Khao San Road is a bustling, effervescent and kaleidoscopic street in Bangkok, brimming with Chang beer T-shirts, tasty pad thai and enthusiastic travellers from all over the globe. A short walk through the heart of the city exposes visitors to all the street has to offer, and guides them through an area where the beer is flowing, the lights are bright and the energy is infectious; here’s our guide to the best things to do and see on Khao San Road, Bangkok.
Experience local life
This is the place to see a diverse mix of people from all walks of life ambling past each other on the same street, where excited British students mingle with Thai locals, where small children laugh and play with toys, while famous Bangkok ladyboys strut their stuff, and regal Buddhist monks browse the stalls of enthusiastic vendors. Take time to sit back and people-watch when you arrive onto Khao San Road, and soak up the diversity of Thailand’s most lively walkway.
Thailand is not known for its museums, but the National Gallery just beside Khao San Road is a beacon of art and culture in Bangkok. This old colonial building once served as a royal household during the reign of King Rama V, and is now the setting for a rotation of temporary exhibits that illustrate the hardships and beauty of Thai life. Watch out for old black and white photographs of Bangkok, as well as some stunning and intricately woven ancient tapestries.
Wat Chana Songkhram is an 18th-century Buddhist temple with a name translating to Temple of Victory in War. Although it is not an especially famous example, it nevertheless has appeal, with its grand, golden interior and long history. Here visitors will find shiny, gilded designs and well as ornate colourings, and remarkably, the place manages to maintain a serene atmosphere despite being across the road from notoriously noisy Khao San Road. A place of tranquillity and prayer for locals, a visit to Wat Chana Songkhram provides a perfect slice of peace and quiet away from the surrounding busy streets.
Bangkok has more beautiful Buddhist temples than you will ever see in your lifetime, but make sure you visit one or two. Wat Bowonniwet is the residence of the Mahamakut Buddhist University, a royal-affiliated monastery and the national centre for the Thammayut sect of Buddhism. Still active and of national importance, the temple also provided the setting for the ordination of the present king. Wat Bowonniwet exudes a casual, laid-back atmosphere, and the pretty murals here artistically illustrate the influences westerners have on Thai life.
Arrive by boat
Any visit to Bangkok will require use of local transportation at some point, and if you don’t want to put your life on the line in a crazy tuk-tuk, a popular way to get to Khao San Road is by boat – on the Bao Phraya Express or a Klong river vessel. These provide slow, relaxing rides and are a great opportunity to experience the Chao Phraya river, the lifeline running through the heart of the city. More than 15 boat lines operate here, and water taxis can also be hailed for ridiculously cheap prices.
Just around the corner from Khao San Road is a majestic memorial dedicated to those who died under the military dictatorship on 14 October 1973, while demonstrating peacefully against the government. The event remains controversial, and the photographs on display illustrate the deaths of more than 70 activists. There’s a tranquil amphitheatre here where civilians still gather for non-violent protests, and for travellers seeking a true taste of Thai culture and politics, this is a gloomy yet thought-provoking must-see.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.