Trudging Khao San and the ‘Bring Shampoo’ area


Trudging Khao San and the ‘Bring Shampoo’ area

In the last issue we suggested a day walking trip around the general area of the Grand Palace in Bangkok. In this issue we continue that theme in an area known as Banglamphu (colloquially and jokingly called by some foreigners as ‘Bring Shampoo’).

It’s an area not so far away from the Grand Palace, but probably better known to most as the Khao San Road area.

Rather than start the walk in Khao San Road itself, and risk not making out of the relatively short street, we suggest you make your way down to the junction where the Pinklao Bridge traverses Phra Athit Road.

This road parallels the Chao Phrya River and is one of the most historic in Bangkok, as well providing some good views of this wonderful working marine thoroughfare.

The first major building on the left is a former royal palace while a little further on is the entrance to the Phra Athit pier. From here it is possible to board a river ferry and go up or down the Chao Phrya.

Opposite to the pier is Baan Phra Athit, a mansion constructed in the early part of the twentieth century and which once housed the offices of Seni and Kukrit Pramoj, two former prime ministers and prominent personalities who strode the Thai political and arts stages from the 1930s through to the late 1970s.

There’s a small riverside park which contains a royal sala, perfect to sit inside out of the sun’s rays and contemplate the riverine activities. It also has the Phra Sumera fort, all whitewashed walls, imposing battlements, and rifle firing portals.

All along Phra Athit Road and its side alleyways are small guesthouses as well as shophouses inside which are little cafes offering relatively cheap refreshments and food.

Turning into Phra Sumen Road and walk to Wat Bovornives which has a very Chinese character with statues that were originally used as ballast on ships returning from trading into China.

Go down Tanao Road and then turn right into the world famous Khao San Road. What to do? People watching is probably the real attraction of the street. After all, the road probably has more nationalities in a 100 square metres than almost anywhere else on the planet at any one time.

Sit and eat at any one of a dozen or more outdoor cafes and literally watch the world walk by.

When you’ve had your fill of foreign tourists head towards Wat Chana Songkhram and into Soi Rambutri. Here are more tourist guesthouses and cafes.

Follow the soi until it exits onto Chao Fa Road near the National Gallery. Then, if you so desire, head back towards the river and take a ferry to end the day.