Kao San Road - Green Door Enterprises

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[Published on 2012-02-15 in Thailand Newsby Jesse Schule]

Kao San Road

No Longer Just For Backpackers 

Kao San Road is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Thailand's capital city, not too far from The Grand Palace, it was formally known as Rattanakosin. Back in 1982, Thailand was aggressively promoting tourism, with an elaborate celebration and festival held at The Grand Palace. When millions of tourists flocked into Bangkok, they found that there was not enough hotel rooms to accommodate them. Many travelers that were on a budget (backpackers), then negotiated with residents of Kao San Road, offering to pay a small fee to stay in their homes. When the festival finally ended, the local residents of Kao San Road had realized that there was a market for low cost accommodation, food and entertainment in the area. 

In the few years that followed, small hostels and guesthouses began opening up all over the area, street vendors came in to sell their wares, and food stalls arrived on scene to cater to the steady stream of backpackers. During the 1980s and 1990s, the tourists that were attracted to Kao San Road were almost exclusively backpackers, many of whom would have long hair and dreadlocks, smell of marijuana smoke and Patchouli oil. Many of the hotels and hostels had very shabby facilities, shared toilets and showers, and an overall low standard of cleanliness. 

Over the past decade, Thailand has become a more mainstream tourist destination, and Kao San road has transformed into an area that caters to a variety of tourists, with more mid range accommodation springing up, and several higher end restaurants and bars filling the street. The area has also grown much larger, spilling out to nearby streets, as far as several city blocks away. Nowadays many tourists from all walks of life will choose to stay on Kao San Road, in order to avoid the sleazy go go bars and sex trade workers that are so common in other areas of Bangkok. 

The cost of food and accommodation on Kao San Road is still much cheaper than most other areas of the capital city, with an average guesthouse renting out for about 500 Baht per night. The quality of accommodation is much better than it has ever been in the past, with clean rooms and all the facilities you would expect from an average hotel. There are still just as many street vendors selling souvenirs, clothing and trinkets, all very reasonably priced. Food stalls still line the streets, although the Pad Thai that used to be only 10 Baht per serving, will now cost your at least double that. 

The nightlife scene at Kao San Road is much different than anywhere else in Bangkok, the bars normally are allowed to stay open a little later, however this changes from month to month depending on local politics. There are plenty of pubs, and restaurant style bars where foreigners can sit and enjoy a drink, watching the crowds of people pass down the road. You won't find any sex tourists on Kao San Road, because there are no bars in the area that cater to them. 

For those of you that had visited Kao San Road in the early years, you probably wouldn't even recognize it today. This more sanitized, more mainstream version of Kao San road seems to be a welcome addition to Bangkok, as today's tourists are a different breed than the backpackers of the 1980s. Thailand now caters to more honeymooners, couples and families, and the facilities have improved to accommodate this new breed of tourists. 

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