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Bang Saphan Noi – One of Thailand’s last secluded beach towns

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Bang Saphan Noi – One of Thailand’s last secluded beach towns

Quiet, Secluded Beaches in Thailand?

Not totally extinct just yet!

Experience

Finding a nice secluded piece of beach in Thailand can be challenging at times, especially during high season. It has become one of the ‘hottest’ tourist destinations in Asia, if not the world. This is undoubtedly because of it’s beautiful culture, delicious food, cheap prices, and of course, gorgeous beaches. Slowly but surely the coastline is filling with hotels and resorts catering to the high demand of beach-goers, but foreign and local alike. This has made finding a quiet beach a lot more challenging… unless of course you’re connected to Where Sidewalks End 😉 I found Bang Saphan Noi essentially by playing a little game of “Spin the globe”, and to my delight it turned out to be incredible!

The sleepy town of Bang Saphan Noi itself is actually quite quaint & simple. It has a very small food market, a beautiful new park in the centre, the compulsory 7-11 to stock up on supplies, a train station, and a bus station that you’d miss if you blinked (literally.. it’s sign is written on a sun-bleached dry erase board)! There’s really only a handful of resorts, hotels and guest houses in the area, and are usually visited primarily by Thai’s on holiday. That’s pretty much it in terms of things in the town itself, really.

The locals are all incredibly friendly, however shy, and everyone smiles at you as you walk around. This is something typical to Thailand, ‘the land of smiles’, though has faded to the point of superficiality and near extinction in the bigger cities and hot tourist destinations. Bang Saphan Noi certainly holds characteristics of Thailand ‘before’ the big tourist explosion.

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SEE – Photos & Videos

Bang Saphan Noi - Beach
The Beach: almost completely to yourself – all day, every day!
Bang Saphan Noi - Night food vendors
Limited nighttime food vendors, but the food is delicious!
Bang Boet - Fishing Village
A nearby fishing village
Bang Saphan Noi - Red Cliffs
Fung Daeng – Red Cliffs
Khoa Bang Berd - Bat Cave
Inside the bat-cave temple of Khoa Bang Berd
Bang Saphan Noi - Empty Roads
The barren streets of Bang Saphan Noi
Bang Berd - Thailand's Biggest Sand Dunes
Thailand’s Biggest Sand Dunes
Bang Saphan Noi - Koh Thalu Snorkelling
Koh Thalu Snorkelling fun!
Bang Saphan Noi - Epic Sunrises
East facing shores make for brilliant sunrises!

 

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GO – Getting There

Getting to Bang Saphan Noi can prove to be a little tricky. We decided to wing it and catch an overnight bus heading south from Bangkok. There are some which go directly to Bang Saphan Noi from the South bus terminal (which is the most inconvenient bus terminal to get to in all of Bangkok – either an expensive cab ride, or a long local bus, from the centre). We however did not catch a direct bus, as they were sold out by the time we got to the terminal. We ended up jumping on a bus going to a nearby city, and then getting a minivan to drop us at the closest stop along the highway. We then hitchhiked the remaining 7 kms to town.

Leaving was similar, we hitchhiked to the highway, and then within about 10 mins were able to flag down a minivan going all the way back to Bangkok! I imagine the wait time varies and we just got lucky. More ideal ways to get there would be by taking the train (though there are only 4 train times that go there and only one at an ideal time, while all the others arrive late at night, both to Bang Saphan Noi, and to Bangkok in the reverse). There is limited bus services as well, so it’s perhaps best to have that arranged a day or two in advance, to assure seating, and to have a direct ride, unlike our own. If you are driving, it’s only a 5 hour drive from Bangkok, and about the same if heading north from Surat Thani or Phuket.


View Where Sidewalks End in a larger map

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Do – Activities & Attractions

The town of Bang Saphan Noi itself is slightly inland, though a short drive only a couple of kilometers to the beach. I was shocked to discover, regardless of it’s isolated it is, how many incredible attractions are nearby – both natural and man made.

  • The Beach: Most obviously, for a post on a beach town. The beach is pretty impressive. Bang Saphan Noi’s beach itself is one of the longest stretches I’ve seen in Thailand which is (almost) completely absent of tourists! There’s only a handful of very small resorts and bungalows along the stretch, and even during a busy time like New Year’s Eve, it felt almost empty!
  • Fishing Villages: Almost everywhere. That’s still the livelihood of many of the inhabitants of this area. The seas are still rich with fish, and so it brings with it the coastal life of the mom and pop fishing industry. It’s very cool and interesting to walk around and see the old boats and harbours!
  • Koh Talhu: A beautiful island only 5km from shore. With only one resort on the island, there’s not many people staying there. You can easily visit the island on a half day snorkelling trip (which we did) which includes 2 snorkel sites, lunch and all your gear, and transport from Bang Saphan Noi.
  • Fung Daeng Beach: Translated to “Red Cliffs”, about 9km away from town, this gorgeous natural wonder extends for several kilometers. It appears to be a yellow stone which has been stained by a red powder – my guess would be high iron content which as rusted (FeO2 for you scientifically minded folk), and stained the entire cliff length red. It was gorgeous for a mid-afternoon walk on the beach – your feet WILL get wet, mind you.
  • Limestone mountains and cliffs: Southern Thailand is riddled with over 4000 limestone mountains, cliffs and caves to hike along – some of which are very close to Bang Saphan Noi, both along the water, and along the Burmese border a mere 25 kilometers away!
  • Khoa Bang Berd: Bat Cave turned into a Buddhist temple! Yup. There’s loads of caves which are used as Buddhist holy grounds, but this one’s got bats in it… and it’s only about 15 kilometers south of Bang Saphan Noi, in the neighbouring bay of Bang Berd.
  • Sand Dunes: Approximately 23 kms south, Proclaimed “The Most Distinct Thai Sand Dune in Chumphon” in the village of Ban Nam Phu. This is Thailand’s largest naturally formed sand dune, and although it’s just that… a big pile of sand… it’s still quite impressive
  • Tham Thong viewpoint near the Temple of Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy in Bang Berd: Sadly we didn’t make it here in time as the sun was setting, but this is supposed to be one of the most scenic photo ops of the whole area! A calm bay with islands close to shore, and the impressive Chinese temple overlooking the sea. It’s about 4km past the sand dunes, following the ocean roads.

