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Khaosan Road

Coordinates: 13°45′32″N 100°29′50″E / 13.75889°N 100.49722°E / 13.75889; 100.49722
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Khaosan Road
Khaosan Road in 2016
Native nameถนนข้าวสาร (Thai)
LocationKhwaeng Talat Yot, Khet Phra Nakhon, Bangkok, Thailand
Coordinates13°45′32″N 100°29′50″E / 13.75889°N 100.49722°E / 13.75889; 100.49722

Khaosan Road or Khao San Road (Thai: ถนนข้าวสาร, RTGSThanon Khao San, pronounced [tʰā.nǒn kʰâ(ː)w sǎːn]) is a short, 410 m (1,345 ft) long street in central Bangkok, Thailand constructed in 1892 during the reign of Rama V.[1] It is in the Bang Lamphu area of Phra Nakhon District about 1 km (0.62 mi) north of the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew.


Khaosan Road during the daytime (2016)

"Khaosan" translates as 'milled rice', an indication that in former times the street was a major Bangkok rice market.[1] In the last 40 years, however, Khaosan Road has developed into a world-famous "backpacker ghetto".[2][3] It offers cheap accommodation, ranging from "mattress in a box"-style hotels to reasonably priced three-star hotels. In an essay on the backpacker culture of Khaosan Road, Susan Orlean called it "the place to disappear."[4] According to the Khao San Business Association, the road sees 40,000–50,000 tourists per day in the high season, and 20,000 per day in the low season.[5]

Visitors to Khao San Road are diverse:[2]

In this small area one can observe the interactions and groupings of disparate characters such as un-educated young Westerners on extended leave from affluent society, high school graduates on gap year travels, Israelis fresh out of military service, university students on holiday or sabbatical leave, young Japanese in rite-of-passage attire, ordinary holidaymakers, (ex-) volunteers from various organizations, and the like.

— Anders Sørensen, Annals of Tourism Research

It is also a base of travel: coaches leave daily for all major tourist destinations in Thailand, from Chiang Mai in the north to Ko Pha-ngan in the south, and there are many relatively inexpensive travel agents who can arrange visas and transportation to the neighbouring countries of Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, and Vietnam.[6]

Khaosan Road at night

Khaosan shops sell handicrafts, paintings, clothes, local fruits, unlicensed CDs, DVDs, a wide range of fake IDs, used books, and other useful backpacker items.[7] After dark, bars open, music is played, food hawkers sell barbecued insects and other exotic snacks for tourists,[8] and touts promote ping pong shows.[9]

The area is internationally known as a center of dancing, partying, and just prior to the traditional Thai New Year (Songkran festival) of 13–15 April, water splashing that usually turns into a huge water fight.[10] One Thai writer has described Khaosan as "...a short road that has the longest dream in the world".[11]

A Buddhist temple under royal patronage, the centuries-old Wat Chana Songkram, is directly opposite Khaosan Road to the west, while the area to the northwest contains an Islamic community and several small mosques.[12]


In July 2018, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA), in an attempt to clean up Khaosan Road, announced that street vendors would be removed from the thoroughfare from 1 August 2018. The BMA intends to move them to a nearby area and restrict their trading hours to 18:00 to midnight.[13] The Khaosan Street Vendors Association, representing some 300 vendors, rejected the move, citing financial ruin for vendors.[14] Last-minute negotiations between the BMA and vendors proved fruitless as neither side has been willing to compromise.[15] Khaosan vendors announced that, in defiance of BMA order, they will open as usual on 1 August.[16] On the first day of the ban on stalls, roughly 70 percent of the vendors opened as usual in defiance of the police.[17][18]

2019 facelift[edit]

Before redevelopment in 2018

The BMA announced in 2019 that it will commit 48.8 million baht to transform Khaosan Road into an "international walking street".[5] The US$1.6 million project, the first makeover of the road since its creation in 1892, will commence in October 2019, continue through the tourist high-season, and be completed by February 2020.[19] The project will repave footpaths and create designated 1.5 m x 2 m spaces for 240–360 licensed Thai vendors drawn by lot.[20] Vehicles will be prohibited on Khaosan Road from 09:00–21:00 daily.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Khao San Road". aecnews.net. Asia Pacific Daily. Archived from the original on 2015-11-24. Retrieved 2016-12-11.
  2. ^ a b Sørensen, Anders (2003-10-01). "Backpacker ethnography". Annals of Tourism Research. 30 (4): 847–867. doi:10.1016/S0160-7383(03)00063-X.
  3. ^ Richards, Greg; Wilson, Julie (2004-01-01). "15". The Global Nomad: Backpacker Travel in Theory and Practice. Channel View Publications. ISBN 9781873150764.
  4. ^ Susan Orlean, "The Place to Disappear", in The Best American Travel Writing 2001, Jason Wilson and Paul Theroux, eds. (Mariner Books, 2001), pp. 228–237.
  5. ^ a b c Pongsupradit, Chayanit; Kasemsuk, Narumon; Wancharoen, Supoj (4 August 2019). "Cleaning up Khao San". Bangkok Post. Retrieved 4 August 2019.
  6. ^ Cummings, Joe (29 January 2021). "How Bangkok's Khao San Road evolved from a rice market into the world's most famous travel hub". CNN. Retrieved 31 January 2021.
  7. ^ "Khao San Road Shopping - Where to Shop and What to Buy in Khao San Road". bangkok.com. Retrieved 2016-12-11.
  8. ^ "Khao San Road - Backpackers' haven" (Video). Bangkok Post. Retrieved 2016-12-11.
  9. ^ "Where Can I See Ping Pong Shows in Bangkok? - Update". Food Fun Travel Blog. 2017-03-18. Retrieved 2019-05-24.
  10. ^ "Khao San Songkran shortened to 2 days to save water". Coconuts Bangkok. 2016-04-08. Retrieved 2016-12-11.
  11. ^ "Literal Backpacker's Mecca in Bangkok Khao San Road". Thailand for You. Retrieved 2015-09-07.
  12. ^ Mahavongtrakul, Melalin (2015-10-27). "Bangkok's Islamic quarters". Bangkok Post. Retrieved 2016-12-11.
  13. ^ Ellis-Petersen, Hannah (4 August 2018). "'It's a shocking idea': outcry over Bangkok street vendor ban". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 August 2018.
  14. ^ Panyasuppakun, Kornrawdee (31 July 2018). "Khaosan vendors call on BMA to scrap ban on pavement stalls". The Nation. Retrieved 31 July 2018.
  15. ^ "City Hall to enforce footpath vending ban on Khao San Rd". Bangkok Post. 31 July 2018. Retrieved 31 July 2018.
  16. ^ Saksornchai, Jintamas (31 July 2018). "Khaosan Vendors to Defy City Hall's New Rules". Khaosod English. Retrieved 31 July 2018.
  17. ^ Panyasuppakun, Kornrawee (2 August 2018). "Khaosan vendors brazenly defy BMA's ban on pavement trading". The Nation. Retrieved 2 August 2018.
  18. ^ "Vendors ignore ban on road stalls on Khao San". Bangkok Post. Reuters. 2 August 2018. Retrieved 2 August 2018.
  19. ^ Algie, Jim (24 December 2019). "Khao San Road, Bangkok: from low-rent slum to 'flashpacker' central to counterculture relic – will gentrified party strip be saved by a revamp?". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 24 December 2019.
  20. ^ Ngamkham, Wassayaos; Wancharoen, Supoj (5 August 2019). "Cops crack down on Khao San crime". Bangkok Post. Retrieved 5 August 2019.

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