Khanom: a gem off the beaten track
Khanom is the ultimate destination for relaxation. This quiet, beachside town is located in the Nakhon Si Thammarat province on the Gulf of Thailand. Its enticing neighbors, Koh Phangan and Koh Samui, lure the crowds and tourists away from this sleepy coastal area, making it the perfect place to unwind.
Khanom is a little town and a district of about 30.000 people. It sits right on the Gulf of Thailand coast, in Nakhon Si Thammarat province. Since the houses are spread all over the place among rice fields and palm plantations, the town feels more like a village. There is only the crossroad in the center (known to everyone as siyek, the Thai word for crossroad) which looks somehow urban. The locals are mostly into agriculture and fishing. If you drive around you will see rubber trees plantation, coconut trees, rice paddies, oil palm trees. Part of Khanom district is Ban Peng, a little village where almost 100% of the population is into the fishing business, the village is set on the Khanom river banks, a place where you can admire the beautiful colorful fishing boats going up and down to and from the sea.
Visitors of Khanom will find themselves surrounded by local fishermen as opposed to the usual swarm of longtail boats catered to bikini-clad tourists. The beaches are secluded and tranquil, with ample room along the coast to lounge and sunbathe in Thailand’s tropical climate. Some of the best beaches found in Khanom include Ao Thong Yee, Nai Phlao Beach and Nadan Beach (picture on top), which is one of the longest beaches in Thailand, coming in at about nine-kilometers long!
Caves And Waterfalls
Khao Wang Thong Cave
Those travelers who need more than a beach to satisfy their vacation needs will be pleased to know that Khanom has many natural phenomena that you can explore. Filled with stalagmites is the Khao Wang Thong Cave. Made up of limestone mixed with iron ore, you can weave in and out of its many large openings and crawlspaces, though there are guides there to take you through it. In addition to this cave, there are a few waterfalls worth checking out. Samed Chun Waterfall is the most visited and popular. however, Hin Lat and Tha Noi are also beautiful freshwater falls offering visitors a relaxing way to escape Thailand’s heat.
Khanom is a peaceful place. There nightlife is limited to a few beach bars found along its bare coasts. There’s essentially no shopping available here, either and those hoping for a thriving scene and wanting to be in the action should go elsewhere. What it lacks in modernity though it makes up for with history. There are a number of temples and historic ruins found in Khanom, including the Coral Pagoda that sits in Khao That, otherwise known as Por Tham Khao That. The temple is 1.000 years old and is revered as a sacred area that’s used as a place to pay homage. Other temples found in Khanom include Wat Chan Thattaram and Wat Tha Noi Khunaram.
Just after dawn, be on the lookout for the pink dolphins that are often seen gracing the shores of this sleepy area in Thailand. Be aware that these animals can be shy, and while spotting them is certainly not a rare occurrence, do not expect these animals to be jumping onto the deck of the tour boat. The pink dolphins or the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins to give them their proper name, are threatened by nets used for fishing in Khanom and coastal degeneration caused by humans. It is important for visitors to be mindful when visiting this area, as many estimate that these dolphins will not last long if conservation efforts are not made.
Visitors looking for a party should hop on the next boat and head to surrounding islands, as Khanom keeps up a reputable, quiet, local atmosphere. Even during high season when the majority of tourists make their way to the Land of Smiles, Khanom remains quiet, with only a handful of both foreign and Thai tourists renting out the few beachside bungalows found there. There’s no public transportation, so even the well-paved roads remain quiet in comparison to other areas of Thailand that can be packed with motorbikes. Khanom doesn’t have tuk-tuks or taxis either, and the only way to get around is on foot or by renting a motorbike, scooter or car.
Where to stay
Aava Resort & Spa is a modern hotel situated directly on 9km-long white sand Nadan Beach in Khanom, a quiet, uncommercialised location on the mainland not far from Suratthani, the launch point for the islands of Koh Samui and Koh Phangan. The resort is owned by a Finnish family who have combined elegant, minimalist design with spectacular Thai hospitality, leaving an incredible fusion of the two cultures. As you can expect from its Scandinavian origins, design here is effortlessly stylish. Clean, minimalist, with simple slope-roofed villas, arrow-straight wooden walkways and louche four-poster sun-loungers, all softened with pretty pebble gardens and architectural plants. Step inside the hotel’s swish entrance and you’ll be greeted with sleek décor, elegant furnishings and monotone hues. Aava Resort & Spa comprises of just 28 modern style bungalows and villas, each with a daybed that can be converted into an extra bed for a child. The 28 bungalows and villas have clean-lined furnishings, outdoor spaces (either a small terrace out front or a deck leading to the swimming pool) as well as large airy bathrooms with designer sinks, monsoon showers and bathtubs. For romantic fine dining, eat at the award-winning Aalto restaurant, which specialises in fusion Asian and European food. Pamper yourself at the Aava Spa which is built to respect ancient Thai tradition of architecture as well as to deliver spa services that reflect the essence of Thai traditional therapeutic treatments.