Banglumphu | The Backpacker Street of Bangkok

I arrived in Banglumphu quite by chance. Having no reserved hotel to stay, I hailed a tuk tuk  and popped my question. He drove me through a tuk-tuk congested road to Banglumphu, which, over the notice of traffic, he explained was the “mecca” of backpackers.

“Here you will find all budget hotels and hostels.”

Looking at the number of tourists, some not so luxury ones and the colourful boards announcing that fact, I tend to agree with him.

I found myself on the Khao San Road and short walk brought me to Star Dome, with free internet  – for 350 THB. A quick shower later I was out to explore the night in the streets look for something that would drive home the point of being here. It is true what is said of travelers – they are like the ‘fly-by-night’ shops, come up for a short time, make friends with their immediate environs, exchange few words with others, share a drink in of the many roadside bars, share the stories of the trails and move on. They don’t make friends, they don’t attach emotions…they come and they go…some come back again. I did the same. Walked the streets that come alive in the nights.

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That’s me sipping vodka with a straw!

Strangely not for a moment did I feel threatened or scared. This area was full of hotels and hostels – to suit every budget. So, even if you didn’t have a prior booking, chances are you would easily find something for the night!

This situation is similar to Malaysia where the areas are always full of tourist friendly accommodation. A pretty decent hotel which may interest tourists is the Tune Hotel KLIA2 which is situated near the KLIA airport. So if you’re in that area or would just like a nice hotel to stay in, you can always book Tune hotel KLIA2 online.

I had heard of Silom and its infamous Patpong area, but even in Banglumphu women of the night shared space with the rest of the world and no one seemed to mind very much! Banglumphu was like a little self contained world with money exchanges, cheap hotels, internet cafes, massage parlous, roadside bars and food joints. I hardly saw the ‘family’ types here. I loved the anonymity, people I struck conversations with readily became ‘friends’ and pressed cheap drinks from the roadside bars on me.

No matter what conversation I began, it always ended up with how to find affordable hotels in the area! I suppose if you were a long term traveler, it would matter a lot. I found an affordable hotel booking website that could save you some money!

I enjoyed the freedom and the security in the unfamiliar streets.

Thai food is appealing, no doubt, when treated as a luxury. Perhaps a more affluent visitor opting for the stay-breakfast option at regular hotels would be happy to eat three common Thai meals during their stay in Thailand. But when you have decided, like I did, to eat only Thai food during my entire stay, (and I had only had three such meals), the smell of fried food coming from the stalls and hitting your nose quite strongly, can shaken the strongest resolve. However, not the one to give up easily, I sat down to a meal by the roadside. There are regular restaurants but then where was the fun in going to one? All the activity centered around the streets stalls filled with thick fumes of frying meat!

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A Thai meal that cost me 20THB was one of the spiciest I had eaten. Served with rice was a curry of fish – I have no idea what fish that was, because all I tasted was the spice and basil. The night at Star Dome was more like a bus stop. Sleep hardly came. Bands played through the night. It was a cheerful place for cheerful people savouring every minute of their short life, making merry…I cursed, however…I needed rest. I think I managed four hours before I woke up and realised I needed to hurry to the train station on the other side of the river. There are times I wished I had had the good sense to book in advance. Just a heads up, if you dislike the idea of noisy and random hostels or hotels, book in advance – and this bit of advice is not just for Thailand, but all of the south east Asia!

When I left the key at the counter, the sky was just getting light. The early morning streets had the same cheer in them, although a bit empty, but there was determination to return to its happy self in a few hours! I made it on time. I was back at Tha Phra Chand…and going someplace at last!

About Banglumphu

The Banglamphu district is east of Ko Rattanakosin though it is not well defined where it actually starts and finishes. Some sights around here are Wat Saket and Wat Suthat (Wat meaning temple).

About 10 minutes walk north of Sanam Luang (in Ko Rattanakosin), is Khao San road. This is the traveler’s paradise with a number of budget accommodations.

From the airport, you could take the airport bus to Sanam Luang and a tuk tuk to Khao San Street.

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