Trashy Tourism: Why I Hate Khao San Road in Bangkok

Khaosan Road in Bangkok

Ok, let me preface this by saying I don’t want this to sound elitist, not exactly. But this is something about which I’m genuinely confused. I started thinking about it when we were in Bangkok earlier this year, a city we know and love well. I was asked by a company to take some photos of the Khao San Road area for their publicity purposes and I readily agreed. I’d only been to Khao San Road once before and while I didn’t remember it fondly, I clearly didn’t hate it as much as I did this time. What surprised me most about the area was just how popular it was and for what reason I have no idea.

 

For centuries this street in central Bangkok was a quiet, residential community. Then, about twenty years ago the Thai government began a sustained effort to promote tourism to the country and the reaction around the world was staggering. In a short time span tourists descended on the Thai capital and the city’s hotels were overflowing. Needing someplace to stay, backpackers and budget travelers stayed in the homes of locals on Khao San Road. Residents soon realized how much money could be made operating guest houses and they multiplied along the road.  Restaurants and bars soon followed and that is how Khao San Road turned into a backpacker ghetto.

From this basic description, one can guess the reasons behind the neighborhood’s success: everything is cheap. Frequented by backpackers and ultra budget travelers, this area must seem like a gold mine. Cheap food, cheap accommodations and cheap alcohol is a winning combination for a certain type of traveler. But you know what, that’s not uncommon for Bangkok and can be found in a thousand other roads around town. So why then is this trashy area so popular?

At this point you are probably beginning to form some opinions, about me and about Bangkok. But it’s not what you think. I have no problem with backpackers or super duper budget travelers. I applaud anyone who has the gumption to get out there and explore the world. But if you haven’t been to Khao San Road before, it’s hard to describe just how trashy it is, although I will try.

 Khao San Road Bangkok

Be it day or night, the street is a pulsating mass of humanity. Tourists and travelers meander down the street watching vendors grill scorpions or looking for the cheapest, biggest bucket of booze they can find. Among them are the locals, some hawking their crappy wares and others preying on the unsuspecting. This is ground zero for pickpockets, scams and general thievery, the dishonest few knowing full well the value of an unprepared foreigner.

Add to this the worst crap for sale you could ever imagine, trash and filth lining the streets and about a million tuk tuk drivers incessantly asking you if you want a ride and you have the Khao San Road experience.

Khao San Road

Now, knowing all this why would so many people willingly choose to spend any time whatsoever in this part of town? I can only guess it’s because many of the travelers haven’t fully researched the city and only know where friends have stayed or currently are staying and so they descend on the neighborhood in droves.

I quickly took my photos, walked the full length of the street and left as speedily as my long legs could take me. I looked back and saw a twenty-something girl throwing up in the gutter. This wasn’t the Bangkok I knew and loved and I made a promise to try to dissuade anyone from visiting this most trashy of areas.

What do you think? Am I a prudish snob or what? Do you have any insight as to why so many people spend so much time on Khao San Road?

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By: Matt Long

Matt has a true passion for travel. As someone who has a bad case of the travel bug, Matt travels the world in order to share tips on where to go, what to see and how to experience the best the world has to offer.Also follow Matt on Twitter, Facebook and

73 Responses

  1. Sally

    The first time I went to Bangkok I stayed at a guest house on Khao San Road because, like you said, I didn’t really do my research. I wasn’t planning to stay in Bangkok long, and it seemed like a cheap & easy place to stay. I understand why people go there & stay there. And I can even understand why a lot of people like it. But it was definitely not for me. Although I will say that I ended up probably seeing more sights than I usually would have as I spent my entire time in Bangkok trying to stay as far away from my hotel and Khao San Road as possible!

