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Khao San Road: Backpacker’s Central

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Located near the heart of the old city in Bangkok the name of this legendary street is known to backpackers the world over. Starting back in the early 80’s as simply a place to find cheap flophouse type accommodation, Khao San Road quickly developed into a thriving, self-contained community of business owners and their constantly revolving clientele of budget conscious travelers. These days, besides hotels and guesthouses, the road is jam-packed with a bewildering array of bars, restaurants, tour companies, internet cafes, tattoo parlors, currency exchange booths and a collection of miscellaneous street-side stalls selling everything from t-shirts to fake driver’s licenses.

An often first and almost obligatory stop over as part of an itinerary usually taking in various other points in Thailand and elsewhere in South East Asia, Khao San Road has become an attraction in its own right, also drawing in curious Thais. With foreigners from all over the world passing through, the road is great place to meet fellow tourists, make new friends and traveling companions and swap stories and ideas about past and future travel destinations.

While still offering budget accommodation as befitting its reputation as a backpacker’s “ghetto”, the road now attracts a more varied–although still mostly 20-something–group of travelers with the range of accommodation reflecting this diversity. Room rates per night start from a paltry 80 baht for a shared room with a fan, and rise to over 3,000 baht in one of the more up-market hotels, with a full complement of amenities including the likes of jacuzzis and flat screen TV’s.

Visitors to Khao San Road are also spoiled for choice when it comes to food with a huge variety on offer. From street vendors selling Thai staples such as the simple but delicious “phat-tai”, to a-la-carte dining at restaurants serving an assortment of Thai, Asian, Western and Fusion cuisines, there is something for all tastes and budgets.

Of course, with large numbers of young people on vacation, the night time entertainment scene is an important consideration and with some of the best establishments in town, Khao San Rd doesn’t disappoint. On the road itself, and vicinity are an excellent selection of traditional style pubs and bars as well as dance clubs and venues featuring a variety of live music including rock, jazz and reggae. Included among the more popular spots are The Club, Caf?� Democ, Brick Bar and Gulliver’s, to name a few.

In terms of sheer variety alone, this short street can make for an interesting shopping experience and whatever you’re looking for, chances are you will find it somewhere at one of the many market stalls or shops lining the street. While you can get some good deals on certain items such as jewelry or clothes, it’s definitely a case of buyer beware as many of the goods on offer here are cheap knock-offs of dubious quality. Where quality is less of a concern, as is the case for t-shirts, various trinkets or hand-crafted souvenirs etc., what kind of deal …