Backpacking in Thailand – How to avoid Khao San Rd.
Much is said about Bangkok, a city that doesn’t sleep, home to some of the most incredible markets, Buddhist temples, the grand palace, birth place of Thai Massage and a never ending night life.
As a traveler I wanted something different, something less touristy. If you’re backpacking in Thailand, you might want to take a look at other areas to stay.
Bangkok has a bit of everything for all tastes, from luxurious hotels and gourmet restaurants where you pay a fortune for a tiny piece of food on your plate, to hip hostels, street food and traditional Thai restaurants.
For most backpackers Bangkok is synonym of Khao San Rd. And I wonder why?
Although I understand part of traveling is connecting with other travelers, why would people want to get stuck in the most commercial, westernized touristy spot where tourists flock in like flies?
I didn’t go to Khao San Rd, I believed Bangkok could be so much more than western tourists and drunk nights. So I headed to Lumpini Park, located in the heart of the financial district, near Bangkok’s biggest park and green space. And I’m so glad I did it!
After a few hours chatting with a British backpacker I’ve met in Huang Lamphong, I followed his advice, and try out the Etzzz hostel. A clean, centrally located hostel, witch offered 180 degrees views over Bangkok’s sky line and a roof terrace. I love roof terraces!
My experience in this part of Bangkok was so positive I decided to stay the whole week!
If you you want to experience something absolutely amazing, wake up around 6 am and head to Lumpini park. Dozens of people gather there, early in the morning to practice Tai-chi, Yoga, dance. The smell of the morning grass, the fresh air and the lack of traffic noise turned my visits into a morning ritual.
I felt sorry for not having my yoga mat with me, because I think I would have loved to practice my Ashtanga yoga every morning there, along side the smiley Chinese ladies.
People are so pleasant and friendly in this part of the city. Maybe because you rarely see other westerners around, or maybe because people are more relaxed in here after their jogging or salsa class.
There’s a little market within the park, during morning time where you can get deliciously ripe fruits and smoothies.
In Lumpini Park you can also find a very important Muay Thai stadium and classes. If you’re into Muay Thai, i think this would be the best location for you. There are a lot of cheap stores everywhere selling all sorts of Thai boxing gear.
Bangkok is a city where modernity and the old ways live side by side. This contradictions make this a very interesting city. You can stroll along side the modern sky scrappers and bump into a very traditional alley where people still follow the old ways. The old temples mix with the modern malls and avenues, it’s a contradiction that only works well in Thailand. There’s definitely something right about this country.
By now I was totally flat, I mean, my money was over! I didn’t have cash to go out and eat, so for the rest of the week I was buying food at the supermarket and making salads. It was 40C daily, so salads were actually welcome.
I went for long walks during this week, from Lumpini to Salang daen and I felt truly grateful for having no more money. If I’d be taking the metro daily, I’d have missed all the little streets, little temples and amazing places I ended up visiting because I had to walk.
Of course it was not always fun, but I’d wake up very early and enjoy the morning freshness, go back to the hostel when the sun began to boil, for long siestas and to update my Portuguese version of this blog and the later on I’d go out again.
When I think I would have also missed all this wonderful experiences if I’d have stayed around Khao San! My Bangkok experience would have been more poor for sure!
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