    Reply
  2. Rachel

    We stayed near, but not on, Khao San Road when we were in Bangkok earlier this year. As soon as we got there, my husband realized that maybe it was not the best idea to book a hotel quite so close by…and that would be the last time he was in charge of booking accomodation for the rest of our trip. ;^) While I appreciated the cheap street food and spending one night in a bar with a Thai cover band and an Australian/American/Brit clientele, the fact that there were people hawking stuff non-stop and we had no chance of sleeping due to the noise did put me off. We’ve can tick it off of the ‘been there done that list’, and once was more than enough–but I don’t think KSR reflects Bangkok any more than Times Square reflects New York or Damrak reflects Amsterdam. It’s just one aspect of a place. Next time I’ll stay in a different area and experience another side of the city.

    Reply
  3. Irina

    Are you a prudish snob? haha
    I think I’m like that too with places that sell cheap useless crap…no matter what country. But I’m pretty grateful to Khao San Road for easting the stress of our first night in Thailand. When we arrived in BKK the middle of winter, it turned out that BA left our luggage in London. We had no change of clothes (this was our own fault), and not even a toothbrush. I was dying from heat in my tight jeans and was getting pretty irritated. Our hotel wasn’t on Khao San Road because I’ve been cautioned to avoid this backpacker central with enormous cockroaches under the bed. But we were leaving for islands the next day and needed to buy clothes and hygiene products for cheap and afterhours… so Khao San was the place to go.

    I hated the crowd and annoying sellers but one beer in a street café changed it all. I finally relaxed and decided to open my mind and enjoy the moment! After all we’ve made it safe.

    Reply
  4. Leyla

    I wonder… could it be the banana pancakes? Seriously, I too landed in Khao San Road my first time in Bangkok – in the 80s, I believe, and it was already wild then though nothing like now. I bought my fake student ID, and promptly moved into an equally cheap but far more pleasant area off Sukhumvit. Perhaps if you’re drinking heavily you don’t notice the dirt or windowless rooms… Most people speak some kind of English so maybe that’s part of the attraction, being able to communicate instantly in a strange land. But I’m with you – it’s a trashy place with little redeeming value – at least for me.

    Reply
  5. Kate

    I totally agree I feel the same about Phuket it’s a mini khao San rd and yet everyone loves it go a little further and u have real Thai beauty such as Khoa lak and Koh toa .. I don’t get it … So tacky

    Reply
  6. Matt

    Yes, just like most of Pattaya and Phuket and now some parts of Chiang Mai are turning the same. Very sad.

    Reply
  7. Elizabeth

    I live outside Bangkok and I agree – Khao San is the worst! I have friends that live here and still like to go there and party and there are a few good things around that area – the whole area isn’t that bad, just that main road sucks!- but there are so many better areas for nightlife in Bangkok. Maybe we are both snobs, but I don’t care (lets just call it good taste) Cheers!

    Reply
  8. Kaylin

    I went to Bangkok in January and I feel the same way. I thought maybe it was because I was sick and couldn’t drink, but dragged myself out of the hostel to try and enjoy myself with some new people, that I hated it. Maybe if I was wasted it would be better? (The drunk people around me at the bar seemed to be having a hell of a time…) But I can say, I’m very glad I stayed far far away from that area for the most part of my time in Bangkok. I stayed in Silom area which was much quieter, but still right next to a skytrain and easy to get around the city from. Next time I go there, I’m not setting foot in that part of Bangkok if I can help it.

    Reply
  9. Martin Pietrzak

    Saying that Khao San is somewhat not representative of Bangkok is wrong. I think it is! We saw many spots in Bangkok and KS is certainly part of it. Bangkok has it’s good and bad sides. It is unique in its variety and it does add to what Bangkok is all about. All cities have these areas, like it or not…next time just don’t visit this one.

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      Totally agree, but I wouldn’t say it’s representative. By saying that you mean to say that KSR is how people should think of Bangkok. it’s an aspect, no doubt, just like Silom, but it’s not representative of the city or her people.

      Reply
  10. Larissa Milne

    We had a similar experience in Chiang Mai earlier this year-here’s our post: http://www.wp.me/p1DSu5-RX. It was where we first understood the term “tourist ghetto”. We thought we had done our research, but hadn’t seen anything negative about the city.

