Khaosan Road or Khao San Road (Thai: ถนนข้าวสาร) is a short (410 meter long) street in central Bangkok, Thailand constructed in 1892 during the reign of Rama V. It is in the Banglamphu area of (Phra Nakhon district) about 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) north of the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew.
“Khaosan” translates as “milled rice”, a reminder that in former times the street was a major Bangkok rice market. In the last 20 years, however, Khaosan Road has developed into a world-famous “backpacker ghetto”. It offers cheap accommodation, ranging from “mattress in a box” style hotels to reasonably priced 3-star hotels. In an essay on the backpacker culture of Khaosan Road, Susan Orlean called it “the place to disappear”.
Despite its reputation a diverse group of travellers can be found on Khao San Road.
In this small area one can observe the interactions and groupings of disparate characters such as well-educated young Westerners on extended leave from affluent society, high school graduates on gap year travels, Israelis fresh out of military service, university students on holiday or sabbatical leave, young Japanese in rite-of-passage attire, ordinary holidaymakers, (ex-) volunteers from various organizations, and the like.— Anders Sørensen, Annals of Tourism Research
It is also a base of travel: coaches leave daily for all major tourist destinations in Thailand, from Chiang Mai in the north to Ko Pha Ngan in the south, and there are many relatively inexpensive travel agents who can arrange visas and transportation to the neighbouring countries of Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, and Vietnam.
Khaosan shops sell handicrafts, paintings, clothes, local fruits, unlicensed CDs, DVDs, a wide range of fake IDs, used books, plus many useful backpacker items.