The Pros in Khanom; all about peaceful, unspoiled beaches

Not a lot happens at Khanom, and there is not a lot to do or see save relax on empty beaches. In such an undeveloped environment both the positive and negative points are few in number. However, most of the positive points here are related to the natural, unspoiled beach environments, while the negatives largely stem from the lack of things to do – and for some people those might actually be positives.
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remote & quiet, ideal for those seeking a tranquil Thai-style beach resort

Distance and the lack of a local airport has kept Khanom off the major tourist routes, ensuring that group tours and mass tourism don't descend on its still-quiet beaches. The nearest airport is at Surat Thani, over two hours’ drive away, while Koh Samui is the nearest well-known beach destination.
While the developers here expect the popularity of Khanom to grow substantially in the coming years, there is no expectation that this will become a busy resort with crowds on the beaches like many others destinations in the country.

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natura beach with low-level development, buildings out-of-sight

Despite that there about 10 beachfront accommodations along Khanom's nine kilometres of sand, almost no buildings are seen in any view up or down the beach. The only place that has built a tall hotel block is the old-style, early arrival, Golden Beach Resort. It’s not beautiful, but is typical of beach hotels built in Thailand in the 1980s. All of the newer resorts have built low-rise and back from the sand, leaving the beach views like this, natural and serene.
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enough resorts for reasonable choice; budget to 4-star

Although Khanom is in the early phases of resort development, with only about one beach resort for every kilometre of sand, there is quite a good variety of choices of accommodation. Two establishments offer 4- and 5-star rooms – Aava Resort & Spa on Khanom Beach and further south, Racha Kiri Resort & Spa on Nai Plao Beach. There are several mid-range, 3-star establishments ideal for families while a variety of budget beach bungalows is still available.
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unaffected by tourism, Khanom people are friendly

Over time, mass tourism changes local people wherever it takes root. You can see the strained relations between foreign tourists and locals in places like Phuket, Koh Samui and the infamous Pattaya. But with Khanom having seen only small numbers of tourists, and a few foreign residents, relations between locals and visitors are good. The local people still welcome tourism as a means of improving their economic prospects and as a future supplier of jobs for their children.
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southern end more rugged with prettier bays and beaches

Seven kilometres of Khanom's sandy coastline is a single straight beach with neither breaks nor features – but the last two kilometres at the south end have hills rolling right down to the ocean forming little bays. The scenery here is particularly attractive, and there are a few resorts in this area, including the beautifully-designed Racha Kiri Resort.

what Cons in a rather remote, undisturbed beach destination like Khanom?

Again, it is not easy to pinpoint negative elements in a place that has little happening. With many of the negative points here related to Khanom's rather remote location, some people may interpret those as positive elements that help keep the place unchanged and the way it is. However, the local resort owners and business people take a different perspective, and they are trying to put Khanom on the map and draw more guests to their rooms, restaurants and shops. Isolation and empty beaches are not everyone's friends.
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Khanom beach and hinterland: little to do away from the beach

While the lack of things to do and see in Khanom – save chilling out on the beach with a book, or take a massage – will suit a small number of visitors, the great majority of foreigners come in the hope of seeing something of Thailand as well as the beach. Not only are there few man-made activities in the Khanom area, but the natural attractions in this part of Thailand are also thin. Waterfalls and elusive pink dolphins will not keep the majority of visitors happy for long. Some would even label this a rather boring part of Thailand.
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beware, high-rise hotels have their first toehold on Khanom beach

We can hope that the first small high-rise building on the beach is not a sign of things to come. Note that virtually all resorts built after this ugly concrete box, the Golden Beach Hotel, are low-rise and much more attractive. But this is a poor precedent, and even if local laws are passed to restrict the heights of buildings by the beach – as has been done in Phuket and many other resort areas – such controls are regularly ignored and by-passed with corruption. For Khanom, we can only hope, then wait and see what the future brings.
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water quality not great; it's a mainland beach in the Gulf

Khanom is far down the Gulf of Thailand, well towards the open sea. Thus, we might expect the quality of the water off its beaches to be better than that off beaches further north, closer to the rivers that pour so much filth into the Gulf. But unfortunately, that is not necessarily true. The last readings of water quality by the Pollution Control Department of the Thai government, in 2009, rated two of Khanom's main beaches at a rather poor 3-star level (out of a maximum of 5 for excellent). Both had fallen a star or half-star from their 2006 levels. Beaches throughout Nakorn Sri Thammarat province got a maximum of 3 stars, with a couple, including popular Sichon Beach south of Khanom, scoring a seriously poor 2 stars, indicating the water there is perhaps unfit for swimming.
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area to back of Khanom beach is boring; few villages & little culture

The mountainous area to the southwest of Khanom is still clothed in natural forest, and is now protected by Krung Ching National Park. But overall, this is only a small patch of the province. Most of the land surrounding Khanom, however, is boringly flat and has been cleared for agriculture or livestock. This is not a very fertile part of the country, and the landscape is scrappy. During the dry season it can look brown and rather desolate.
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few restaurants, few places to enjoy really good Thai cuisine

One of the great treats when visiting Thailand is the amazing cuisine in all of its variety. The further you go, however, from the major urban centres where Thai populations support an amazing number of eating establishments and their fastidiousness keeps the quality high, the poorer the choices become. Khanom, by its isolated nature, cannot support a big or varied number of restaurants. Opportunities to enjoy Thai cuisine at its best and most varied are thus very limited. The best opportunity to experience really good and varied Thai dishes is in the provincial capital Nakorn Sri Thammarat.
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long travel time to Khanom from Bangkok or other cities

Getting to Khanom can be a hassle – one that surely discourages some potential visitors who might otherwise enjoy its empty beaches and bucolic atmosphere. It's not just the dependence on two airports over an hour's drive in different directions, it's also the irregularity of flights into the airports at Surat Thani and Nakorn Sri Thammarat. The trains and tour buses help those on a budget, but their trip will be an overnight one, followed by connection hassles in the morning to make the last leg of the journey to the beaches. Such transport woes will continue to turn some visitors away and keep Khanom's beaches quiet and its resorts hungry.
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by John Everingham