    To be sure, there are lots of other nice areas, but I think it’s important to notify others when a previously-great neighborhood or sight has lost its luster. This is why people read travel blogs-for honesty. You’ve called it like you’ve seen it-and given future travelers the power to make an informed decision about whether they’d like to go or not.

    Reply
  11. Charles

    Bit over the top to say its ground zero for pickpockets, scams and general thievery. I’ve been to khao san literally 100′s of times and seen only 1 crime take place. I dont think its any worse than other places where tourists are present in quantity. Also a place is made by the people and i think we need to look back to the west to figure out why so many young people desire to lead such trashy lives.

    Khao san can have a great atmosphere at times, especially weekends when young Bangkok Thai’s come to hang out there. On the other hand i would agree that tourists should make an effort to get out there and see the rest of BKK. Fortunately there’s been a trend in recent years of affordable mid-range / boutique hotels popping up all round the city which is luring many away from wicked KSR!

    If you want to see real trash go to Nana Plaza and environs ;)

    Reply
  12. Working Nomad

    Whats your problem? Its a fun place and many Thais now go there too.

    Calling the tourists trashy is uncool and you should live and let live instead of taking the holier than thou attitude.

    Reply
  13. laura @ spicybuddha.com

    I’m headed to Bangkok on Saturday, and staying a few blocks away from Khao San…I knew I didn’t want to stay on the road itself, but I’ll have to check it out for myself. I have a feeling I’m going to agree with you more than disagree, though! I’m currently in Koh Samui and staying in a local apartment in between Bo Phut and Bangrak…but I stumbled upon Chaweng and I can see how people view Koh Samui as a tourist trap! At least the tourist stuff is in pockets :)

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      Yeah it’s all about how you manage it. We went to Koh Samui several years ago and had a great time, but we pretty much stayed on the resort property. :)

      Reply
      • laura @ spicybuddha.com

        Is there anything in Bangkok we should be sure to check out? I’ve been doing some research, but a lot of times you hear about the best things from fellow travellers :)

      • Matt Long

        like what? Food, sites, etc? It’s a great city, so much to explore

      • laura @ spicybuddha.com

        Well food I feel I can find loads of good places…more like sites and unique things to see and do. My friend told me about Chatuchak Market, have you been to that?

  14. Britany

    I ended up on Khao San Road both times I went to Bangkok because I was only there for a short period and its unfortunately where most buses drop you off at. I guess it had a draw for me because I was traveling solo and it was the easiest place to meet other backpackers. I definitely agree, however, that it’s extremely trashy and when I return to Bangkok (hopefully for more than just a stopover) I will do more research and get away from the hawkers and gutter puking!

    Reply
  15. William

    I thought this was a really informative post. I am going to Bangkok in 2 weeks and wondering if you could suggest a better area of the city for a first time traveler to stay.

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      It honestly depends on your budget, but anything centrally located should be great. Enjoy!

      Reply
  16. Pol

    While I don’t like Khao San Road, I don’t think there are many pickpockets… I’ve been living in Bangkok for a couple of years and for my experience, yes it is ful of scammers but not thieves.

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      Good distinction, thank you for adding that!

      Reply
  17. Rodger

    Hi Matt – I believe that young people descend on Khao San Road for the same reason they flock to the trashy area of Ko Samui, Phuket or even Vang Vieng (Laos) – the reputation of these places, built through travel literature, but mostly through over embellished travel stories, makes them seem like the ultimate travel experience for young cheap travelers.

    I used to travel when I was young and went to a few of these spots. And while you can get a cheap drink and room for the night, the issue for me was that, other than the difference in temperature, it didn’t feel like I was traveling anymore. These places are overrun with tourists all looking to party or cheap – no different than a row of bars back home, only in these places there doesn’t feel like there are any consequences to anyone’s actions.

