Bangkok’s infamous Khao San Road still conjures up images of broke farang grazing around with their sun-bleached beards haggling down a pair of Aladdin pants. Or gap year students strapped into their human-sized backpacks, shuffling through the crowds in search of their 400-baht-a-night guesthouse.
But welcome to 2017 (almost), people! Bangkok’s so-called ‘backpacking Mecca’ (source: every Thailand travel blog, ever) has diversified somewhat. The kilometer-long strip of bad street food, sweaty bars and nightly Wonderwall sing-alongs has become a much more complex beast.
Here are the 10 types of the people you’ll meet on Khao San Road. [Illustrations by Yodmanoo Koonnaglud]
The Silpakorn University hipsters
These super cool kids normally stick to their comfort zone around nearby Phra Athit Road. However, a few too many glasses of Black Label combined with the prospect of no class the next morning and they’ll often be drawn to Khao San like mosquitoes to a bare ankle. Just look out for the thick-rimmed glasses, high-waist Levis 505s and bowl haircuts.
The farang kee nok
A dying breed. The farang kee nok is basically a stereotypical broke backpacker trying to make their way through Asia on a shoestring budget. But unless your ears have a tendency to implode upon hearing over-exaggerated anecdotes of getting so freakin’ high on a mountain in Pai, or your nostrils have a tendency to shut down upon being exposed to the scent of unwashed clothes, then the farang kee nok is a relatively harmless creature.
READ ALSO: What is a ‘farang kee nok’, anyway?
The lost family looking increasingly terrified
“When the holiday brochure described our hotel as being in the middle of ‘a cultural melting pot’, we did not expect this whatsoever!”
The underage Thai kids at Brick Bar
Ever drunkenly fooled about behind the counter of your local takeaway after a night out? Or snuck into your neighbor’s pool for a midnight swim? Or just got your standard double hotel room bumped up to a junior suite? It’s fun, right? That’s because nothing beats the adrenalin rush of getting into somewhere you’re not supposed to be. So with that in mind, let’s not hate on these young whippersnappers – but rather applaud their fearless intuition in outwitting the rather liberal door staff at Khao San’s famous ska venue. Just please save your vomit for the toilet bowl.
The ‘lads on tour’
This epic Thai bender was planned on the back of last year’s LADS ON TOUR MAGALUF ’15 trip, and fair play – they’ve actually gone through with it. You’ll normally find these packs of half-dressed blokes (or ‘bros’ if you’re American) gathered around Khao San Central’s plastic tables, eyeing-up the sao cheer beer every time she comes to refill their glasses. But remember this: However obnoxious these drunken rascals may seem, this same night would be 10-times uglier if it were on a Spanish island.
The backpackers who just stepped off the bus and are trying to find their hostel
When your travel agent says your guesthouse is on Khao San Road, what they’re really saying is that it’s probably within a 5-kilometer radius of Khao San Road. The result is swarms of bleary-eyed gap year students trying to find their way through all the chaos, still strapped up tightly in their body-length backpacks. It’s the journey that matters, not the destination!
The middle-class couple on holiday together
If you’re with your long-term girl/boyfriend on Khao San Road, probably best forget about those #couplegoals – this is one of the least romantic places in Bangkok. Coming on holiday to Thailand with your better half isn’t just one long Duke Dumont video.
The Chinese BFFs taking selfies and generally loving life
More cringey than cute, yes, but this is what you would look like if you went to New York or Rome.
The ‘nice shirt my friend’ guy
For somebody that is supposed to specialise in well-fitting clothing, why do these friendly fellas always seem to be wearing a shirt that is two sizes too small? If that is what you’re planning to make me, then no thanks my friend.
The Thammasat/Bangkok Uni/Chula farang-hunter girls
These innocent-looking twenty-somethings stay close together, helping each other fend off sweaty advances from our lads on tour. But under the cover of darkness (ie. The Club), stealth mode kicks in. Once they’ve picked their prey they’ll pounce, and if you’re lucky enough it will be you.
[Illustrations by Yodmanoo Koonnaglud]