Khao San Road Bangkok

Khao San Road in Bangkok Day and Night.

A big Beer garden was left of Khao San Road in 2018 and now it is not what it used to be at all since the Bangkok City Administration "cleaned" the place at the beginning of August from the beer garden and street vendors but I bet they will be back soon why? When Thais know a place they can make money they wont give it up. 

The about 500-meter-long road near Bangkok's royal palace very touristy and in some places really criminal. But what happens to her now has not earned the Thanon Khao San ("The Road of Cut Rice"), which became the most famous backpacker street in the world during the 1980s and 90s.

With a major clean-up operation, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has expelled all of the more than 200 street vendors from the Khao San Road last week. The goal is to keep the street completely free from the stalls that have sold so far from golden Buddhas to fake sunglasses to Thai food. It is still not sure how this will turn out. Anyway, unexpectedly some protest is stirring.

The eviction is part of a mega-plan by Thailand's current Bangkok City Administartion to make Bangkok Megacity a capital more modern and cleaner. If the will of the generals, who are now in power for more than four years after their recent coup, is to make the twelve-million-metropolis a kind of second Singapore, modern, sterile, fully regulated. In any case, get away from the chaos that is so typical of Bangkok.

Already last year the BMA started chasing away Bangkok's legendary street kitchens, which did not make headlines in the rest of the world. However it promised to exclude tourist areas such as the Yaowarat in Chinatown and the Khao San from the eviction. A rather absurd move: After all, it is the Thais themselves who are dependent on cheap food everywhere in the city - and not the tourists.

But to put this into the right context people always talk about Khao San Road as a backpacker domain I have been there a couple of time and never saw a "backpacker" this myth came up after they produced the movie "The Beach" with Leonardo Di Caprio today it's a huge beer garden with Chinese Imports available everywhere around.

A few months ago one of Bangkok's oldest neighborhoods became the focus of the authoritiesn that was Fort Mahakan. And now the Khao San. Or "Rucksackland" as the British writer Alex Garland called the street in 1996 in his bestseller "The Beach" then the bible of all Southeast Asia backpackers. He wrote: "Almost all of the buildings along the road were converted into cheap accommodations.

Back then this was the road every backpacker from the US Europe or anywhere would have to go before it went to the other places in Thailand with beaches and islands. The room rarely cost more than five $. You could have the post forwarded from home swapped tips and found travel partners. Today almost all of it has disappeared since time is changing.

In recent years tattoo studios have spread the usual Chinese clothing junk is on sale and from morning to night is now trading time on the street with a high risk of being cheated by taxi drivers and almost anyone who try to sell something.

At least that was how it was until August 2018. Since the new decree against dealers the street is yawning during the day. Where there used to be stalls and other flimsy shops tuk-tuk and motorbike taxi drivers are now waiting bored for the next customers. Officers at the top of the Khao San regularly drive up and down the 400-meter motorbikes. If they still catch one of the dealers it costs 2000 baht (about 52 euros) they say and clear it under the table in Thailand everything goes for money.

Protest of street vendors.

The street vendors do not want to change the "looks and feel" of Khao San Road since they will have less income they say. Several dozen have announced to resist. Spokeswoman Yada Pornpetrumpa says "We've made sure that this street has become one of Bangkok's trademarks for over 30 years, and now not even anyone is listening to us." Others threaten that it will "crack". Nevertheless Bangkok's Vice-Governor Sakoltee Phattiyakul reiterated that the new rules would be "strictly enforced" but they always say like that and nobody takes it serious

Behind the scenes they try to find a solution that satisfies everyone. For the time being stalls on the Khao San are only allowed between 6 pm and midnight at designated locations. The dealers are not satisfied but in reality Thai dealers are never satisfied anyway and it looks like Khao San Road will turn into a huge night market sooner or later just as so many other locations in Bangkok Megacity.


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