How Bangkok’s Khao San Road became the world’s most famous travel hub

Once upon a time, the locals peddled rice on Bangkok’s Khao San Road. Lots of it.



a group of people walking down a busy city street: Khao San Road, pictured in this file photo taken in 2015.


© CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT/AFP/AFP via Getty Images
Khao San Road, pictured in this file photo taken in 2015.

Barge after barge paddled, and later motored, down the vast Chao Phraya River and into the mouth of Banglamphu Canal, where they dropped off thousands of tons in jute sacks to wholesalers in the neighborhood.

By the end of the 19th century, Banglamphu district was by far the largest rice market not only in Bangkok, but anywhere in Siam, the world’s largest rice growing nation.

Smaller vendors opened shops south of the canal, where a dirt-track alley became so thick with the rice trade that King Chulalongkorn ordered a proper road built in 1892. Running only 410 meters, the cobbled strip wasn’t grand enough to be named after a historic Thai figure or nation-building principle,

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