Bangkok’s Khao San Road re-opening for local trade

PHOTO: Screengrab - Bangkok Extra

Bangkok’s Deputy Governor Sakoltee Phattiyakul says the capital’s iconic Khao San Road is set to re-open for trade, targeting the local market of Thais and expats. The street is normally a mecca for international tourists, in particular, younger backpackers making the rite-of-passage pilgrimage through Southeast Asia.

There was a pre-Covid botched attempt to meddle with the area’s long-established, and rather endearingly ramshackle, mixture of shops, bars, vendors and scammers. Whilst not particularly popular with the locals, the old Khao San Road was a magnet to tourists. Attempts by the Bangkok Metropolitan Authority to gentrify the area resulted in a number of unsuccessful attempts to tame the traders and bring some order to the busy shopping zone.

But the closure of shops and the lack of tourists from the Covid outbreak provided the break the BMA needed to “sort out” the old Khao San Road and do a make-over for the eventual re-opening of the new Khao San Road.

The Covid-19 pandemic has hit the street hard, with businesses shut, and a marked absence of the international tourists who normally make up a solid 90% of Khao San’s visitors. Now Sakoltee says it’s time for the street to come back to life, saying vendors will target a new demographic of local Thais and expats whilst the borders remained largely closed.

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The Bangkok Post reports that Sakoltee chaired a meeting yesterday to plan the re-opening, which it’s hoped will happen at the end of this month. It’s understood additional vendors who attract local custom will set up shop on the road, with various monthly events to boost visitor numbers.

Bangkok Governor Aswin Kwanmuang says areas surrounding the road will get a clean-up, in particular, the Chong Nonsi Khlong, or canal. Officials are planning to turn the waterway and the surrounding area into a visitor attraction, a development project that will take place in 2 stages. The first job is to clean the canal, which is currently home to weeds and rubbish. Aswin has directed 250 municipal workers to begin the clean-up operation. Trees along the canal will also be trimmed regularly, and the canal’s drainage and treatment systems are set to be revamped at some point in the future plan.

The Bangkok Metropolitan Association is also planning to create footpaths along both sides of the canal, a project that will be paid for through donations from local businesses. Aswin hopes to have all works completed by April 2021.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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