Thammarat trading options

As a beach destination, Khanom might be new in the international marketthough it has been serving locals from the major provincial town of Nakorn Sri Thammarat for many years- though the standard of the hotels was quite poor. Only in the last decade have some better quality beachfront resorts opened here, and begun marketing Khanom internationally. To succeed, they only have to catch a tiny slice of Thailand's burgeoning beach tourism trade — and that's only a matter of time. The undeveloped state of its beaches is Khanom's main attraction now, along with the complete tranquillity found here.

Also, there is the friendly atmosphere of a Thai village in those parts of the beach with habitation. The locals have not become overburdened or disillusioned by masses of tourists, and are quite welcoming. Visitors can easily find themselves alone on any of the beaches here, with kilometres of empty sand in either direction.

But the flip side of the empty beach dream is, not surprisingly, a real lack of things to do — save relax and chill out. So Khanom suits only those who are determined to get away from the beach crowds, and are happy with a 'relax-only', do-little beach vacation. Khanom lies on the mainland coastjust 25 kilometres south of Koh Samui and 60 kilometres east of Surat Thani town.

However, it is a district in the province of Nakorn Sri Thammarat, whose capital is 90 kilometres south. One can fly in and out through of either of these provincial towns, with both airports just over an hour's drive away. It's not particularly isolated, but it is inconvenient enough to keep Khanom from becoming overrun by group tours and mass tourism. Khanom is passing through a development phase that virtually all successful Thai beach destinations have experienced.

Most of the resorts here are still budget bungalows, with just a thin sprinkling of 4-and 5-star rooms. However, it's the beachfront property prices that tell us the story of what's to come. Phuket' best-known property and resorts guru Bill Barnet has named Khanom repeatedly as a hot new destination for speculators' money and a future tourism hotspot. Again it's all about beachfront land and that where property buyers see the multipliers of capital appreciation. Major stretches of long beaches and great natural beauty along with views into the Gulf of Thailand While some would poor a little cool water on this over-heated view of Khanom as a hot spot for Thai tourism investment, it still gives an idea of future directions.

I personally doubt that the beaches of Khanom will get many investors this excited, especially when Thailand has so many other beach regions that could be developed - regions with more beautiful beaches and more interesting hinterlands. The three major beaches that fall under the name Khanom run for nine kilometres, with the top seven of those being a single, straight beach uninterrupted by geographic features. At the south end there are a couple of small headlands that carve out a bay for Nai Plao Beach.

This is the prettiest area with rolling hills running down to the ocean. There's an exceptionally attractive beach-in-a-bay where the road ends beyond Nai Plao, with a pleasant local restaurant overlooking the beach. Water clarity, just OK: With Khanom being a mainland destination, its beaches miss the thorough cleansing that swirling tides bring to islands. Typically, the water here is neither particularly clear nor beautiful — and certainly does not resemble the inviting, crystal stuff seen in beach images used to sell Thailand overseas.

Sand, lots of sand: The sand is very wide and attractive all up and down this sector of coast, and quite fine and soft. What happened to the shade: Much of the beach is devoid of big trees near the top of the sand, leaving it really hot through the middle of the day. At some of the small resorts there is no option but to hide indoors, or find a beach bar during the hottest hours. The shade situation is much better on the southern beach at Nai Plao where there are both more coconut palms and big shade trees.

And that very small village: A couple of resorts make good use of the more attractive geography in Nai Plao. There is also a small village scattered along the road behind the beach here, with a few shops. A couple of beach bars generally open along the sand in the high season, though these change year-to-year. The longer, straight beach to the north has virtually no habitation nor development behind the beach.

The road is set well back from the sand, leaving the resorts here with ample space for coconut groves and gardens. But beyond that road lie miles of boring, low brush and second-grade agricultural land. This area often becomes brown and barren through the dry season, and it has little of the lush tropical look found in other parts of the country.

Over the northern headland a few forested hills have National Park protection, while a larger mountainous, forested area to the southwest of Khanom, the Krung Ching National Park, harbours more extensive natural forest and a few waterfalls that are open to visitors.

Considering that the mainland beaches in the Gulf of Thailand are never spectacularand are often boring or poor compared to their island cousins, Khanom is quite lucky. Its beaches are nice, even without the spectacular touch. For that, one has to go a little further out into deeper water, to the spectacular strips of sand on Koh Samuior a little way to the north, or to the diverse beaches of Koh Phangan or to rugged little Koh Tao. While mainstream tourism has not discovered Khanoma small trickle of foreign visitors now makes its way here, attracted by the tranquillity and the 'undiscovered' feel Khanom imparts.

A small community of foreigners has also set up residence here — some having left Phuket in search of a quieter, more natural life, others trading high pressure lives in Western countries for Khanom's laid-back charm. Thai tourists from Bangkok also come in small numbers, with Racha Kiri Resort targeting both Thais in the capital and as much of the overseas market as it can. An Australian and his Thai wife have established a small resort towards the north end of the beach, with a couple of other resorts also the creations of foreign residents.

This displays a certain confidence that Khanom will someday 'take off' among the international crowd, even if just enough to fill their small number of rooms, and those coming. Time and history are on their side. Several of Thailand's successful beach resorts have begun in exactly this way, as low-key weekend escapes for Thai families from nearby cities. Soon after young travellers and more adventurous tourists begin joining the locals, the resorts respond with more comforts and facilities, which in turn attracts even more of the foreign trade.

Several major beach resorts in Thailand began with the kind of modest roots we see in Khanom, and ended up with a string of large, international resorts along their shores. Geography ensures that Khanom will never become a Pattaya or Hua Hinbut then again, it will not remain as it is today for very long. Khanom, Thailand; new, quiet beach destination, resort hotels. Top 10 most beautiful Thai beaches in the Gulf of Thailand. Thailand; female friendly beaches for single girl travellers.

Prachuap Khiri Khan; quiet beaches, remote beachfront hotels. Khanom, what and where is this new, unspoiled beach destination?

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