel experiences for visitors of all backgrounds. Historically a rice market, Khao San Road evolved through the decades to become the epicenter of backpacker culture in Bangkok. Offering cheap accommodations and facilities for travelers, it became well-known to travelers on a budget. And of course, where foreigners went, so too did the local purveyors of merchandise and parties. Later, in reference to this boom in activity, this area was deemed ‘Khaosan Market’. This is the place to be if you want to meet fellow world travelers and see all of the oddities Bangkok has to offer.
Although a short road of just under 400 meters, Khao San Road is jam packed with shops and other places to visit. Here are just ten things to buy and see in Khaosan Market.
Try the Insect Cuisine
Khaosan Market is full of novel foods, not the least of which is its edible insects. Although many suspect this unique meal is just a tourist attraction, Thailand is one of a few countries where residents enjoy insects as part of their local cuisine. Long before Bangkok became a tourist destination, Thai people savored the taste and texture of these little creatures. They serve as both a snack and a nutrition packed meal. Although crickets are the norm, at Khaosan Market there are vendors serving all kinds of bugs, from scorpions to larvae.
Sit Back and Have a Few Local Drinks
Of course, if there’s one thing you can do in Khaosan Market it’s sit back, relax, and have a drink. There are a few friendly bars on this street, including popular hotspots like Lucky Bar and Center Khao Sarn. However, it’s important to note that these bars are often very informal and a place for tourists to mix with locals and other travelers. This means many bars may not have the polished look you’re accustomed to in your home country. They are usually open air bars that serve famous international beers alongside local beers you might not know.
Take a Look at the Affordable Merchandise and Souvenirs
Perhaps the first thing you’ll notice about Khaosan Market is that it’s full of shops and vendors. There are people selling anything you can imagine, from costume jewelry to fully tailored suits. Take this opportunity to get yourself one of the iconic “I Love BKK” t-shirts at one of the many stores or a custom made suit at an affordable store. In Thailand, you’ll soon learn that you don’t have to pay extravagant prices for well-made products. As the cost of living in this region is so low, even the most experienced artisans will have a lower overall price from their European and North American counterparts.
Get a Tattoo or other Body Modification
This might be a bit more of a commitment than a nice new suit, but it’s still a pretty good recommendation. Like Tailors, tattoo and piercing artists in Bangkok enjoy cheaper operational costs and costs of living. This means even the best tattoo artists in Bangkok offer their services at a price lower than the average in other countries. If you’ve wanted a new tattoo for some time now, consider looking at the tattoo parlors in Khaosan Market. A tattoo is bound to be a unique way to commemorate an unforgettable trip.
Try Cheap But Authentic Local Cuisine
If bugs aren’t your thing, there’s plenty of other options to tide you over in Khaosan Market. Just as prevalent as clothing and merchandise shops, small local restaurants, food vendors, and eateries, litter the sides of Khao San Road. Here, you’ll find everything from street food like Pad Thai to more restaurant oriented food like Gaeng Keow Wan Gai. Although you’ll very likely be dining with other foreigners in Khao San Road, these foods will undoubtedly have the authentic flavors you’re looking for in Bangkok.
Experience an Authentic Thai Massage
Wherever you’re from, you’ve likely heard of the world-famous Thai massage techniques and spa treatments. Excellent for relaxing your sore muscles and granting you a moment of tranquility in even the most exhausting days, a Thai massage or spa session may be just the thing you need if you’re a new or long-term traveler. This isn’t just an opportunity to unwind, but to appreciate the local massage tradition that has been passed down for generations in Thailand. And of course, the best thing about the services offered on Khaosan Market is their tourist-friendly staff and affordable rates.
Explore Used Books From Around the World
For the bookworms among you, you’ll be happy to learn that Khaosan Market has a lot more to offer than ordinary merchandise and partying. Remember, this legendary street has been famous among travelers for years now, and they have all left their mark in one way or another. A few of them even left behind books that might be the thing to take your journey to the next level. If this interests you, take a look at the new and used bookstores on the street, such as Sara Barn Books. Even if you aren’t looking for a book to inspire your journey, you can take a look at old and obscure travel guides.
Ride a Tuk Tuk Through the Street
Every tourist in Thailand knows about the famous Thai Tuk Tuk. These little vehicles shuttle down every major street in Bangkok, letting you enjoy a ride that is much more scenic and intimate than a taxi, and much more relaxing than a bike or scooter ride. It is especially enjoyable on a street like Khao San Road, where people-watching and taking in the bustling atmosphere of the area is a big part of the street’s charm.
Spend the Evening, or Stay the Night
Khao San Road became the epicenter of South Asian travel because of its affordable accommodation and exciting city atmosphere. Countless travelers from around the world have visited this street over the course of the past few decades, and many more will come in the years that follow. Many travelers see spending a night in Khao San Road as a rite of passage, so you might be inclined to take advantage of this opportunity when you have it.
Celebrate Songkran Festival
There are many things to experience in Khaosan Market every day of the year, but if you have a chance to plan your visit a little in advance, you should consider visiting during the Songkran Festival. This occasion marks the Thai New Year and is celebrated throughout the country, but Khao San Road is the perfect place for travelers to enjoy this celebration with a blend of traditional and modern activities. At Khao San Road you may just end up in a legendary water fight inspired by the ritual cleansing practiced on Songkran.
Planning Your Bangkok Trip
It takes much more than a few days, or even a few months, to see Bangkok. But sometimes you don’t have the luxury of living in Bangkok long-term. If you’re planning on visiting the city, or if you’re already in the city and trying to plan your stay, these are just ten things you can do to live your experience to the fullest. However, exploring Bangkok is much easier with the accompaniment of experienced locals. If you want to see the real Bangkok, consider a guided tour such as The Unusual Trip’s Tour of Flower Market, which gives you the chance to experience even more of the area, and leaves you right on Khao San Road where you can enjoy the rest of your day.