    The good news is that these places seem to be a rite of passage for most folks who graduate to actual traveling and an appreciation for the amazingly differnt cultures around the world. For those who continue to seek out those places, I say “please stay there” because then I don’t have to run into you elsewhere.

    Reply
  18. Ashley

    Hi Matt (: Can I just say, you take really beautiful pictures!

    I’ve been to Bangkok 4 times now. Next week will be my 5th. While I do agree with everyone else that thorough research has to be done before venturing into a place like Khao San, I do not think that the place is as bad as you made it sound. Like you, I love travelling and detest unpleasant experiences. Who doesn’t, right? But the thieving, pickpocketing et cetera are habits of people we see everywhere – in China, Japan even more developed and lovable places like Paris. Khao San may appear as ‘trashy’, dirty and cheap, but I believe most people who visit it repeatedly appreciate it for that. The citizen of Bangkok selling cheap alcohol, street food and as owners of Tuk-tuks, resort to the kind of behaviour you see because they have to, given their living conditions. As tourists to the place, you can only do as much as be wary of these potholes to ensure you won’t get cheated.

    But as citizens of developed countries, are we too quick to judge them for the place they live in and their practices? Are we being overly unforgiving?

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      I love Bangkok, it’s one of my favorite cities. So I’m not being unforgiving of an under-developed country. But I do think KSR is a huge waste of time in a city with a million great things to see and do that are actually emblematic of the city.

      Reply
      • Bomdaham

        So what other things and places would you suggest? I’m travelling to Bangkok a four day stop over. I was actually about to book a room in Dang Derm ,Khao San. I also do want to experience the night life as I do with every country I visit. Also shopping is something I would want to do for about one time 6 hours max.

        Your reply and help would be greatly appreciated

  19. Vacation Wanderer

    Khao San Road is a great place to people watch and to take great candid photos. Sure it is hectic and sometimes full of people, but that’s what it is. Sure some of the street vendors are crazy with their “knock offs” prices, but thats when the fun of bartering comes in. I personally enjoy going there, but I wouldn’t stay there. Fun place to visit even if its just once to experience it. I think it’s funny when the BKK PD come through and the vendors scramble… :-) Hate is such a deep feeling; how about dislike? :-) Plus, you don’t have to go there if you don’t want to. :-)

    Reply
  20. Ronaye

    I can see where you are coming from and there are pieces of which I can understand your distaste for KSR. I been to Bangkok at least a dozen times, and always look forward to the gong-show big city experience it provides. But I guess that’s the way I see KSR – it is what it is and has been for decades. While I don’t stay right on KSR, I often stay somewhat near it just for ease of a number of different things – its easy to replenish my hot-weather wardrobe before I take off to my local destination (where I go isn’t touristy at all so doesn’t have easy to buy/wear stuff like KSR is famous for), my favorite bus company has a stop somewhat nearby rather than going all the way to Sourhern Bus Terminal, and I’ve actually gained some really great Thai friends who work in that area that I go visit each time I’m there. It’s a gong-show, no question of that, in fact I’ve likened KSR at 4am to one of those weird psychological experiments from the 1950s, but I’ve never had any real problems there and certainly don’t find it as disrespectful to the people and culture as let’s say Kuta, Bali. I try to spend as little time there as needed, but I guess I just take it as it is (and hope new travelers can see it for what it is). I can see, however, for new wide-eyed travellers it might be a more gentle (though weird) way to ease into the travelling experience if this is their entry point.

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      Well said Ronaye and nice observations. I agree, it is a spectacle and seeing it once is a good idea. When I went back in April though all novelty had worn off and I was desperate to get out of there. Maybe I’m getting older, but the constant barrage on the senses there gets to be a lot fast. I do love Bangkok though and always will. :)

      Reply
      • Ronaye

        Yes I hear you! It’s weird to go back to a place years later only to find it has likely stayed the same but you and the way you experience it have definitely changed. And due to my steadfast denial of getting older, I have decided that it is purely the product of ‘experience wisdom’. :)
        Great website by the way, lots of great reads!

