A typical backpacker’s journey to the south of Thailand will take them to the party islands of Koh Tao, Koh Samui, and Koh Pha Ngan where free flow Sang Som buckets and neon-painted tourists reign supreme. These islands are a tremendous experience in their own right but every now and then the wandering soul might require a bit of time away from the fire shows and non-stop EDM parties. This is where the lovely beach town of Khanom comes in. Commonly frequented by the expat teachers of Surat Thani and Nakhon Si Thammarat, this quiet oceanside community may slip by the standard traveler’s radar. It features a stretch of nearly untouched sand that can provide a much-needed rest on your Thailand holiday.
Where to Stay
Khanom offers a wide variety of accommodation ranging from tents on the beach to luxurious seaside resorts but I’d recommend no other place to stay than JamBay. Here you will find standard fan bungalows for the budget traveler as well as more private air-conditioned rooms for those with a bit more refined taste. P. Joe, the manager of JamBay, will be one of the first to greet you upon your arrival and he fully showcases how relaxing of a time you will have while staying here. You are given so much freedom at JamBay and are more or less responsible for taking care of yourself, but P. Joe will be happy to help you whenever need be.
Aside from the rooms, JamBay offers the best seaside lounge area I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing. There is a bar area and multiple huts/gazebos made from an old fishing vessel and reclaimed wood that gives you the feeling of being on a deserted island (but with plenty of beer!). Also housed under the constructs are hammocks to lounge in, a pool table, as well as a stage that welcomes an always entertaining open jam session or reggae band. JamBay will also feature the occasional party but these are rare and typically announced via its Facebook page.
If you decide to stop by be sure to say hello to Bobo or the other dogs who hang around the area. They are always up for some fun and will even take a morning jog if you are inclined to wake up early enough.
If Khanom is known for any singular attraction then it must be the pink dolphins who sometimes frequent its shores. Some days, when the water is calm enough, they can be seen playing not too far out into the water. You can also hire a private boat who will take you out further to increase your chance of seeing these wonders. P. Joe will know exactly how to set up this excursion.
Another beautiful, but rare, sight are the luminescent plankton that are sometimes seen in the water at night. If you care to take a night swim you may notice specs of green light flickering next to your splash. These “fireflies of the ocean” are so entertaining to play with and make swimming at night a must while at Khanom.
For those of you that are more land-friendly, Samet Chun Waterfall is not too far from JamBay and makes for a great break from the saltwater. A quick motorbike ride followed by a short trek will place you at a beautiful pool accentuated by a lovely waterfall. This is just another prominent reason as to why you should rent a motorbike.
A trip to Khanom is simple enough for anyone passing through Surat Thani. The two most popular options are to either grab a minivan at Talad Kaset for ~฿100* or to rent a motorbike from X Motorbike Rentals and make a road trip of it. I recommend the latter as the roads are surrounded by mountains that make for a picturesque journey.
Cabin by the Sea
Khanom offers a respite from the seemingly constant partying found among Thailand’s many beaches. There is the quiet of an undeveloped beach while simultaneously offering the peace sought by so many when visiting the ocean. If you are travelling through southern Thailand be sure to add this to your list of “must-see” items. Grab a cabin by the sea, put a beer in your hand, and enjoy the sunrise.
*Edited on 2/23/2017 to update the price of a van.
Tourist traps are all too easy to get to. They are found in the guidebooks, take little planning, and are typically catered to your needs. The true gems of travel require a bit of research and effort to reach. Have you found any hidden spots during your travels? Let me know where I should go next in the comments below.
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