Bangkok - Khaosan Road Survival Guide


Khaosan street sign bangkok

  • Page 1 : How is the Khaosan Road ? Part 1
  • Page 2 : How is the Khaosan Road ? Part 2
  • Page 3 : The Food and Restaurants at the Khaosan Road
  • Page 4 : How to go from the Khaosan Road to places in Bangkok
  • Page 5 : Budget Hotels in the Khaosan zone

Intro

The Khaosan road is the Backpacker's center in Bangkok. The place is so special in its spirit that some tour groups have a regular stop at the Khaosan (I have no idea what the guide is explaining to them). The Khaosan area is also popular within young Thais and they come here for music clubs (not always the ones visited by tourists). In times of special feasts (New year, Water festival) people come from all over Bangkok to party at the Khaosan. Remark:  you can start to party right away, no need to wait for a feast.
Khaosan road morning bangkok

Khaosan Fever

If you feel exhausted after a few days at the Khaosan, it's normal. First try to reduce your intake of alcohol, if it doesn't help go relax in Ko-Xxxx  for a while and then come back. (By the way, "Ko" means island in Thai, "Ko-Tao" for example means "turtle island").

Khaosan or Khao-San or Khaosarn ?

How to you write it ? You can write it how you want, I saw it written in many, many versions. In case you don't realize : We are talking here about a Thai name that should be pronounced with a Thai accent and written with Thai characters. They do us a favour and make also signs with Latin characters, so don't be hard on yourself.
The meaning of the words Khao San is : uncooked rice (raw rice).

Video

An afternoon walk in the Khaosan road:

More videos of the Khaosan :
Rambuttri walk (street near khaosan) , Water festival (Songkran) at the Khaosan road, New Year eve at the Khaosan, A Night walk in the Khaosan

Why stay in the Khaosan area :

  • A very lively atmosphere with travellers from all over the world, probably one of the craziest place on earth, especially at night.
  • Big selection of budget hotels and restaurants.
  • If you are Vegetarian (read my page about being Vegetarian) then the Khaosan area offers a lot of Vegetarian options. (more details at the food page)
  • Close to some tourist attractions like the Big Palace and the big river Chao Phraya.
  • Girls from all over the world are coming to the Khaosan and they all wear short clothes.
backpackers khaosan bangkok

Why not to stay in the Khaosan :

  • Not close to a skytrain station, so travelling to town center (malls etc) takes more time.
  • Not a lot of top hotels, if you are demanding in this matter.
  • Some people don't like the crazy atmosphere of the Khaosan and they prefer instead, to stay in a quiet island with crystal clear beaches like Ko-Phi Phi, go figure.

Where is the Khaosan ?

It is on the left side of Bangkok, very close to the big river Chao Phraya. Close also to the Big Palace and to the main avenue with the Democracy monument.
It is considered the old part of the city. The skytrain (metro) doesn't reach that area.
Look the Khaosan area in this Google map:

View Bangkok - Khaosan area in a larger map

How to get to the Khaosan ?

See the third page for explanations on how to go from the Khaosan to the airport, town center, tourist attractions and more.

Some points at the Khaosan area:

Bus stops in the Khaosan area

The main bus stop is located in the large avenue of the Democracy Monument (see it on the map). You can catch here buses 2, 15, 47, 511 to go to the town center and other destinations. See more on how to go from and to Khaosan See more about Bangkok buses.
bus station khaosan area bangkok
Another bus stop is in the street Phra Athit, located beside the big river Chao Phraya (see on map). You can catch here the buses 3 and 524 to Chatuchak week-end market and bus 15 to town center. See more on how to go from and to Khaosan See more about Bangkok buses.
bus station khaosan area bangkok

The river (Chao Phraya ) boat station in Khaosan area

It is a small alley that leads to pier 13 (see on map). From this pier you can take a public boat and go to the big palace, Wat Arun, China town and connection with the skytrain at pier 0. See more on how to go from and to Khaosan See more on the service of boats on the River.
pier boats khaosan bangkok
Then you just have to wait at the pier for a boat to come and take you. Frequency is approximately every 15 minutes. 
pier boats khaosan bangkok