      • Matt Long

        Thanks! I really appreciate that :)

  21. Puru

    Haha … I could understand this feeling of yours. There are parts in Bangkok which look quite shady. I wasn’t feeling comfortable at some places myself.

    Reply
  22. Alana - Gen Y Wanderer

    This past week I made my fifth trip to Bangkok and am finally starting to warm up to the place… I can’t say that I like Khao San Road, but I do find it fascinating in a way: I think it’s incredible that you can be walking along in ‘normal’ Bangkok then suddenly turn a corner and be in the center of this area which is a “pulsating mass of humanity” and that has people from all walks of life…then walk 200 meters, turn the corner and it disappears again.

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      Oh I love Bangkok, for me it’s one of those cities I’ll always love, but just not all aspects of it. :)

      Reply
  23. Rob Schneider

    Look on the bright side – it keeps the people you don’t want to be around all herded together in one area.

    Reply
  24. Foro Vietnam

    You have some nice pictures, during daytime khao san road looks empty, at night time is crowed of people and many different tourist attractions :)

    Reply
  25. Num

    sorry….where you came from?

    Reply
  26. Dave G

    I have been thru many BKK many times and have never been to Khao San Road for the sole fact I dont travel half way around the world to hang with a bunch westerners many of which sole purpose seems to get hammered as much as then can if I wanted that I would save a ton of money and time and go to ft Lauderdale Florida

    Reply
  27. Neil

    Today I went to that area that is called Soi Rambuttri, near Kao San. I would like to torch the area. It’s just another ugly, low tourist ghetto.
    I couldn’t get out of there quick enough, I would never stay in such an area – the presence of other foreigners is hard to bear anyway (I left my country years ago and do not enjoy meeting the small minded countrymen who I left behind, the clerks, shopkeepers, office workers, stoke brokers and other “normal” folk who are not in any way exceptional – just here “on holiday”)
    I can only think that the people who like these places, who hang out in these bars are unimaginative and wholly conventional, they are “tourists” in the worse sense of the word – shallow, ignorant of culture and language… hedonistic morons who deserve each other, deserve to get ripped of. Why the hell would anyone want to be in an area that isn’t even like the country they are in?! These jerks will be off on organized treks no doubt, off to ride on the backs of toothless decrepit elephants, off to feed the monkeys and all the other moronic activities that “tourists” so love to do.- off to enjoy “fine local cuisine” in a “relaxing atmosphere” , off to be pampered.
    I don’t apologize for hating mediocrity, I am authentic!
    I do not apologize for my attitude,

    Reply
  28. Nita

    Lol.. Not at all.. I share your sentiments! Glad you talked about this because it’s not just the smelly, filthy or trashy surface that is problematic. It’s also the serious health hazards, especially drinking bad quality and fake alcohol, that are used widely in ‘bucket’ drinks sold all over khao sarn road. There are much nicer and safer places in Bangkok that are also inexpensive and worth exploring!

    Reply
  29. ian

    I’ve been coming to the KSR area for some years now & although no-one in their right mind would actually holiday there, it makes an ok place to unwind for a day after the twenty-odd hours of planes & airports to get to Thailand.
    Everything I need is at hand to plan my next few weeks of travel in SEA
    Unfortunately (as with many places in Thailand) it has grown from an interesting attraction to a seething mass as more locals try to cash-in on the farang market – On my last trip, the road was restricted to single-file pedestrian access thanks to the number of hawkers at each side.
    I don’t love or hate KSR it just marks the beginning of a holiday which I hope will be full of fun & adventure.

    Reply
  30. Katie

    Ha ha yes I agree but really you do make it sound a lot more interesting than it really is! Where are these thieves and bandits ?
    I think they should chuck a fake pirate ship and a glitzy casino into the mix and liven things up a bit.

