Khao San road

Khao San Road these days a name as well known as Thailand itself but it wasn't always like this.

In1782 the Grand Palace area was the center of the newly established Bangkok. Then, Khao San Road, about 20 minutes walk from the Palace, was a just an ordinary road as it would have been in any other residential area.

What happened? During Thailand's economic boom in 1982, being also the lucky Buddhist calendar year 2525, the Thai Government decided to celebrate Bangkok's bicentennial anniversary. They launched huge campaigns promoting the spectacular festivities, resulting in Bangkok hotels actually being booked out. Well at least for the not so wealthy.

Backpackers, always being smart about saving a buck, went to Khao San road, which was a convenient central location, and actually convinced the residents to rent out their spare rooms. As things go in Thailand, the locals picked up very quickly on this profitable idea and the guest house business has flourished ever since. All sorts of enterprises catering to the needs of this special clientele popped up instantly, namely discount travel services, restaurants showing videos, shops with ethnic clothing and handicraft, music vendors, tattoo artists, silver jewelry, etc ...

The whole area, named Banglampoo and actually being one of the main shopping zones for Bangkokians, turned into a global village with world food, world music and world peace. It became the essential hub for 'Traveler 'R' Us' in Asia and a melting pot of all nations and creeds, where racial issues and politics seem not to exist.

The second big change for this little street came in the middle nineties, when a traveller wrote a brilliant book, followed by a not so brilliant movie - The Beach. Suddenly everybody everywhere had heard about Khao San and needed to see it once in their life. The street became a part of the sightseeing schedule, next to the Grand Palace, temples, floating market and the custom tailor.

The influx of these new customers changed the face of the road and created upmarket accommodation, classy restaurants and stylish night clubs, however it did not kill the old spirit. Somehow both worlds manage to co-exist and add to each other.

Nowadays Khao San Road has become a city within the city. A micro-cosmos with its own rules and rituals, a place, many seem never wish to leave, unless of course they have heard about  the amazing Koh Tao.