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    Lifestyle Curators for Thailand + Southeast Asia

    Around Khao San

      /  LE Lifestyle   /  Shopping   /  Around Khao San

    A mini guide to the streets and alleyways of Banglamphu.

    By Dave Stamboulis.

    Around-Khao-San-5While Khao San Road may be legendary among visitors to Thailand, it is pretty squarely aimed at the foreign backpacking crowd, and the strip itself doesn’t offer much in the way of real Thai food, nor even gourmet offerings in the manner the rest of the city has gotten used to. But for those who like the area, all is not lost as the streets and alleyways directly around Khao San are home to some excellent food and drink, and they are well worth a visit. Some of these spots hide so well, they even fall off the tourist radar and offer some outstanding quality and value.

    Madame Musur

    41 Soi Rambuttri, behind the Chana Sonkhram Temple at the Chakkrapong Rd end of Khao San; 089 509 3085

    Featuring wooden tables, batik paintings, and an old rickshaw parked outside, this simple and homey spot fits in well with all the no-frills bars along sleepy Soi Rambuttri, which runs around the old temple complex between Khao San and Phra Athit. Yet the owner here was the former F&B guru at the Marriott, and the menu serves up great signature cocktails at absurdly cheap prices, along with hard to get northern Thai food like “nam prik ong chili” paste or “sai oua” sausages to go with the drinks.

    Ranee’s Velo Restaurant

    15 Soi Trok Mayom, Chakkrapong Road; 02 281 8975

    Bangkok has been swept up in a bicycle craze in the past years, with all sorts of bicycle clubs, magazines, and shops springing up to cater to the pedaling masses. Ranee’s prides itself on being a “velo” restaurant, and hidden down tiny Trok Mayom lane (the alleyway paralleling Khao San just to the south), it certainly has bicycle-only parking. The restaurant has a fashionable yet kick-back vibe, and it serves up homemade Italian pasta, wood-oven pizzas, and mojitos and other cocktails made with herbs from the restaurant’s own garden. Just make sure not to drink and bike.

    Escapades Burgers and Shakes

    Around-Khao-San-3112 Phra Athit Road; 081 406 3773

    While the place may look like Bangkok’s grungiest hole in the wall, Escapades surely serves up the finest food and drink west of Thong Lor. Chef Van Rohitratana and his buddy, award-winning mixologist Karn Liangsrisuk, specialize in truly gourmet hamburgers and possibly the most unusual and best-mixed cocktails in town. The place is hopelessly packed and certainly isn’t the most chill spot to relax, not to mention that the prices are a bit high for the neighborhood. But the burgers, shakes, and cocktails will leave you speechless.


    47 Phra Athit; 02 629 5165

    Chef Joke, of the popular Seven Spoons Restaurant, has opened up this lovely riverside place by the Phra Athit Pier. Calling itself an “American Western restaurant,” this spacious industrial styled spot set in a former boatyard features an eclectic organic menu, with highlights like artichoke and lentil tart with watercress pesto or organic sausages with mashed bleu cheese potatoes taking their place alongside signature cocktails and craft beer.

    Shewa Spa

    108/2 Rambuttri Road; 02 629 0701

    It’s not all eating and drinking around Khao San Road. Soi Rambuttri is lined with outdoor massage chairs, and the crowds attest to the popularity and great value massages to be had here. For something a bit more private, head into Shewa Spa, where treatments range from hot herbal compresses to oil and Thai massages. This all-encompassing spa also has a beauty salon and product shop under one roof.

    Roti Mataba

    136 Phra Athit; 02 282 2119

    A legend in the neighborhood, this hole in the wall has been in operation since 1943, serving up roti and martaba (Indian square bread) with all sorts of curries and other toppings. For dessert lovers, Roti Mataba also does chocolate- or banana-topped rotis, smothered in lots of ultra-sweet condensed milk.

    Bombay Blues

    Around-Khao-San-651 Soi Rambuttri, near Chao Fah Road; 085 859 6515

    This funky little spot not only serves some decent Indian food, but it is also a great chill-out shisha bar that happens to spin Bollywood tunes and becomes quite trendy come weekends. As it’s located in an old house tucked into the very back of Soi Rambuttri, visitors often get lost looking for Bombay Blues, but it is recognizable by its bright red lit facade and red tent-like tables across the way outside. The divans, cushions, and sit-on-the-floor space are perfect for chilling out—that is, before the Bollywood dancing starts.


    Soi Trok Mayom; 084 734 1027

    Just down the alley from Ranee’s, this gem (not to be confused with Ian Kittichai’s Smith over on Sukhumvit) is the only house left standing in this dark, narrow alleyway. It’s located in an old wooden Thai home, and visitors are in for a treat as the restaurant server gourmet food fit more for an elegant riverside boutique or a Thong Lor establishment. From New Zealand mussels to “gung che nam pla” shrimp with wasabi served up alongside passion fruit mojitos, the outstanding Thai dishes, perfect drinks, and unbelievable prices will leave you wondering why you didn’t know about this place before.

    Adhere the 13th

    13 Samsen; 089 769 4613

    It’s so small it is easy to walk past Adhere, but this jam-packed blues bar is one of Bangkok’s most legendary establishments. Describing Adhere as a honky-tonk dive bar isn’t too far off, and locals pack the joint every night for B.B. King, Louis Armstrong, John Lee Hooker, and more.