    Reply
  31. Karisa

    Very good summary of KSR. When I first moved to Bangkok, I considered KSR to be a fun place to go out and meet people. 6 months into my life in Bangkok, however, I’ve inadvertently distanced myself from this “pulsating mass of humanity.” In the words of a fellow expat, “I don’t belong here anymore.” There are cleaner, less touristy places to go instead-places that represent Bangkok and not just Bangkok’s backpackers. RCA for example.

    Reply
  32. Matt

    Sitting on KSR outside 7-Eleven with a cold beer, people watching, is an absolutely incredible experience.
    I never want to spend a considerable amount of time there, but to chill and absorb, its amazing.

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      I’m glad you have such a great memory of Bangkok!

      Reply
  33. Jose

    I agree with you, there are many more best streets in Bangkok, but hey, I guess fame is what counts, so it is well-known.

    Reply
  34. eloi

    This is not something that only happens here. Otherwise head to las ramblas, in my own city barcelona, and you will see. Much more pickpockets and shit than here, trust me. Im writing this message from Khao San and the street is the perfect explanation what world is. The tourist-travellers make places change, and when somebody is poor will want to make money of the tourist. The final product, as u see it nowadays in Khao San, is the footprint of many,many travellers who had been here. Everybody looking for the cheap, fun and easy life. Those who were lucky to come in the 80′s surely got a real view of how Thailand was, same as the ones who came to barcelona in the 80’s. I find funny to hear from older travellers how spoilt everything is, but they don’t remember they have also been a brick on the wall. Tourism and globalization will make look all the world the same and we are all collaborating on it. Otherwise, you can go to Bhutan, pay the 250$ fee per day that u must pay there and see a country that prefers 1 tourist paying 250 dollars than 20 paying 12.

    I’d been travelling for a year in Asia and I’ve meet a fellow travellers much older than me,and all they blame how everything is now, but they all forget they have done the same, but just luckily in another time frame. Looking for cheap accomodarion, good and cheap food and new experiences, like everybody else.

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      No, not everyone travels cheaply. I certainly don’t. I spent a lot of money on hotels in Bangkok and I loved staying in them. Sure there are horrible places around the world, I’m just writing about one of them in Bangkok. There are NO redeeming qualities to KSR, which is a shame in an otherwise wonderful town.

      Reply
  35. gjavors

    KSR is not by any means alone with respect to it’s block-the-road-and-the-sidewalk mercantile nature. Just try to walk Sukhumvit between National Stadium and Siam Square some evening. And if you are not enamored of temples and unimpressed with the Thong Lor, Ekkamai, Siam Square, Sukhumvit Soi 11 brand of polished civilization with all of its upmarket cleanliness, then what is wrong with turning up the volume a little on your Bangkok experience? The areas adjacent to KSR have expanded dramatically in the past few years as well, and I don’t think that it is an exaggeration to say that a Miami Beach experience is available at 1/5 the price of Miami Beach. Although admittedly the Chao Phraya doesn’t offer the same beach experience. I urge you to disregard these tales of filth and misery and give KSR another shot. You will be glad that you did.

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      I wrote this almost immediately after yet another visit to KSR and I stand by my observations. Maybe if you’re under 25 you can deal with it, but it’s just not for me. I love Bangkok though and it’s one of my favorite cities in the world.

      Reply
  36. Somchit Srimoon

    I agree with Khun Matt, BKK is an amazing city if you bother to seek out the nicer areas to explore and the unique features and activates it has to offer. Sadly KSR has been a eye sour and a place of embarrassment to Thailand for more than the 20 years,

    I assure you. It is not a matter of being elitist to choose not to waste your time and money in a place that has been referred to as “The Street of the great unwashed” by locals and experienced travelers alike. It used to be a reasonable area well over 30 years ago and now it is unfit to live in the area due to the type of travelers and Thais that exploit the unwary, for their living. The real shame is so many first time travelers to Bangkok, that end up there, see little more than KSR and can’t wait to “escape” Bangkok, too many travelers never stay long enough to know the real Bangkok.

