KHANOM IN BRIEF
WHY GO: Khanom gets pretty close to being a perfect beach destination. Khanom is peaceful and beautiful, yet there are enough activities to keep you busy if you wish so, a good boutique hotel, and a few wonderful restaurants to keep your taste buds happy too. Actually, Khanom brings a smile to one’s face; it’s heart warming to see that Thailand still has such hidden paradises in store.
WHY NOT: Khanom is not for everyone, though. If you are looking for a busy nightlife Khanom is definitely not for you, even though you can have an occasional fun night out Khanom’s few beach bars, and there’s a monthly Ample Moon Festival. Also, keep in mind Khanom lacks diving and snorkeling opportunities. Shopping is pretty nonexistent too.
ROMANTIC COUPLES: You’ll find deserted beaches in Khanom to cuddle with your sweetheart, and Khanom’s Aava Resort is a wonderful place for weddings.
FAMILIES: Khanom’s Aava Resort & Spa is not just for couples; it also takes into account the little ones. The hotel has baby seats in its cars, diapers and baby food in stock, and babysitting is always available. Older children will enjoy the many activities the resort offers such as Thai boxing classes. Khanom’s down to earth atmosphere in general makes it a relaxing place to spend time with the family.
One of Thailand’s great surprises is that despite all the millions of tourist arrivals you can still find such a fine and pristine beach destination as Khanom. In Khanom’s long and magnificent beaches you can often see only your own footprints.
There are only a handful of hotels on the nine-kilometers long, mostly deserted Nadan Beach, and friendly locals haven’t yet got fed up with the tourists. The scenery is great too, dominated by tropical greenery and random limestone mountains, which rise towards the sky here and there.
Amenities are limited, though; don’t expect to find a wide choice of shops or lively nightlife. Luckily Khanom has some surprisingly good restaurants for such a quiet best resort.
Khanom is ideal for those looking for a peaceful beach holiday and the feel of “real Thailand”. For the others Khanom can feel too quiet.
Khanom is located on the cost on Gulf of Thailand not that far from the much more popular holiday island Ko Samui.
Khanom’s Best Beaches
The most handsome beach in Khanom is the nine kilometers long Nadan Beach. You read it right: nine kilometers! Nadan is one of Thailand’s longest beaches.
The sand is of excellent quality: soft and white. Although this is Khanom’s “main beach”, the feel is very secluded as the hotels and guesthouses are spread apart, and you can easily find long, empty strip of beach for yourself.
Next to Nadan is Nai Phlao Beach, which is much shorter, and therefore feels less untouched. The sand is also a bit coarser. Nai Phlao is still a nice beach to stay. Best choice for accommodation here is the pretty Khanom Hill Resort.
As you continue from Nai Phlao a few kilometers further, the road turns from tarmac to concrete, and you arrive to the solitary Ao Thong Yee Beach. “Welcome to the end of the road”, a road sign states appropriately.
The sand is white but a little rough. This is a very quiet beach with just one restaurant, which rents out two tidy and nice cabins (1000-2000 baht per night).
If you walk over the seaside cliffs at the end of Ao Thong Yee, you’ll enter an even more secluded bay, a great place to hide with your loved one.
However, Khanom has even a more secret beach, the gorgeous Tong Ching Beach north of Nadan Beach. To get there you have to drive up and down a very steep path. On this stunning, palm-fringed beach there’s only one hotel, The Nin Resort@Khanom. Most people have have never even heard of this beach. Here you will feel totally isolated from the rest of the world.
Beside the beaches Khanom has two villages, Ban Nod and Ban Siak, both a few kilometers inland from Nadan Beach. A great way to experience the local way of life is to visit the villages during market times on Wednesday mornings and Sunday nights.
Other times you’ll find some restaurants and basic grocery and clothing stores at the villages.
Khanom’s Sights and Activities
Khanom’s must do activity is a boat trip to the rare pink dolphins (Sousa chinesis). Khanom is one of the few places in Asia, where the pink dolphins still live. Khanom’s dolphins are very friendly and usually swim close to the boats.
