Our insider tip for Thailand: Nakhon Si Thammarat

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Thailand is touristy. We all agree on that. The country has been visited by tourists for decades. We can fully understand that, because Thailand is just great. And yet tourism changes a country. It becomes more homogeneous, easier to tolerate. Sometimes that doesn’t bother us at all.

But this time we wanted to get to know something different than Samui, Bangkok or Chiang Mai: untouched Thailand. And we found it! If you are looking for the perfect insider tip for Thailand, then we can warmly recommend the province Nakhon Si Thammarat. .

1. Nakhon Si Thammarat: an overview Nakhon Si Thammarat Province is located in south-east Thailand south of Surat Thani. The region is known for its pink dolphins that frolic in the sea (yes, they are really pink). There are two larger towns on the coast: Khanom and Sichon, and lots of deserted stretches of beach. A few hotels have already settled there, but there are only a few western tourists. The hinterland is mountainous and densely overgrown. There are lots of great viewpoints and stalactite caves. Many tourists also visit the secluded and idyllically located mountain village of Kiriwong, really one is one of the most beautiful places we have seen in Thailand so far.

In the provincial capital, which is also called Nakhon Si Thammarat, live very, very many people. The city seemed like a typical Thai city to us, in other words: relatively much traffic and quite extensive in terms of area. The Wat Phra Mahathat, the oldest temple in southern Thailand is really worth seeing.

2. Sights and Highlights of the Nakhon Si Thammarat Region stalactite cave Khao Wang Thong One of the main day trip destinations is Khao Wang Thong Cave. You can also visit the cave on your own, but we recommend that you ask for a guide on site. You get helmet and flashlight handed out. At first we had to smile, but believe us: you will be happy about it later. We didn’t hit our heads just once.

It’s pretty dark in the cave and above all extremely muggy and hot. The paths are sometimes a bit slippery and sometimes you have to bend your knees to make progress, but in the end the hike is absolutely doable. The inside of the cave is quite impressive. At every corner you can see gigantic stalagmites and stalactites. All in all: really worth seeing. Incidentally, the amount of the admission fee is not fixed, but a donation is requested.

Wat Phra Mahathat The most important temple in the region, in all of southern Thailand, is located in the provincial capital, Nakhon Si Thammarat. We can warmly recommend a visit to Wat Phra Mahathat. We found the atmosphere in the midst of the many stupas quite magical.

Kiriwong The Picturesque mountain village of Kiriwong. Surrounded by mountains and rivers, its inhabitants live quite self-sufficiently. The special thing is that in Kiriwong there are many family-run businesses that you can look over the shoulder of.

That’s how we were, for example in a soap factory, a batik factory and a jewelry manufactory. Of course, one is happy when (western) visitors buy something, but we had the feeling that the families simply felt the need to show their business.

Beaches at Khanom and Sichon It’s a bit bizarre: Koh Samui towers up on the horizon. And anyone who has ever been there knows how many tourists cavort on Koh Samui. And here? No one! In Khanom and Sichon, you have entire stretches of beach just to yourself. Of course, this also means that there is no entertainment at all. However, if you are looking for peace and relaxation, the beaches are ideal.

The hotels are more geared towards Thai tourists than “Westerners”. An exception is the pretty Le Petit Saint Tropez. This hotel is located directly on Khanom Beach. It has only three bungalows and is a small, tropical oasis.

Overall there are only a few restaurants that have adapted to western tastes. We had a delicious meal in the Khun Lee Restaurant. English is only spoken very little. It usually takes a little patience to find someone who speaks English.

Pink Dolphin Cruise Of course, one cannot leave the region without seeing the pink animals that Nakhon Si Thammarat is famous for. The dolphins frolic in the sea just offshore. You can see them on a boat tour. Depending on how lucky you are, they may venture quite close to the boat.

Unfortunately the sea was quite choppy on the day of our visit, so we only jumped them out of the sea in the distance saw. Nevertheless, the trip is definitely recommended! Since you start relatively early, you can watch the fishermen in the harbor at work. We found that extremely exciting. In addition, the coast is scenically gigantic – we would not have expected that.

3. Hotels in Khanom: our tips The hotel selection in Nakhon Si Thammarat is very manageable. Many hotels are not (yet) adapted to Western tastes and are therefore furnished in a rather simple and tasteless manner. If you want to stay overnight in Nakhon Si Thammarat, we recommend accommodation along the coast, eg near Khanom.

One of the prettiest accommodation in Khanom is Le Petit Saint Tropez: It is located directly on the beach of Khanom and is a perfect retreat, if you are looking for relaxation. The small complex has only three bungalows and is run very personally. Attention: If you are looking for a party, you are in the wrong place. Here there is nothing but relaxation and peace and quiet.

You can book the hotel here: Le Petit Saint Tropez

4. Tips on arrival and local transport The gateway to Nakhon Si Thammarat Province is Surat Thani. Depending on where you are coming from, you can either arrive by plane or train (eg from Bangkok) or by boat (eg from Koh Samui). If you come by boat, “Don Sak” is the pier of your choice. Don’t book the transport to Surat Thani, because you disembark in Don Sak and then take buses to Surat Thani. There is also an airport in Nakhon Si Thammarat. Depending on where your hotel is located, this one or the one in Surat Thani may be closer.

On site you can basically use the scooter move well. The roads are well developed and, with the exception of the larger cities, there is little traffic. To rent a scooter, it is best to ask your accommodation first. However, we decided on a 3-day tour with Khanom Tours and didn’t regret it for a second. Khanom Tours is the best-known provider of day and multi-day trips in the region. Our guide knew a lot. There wasn’t a question he couldn’t answer. You just felt SO much your passion for “gentle” tourism and that is extremely important to us as guides.

Transparency: Invitation 2018 We were invited by Thailand Tourism on a multi-day trip to Nakhon Si Thammarat. Of course, this has no influence on our opinion. We also wrote an article for the new Thailand blog “Discover Amazing Stories”. Have a read!

Some of you may even have been to Nakhon Si Thammarat? Or do you have a very special insider tip for Thailand? We look forward to your experiences and comments!