    I may choose not to live in Bangkok, it but is a place I do know to be well worth exploring.

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      I have been to Bangkok several times and I love it. I never said otherwise I don’t think. This post is ONLY about KSR :) So we agree!

      Reply
  37. Julie

    Hi,
    I partly agree with you, i was in Bangkok for a few days, and i gave a hotel adress to my taxi, he took me to the wrong place, and i landed in khao san road …
    Too much traffic, enough of carrying my backpack … i stayed there for one night.
    I don’t think the place was that trashy, i just arrive from Bali and i found Kuta 10 times worse …
    What i dont really like about khao san is its location. Its so much more convenient when you can be near a BTS in Bangkok …

    And then i have a question for you : what neighbourhood would you recommend ?
    In the guide they also give a few adresses near Siam … Ok there is BTS but i’m not sure it´s where i’d like to stay …
    I’ll come back in Bangkok in december, so if you have any suggestions, please share them with me :)

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      I stayed at the Intercontinental and the Mandarin Oriental and enjoyed both.

      Reply
  38. jim Wright

    Well, I find Khao San to be a great spot for a bit of excitement and people watching / meeting. I like sitting in the street bars and having a few beers, or maybe down the road in Soi Rambuttri. I don’t know anywhere in the UK that I can sit alone as a 45 year old man and chat freely to any travelers of all ages or Thais and have a chat and a laugh and end up going to some bar or club and having fun. Of course I wouldn’t wanna do it every night though.

    I’ve been to Sukhumvit, which I find rather sleazy and ‘ex-pat’-ish, but i s’pose its cool to sit at one of the VW camper bar thingies and people watch. And I’ve been to some of the clubs there, bit pretentious and expensive (not to mention full of hookers) – give me Khoa san any time to just have a laugh and meet people. It is what it is.

    As regards sell crap, well, I ain’t seen those vests anywhere else in Thailand, I like some of those vests, and I’ve been around many tourist markets in Thai and it’s always the same crap anyway. At least it’s different crap in Khoa San! (same same but different!). I can also make a suggestion here – avoid the expensive Malls if you wanna get some bargains look in the thai mini-malls (often right next to the expensive ones).I can suggest one near Mega Ciniplex in Pinklau, got some good cheap shirts and stuff there.

    OK, cheers – Jim (sorry about the speeling – im an English tetcher!)

    And surely if you’re slagging Khao San, it would be a better balanced piece if you actually named the other places you made reference too, where are these other cool places? Someone said Silom! Sleaze pit. OK Sukumvit further down and Thong Lo, but can you enlighten me as to good spots to go for night life? Ok, I can suggest one – Funky Villa Thong Lo soi 10, there you are, or but ‘Bangkok 101′ in newspaper shop for listings.

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      I don’t do night life when I’m in Bangkok, so I can’t answer you there. I was speaking as a tourist going around town. And I like most other areas, just not KSR

      Reply
  39. John Brown

    Matt you are an absolute prude. Drop the holier than thou attitude.

    These kind of places exist around the world, from Thailand to Spain to Jamaica.

    I actually think the Khao San Road area, especially the streets around it are the best place to stay in Bangkok. The area is buzzing, the food is affordable, plenty of brand new mid range hotels have sprung up and MOST IMPORTANTLY, it is not a sex tourist area!

    Would you rather stay around Sukhumvit or Silom near the trashy bars? Or in an area of the city where not much is going on? I wouldnt. Btw, KSR has become much more family friendly and ther ware now plenty of families with children staying there. Ok, there are still some hippyish backpackers with awful dreadlocks, but overall, it isn’t bad at all!

    As for pick pocketing and ripoffs, they go on everywhere tourists set foot, but not more in KSR than elsewhere. Please be more positive next time you plan to trash a budget area.