The boat trips take the guests also to the tiny Koh Nui Nork Island, where the legendary Buddhist monk Luang Por Tuad was once shipwrecked. The legend of Luang Por Tuad is well known all over Thailand. According to legend the starving monk dipped his toe to the sea, and magically the salt water became drinkable. There is a small shrine on the islet to commemorate the miracle. And alas, next to the island there is still a fresh water spring in the sea.
You can also hike to little visited caves and waterfalls, and rent a scooter to drive from one fabulous beach to another.
Khanom is not a destination for divers, but you can try out snorkeling on a day-trip to Koh Tan Island.
The nearest golf course to Khanom is the beautiful Rajjaprabha Dam Golf Course, two-hours drive from Khanom but well worth the effort. On the background of the golf course rises a handsome, vertical limestone mountain.
A wide range of excursions can be arranged through travel agent Aida Tour run by the Aava Resort.
Khanom’s Best Hotels and Guesthouses
Khanom’s Nadan Beach is a show of four very different kind of resorts.
By far the best hotel in Khanom is the Finnish owned Aava Resort & Spa in Nadan Beach, which aims to a truly luxury experience. Aava also organizes a lot of activities for its guests from day-trips to morning tai chi by the beach and yoga and Thai Boxing classes.
A cheaper but still stylish option is Leeloo Paradise, which has beautiful Thai themed wooden bungalows some five minutes walk away from the Nadan Beach.
Leeloo’s sister resort is Leeloo Cabana, which has good quality bamboo bungalows on Nadan Beach.
The most backpacker-oriented place in Khanom is Jam Bay. Its beach bungalows cheap, small and cheery.
Most of Khanom’s other hotels and guesthouses are targeted mainly for domestic Thai travelers. It means that the guesthouses are not that picturesque as their bungalows are crammed as closely together as possible, and instead of pretty gardens the common grounds have been turned to concrete parking lots.
And the guesthouses can get quite loud during the weekends when Thai groups arrive to have some fun (read: karaoke through the night). On the other hand, especially during weekdays one can find good deals on these local guesthouses. Check out hotel discounts in Khanom.
Restaurants And Bars in Khanom
Khanom might be a relatively unknown beach destination but it does have some very nice restaurants as many longtime Western restaurateurs in Thailand have taken refugee in Khanom from more popular and busier beach destination. You’ll find wonderful Italian Ciao Bella, French Le Petit St. Tropez, and the gastropub Dusty Gecko, for instance.
Center of Khanom’s nightlife is the small and easygoing Jam Bay reggae bar, which hosts jam sessions on most Saturdays.
Read more: Khanom’s Best Restaurants and Bars
Shopping in Khanom
Shopping options are very limited, almost non-existent, in Khanom. Closest shopping malls are in Suratthani city, one-hour drive away. Suratthani has two big shopping malls, Central Plaza and Big C, and a famous night market.
You can also do a shopping trip to nearby Ko Samui Island.
If you want to do tailor made clothes in Khanom, Aava Resort has a good and trustworthy tailor.
Best Time to Travel to Khanom
Khanom is located on the southern Gulf of Thailand, which has a slightly different climate than the rest of Thailand. When most of Thailand has rainy season during the summer months from June to October, Khanom’s rainy season only really gathers strength in November and lasts until the end of the year. That makes Khanom a good place to travel also during the summer months.
From January onwards is the cool season, when the sky is clear and temperature pleasant. From March to May is the hot season, but it’s still a nice time to travel as the air seldom gets unbearably hot at the seaside.
How to Get to Khanom
Easiest way to get to Khanom from Bangkok is to fly either to Suratthani or Nakhon Si Thammarat, to whichever you find a better airfare. Both cities are about 80 kilometers from Khanom. The journey can be done either by minibus, taxi (1000 Baht) or reserving a pick-up by private car through Khanom’s hotels.
Suratthani has also night trains from Bangkok.
Bangkok’s Southern Bus Terminal runs two night buses on a daily basis directly to Khanom.
Khanom lies close to the ferry pier to Ko Samui. The Don Sak pier is half an hour drive from Khanom.