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Khao San Road evolving, all ages daytime event planned for Halloween

Caitlin Ashworth

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PHOTO: Thairath

Bangkok’s iconic Khao San Road now looks very different as Thailand emerges from the local coronavirus outbreak. Not only are the backpackers gone from the “backpacker mecca,” but the road in Bangkok’s Banglamphu neighbourhood has gone through a make-over. Now, Bangkok officials plan to hold events for “all ages” during the daytime during Halloween. Chaos can still be expected at night.

During the pandemic, 48.4 million baht was poured into a revamp of the “tatty” Khao San Road, improving the drainage system and levelling out the road and sidewalk. There’s now designated space reserved for emergency vehicles. While many bars have reopened, they now mostly cater to a local Thai customer base rather than foreign backpackers. Well, that’s for now anyway.

Now, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration wants to draw people to the popular street again and are holding a daytime Halloween event called “Sawasdee Khao San”. The event will start from as early as 9am on October 30 and 31 with activities like a drawing competition, Thai arts and music performances, an exhibition on Khao San Road and lots of food. A costume competition will also be held (or “helled”) on Halloween.

Bangkok governor Aswin Kwanmuang says in addition to encouraging tourism after the pandemic, they want to promote “Modern Thainess,” but he did not go into detail about what exactly that means. It doesn’t quite sound like Khao San’s earlier reputation as a “rite of passage” for backpackers with grungy bars and exotic street food like ‘scorpion on a stick’.

Since there aren’t many foreigners visiting Khao San Road at the moment, the vendors at the event will cater to local demands with famous Bangkok food. The BMA teamed up with the Tourism Authority of Thailand along with private companies to hold the event. Events are planned to be held on the street once a month to attract visitors.

Khao San Road continues to evolve. It’s become less of a grungy party district for travellers on a shoestring budget and hoping to become more of a “cool” nightlife spot for locals, and tourists when they return.

Khao San continued to evolve, with bedbug-infested guesthouses replaced by boutique hotels, and downmarket TV bars showing pirated movies transformed into hip design bars peopled by flashpackers in designer threads. But the most interesting change has been in the way Thais see Khao San. Once written off as home to cheap, dirty fa·ràng kêe ngók (stingy foreigners), Banglamphu has become just about the coolest district in Bangkok – Lonely Planet

SOURCES: Bangkok Post | Lonely Planet

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Baxter

    Wednesday, October 21, 2020 at 2:13 pm

    This similar to the phenomenon of gentrification, but in a commercial sense. KSR was an awesome street way back, when it was a ‘warts and all’ cheap base for real travellers of all types, coming from all over. The commodification of both the street and backpacking has killed it a thousand deaths.

  2. Avatar

    Bsjdbskvs shsjshs

    Wednesday, October 21, 2020 at 3:03 pm

    Boring and without any character now.. I’m sure they will build a central soon…

  3. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Thursday, October 22, 2020 at 12:17 pm

    Why would the young Thais go there when there are much more entertaining protests going on in other parts of Bangkok.
    And they are free!

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Caitlin Ashworth is a writer from the United States who has lived in Thailand since 2018. She graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and media studies in 2016. She was a reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette In Massachusetts. She also interned at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida.

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