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      this is a blog, it’s all about my opinion. If I don’t like an area, then I say I don’t like it. For pure facts, Wikipedia is a great source :)

      Reply
  40. Roberto

    Ciao Matt,
    well, thanks for sharing your impressions and warning new coming tourists about the reality of that place.
    I know that already many people asked you about advices. People should do a bit of research them self but it is not always easy to find good information.
    i’ll arrive in bangkok on the night between sunday and monday, at 1 o’clock. not considering the recent happenings i was not worrying about getting a hotel booked. i bought my well known “solitary” travel guide and read that i do not have to worry about late time (still not going to do it ). just pick up a taxi and go to khao san. plenty of hotels which are open until late and places open too.
    after reading your blog i kind of changed my mind (will go there for an half an hour visit during the day), but i need another advice not to end in a dead area or a dangerous area because of the riots.

    well if it is not asking to much, it should have something to see at night (i’ll stay awake until 5 o’clock at least), it should have cheap but clean hotels (cheap for me means around 10 $ – not have money for bhirmania yet :-) and should not look like khao san. /would prefer sometimes visit by local and without sex shops)
    well a long list, sorry.

    i know a blog is not the place where to mention nice unspoilty places, but if u could give me some advices on where to go in thailand (and bangkok too) for not finding to many tourist i’d appreciated it.
    i have kind of feeling that my “lovely” guide with not help that much on that :-)
    kob khun krap
    Roberto

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      I’ve written a lot about Bangkok actually and love it there. Blogs ARE a good place to find advice about nice areas, not sure why you’d think otherwise.

      Reply
  41. Roberto

    i’m not a native english speaker (it’s obvious). I was jocking (rather trying to joke) about a blog not being the place were to give away a “secret” about a place not visit from too many tourist… the place would risk to become overcrowded soon.

    i found this thread directly from google while searching for info on khao sun, and did not visit your site before, didn’t see you are giving lots of indications about nice places… as i said i would be thankful if you could give me some advices.
    ciao
    Roberto

    Reply
  42. Roberto

    Wow! great!
    I tried yesterday to look in your blog but i didn’t come across all these things on bangkok, (i found however lots of other interesting things).
    Many thanks!
    Last question, sorry. Hope not be annoying…
    An advice for my first night in bangkok? (arriving at 1 o’clock in the night, between sunday and monday. than i’ll catch a taxi) the idea was to go to khao san, but after reading your blog i changed it.
    Not a specific hotel just a nice area not too turistic with a bit of night life and not dangerous, because of the riots….

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      I’m sorry but I’m not comfortable advising you on this, check out NomadicMatt.com though and he should have more specific advice.

      Reply
  43. Roberto

    Wow, great!
    i was looking at your website yesterday but i didn’t come across all this information (i found however lot of other interesting stuff). Many thanks!

    Reply
  44. Roberto

    Ciao Matt,
    thanks for the reply and for the advice.
    I’ll keep visiting your website.

    ps the double message is due to the fact that been back to the page after half an hour my first message didn’t appear (maybe the page didn’t refresh) so i wrote again a shorter version.
    ciao

    Reply
  45. Cindy

    I couldnt agree more with whats been said. Im here right now in Chill Out hostel on Rambuttri Alley and although this definitely seems to be a cleaner hostel it’s not much of a bangkok experience. I am glad i am only staying one night in KSR but glad i got to see it for myself and grateful for the cheap prices on the clothes. I tried to take a bus here too but ended up lost as hell and ripped off on a motorbike fare to KSR. It was not worth the hassle it took me to get to KSR.

    Great read, just wish i found it earlier. Cheers

    Reply
  46. Pol

    Khao San is a shitty hole but the whole area has some pretty good restaurants, especially at Rambuttri and Pratit roads. In Khao San there are also good clubs filled with locals like Bricks.

    Its location is also pretty good to visit the Palace and the temples.

    Reply
  47. Jim

    Totally agree! Khao San Road is one of my least favorite places in the world. Even if you’re on a budget, there’s no excuse to go anywhere near that hell hole.

    Reply

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