It seems like every backpacker 20-something on their way to a full moon party stays on Khao San Road while in Bangkok. If you are in desperate need of Singha beer tank tops, elephant-print yoga pants, and shisha bars playing Rihanna, this is your stop. It is not the place to stay, however, if you are vacationing with your parents or searching for something authentic.
While I generally pride myself on avoiding the tourist crowds, at the end of the day when you are tired from exploring there is something to be said for a pedestrian-friendly area with quick eats, English-speaking vendors, and $5 Thai massages. Skip Khao San and check out neighboring Soi Rambuttri instead, where I stayed last week with the ‘rents. A little quieter, less crass, and a lot more charming, this maze-like street has plenty of alleyways to discover and some great street eats to be had. It is centrally located in the Old Town of Bangkok and within walking distance to the Grand Palace, river ferry, and tons of wats. Some tips:
Eat: If you’ve reached your limit on Thai but still on a budget, check out Roti Mataba on Phra Arthit Road. This place serves delicious Indian roti dishes for around 100 baht, and there was always a line of locals outside.
Drink: Follow the maze of Rambuttri towards the river to find Phra Arthit Road. A row of charming restaurants packed with locals offers buckets of beer and lively cover bands to accompany your noodle soup.
Duke it out: At the very end of Rambuttri towards the river (after passing what seems to be someone’s outdoor living room) lies a Thai boxing ring. Take a class or watch others train daily from 7:30 – 9:30am or 3:00 – 5:00pm.
If You Dare: Yes, this does seem to be mostly for tourists, but the insect carts on Soi Rambuttri sells fried scorpions, grasshoppers, and ginormous cockroaches. If you don’t dare, it is still 10 baht for a photo!