Khao San Road’s reputation – as a place of hedonism where countless backpackers’ drunken dreams have quickly become SangSom-fuelled hangovers of nightmare proportions – was immortalised in Alex Garland’s cult 1996 novel, The Beach , and later in the critically panned film of the same name, starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Once thronged by budget travellers in search of budget thrills, for whom the all-night party started in the 1980s and only got more debauched as the decades passed, the 410-metre Bangkok stretch has been quiet for months, and not just because of the coronavirus. (Incidentally, the shores of Maya Bay, on Koh Phi Phi, which also starred in the big-screen version of The Beach , have been off-limits to visitors since 2018, a victim of too many tourists in search of the same unspoilt sands that attracted DiCaprio’s character. But that’s another story .) From January 30 to May 18, Khao San Road underwent a 48.4 million baht (US$1.54 million) facelift to improve its “ghetto” image. On August 18, the Bangkok Post newspaper reported that it was finally ready to reopen “next month”, although how a road that was never really closed can “reopen” isn’t entirely clear. Khao San Road, Bangkok: from low-rent slum to ‘flashpacker’ central “The road and footpaths are now on the same level, gutters connected tothe main drainage system have been constructed on both sides of the road and there is designated space for emergency use, such as a parking space for fire trucks,” the report stated. Another “improvement” is the street vendor “space management plan”, which will allow 480 stallholders to trade each day in two seven-hour shifts – the first from 9am to 4pm, you know, when Khao San’s quintessential clientele are busy sleeping off the after-effects of the night before, with the second from 5pm to midnight. Unlike the crowded Khao San of yore, where peddlers and punters jostled cheek by jowl and which, from the perspective of a pandemic , looked admittedly alarming, stalls will be arranged in an orderly fashion “in designated areas 16 metres wide and over 400 metres on each side of the road”, according to the Bangkok Post . On second thoughts, for a street that is only 410 metres long, that sounds remarkably like the pre-revamp set-up. But rest assured, there will be changes. Rather than Chang singlets, knock-off goods and insects on sticks, most stalls will sell “general products and products from the One Tambon One Product project”, which promotes locally made items from the tambon s (subdistricts). There will, of course, be street food and drinks on offer. Per the Bangkok Post , the upgrade “is intended to mark it out as a landmark for visitors to Bangkok seeking traditional Thai-style street-side shopping. It will also be promoted as a safe place to go for those worried about Covid-19”. Wait, what? The idea that Khao San will be an appropriate assembly point during the coronavirus crisis is about as “2020” as they come. Perhaps it is evidence of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration’s commitment to clearing the chaos once and for all. Or, perhaps, it’s indicative of the pandemic’s devastating impact on the country’s tourism industry and economy. Sadly, this seems certain to disprove the adage “build it and they will come”, because they will not come, not for awhile at least. “Only a few vendors have so far returned to work amid the severe downturn caused by the borders being shut to foreign tourists,” reported the Bangkok Post . With the country unlikely to be accessible to international arrivals until next year, the downturn is expected to continue. Speaking to Reuters recently, Tanes Petsuwan, a deputy governor at the Tourism Authority of Thailand, said: “This is the worst ever crisis for the tourism industry; the tsunami, Sars, Mers, bird flu, political upheaval – none of it was as bad as Covid. It has changed everything.” Since lockdown restrictions were eased, businesses and restaurants along Khao San Road have welcomed local customers keen to enjoy the less-crowded Bangkok streets, but, as one waitress told the news agency, “that’s not enough to keep us all going”. “Tourism will not be the same again,” said Tanes. Maybe Khao San won’t be either. Bali to remain closed to international visitors until 2021 Bali is back in business … kind of . The Indonesian island reopened to domestic travellers on July 31 and had planned to welcome those from further afield on September 11. But it now looks like the Island of the Gods will stay closed to international arrivals until next year. On August 24, The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Bali “has bowed to the inevitable and will remain closed to foreign tourists until the end of 2020”, citing a statement released by governor I Wayan Koster. Koster said that despite Bali’s relative success in containing the coronavirus, “the Indonesian government has not been able to open the door of entry for foreign tourists to Indonesia until the end of 2020, because Indonesia is still in the red zone category”. He also acknowledged that even if Bali’s borders had been able to open, there were such restrictions on travellers from its main source markets – Australia, China, Japan and South Korea – that it was unlikely many would have made it. ‘The Making of Harry Potter’ to open in Tokyo ... in 2023 What the world needs now is a little bit of magic, and who better to conjure it than the Boy who Lived? At least, that seems to be Japan’s thinking with the announcement that “The Making of Harry Potter” attraction will find a permanent home in Tokyo. According to a CNN Travel article dated August 20, the 30,000-square- metre destination, located in the Japanese capital’s northwestern Nerima ward, will offer visitors – muggle and mystical alike – “a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the movies based on the books by author J.K. Rowling”. There will be replica film sets bringing Diagon Alley, Hogwarts’ Great Hall and the Forbidden Forest to life, as well as sound stage and backlot experiences. The Making of Harry Potter will occupy part of the grounds of Toshimaen Amusement Park, which is closing at the end of the month. Revelio : the new attraction will appear in 2023, CNN reports.