For us Khanom was a happy accident.
First we were supposed to go to Phuket but the more we heard about it the less excited we became. Instead we decided to go to Ko Samui but we couldn’t find a nice place to stay that fit our budget.
It was by pure accident that we stumbled upon Khanom, a small fishing town in Nahkon Si Thammarat, Southern Thailand, largely undeveloped and mostly avoided by tourists who pass through only to get to one of the Ko islands.
There is so little information available about this town that we really had no idea what we would find when we got here which was both exciting and a little worrying. After two months in Chiang Mai where we knew the place inside out before we even got off the plane, it was quite nice that our next destination was shrouded in mystery.
We flew into Surat Thani airport though it is just as easy to fly into Nakhon Si Thammarat. Air Asia operate direct flights down to the former from Chiang Mai which makes it a pretty convenient journey for us.
All local transportation is set up to take passengers to Ko Samui as most are just passing through and so it can be difficult to find your way to Khanom Town when you first arrive but there is an adequate and affordable bus network available.
A bus into Surat Thani Town is available from the airport at a rate of one per hour. It’s only a short journey and when you disembark at stop ‘Talad Song’ you need to head across the road to the main bus station where you’ll be able to hop on a bus straight to Khanom.
Buses leave roughly every 40 minutes and will take around 1 hour to get to Khanom. The last bus leaves at 18:00 and so if you are arriving late you’ll need to take a taxi.
The fragmented bus journey will cost around 300 baht / £6 and a taxi should be no more than 1,800 baht / £35.
We opted to take a cab from the airport seeing as we were still well under budget for the month and our hosts kindly arranged for Mr Wat to collect us. This turned out to be the best £35 we’ve ever spent when we found Mr Wat waiting for us in the arrival hall with a super cute misspelling of our name on a whiteboard. He led us straight to an air conditioned minivan just for us with comfortable footrests to boot. Hello luxury backpacking!
He even stopped at a supermarket so that we could stock up on food for no extra cost. Wow, the people in Khanom are nice!
And they are all nice. They aren’t used to seeing many Western people and though they will often stare at us as we pass by, it doesn’t feel in the slightest bit intimidating. Mostly they are just interested in us and are pleased that we chose to visit their small town. They go out of their way to make us feel welcome and we’ve gotten used to posing for pictures for them so that they can show their friends they met white people!
Within minutes of stepping out of the taxi and onto the pristine beach right outside our villa we fell in love with Khanom.
Getting up at 6am for the sunrise was totally worth ut
Seeing as Khanom isn’t a tourist town you won’t find many activities here.
What Khanom has to offer is beach – SO much beach. Unlike normal holiday destinations where beaches are littered with sunbeds and beach touts, the beaches of Khanom are completely empty. Empty to the point that we could walk for an hour and not see a single other person.
The sea is like a swimming pool, the water is completely clear and when you add in the gorgeous powdery sand, you’ll understand why we think this beach is perfect.
When you get bored of topping up your tan (if that’s possible) there are other things to do but most center around exploring which is actually kind of perfect.
We got on our scooter and just drove along the coast until we found hidden beauty spots, private beaches, gorgeous waterfalls, secluded temples, local markets and unspoilt jungle with palm trees for miles. I’m not even going to tell you where to find all of these things because the magic is in stumbling upon them yourself and seeing the beauty for the first time. Man our eyes couldn’t get enough of this town!
How’s this for a beauty spot?
Also as you’re so close by you really should skip across the water to visit Ko Samui. The ferry port is around a 30 minute scooter ride from Khanom and then it’s just a relaxing 90 minutes on a very comfortable boat with sensational views until you get there. The boat also carries vehicles so take you’re scooter with you for the ultimate ease at the other end.
The ferry for two people with scooter costs 330 baht / £6.50 each way. One day is plenty to see Ko Samui and so there’s no need to arrange accommodation on the island.
We drove around the entire island in less than an hour and then explored the town and beaches a little. Within 5 minutes we knew we’d made the right choice staying in Khanom!!
There aren’t lots of taxis available in Khanom like other places in Thailand and we didn’t see one songthaew. Everything is relatively spaced out and in the searing heat you wouldn’t want to go very far on foot anyway. You absolutely need a scooter to get around here unless you’re happy to cook all meals in your villa and only see the beach.
We stayed for 1 month and only had the scooter for around half of that time and that was plenty. The rest of the time we stayed close to home – hanging out on the beach, waking to a local beach bar for drinks and cooking meals in our kitchen – heaven.
We also cycled from time to time and the long, flat roads make excellent cycling tracks. As mentioned before it is ALWAYS super hot in Khanom and so you’re likely to limit bike rides to the evening when it becomes a little cooler.
A scooter costs 250 baht / £5 per day or 1,400 baht / £28 per week to hire.
There are no big hotel chains here but there are plenty of really nice hotels.
We stayed in a beautiful villa called Ban Thanyanan which cost £209 per month for a double bedroom or £285 for a villa. We came here to work predominately and so were looking for space and high speed WiFi which was more than delivered. It’s a really comfortable villa with a modern kitchen / bathroom and plenty of space for two people. The owners are amazing too. We loved it.
Though we can’t afford to stay at them we did do plenty of ogling at gorgeous resorts and so if your budget is a little higher than ours I’d highly suggest the Khanom Hill Resort which is very secluded or for the ultimate luxury you should head to Racha Kiri Resort and Spa SWOON!!
A sneaky look at Khanom Hill Resort
Where to eat
We really enjoyed having our own kitchen and so spent a lot of time cooking traditional Thai food ourselves using ingredients that we picked up at the market. Because of this, when we did eat out we went Western. Our favourite places to eat were;
- CC Beach Bar – This is a must visit. Picture dinner on the beach surrounded by romantic fairy lights and candles on the table, all whilst hearing the ocean in the background. This place does really good Western and Thai food and a meal for two without alcohol (we’re on a scooter!) will set you back about £10.
CC Beach Bar
- Ciao Bella – If you want authentic Italian food made by an actual Italian man (who happens to be lovely) you want Ciao Bella. Again it’s right on the beach and so you get both dinner and views like this:
Dinner and a view 🙂
- Khanom Espresso – Strong iced coffee with yummy cakes and cool music videos!
- The Dusty Gecko – More delicious Western food and right in town too
If you’re looking for paradise on a budget then you are looking for Khanom. This unspoilt paradise is unlikely to remain unspoilt forever and so should be visited soon so that you can enjoy the tranquilly and seclusion while it still exists.
There aren’t many places left where you can have an incredible month in a dream location for £500 and so whether you’re on a budget or into luxury we can’t recommend Khanom highly enough – just don’t tell too many people – it’s a secret we’d quite like to keep!