Khaosan Road has been cleared of its street vendors. Following the Bangkok Metropolitan Authority (BMA) announcement that all vendors must clear from the street by Aug 1, the legendary backpacker strip, known for its hordes of temporary clothing sellers and pad Thai stalls, now stands largely empty during the day.
The move follows a City Hall inspection in July 2018 that caused deputy governor Sakoltee Phattiyakul to declare the area overrun with vendors. It also contradicts earlier claims from BMA officials that Khaosan would be spared citywide efforts to clear Bangkok’s streets of temporary vendors.
Despite the ban being widely ignored on the date of enforcement (Aug 1), vendors have now ceded to demands following regular patrols from BMA officials and the enforcement of strict penalties.
“If you stand on the footpath they will fine you B2,000,” said one vendor who wished to remain anonymous. “Yesterday there were still vendors as usual but today everything is gone.”
However, the full ban only affects trade during daylight hours. Come the evening, the BMA has imposed strict measures that regulate where and when people can sell.
“They have asked us to move to two different sides: clothes on the police station side and food on the other side,” one vendor explained to us. “We each get two meters from 6pm to midnight, have to register with the BMA and pay B10,000 rent per month.”
That, according to the vendor we spoke to, is not enough for him to carry out his work: “The time is too short. What am I supposed to do, become a thief?” he said.
But not all vendors were in direct opposition to the BMA’s measures, with one person—who also wanted to remain anonymous—pointing to the escalating problems being caused by the lack of business regulations on the street.
“Khaosan Road became worse when they allowed unlicensed cocktail vendors to operate around 10 years ago,” she explained. “I've been here all my life and I'm 50 years old. The tourists are quite different here now, they're worse than before, they are trouble.”
A walk around the street in the middle of the day on Aug 2 revealed the extent of the van, with the main Khaosan strip completely cleared of street stalls and BMA officials regularly patrolling the area.
However, pockets of resistance remain tucked down the many Khaosan back streets.