Thailand’s most famous party street – and the world’s most famous backpacker street – is about to get a facelift.

For backpackers travelling through Southeast Asia, meandering through Khao San Road is a rite of passage. Located in the Banglamphu area of Bangkok, it’s arguably the most famous backpacker street in the world. Even if you’ve never been there you’re probably familiar with it. Immortalised in Andrew Garland’s 1996 novel The Beach and subsequent film starring Leonardo Di Caprio, the hyperkinetic street is a clutter of rough and tumble bars, cheap hostels and a plethora of street sellers peddling everything from buckets of booze to made-to-measure suits, open-air massages, fake designer handbags, Thai bug delicacies and, more covertly, recreational drugs.

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It’s not pretty but its shabbiness has been part of its appeal for four decades. Even as wellness cafes and trendy bars slowly move in, Khao San Road is still a chaotic neon underworld. That’s about to change though, and soon, as Bangkok authorities revealed their vision for a more sanitised version of the infamous strip by investing 48 million baht (£1.28m / $1.56m) on “relandscaping” it and turning it into a more upmarket tourist attraction.

Deputy Bangkok governor Sakoltee Phattiyakul announced that the money will be used to resurface the strip’s notoriously crooked footpaths and level them with the road. There are also plans to register and limit the number of vendors to 240, who will be allowed to trade from 9am to 9pm in designated zones. Currently, vendors are allowed to work from 6pm until midnight and generally set up shop wherever there’s space.

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There are concerns that the facelift will gentrify the strip and kill its soul but that remains to be seen. Work on redesigning Khao San Road will take place from October to February.

Source: Lonely Planet

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