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Khao San Road remains empty during the day, night crowds keep the street alive

Caitlin Ashworth

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PHOTO: Daily News

Without foreign tourists at Bangkok’s infamous backpacker mecca, Khao San Road has gone quiet. While nights draw local crowds, it’s not what it used to be and the once bustling street remains empty during the day time.

While locals frequent the nightclubs and bars on the street, Khao San Road is not nearly what is was like before the pandemic. The deserted street during the daytime is an ongoing problem, according to the head of Khao San trader’s association Sanga Reungwattanakun. He says before 5pm, the street is empty.

Before the pandemic, Khao San Road generated a revenue of 1 billion baht each year and 99% of the customers were foreigners, Sanga says. Visiting the street has been considered a “rite-of-passage” for foreign backpackers.

The area is known for being crazy with party hostels, cheap alcohol and balloons filled with laughing gas. It’s also known for its eclectic street food like scorpion on a stick. During the day (pre-pandemic), tourists would get massages, go shopping, get some food or grab a drink. (or 2.. or 3…)

Without the foreign tourists, many of the hotels on the street are closed and Sanga says some traders were just too slow to adjust to the new market conditions.

During the lockdown, Khao San Road had a facelift. More than 48 million baht was put into the area for major renovations like leveling out the road and footpaths, adding some gutters and designing space for emergency vehicles.

Since the road’s official reopening with a Halloween event in October, local officials have been trying to figure out ways to pump more life into the street. The campaign “Go to Khao San 2435” was recently launched to try to draw more people to the area. Nightly opening hours have been extended to 1am, but the daytime still remains a problem.

SOURCE: Thai Visa

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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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