This post contains affiliate links. For more information, please see my disclosures.
There’s something about Khao San Road as the symbol of iconic Thailand tourist experience. Some of you may recognize the name of the road – it was featured in the opening scenes of the novel The Beach (later turned into a movie with Leonard Dicaprio).
“This road has everything” (please channel you’re inner Stefon voice from Saturday Night Live) – cafes, street food, clothes, sidewalk spas, scam artists, bookstores, jewelry stores, teeth whitening, bars, leg waxing, bridal dresses, more 7 Elevens than you can shake a stick at, and on and on…
Khao San Road
Although there’s always something happening on Khao San Road, I found that it was to explore it in the evening.
During the day, it’s best to grab a lunch from one of the many street vendors (from cut up fruit to spring rolls to curry dishes to go), get a foot massage, or grab an icy beverage (I cannot recommend that passion fruit juice enough – just make sure to ask for it without sugar) and watch the jam of tuktuks, taxis and mopeds on the street.
At night, Khao San Road turns into a completely different atmosphere. Sure, there’s still vendors hawking their t-shirts and you can still get a foot massage…but suddenly the sidewalks shed their dusty cocoon to transform into an impromptu night food market and the streets are alight with glowing lanterns hanging from cafes, bars, and the occasional tree.
There’s a festive feel with loud music, delightful smells and people everywhere. After a quick walk through and deciding that the expensive grilled scorpion just wasn’t for me, I sat down at a make-shift table next to other travelers and ordered the grilled squid. I know what you’re thinking…grilled squid from some guy’s cooler on the sidewalk?
Yes. Yes I did.
And it was fresh, cooked to perfection and the best grilled squid I’ve had in a long time. Also? I didn’t get sick from grilled squid from some guy’s cooler which is a win in my books.
And what’s this enchanting sound coming a few feet away? Why, it’s my first Jewish dance party in Bangkok, in the middle of Khao San Road, who knew! A group of about 30-40 people were dressed in Orthodox Jewish clothing: white dress shirt, black pants, kippahs, gartels, and tzizits. A man was singing various songs in Hebrew, the crowd of onlookers cheered and did their best to sing along, and we were all invited to circle dance with the party hosts. The music was catchy and before I knew it, I was tapping my toes and pulled into the circle dance. Even the cops were out to keep an eye out on things and make sure it didn’t get out of hand.
Who know Bangkok is where I’d experience my first Jewish street party? (There’s a sentence I never thought I’d write about Bangkok).
Like I said, it’s best to experience Khao San Road at night…