I’ve been coming on Khao San Road for 16 years and I just love it. The stalls, the Pad Thai, the massage, the new suit I’m buying before leaving etc. etc.
I especially like the way the street changes over the day. From the very early morning with a couple of drunk and tired backpackers walking around the cleaning people who’s working to get everything up and running again through the day where the road works as an almost normal street with a few stalls and taxis and tuk-tuk driving around until the stall and the people overtakes the street and Khao San becomes more and more a shopping street ending in a party before the night yet again ends and the last party people heads towards McDonalds and their room for some sleep.
This is still how things work. The circle of Khao San. But something have changed. I know the young “I look like a traveler because because I’ve got dreadlocks” is well represented but a new group of people has occurred. The retirees. Suddenly they are all over. Normally they didn’t come close to Khao San but stayed in Hua Hin or Phuket. Or they were represented by a man and his young Thai girl. For some reason Bangkok has now become more save or Khao San has become widely acknowledge as something you need to try. I’m serious – 16 years ago you couldn’t spot this much gray hair unless you went down to Grand Palace. Now the gray hair is everywhere.
I know, I’m getting close to forty and can’t be considered young, dreadlocker or hip but my observation is right and I think that in not so many years from now Khao San has not only changed but will be transmitted to more like a tourist attraction than a backpackers getaway.
So where is the real backpackers today? If I was to pick an area you wouldn’t go far away from Khao San. Just a few streets away crossing a small river and into the Samsen area. On Samsen Soi 4 you will find one hostel after they other with the kind of travelers you found 15 years ago on Khao San and the kind of hostels and atmosphere that drove backpackers to the area. Its not just about doing some cheap shopping or partying all night. It’s also about the laid-back atmosphere. Now that atmosphere is found in Samsen.