Khaosan Road and the surrounding area is the main tourism hub of Bangkok, if not the whole of South East Asia. Most backpackers begin their travels here and for many it’s their first ever experience of Asia, an easy & accessible mix of East meets West. I wanted to experience this side of the city first-hand and also see where Martin stayed the first time he visited Thailand 6 years ago.
Our taxi dropped us at the end of Rambuttri Alley so that seemed as good a place as any to begin exploring.
The street was lined with busy tourist bars, people getting foot massages and food stalls selling huge plates of Pad Thai for 70bht (about £1.30).
Signs advertising happy hour quickly drew us in so we pulled up a couple of stools outside Bangkok Bar, ordered a round of Chang and enjoyed some serious people watching.
After our beers we continued on our way towards Khaosan Road…
…and it was nothing like I expected! Big, busy, but completely lacking any character.
It could’ve been the main “strip” of any major tourist town anywhere in the Western world – packed with tattoo parlours, T-shirt stalls, hostels, and just about every American fast-food chain you can think of (I saw signs for Starbucks, McDonalds, Burger King and Subway).
I was disappointed and after 10 minutes or so decided I had seen enough. Unless you need to find an Irish pub or a stall selling edible bugs I really don’t see much of a reason to spend any time on Khaosan Road itself!
Being in such a touristy area does have it’s perks though – just around the corner we stumbled across Mango vegetarian & vegan restaurant and decided to give it a try for dinner.
But first, shoes off!
The menu was huge and after much deliberation Martin went for the massaman curry and I had a ginger & lychee stir fry with tofu & jasmine rice (which was so good I didn’t even get a photo of it).
We were blown away by the quality of the fresh veg and tasty sauces, and the whole meal including a couple of drinks cost less than £10!
Bargain, and such a nice surprise to find amazing vegetarian Thai food so easily.
By now we realised that Rambuttri Alley was by far our favourite street in the area. Commercial and touristy but still unmistakably Thai, with a mix of people from all over the world.
We made our way back to Bangkok Bar and grabbed the same table we’d had earlier. Somehow the happy hour was still going on, and now there was live music courtesy of a Thai band playing covers of American rock & metal songs from the early 2000s.
We embraced the backpacker spirit and made some new friends too!
Martin was loving the bands Limp Bizkit cover…
…while I was just loving Bangkok!
We drank beer, sang along to the band, and chatted to our new American & German friends until everything was pretty hazy.