The canal boat service from Khaosan

It is not exactly at the Khaosan, you have to walk 20 minutes or take a Tuk tuk or moto-taxi. See the canal station on map, it is near the temple Wat Saket. The public service of canal boats is useful to go to the town center (the big malls) rapidly and bypass traffic jams. See more on how to go from and to Khaosan See more on the service of boats on the Canal.
canal boats khaosan bangkok
The canal boat station, is located near the temple Wat Saket, and it is the last boat stop to the west, it is pier number 4 and named :Phanfa Leelard.
pier 4 canal boats khaosan bangkok

Post office at the Khaosan

After a while in Thailand, you will accumulate many souvenirs and you may want to send them home instead of carrying them with you. The Thai post service is quite competitive with its prices and there is an office very close to the Khaosan street (see it on map). There are also some travel agencies in the Khaosan area that arrange international deliveries with companies like Fed-Ex.
post office khaosan bangkok

The Police station at the Khaosan

In case you want to complain about the quality of a Pad-thai, there is a police station at the beginning of the Khaosan street. see it on map
police station khaosan bangkok

Thai boxing (Muay Thai) school in the Khaosan area

It is located in a small alley (see on map). They will teach you how to fight here. I'm using this place as a shortcut between the Khaosan street and Rambuttri, nobody has hit me till now.
thai box school khaosan bangkok

Where to sleep in the Khaosan ?

I won't recommend you the good hotel I am staying while I am at the Khaosan because I don't want the millions of people who will see this page to populate the hotel, but I can tell you this :
  • You can do like me: Just arrive to the Khaosan area and look for a hotel. There are hundreds of hostels, hotels, guest houses and dormitories in this area. It is not snowing a lot at the Khaosan, so don't worry about the search time.
  • If you don’t want to do like me, you can reserve a place in a good budget hotel. Look at the page I created: Budget Hotels with Swimming Pools at the Khaosan area in which I included all the hotels that I could find with pools. These hotels have a good standard, and some are quite popular. You can read the opinions of travellers about each hotel.
  • As always, there are some popular hotels with long queues at the reception, which are not the best deal and you can find by yourself a better room elsewhere. Think what you need: a quiet room or an hotel with many young people having parties and knocking on wrong doors, you can find everything in the Khaosan.
  • The price for a good room with bathroom in the Khaosan hostels in 2017 is around 600 baht when the room has a fan and 800 baht when the room has air-conditioning. You can have a room for 400 baht also if you are not too demanding.
  • Some hotels in the Khaosan zone have a nice swimming pool. It is good to swim and stay in good shape while travelling. If you are not staying in a hotel with a swimming-pool, you can still pay for it as a visitor, in some hotels.
  • The Khaosan road itself is very noisy at night, you can find a quiet hotel in one of the nearby streets and especially in the streets closer to the river. See the following figure. In red are the specially noisy streets, in green more quiet. It also depends on the hotel, of course. If the windows are soundproof, it may be fine.
Click on the map to see it larger:
quiet and noisy streets khaosan bangkok
For any case, bring earplugs with you.
Murphy's law number one of the Khaosan:
If your hostel happens to be in a quiet street, then the air-conditioning or the fan in your room will make noise.
earplugs for noisy  khaosan bangkok

Some Services at the Khaosan area :

Long Time Luggage storage places

There are places in the Khaosan area where they will store your big bag for a long period for as low as 5 baht a day. Think about it: Instead of carrying with you winter clothes and souvenirs to your trips in South East Asia, you can leave a bag in the Khaosan and then travel to Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, see a lot of islands and then return to the Khaosan a completely different person and pick your bag, this is Magic. Ask about this service in your hostel and other places.

