Khao San Road travel guide

How to get to Khao San Road, Thailand

The Chao Phraya Express Boat is the cheapest and most scenic way of getting to Khao San Road. If you're coming from the city centre, take the Skytrain to Saphan Taksin station, where you can transfer onto the express boat at Sathorn pier. Then ride the express boat all the way north to Phra Arthit pier, which takes about 35 minutes and costs 13 to 18 baht. Make sure to get either the orange flag line or the blue flag tourist boat, as the yellow flag line skips Phra Arthit pier completely.

If you're staying in Khao San Road, the express boat is the easiest way to get to Rattanakosin and Silom. It's only a short (but confusing) walk from Khao San Road to Phra Arthit pier. First walk to the police station side of Khao San Road, then take a right and immediately a left into Soi Rambuttri. Walk along the bend of the street and take a right into Soi Chana Songkhram. At the end, take a right into Phra Athit Road, cross the road, and look for the small sign to the express boat pier (it is near Navalai River Resort). Bring a good map, have a good sense of direction, or ask help from a local if you get lost.

The most important piers are Tha Chang (for the Grand Palace), Tha Tien (for Wat Pho) and Rachawongse (for Yaowarat). All lines attend Sathorn pier, where you can transfer onto the Skytrain. From here, you can go to Silom, Siam Square, Sukhumvit and Phahonyothin. The Chao Phraya Express Boat stops running around 18:00 or 19:00 depending on the day, so you'll have to rely on other forms of transport in the evening.

The quickest (though not the most comfortable) way to get from Khao San Road to Siam Square, Sukhumvit and Ramkhamhaeng is by Saen Saep Express Boat. The closest pier to Khao San Road is Panfa Leelard, which is near the Golden Mount and Wat Ratchanadda. There you can get on the Golden Mount Line, which is a direct boat service from Panfa Leelard to Pratunam. At that pier you can switch onto the NIDA Line, that runs from Pratunam all the way northeast to Wat Sriboonreung in Ramkhamhaeng. A single trip from Panfa Leelard to Pratunam takes about 20 minutes and costs 11 baht. On the trip, you will pass the stops Talat Bobae (for the garment market of the same name), Sapan Charoenpol, Baan Krua Nua (for Jim Thompson's House), Sapan Hua Chang (for Siam Square) and Pratunam (for Pratunam and Ratchaprasong).

The bus system in Bangkok is very complex, but as Khao San Road is not connected to the Skytrain, for some destinations you don't have a choice. Some useful bus lines for travel to/from Khao San Road include the following:

  • Ordinary bus 2 goes from Sukhumvit Road to Sanam Luang, and passes Ratchdamnoen Klang Road on the way, which is very close to Khao San Road. The route is handy for connections to the Skytrain, the metro and the Eastern Bus Terminal (Ekkamai), and it passes Pratunam on the way. 6-7 baht.
  • Ordinary and air-conditioned bus 3 goes to the Northern Bus Terminal (Mo Chit) and passes by Chakrabongse Road (at the western side of Khao San Road). The trip costs 7 baht and takes approximately 30 minutes.
  • Ordinary bus 15 takes you from Ratchadamnoen Klang Road (near Khao San Road) to Siam Square.
  • Ordinary bus 53 goes from Phra Athit Road near the express boat pier to Hualamphong Train Station, taking an interesting and convoluted route through Rattanakosin and Yaowarat. It costs 7 baht and takes 30 minutes or more depending on traffic.
  • Air-conditioned bus 511 travels right across the city from the Eastern Bus Terminal (Ekkamai) via Sukhumvit and Ratchadamnoen Klang Road (near Khao San Road) to the Southern Bus Terminal (Sai Tai). Warning: Ordinary (non-express) buses pass by Ratchdamnoen Klang Road, but express buses (with yellow signs) do not!
  • Air-conditioned bus 509 travels from Mor Chit Bus Terminal, passing through Victory Monument (BTS) and Ratchadamnoen Klang Road (near Khao San Road), terminating at Bang Khae (in Thonburi).

The Airport Express bus, including backpacker favourite AE2 to Khao San Road, stopped running in June 2011. Another, even cheaper (although more fiddly) option is to use a local bus to get to Khao San Road. From the airport, catch the shuttle bus for free outside door 5 (on both the upper and lower floors) to the Public Transport Interchange. From there, catch bus 556 (33 baht) which will drop you off about halfway between Khao San Road and the Democracy Monument. To get to the airport, catch bus 556 (again 33 baht), which departs from Ratchadamnoen Klang Road, about halfway between Khao San Road and the Democracy Monument (look for the half-torn airplane sign on the bus stop sign). It will drop you off at the Public Transport Interchange, where you can catch a free shuttle bus to the terminal. This bus may be local, but often it is just as fast as the tourist bus used to be.Of late, bus 556 no longer operate from the public transport interchange.The only option now is to take bus 551(actually a white van)from the public transport interchange to the victory monument. It cost 40 bahts. Arriving at victory monument,take public bus number 59 and drop off mid-way between democracy monument and khaosan road.From there, it is only a short walk to khaosan road.

Khao San Road is fairly easy to get to from anywhere in Bangkok. Express boats, buses and taxis are your main options. While the Skytrain and the metro are convenient ways of getting to many places in Bangkok, there is no connection to Khao San Road (or to anywhere else in Rattanakosin, for that matter).

Even some of the metered taxis will try to charge you a flat rate of about 200-300 baht to take you to Khao San Road, rather than use the meter (which would mean no more than an 80 baht fare from Silom, or 100-150 baht from Sukhumvit). The drivers will claim that Khao San Road is "too far away" for the meter, but that's not true; the fact is, they can get away with overcharging tourists, and if you don't take it, the next one down the street might. You should refuse to pay that amount and find an honest driver — there is no shortage of taxis in Bangkok. There is no point trying to haggle, as the meter is always cheaper.

As a general rule, older drivers tend to be more amenable to the meters, while the younger ones tend to gun for big fares from tourists. Also avoid the parked taxis (dishonest drivers prefer to wait for gullible tourists) and hail a moving taxi (a red light on the dash board indicates if they are available). The majority of taxis are new (less than two years old), and its best to avoid the older taxis as their air-conditioners function poorly, and these drivers tend to be less reliable. The great majority of taxi drivers are reasonably honest though, so always opt for a taxi instead of a tuk-tuk.

Coming from the airport, a metered taxi should cost no less than 300 baht, if using the toll roads (known by Thais as toll way) which cost up to 65 baht. Traffic during the day can make the toll roads very worthwhile, as they will save time and money. The trip takes around 45 minutes in good traffic, but allow considerable leeway during rush hour as the area around Khao San can get very congested. If you arrive after midnight, expect to pay around 500 baht. This 500 baht includes all tolls, the airport fee of 50 baht and the price stated on the meter. Taxis are your only option at night, as the Airport Rail Link stops running at midnight.