Old City & Khao San Road
The Old City, or 'Rattanakosin' as it is better known, straddles the Chao Phraya River and is the prehistoric centre of Bangkok. Home to the city's 'must see' historical attractions, there is a medley of religious and architectural sites. Established in 1782 by King Rama I, the Old City began the start of an era in Thai history known as the Rattanakosin Period.
Taking a stroll round the Old City is the best way to get a real feel for the traditional Thai culture and the complex history of the city of Bangkok. There are plenty of Thai temples with intricate architecture; coloured glass in detailed patterns and giant pure gold Buddha statues. The Grand Palace which also incorporates Wat Phra Kaew, which is the most sacred temple in Thailand, is definitely worth a visit. And residing next to it is the Wat Pho, the largest reclining Buddha statue in the world and a pretty impressive sight to behold.
Khao San Road
The Khao San Road is located a block from the Chao Phraya River on the north side of Rattanakosin and is a one kilometre strip, packed to the rafters with hustle and bustle. Originally the road was centred around the rice trade, hence the name 'khao san' which translates as milled rice, but has since developed to become one of the major travellers attractions in Bangkok.
Made increasingly popular by the cult classic 'The Beach', where the Khao San road was described as 'the centre of the backpacking universe', it has become known as a ghetto for the wondering traveller, with a relaxed, 'anything goes' vibe. The cheap accommodation draws tourists by the bus load and the street is often a mixing bowl of cultures from all over the world and a great place for people watching. No matter the time of day, there is something to see or do, with massage parlours, discounted designer clothes stalls, and plenty of cafés and bars filled with backpackers willing to share their travelling tales.
In addition to this, the Khao San Road is a central point for travel elsewhere in Thailand. Buses and coaches leave at all hours for major tourist locations in the country from Chiang Mai in the north of Thailand to Ko Pha Ngan in the south.