Bangkok Nightlife: Khao San Road Survival Guide

Wow. That’s really all there is to say about Khao San Road.

Our flight landed in Bangkok at around 5:30 in the morning and we got to our hostel on Khao San Road about an hour later. Walking down the street, we could see quite a few dead-eyed travelers roaming around, and I just assumed they also just had flown in on early morning flights. Other than those few stragglers, Khao San road was completely desolate.

Only 24 hours later, as we dragged our tired legs back to our hostel at 6 AM (after a much needed stop at McDonald’s) did I realize that those travelers sitting curbside had not just flown in and were indeed probably still drunk.

I don’t sleep well on flights and the jet lag was strong after the twelve hour time change. We couldn’t check in until the afternoon so we forced ourselves to explore the city and then promptly passing out as soon as our beds were ready. A quick nap before some more exploring, right?

We went to bed just past noon and didn’t wake up until midnight. Keep in mind that the last time we saw Khao San road, it was still pretty chill, but vendors had started setting up their shops. Nothing could have prepared me for the insanity that followed. Our hostel was tucked away in an alley so we couldn’t quite hear how crazy it was outside but as soon as we stepped out, it was full sensory overload.

I didn’t care that I had just slept for 12 hours after a brutal day and a half of traveling. Khao San is one of those places that will resurrect you as soon as you feel the ground shaking from the seventeen different songs playing around you. Every innocent little restaurant you passed during the day suddenly transforms into a booming club. Everybody is just dancing and drinking on the streets going wild.

Don’t like the music in one place? Walk ten feet and the vibe can be completely different. Khao San is like a radio station where you can just switch up whenever you’re not feeling something. Dozens of food and alcohol vendors line the streets, selling everything from scorpions to tarantulas. There’s actual food options, too, so if you aren’t feeling like eating a fried cicada at midnight, you can go for a chicken skewer or pad thai.

The 7-Elevens all stop selling alcohol at midnight, so keep that in mind for your pregame. Granted, you probably won’t start drinking at midnight like we did, so you’ll be able to pace yourself and gradually watch Khao San evolve into party central. For us, it went from 0 to 100 real quick.

Thankfully, the alcohol supply is plentiful. You can get legitimate buckets of alcohol for 100 Baht, or about $3 US. I couldn’t even finish my bucket before I was lit out of my mind. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure what they even put in there. Maybe it was the exhaustion, or having not eaten anything all day, or maybe I’m just a lightweight, but I was having the time of my life within the hour. The excitement and vibe from Khao San just got me going before I even had a sip of alcohol.

Dancing on the streets lasted til about 1 AM until everyone moved on to actual clubs. We started the night at a club called The Club on Khao San. Creative name, I know. Compared to the more worn-down and rickety exteriors of Khao San, I was not expecting The Club to actually be a nice place, but it was pretty dope.

Honestly, I couldn’t tell you much about where the rest of the night went but I know The Club closed at like 2 AM and we tuk-tuked our way to a different part of town before drunkenly agreeing to pay 400 Baht for what should have been a 50 baht cab ride to go home.

We got back to Khao San at around 6 AM, exhausted but victorious. It had beyond lived up to expectations. Leaving our hostel the following night at midnight to catch a 3 AM flight to Phuket was a huge test of self-control. I almost didn’t care if I would have had to dance on the streets with a 65L backpack strapped to me. I would have done Khao San again in a heartbeat despite how tired I was.

Admittedly, Khao San is definitely backpacker central. That’s not necessarily a bad thing because it is the place to go if you want to make friends and get your bearings. And party. Is it authentic Bangkok? Not entirely, but sometimes you have to choose fun over authenticity. You’ll get your awesome street food, cheap alcohol, elephant pants, thai massage, and everything else you could ever dream of on the same road. It’s convenient, it’s fun, and it is one hell of a good time.

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