Khao San Road is one of the most famous streets in Bangkok, known for its notorious image of cheap hostels and crazy nightlife. It attracts many tourists and it can be a bit overwhelmed when you’ve just arrived after a 12-hour long flight, but it's a must-visit to every young adventurer. For most of them, it’s the start of their long trip through Southeast Asia. What makes Khao San Road such a popular backpackers spot and what are the things to do near Khao San Road?
Temples and Grand Palace to visit near Khao San Road
Bangkok is known for the hundreds of temples that are located all over the Big Mango. But how do you know which temples you should visit? Basically, you can visit any temple you like in Bangkok, but the most famous are Wat Pho and Wat Arun. Luckily these two highlights are relatively close to Khao San Road. You can take a taxi or a tuk-tuk, but Wat Pho is also easily accessible on foot. And if you do walk from Khao San Road to the Grand Palace, you will walk past the Golden Mount Temple (Wat Saket) - a temple with a beautiful golden Chedi (pagoda) - build on a hill. There is no entrance fee and after walking the stairs, you have will have a lovely panoramic view over the city. Especially in the evening, it is beautiful.
Wat Pho is a temple complex located next to the Grand Palace and is famous for its Reclining Buddha - a 46 meters long golden Buddha statue. Wat Pho is one of the oldest temples in Bangkok. Before you enter the temple where the large statue is located, you can discover many other temples surrounded by Chinese statues made of stone. Keep in mind that you cannot wear shoes once entering a Buddhist temple. Wat Pho is opening at 08:00 in the morning and the entrance fee is 100 THB.
The Grand Palace is perhaps the main attraction of Bangkok and should definitely be on this list of things do near Khao San Road. The palace is a gigantic complex full with beautiful ornaments, golden Chedi’s, gardens and temples located in the middle of Bangkok and has been the official residence of the Royal Family since 1782. By 1925, the Royal Family and the government were no longer permanently resenting the palace. The palace is still being used for official ceremonies. The highlight is the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, a 2000-year-old Buddha statue made of emerald. Due to popularity, it is always extremely busy at the Grand Palace. It is highly recommended to visit as early as possible. The Grand Palace is opening at 08.30, has an entrance fee of 500 baht and maintains a strict dress code: no tank tops, shorts or open shoes without socks.
Wat Arun is that beautiful temple you see in every travel brochure. Compared to all other temples you can find in Bangkok, it has a different architecture. The architecture is a so-called prang, a Khmer-style tower pointing upwards as Wat Arun represents Mount Meru, the center of the world in Buddhist cosmology. It is located on the west side of the river and with the ferry at Tha Tien you can cross the river for only 4 THB to Khun Mae Pueak. The entrance fee is 100 THB and opens 08:30. During sunset and in the evening, the temple is great to photograph from the east side of the river.
It is recommended to first visit the Grand Palace, then Wat Pho and then Wat Arun. And if you still have energy left, see the panoramic view at Wat Saket on your way back to Khao San Road.
Best restaurants near Khao San Road
Obviously, you can try out the many street food vendors in and around Khao San Road. But if you want to try something else then only Pad Thai and Banana Pancakes, you should try at least one of these famous restaurants:
- Tom Yum Goong Banglamphu
- Krua Apsorn
- Areesa Lote Dee
- Mont Nomsod
- Natthaphon Coconut Ice Cream
Or check our articles about The Best Local Thai Restaurants in Bangkok or Best Restaurants near Khao San Road.
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A visit to Chinatown
Even though it is still 3 kilometers (15 minutes by taxi) away from Khao San Road, Chinatown is definitely worth mentioning. As one of the largest Chinatown’s in the world, Yaowarat is one of the highlights of Bangkok. The chaos, the street food, the shops, the markets, the smell of exotic medicines, it all makes you feel like you are in a different country than Thailand. It was founded in 1782 and has been an important commercial hub for a very long time. Nowadays, the commercial hub has been moved to other places like Sathorn, but the Chinese culture still remains.
The chaotic Chinatown
With countless restaurants and street food vendors, Yaowarat is known for its food culture and it attracts a lot of tourists. From simple dishes like dumplings and grilled prawns to the more exotic bird's nest or spiced goose feet, Chinatown is one big fascinating adventure. The best time to visit Chinatown is in the evening when all the lights are on and the restaurants are ready to serve their food. Keep in mind that popular most restaurants have a queue between 18:00 - 20:00.
Bangkok National Museum near Khao San Road
The Bangkok National Museum is the main branch museum of all the national museums in Thailand and is located close to the Grand Palace and only a five-minutes-walk from Khao San Road. The exhibition contains Thai History, Archeological, and Art History and Decorative Arts and Ethnological Collection. The museum gives you a good image of the about the Thai history, the early kingdoms, traditional art, treasures, Royal attributes, and religion. Throughout the whole museum, all details can be found written in English. Keep in mind that the museum is closed on Monday and Tuesday and on many holidays. The entrance fee is 200 THB and the opening times are between 09:00 - 16:00.
Nightlife near Khao San Road
Khao San Road is famous for its nightlife. Around 20.00, the street turns into one big party, where you can get cheap drinks, eat deep-fried bugs and meet plenty of fellow-travellers. You can read all about the Best Bars at Khao San Road and if you that is not enough: don’t worry, Bangkok is Party Capital Number One for a reason.
Watch Muay Thai fights
Bangkok's most famous Muay Thai stadium, Ratchadamnern Stadium, is located close to Khao San Road. If you are a sports fanatic or just interested in the national fighting art itself, it is highly recommended. This arena hosts the most important fights in the whole country. During the evening, fighters in all age and weight categories will fight each other on the typical rhythm of the so-called Sarama - rhythmic music that will increase the speed during the fight. You can watch fights every Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday. The stadium opens at 18.30, except for Thursday. On Thursday the stadium opens at 18.00. First class tickets are 2000 THB per piece and give you ring seat chairs. Second class tickets go for 1500 THB and give you stadium seats. There is third class are available as well, but the view is terrible and you watch the game behind a fence. Tickets can be bought online or at the stadium itself.
As mentioned you can easily walk to the museum, the Grand Palace, Wat Saket, and Wat Pho. It will take you around 20 minutes. Obviously, you can take a taxi or a tuk-tuk. But one other option is to take the boat at Phra Arthit Terminal, that takes you up the river for only 15 THB per person. If you hop off at Tha Chang, you can walk straight to the Grand Palace and all the other places. Keep in mind that there are scams at terminals and there is no announcement on which terminal the boat is heading to.
In case you want to take the BTS to other places all over Bangkok, the best option is to take a taxi to Phaya Thai BTS. It will cost you around 70 THB in total. Phaya Thai BTS has also the Airport Link that has a Skytrain connection to Suvarnabhumi International Airport.