Thailand – Khanom’s Rare Pink Dolphins
Idyllic empty beaches with hammocks, plenty of booze and good weather, the perfect combination for having a great time! This time we are in Southern Thailand in search of Khanom’s illusive Pink Dolphins.
Worth to mention; NYE in Bangkok!
We spend a couple of days in lively Bangkok during New Year’s Eve with my best buddy Youp and Saskia before making our way South. There is always something special about meeting people from at home! We hung out, had a couple of beers and talked about our travels. It was great catching up!
By train from Bangkok to Khanom
We left our wonderful hotel in the early evening on New Years Day and headed to the busy train station of Bangkok, where we took the overnight train to Surat Thani. The train-ride was far from comfortable and crazy cold! For some reason air conditioning can only be set to one mode in Thailand: Freezing nuts! When we finally got to Surat Thani we took a bright colored public bus to the centre of town. Another two hour mini bus-ride later we made it to our humble guesthouse in Khanom. Our hostess is an absolute angel, she speaks limited english but is incredibly helpful.
The next morning we got to a late start, had a small breakfast and rented a motorbike to have a look around town. First up, the beach (obviously)! Khanom is a tiny town with some scattered hotels that sees limited tourists. The beaches are long, sandy and set with coconut trees. Unlike the beaches of other destinations, beaches here are completely deserted! We chilled for hours in a comfy bamboo hut on the beach with a couple of drinks. In the late afternoon we headed to a fancy seafood restaurant on the beach to celebrate our 9th anniversary with some excellent food and cocktails.
Everyone likes dolphins! The dolphins of Khanom are Pink, how cool is that?!
We came across a mention somewhere online about these incredible animals, and just had to go and take a look for ourselves! We hopped on our bike early morning, around 6am, and drove the twenty kilometers north to the tiny fishermen town Laem Prathap.
We expected scenes like in Bali’s Lovina Beach, where masses gather to look for dolphins off the coast. We couldn’t have been more wrong! As we drove through this sleepy little town, we parked our bike and asked a random guy if we can see the pink dolphins. He nodded and took us to a lady that spoke some english. In return she asked us to wait on a bench while they woke up the boatsman to get a boat ready for us. A slender long fishing boat pulled up ten minutes later at the dock and we were let on board. Moments later we headed out to sea. The eco-system is so healthy that fish actually hopped into the boat several times.
There are only 120 rare pink dolphins left around Khanom. We were worried we wouldn’t see any pink dolphins, like so many others, but were soon ecstatic when the first fin breached the water surface. More dolphins followed, about ten in total! We slowly followed them for twenty minutes or so at a safe distance to give the dolphins space. Impossible to get properly on camera, these magnificent animals cut through water like a knife would through butter. An amazing sight for anyone!
As we got back to town we went to a small but cozy German familial restaurant “Zum Grünen Baum“. The owners, a German/Thai couple make the most amazing German breakfast, with freshly baked bread, scrambled eggs, fresh orange juice, Dutch coffee and more importantly; CHEESE! German Butterkäse and Dutch Edammer! We got talking with the owner and ended-up spending several hours there, overlooking the sea from a little bamboo hut in their lush garden.
In the afternoon we drove down the coastline exploring the beaches around Khanom. Luckily for us, it turned out that the nearest beach is actually the best beach in town! In the evening we grabbed a drink at the nearest beach and ate the German bread (we picked up at breakfast) for dinner.
The perfect tropical beaches!
After another perfect breakfast at our new-found friends in the German restaurant, we took a small side road near the town. Just over the hill lie two perfect deserted beaches that will make any traveler drool. The beaches in Khanom are already scarcely visited, but at these beaches in tiny Laem Prathap you won’t find another soul! We took some time here taking in the fresh sea air walking up and down the sandy beach. The beach is covered in small but beautiful shells including some of nacre. Just behind the beach you find pristine jungle with palm-trees and we saw several monkeys jump from tree to tree. If you’re looking to get away from it all Laem Prathap is THE town for you!
In the afternoon we hit the dirt-roads to see the local sights. First we drove to Chilling Tara “fish spa”, and not one of those fancy spa resorts that normally come to mind. At a small river in the backlands of Khanom they set up small wooden boards. Here you can wiggle your toes at the fishies and they will show up in bulk! The fish are slightly bigger than you’d expect and when they eagerly nibble at your feet it feels pretty weird! We hung out at the pools for a while before hopping back on the bike.
Afterwards, we drove for about half an hour to the Khao Wang Thong Cave, the fourth largest cave of Thailand. After a small steep walk up to the entrance we were welcomed by a friendly guide. The guide took us down into the narrow cave. The cave is nicely lit up by lights so you can fully enjoy the grandeur of the rock-formations. Especially the big hall is just phenomenal with huge stalactites. Lots of small bats live in the cave, living from small insects that dare to enter the cave. The further down you went there is less oxygen and the hotter it gets. While crawling through small crevices to the next room I felt like I was sitting in a 90 degree sauna. It’s not for everyone (like Leni) but it does provide every visitor amazing views. It was by far the most beautiful cave I’ve ever seen.
As the sun slowly set we made our way to the hotel, where we quickly packed our bags and went to bed! Koh Phaluai Island awaits us early in the morning.