Khao San Road, Bangkok


This is one of Bangkok’s most impressive nightlife zones and both sides of the road are lined with bars and clubs, while after dark several pavement bars also set up with live music and offering visitors cocktails. Khaosan Road attracts people of all ages and from all walks of life and it is equally popular with Thai students, backpackers and expats who gather to drink and let off a little steam after dark.

A Brief History

Khoa San means ‘milled rice’ in Thai and refers to the fact that the road was once used as an important rice market. However, around twenty years ago the area was cleared and transformed into a ghetto for the city’s emerging backpacker scene. Dozens of cheap hostels and restaurants quickly sprang up, followed closely by bars. While the establishments that cater to shoestring travellers can still be found in droves on the road itself as well as along the adjoining side streets, around ten years ago an effort was made to remake the image of the area. Visitors can now expect to find upmarket eateries especially those close to the Chao Phraya River. The close proximity of one of Bangkok’s most prominent universities has also attracted university students to the area after dark and some of the smaller bars feature exclusively Thai menus and feature bands playing Thai songs.


What to See

The main attraction at Khao San Road is the vibrant nightlife scene. More than a dozen different bars and restaurants can be found here as well as a couple of clubs where visitors can dance the night away. All types of people visit Khao San Road, from shoestring travellers to university students still wearing their uniforms like a badge of pride. Perhaps one of the best ways to get a feel for the scene here is to grab a seat at one of the pop-up bars that line the road and grab a drink while indulging in a little people watching. Khoa San Road also boasts a large market, which opens around lunchtime and goes on until around midnight. The stalls here sell everything from chap backpacks to souvenir t-shirts, fisherman’s pants, sandals, padlocks, counterfeit watches, DVDs and all things in between.

Tips for First Time Visitors

People who find the bright lights and overall atmosphere of Khoa San road a little overwhelming should check out Soi Rhambuttri, which is a narrow lane just opposite the Gulliver’s Traveller’s Tavern end of Khoa San Road. The bars and restaurants here tend to be a little more laidback and are popular among young Thai people and expats who come to meet and grab a drink or two at the end of the day. People who want to get the best bargains at the market should arrive just as it is opening, as Thai people believe that the first sale of the day is lucky and will reduce their prices dramatically rather than risk losing the sale.

Area of Bangkok

Khoa San Road is located in the Dusit district of Bangkok.