Laundry

Thankfully, if you live at the Khaosan area you don't need to do laundry (nor prepare food or go to work). Look for the places that offer to wash the laundry per kilo and not per item. It can be as cheap as 30 baht per kilo.
laundry service khaosan bangkok

Internet, Wi-Fi and Phoning from the Khaosan

As to 2017, Wi-Fi speed at the Khaosan area is not great. Most places offer a surfing speed of only 1 Mbps, some places have 10 Mbps. Most hostels have Wi-fi at the rooms or at least at the reception zone, also many restaurants offer wi-fi. Sometimes they ask for an extra charge for using the wi-fi.
There are also internet cafés with computers, prices are around 40 baht per hour.
As for phoning home : You can use Internet, of course, to phone internationally (with Skype for example) or you can buy a local SIM card from one of the mobile operators : dtac, true, ais. The SIM itself is very cheap and international calls are also very cheap for many destinations (some prefixes give better rates, read about it on their sites). You can buy the SIM card in the "7 eleven" stores and also charge it there (the pre-paid option).
You can also get Internet from the cell phone (3G) companies. Read about this in the page : How to get Internet and make calls in Thailand.
high speed wi fi  khaosan bangkok

Bag & Suitcase stores at the Khaosan area

Do yourself a favour and if you don't already have a suitcase with wheels buy one at the Khaosan area (I mean, if you are carrying 15 kilos on your back because you think it is cool). You can buy a (fake) bag here for a very good price (you need to bargain) and with some luck the zippers will last more than a year, it's not a problem, because you can return to the Khaosan every year and buy a new bag.
bags shop khaosan bangkok

Safety at the Khaosan

Safe, safe. It looks chaotic at first, but the Khaosan area is safe as is the rest of Bangkok and all South East Asia. It is not violent, with no kidnappings and not specially prone to thefts, this is not South America. Of course you should take care of your belongings, try not to leave a wallet on a table and things like that, choose an hotel that has video surveillance and leave your cash in the safe.
Also, don' t get too drunk to the point that you may do stupid things like getting into fights or getting married.
For any case, there is Doctor Khaosan.
doctor khaosan bangkok

Grocery shops at the Khaosan

There are "7 eleven" grocery shops every few meters at the Khaosan area and they are open also at night. You can buy there water, chocolate drink, ice-cream and many other things. You can also recharge your pre-paid local Sim card.
7 eleven khaosan bangkok
If you need a bigger super-market, there is one at Chakrabongsee street. see on map. It is concealed behind many stands.
supermarket khaosan bangkok

How to get Money for your expenses at the Khaosan ?

This problem has been thought and solved. There are special machines fixed to walls from which you can receive as much money as you need. When your money has been consumed on drinks and other stuff, you can repeat the operation as many times as you like.
Remark : I suspect that in order to receive money from these machines you should have credit in your bank account in your home country and also an International Credit Card. By the way, all the banks involved in the transactions will take you commissions (in total, it could be 7% of the cash that you finally receive !), so if you can bring to Thailand some cash and exchange it for bahts, you will make savings. There are lots of "change money" booths in the Khaosan area and the rates are good.

Getting Information

I saw an official Tourist Information office near the bridge on the big river.  See it on map. They can give you free maps of Bangkok (also at the airport). You can also get information from the many travel agencies located in the Khaosan area. The best is to ask fellow travellers.
tourist information khaosan bangkok

Travel Agencies in the Khaosan area

There are a lots of them. They can sell you:
  • Places in a minibus to the Airport
  • One day trips to nearby destinations like the floating markets, Ayutthaya and the bridge on the River Kwai.
  • Train, boat and plane tickets to many destinations
  • Visa services for nearby countries
travel agency khaosan bangkok

How to be dressed in the Khaosan

You need Sandals. It is hot in Bangkok all the time. You can buy light sandals from the many stands in the Khaosan road (check their weight). After a while you will need to buy also super-glue to fix them or buy new ones.
sandals khaosan bangkok
And you must have at least one bracelet on your arm.
bracelet khaosan bangkok

Continue to page 2: Part 2 of Khaosan Tour - Massages, Alcohol... arrow1
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