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Bangkok street food vendors welcome return of tourists to Khao San Road

Khao San Road in pre-pandemic times. PHOTO: Flickr/Stef Krijnen

Street sellers on Bangkok’s Khao San Road are celebrating the welcome return of foreign tourists and say life is finally beginning to return to normal. The Bangkok Post has spoken to a number of tourists and the street food vendors serving them. 51 year old Wan Suripar is one of them and she hopes this is the beginning of the end when it comes to the hardship she’s faced for nearly 2 years now.

“I see many foreign tourists coming back after Thailand re-opened to fully vaccinated travellers. Many street vendors are hoping to get back to the good old days. I have many more customers. I’m so happy that I am making more money from selling food. I like this kind of business atmosphere. This market has come back to life for the past 2 months.”

Street sellers in the capital were devastated by the Covid-19 pandemic, with Thailand’s borders shut and strict disease prevention measures meaning most non-essential businesses were shut. Since the country’s re-opening on November 1 however, things are finally starting to look up on Khao San Road, normally a haven for backpackers and others travelling on a budget.

Businesses such as restaurants, clothing stores, and massage shops are re-opening, along with the street food carts, all of them adopting the measures that govern the so-called “new normal”, including hand sanitiser, face masks and social distancing. For now, however, nightlife and entertainment venues remain shut.

Paryarnar Wonsi is a 43 year old street food vendor who has worked on Khao San Road since 2008. Speaking to the Bangkok Post, she says she’s never experienced challenges like those she’s had to face since the start of Covid-19.

“Most shops and all pubs and bars were forced to shut down because of Covid-19. There were no foreigners and only a few Thais on the road. But having re-opened, I notice signs of an economic recovery as many people, especially foreigners, have returned to spend time here.”

Simon Cornwall, a tourist visiting from his home in Indonesia, says he’s been coming to Khao San Road since 2017 and hopes to see it return to the bustling street it once was.

“I have been to Khao San almost every year since 2017, and love the crazy atmosphere, though I prefer to stay in soi Rambuttri nearby, as it’s a bit more chilled out. I hope it will be back to usual and crowded again.”

Businesses and tourists alike will be hoping there is no going back, but Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul is now proposing a return to mandatory quarantine for foreign arrivals, amid concerns about the rapidly-spreading Omicron variant.

For more information on how to get into Thailand during the pandemic, CLICK HERE.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Maya Taylor

A seasoned writer, with a degree in Creative Writing. Over ten years' experience in producing blog and magazine articles, news reports and website content.