Khao San shows flickers of life

Khao San shows flickers of life

Backpacker haven making a comeback as country reopens

A vendor sets up her roadside stall on Khao San Road. Business is slowly returning after the Nov 1 reopening of the country. (Photo: Pornprom Satrabhaya)
A vendor sets up her roadside stall on Khao San Road. Business is slowly returning after the Nov 1 reopening of the country. (Photo: Pornprom Satrabhaya)

Street food vendors on Khao San Road in Bangkok, widely known as a haven for foreign backpackers, say their lives are returning to normal as they see an increasing number of fully-vaccinated foreign tourists starting to return to this hotspot.

"I see many foreign tourists coming back after Thailand reopened to fully vaccinated travellers from 63 countries as of Nov 1. Many street vendors are hoping to get back to the good old days," said a 51-year-old street food vendor who called herself Wan Suripar.

"I have many more customers. I'm so happy that I am making more money from selling food. I like this kind of business atmosphere. This market has come back to life for the past two months," she said.

Street vendors have been hit hard by the pandemic. Khao San Road clearly shows the impact of the coronavirus in Bangkok.

Government measures controlling the entry of foreigners to the country forced the shutdown of businesses and social activities across the country.

But after the country reopened, local businesses in Khao San Road are making a comeback.

Restaurants, street food carts, clothes shops and traditional massage joints have reopened to welcome visitors under Covid-19 control measures -- masks, alcohol gel and social distancing.

But night entertainment venues nationwide remain shut until at least mid-next month, according to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration.

A 43-year-old street food vendor, Paryarnar Wonsi, said she has been selling food here since 2008 and she has never faced any difficulty as bad as that encountered in the past two years during the pandemic.

"Most shops and all pubs and bars were forced to shut down because of Covid-19. There were no foreigners and only a few Thais on the road.

"But having reopened, I notice signs of an economic recovery as many people, especially foreigners, have returned to spend time here," said Ms Paryarnar.

Meanwhile, Simon Cornwall, in his 30s, said he likes Khao San Road because there are plenty of shops, street food carts, bars and clubs.

"I have been to Khao San almost every year since 2017, and love the crazy atmosphere, though I prefer to stay in soi Rambuttri nearby, as it's a bit more chilled out. I hope it will be back to usual and crowded again," said Mr Cornwall, who is from Indonesia.

Ling Ling Xay, English language teacher, who is from Beijing, said her first trip to Khao San Road was in 2013. She has returned many times "just to party".

"I am 50 but anyone can party on this street. A street like Khao San road doesn't die," she said.

Danial Tanvir, 28, and from Pakistan, said he has visited Thailand five times.

"Whenever I come here, I enjoy partying all night long. I just love the nightlife and party scene here and I have no idea if it will ever be the same again. This place used to be a haven on earth but now it is different," he said.

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