The low down on Khaosan Road
Bangkok is crazy and Khaosan Road, even crazier!
As most of you have probably gathered I am currently traveling around Southeast Asia and whenever I can I’ll be updating you on my experiences on the road.
It all started on Monday
Me and my other half arrived at Manchester airport on Monday afternoon, very eager to start our travels but lacking that same eagerness to travel for 17 hours. I can now report that it wasn’t all that bad. In fact some of it was exceptionally good. We decided to fly with Etihad Airways so that we would have inflight entertainment i.e. Films, box sets, games and other fun things to entertain us for endless hours. I must admit, trying to sleep in an upright seat was pretty difficult and uncomfortable for the most part but I managed to get a couple of broken hours of sleep which was a start. The food was really good quality and it was free along with drinks during the flight. Bonus. All in all, the first leg of our journey to Bangkok was quite easy and didn’t drag too much.
The second leg of our flight was a completely different ball game. We were so lucky to be upgraded to business class. We thought we had hit the jackpot. We had private pods with a massage bed, television, food and drinks whenever we wanted them and even a lovely snuggly blanket and pillow. Safe to say that after a delicious breakfast of cinnamon pancakes I kicked off my shoes, put my chair into sleep position, snuggled up and slept like a baby for 3 solid hours. Perfect.
We arrived in Bangkok pretty refreshed and eager to get going, but as people who’ve visited Thailand will know there’s absolutely no rushing anyone. Having said that, people were so helpful and we managed to find the best option for us to get to Khaosan road in no time. We headed straight down to the bus terminal and joined the queue for the backpacker minibus which cost a measly 100 THB – approximately £2.30 to travel for around 40 minutes to khaosan road. Pretty damn good value right? We thought so.
We arrived at Khaosan at around 9:15pm when it was lit up in all its glory. I was completely and utterly overwhelmed. I didn’t know where to look, there was so much going on and so many people that all I could think was “find me a bed”. The choice of hostels, hotels and guest houses on Khaosan is insane, which only made it harder for us to decide. We had already set ourself a budget for accommodation (max 1000 THB) so it was relatively easy to nip in and out of places and ask for prices until we found one that met our needs. We literally dumped our bags into the hotel room and ventured down to the hustle and bustle that is Khaosan Road.
I can’t even begin to describe what this place is like. We heard so much about it from friends and family but nothing can really prepare you for it. There are touts pulling you into bars, tuk tuk drivers trying to take you anywhere they can, ladies shouting “massage”, people trying to sell you suits and gadgets you’ll never use and there are elephant pants EVERYWHERE. It is just crazy and not for the faint hearted. You literally have to just go with it and if you can’t, then get out of there. Fast! Upon first impressions it seems that everything is moving at a thousand miles per hour around you, but once you join the party, you soon realise what a laid back and friendly environment Khaosan is. If you can look past the tacky signage and pestering people, there really are some hidden gems on here. I soon learned to look past shop fronts and delve further into it because there are restaurants and shops hiding behind other restaurants and shops. Literally every square inch of space is filled with something and you see something new everyday.
After a couple of days in Khaosan I was quite eager to escape and my gosh did I try. Got on the canal taxi (which is a much cheaper form of transport than tuk tuk or taxi) and headed towards Siam and Phayathai. It didn’t take me long to realise it was a mistake, the atmosphere wasn’t nearly as friendly, hostels were few and far between and yes, you guessed it, I headed very quickly back to Khaosan and boy did it feel good. It strangely felt like home. I don’t think I quite appreciated its friendly, laid back atmosphere until I arrived back there.
We actually stayed in different accommodation every night because we couldn’t quite settle on the one that was right for us until the last night in Khaosan. Here’s a little break down of where we stayed in the area.
Khaosan Park Resort– This was our first bed, and actually the room was very simple, modern and clean but unfortunately a bit of a building site. They were undergoing refurbishment so things were abbot upside down but the service was still great and the room very comfortable. Top tip: we visited the hotel after 9pm and they offer rooms at 50% off.
We paid: 745 THB
Erawan House– On our second night, we ventured across the road to a sightly quieter area and settled on Erawan house. Again the rooms were very simple, quite small (especially the shower) but clean and nice enough for one night. This hotel had lockers which came in handy during the day if we didn’t want to carry our bags.
We paid: 900 THB
Charoendee Boutique Hostel– not my favourite at all. This hostel claimed to be boutique style, but in my opinion it was more shabby s**t than anything else. The walls were covered in marks, there were Mosquitos, and the mirror in the bathroom was like something from a horror movie! Not my cup of tea at all. Safe to say I wouldn’t recommend here if you have any sort of standards.
We paid: 550 THB (private room)
Khaosan Palace: my favourite by a country mile. This hotel was perfect. Each room was themed and we had an amber room which was beautifully decorated, spotlessly clean and had an amazing shower. The rooftop pool was a welcomed bonus and the staff were very helpful.
We paid: 1090 THB (a little more expensive but well worth it)
I would advise nipping into hotels/hostels and checking their prices before you make a decision. But also check the prices on apps such as Agoda or booking.com as sometimes they are slightly cheaper.
Food is so easy to find on Khaosan Road. You pretty much only have to step out of your hotel to find something that smells delicious. Street food is absolutely the way forward in my opinion. You can get Padthai at every few metres down the road, fresh fruit, stir fried rice, BBQ’d chicken, kebabs, coconut ice-cream and even crepes with Nutella. Heaven. I had to be very careful as I recently found I have a bad fish allergy, but most of the vendors speak English so you can ask for specifics if they’re not too complex. Eating street food is much much cheaper than eating in restaurants. I paid 30-40 THB (around 90p) for noodles and meals from street vendors as a pose to around 180 THB (just over £4) in a restaurant. Don’t get me wrong, is you’re used to paying English or American prices for food, then the restaurant costs in Thailand are still an absolute crazy bargain, but if you’re wanting to make the most of your money then street food is the best way to save.
As a couple, myself and Adrian (the other half) want to stretch our money as far as possible without depriving ourselves of comfort or privacy. Most of the places we stay will be under 1000 THB we will eat and travel as frugally as possible and spend most of our money on sightseeing and once in a lifetime activities. If this sounds like your idea of traveling then these posts will hopefully be really helpful for you. Otherwise I hope you’ll find something useful from my experiences and can put them to practice yourself.
I’m currently on a sleeper bus to Chiang Mai for the lantern festival as I write this post, so expect to see lots of pretty photos on my Instagram feed in the next few days.