As you might have noticed, everything listed above was heading south from Bang Saphan Noi (except for the island of Koh Talhu) and was all experienced on the same day trip on a scooter. Had we started earlier in the day, we probably would have made it to several waterfalls in the area as well, which are found more inland, just off the major highway. Of course.. being several kilometers in any direction, you may want to rent a driver or scooter to do this. It’s an ideal place for people new to scooters as well, since the streets are so empty, and traffic is amongst the lowest you’ll find in Thailand! It was Marianne’s first time riding a scooter here, and she did it like a champ!

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Stay – Accommodation

I would certainly suggest making a hotel reservation online prior to arriving. Not only are the hotels/resorts of small capacity, they are also often a few kilometers from the town itself, located along the beach. They can often have arrival transfers arranged so you can be picked up when you arrive. I was able to find accommodation online at a quaint bed and breakfast, Sananwan B&B, though saw a couple other decent options both online as well. None are overly busy, or overly full of western tourists. This can cause slight language barriers as english is limited, but with time and effort (and a little bit of charades) you should be just fine!

We ended up with a driver to and from the bungalow, and who also helped us book our snorkelling and picked us up/dropped us off to it, for a nominal fee. His name is Surin and his number is 089 804 0335. His english is quite good, and he’s very friendly and helpful!

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Eat – Restaurants

Coming Soon!

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Time – Seasonality & Schedules

Coming Soon!

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Safety – Possible risks

Please Note: Travel inherently comes with an element of risk (just like crossing the road does). You are putting yourself in elements that are unfamiliar and foreign to your usual lifestyle and with that, become more susceptible to fall victim those who try to play off those unfamiliar to their local scams. There are also potential dangers in the environments to which you may not be accustomed to.

Please take extra care in travelling, ensure that you have adequate medical insurance (accidents seem to happen when you least expect them), and have let a trusted colleague, family member or friend know your whereabouts and activities.

Where Sidewalks End travel advises you to travel at your own risk, and to be extra aware of your surroundings (without letting it spoiling your time).

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Pay – How much does it cost?

The cost of being secluded comes with the cost of being slightly more difficult to get to. This isn’t a bad thing, though. It’s an adventure, and one hell of an experience for those daring enough to try. There was countless places to explore, and in 4 days, I feel we only just skimmed the surface. I’ll certainly be heading back to Bang Saphan Noi in my near future.

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Responsible Travel – Best Practices

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Reality Check – Be Aware

Coming Soon!

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JOIN US! WSE Travel Packages

This sounds like quite the adventure, right? We thought so too! Though we realize it can be pretty intimidating to get out there into the world on your own, especially when travelling to some of these off the beaten path locations. We love it when our readers give it a shot and try it for themselves! In fact, please leave us feedback if you do!! If trying something ‘this’ adventurous on your own is just a bit outside of your comfort zone, WSE Travel is here to help!

Follow this link for our ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ Tours – packages that are highly personalized and tailored at your request.

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Have you ever played ‘spin the globe’ when looking for a place to go? Where did you end up? Was it really remote? How challenging was it to get there? 

Please feel free to share your stories and thoughts in the comment section below!

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WSE Travel - Bang Saphan Noi - Epic Sunrises

East facing shores make for brilliant sunrises!

2017-03-10T06:22:07+00:00 By |Categories: Asia, Thailand|Tags: , , , , |15 Comments

About the Author:

From a young age, Ian was always a wanderer. He's since travelled to all 7 continents, and has spent the majority of his life pursuing this passion. Follow him in his off-the-beaten-path adventures and discoveries!

15 Comments

  1. Jean | Holy Smithereens January 4, 2013 at 11:16 pm - Reply

    I’ve only ever been to Bangkok, none of the beaches or islands yet , foolishly thinking they will be tourist-laden. thanks for this wonderful post, im now tempted! 🙂 I always play spin the globe but haven’t really travelled to a place through globe spinning. One day, one day…

    • Ian Ord January 5, 2013 at 12:55 pm - Reply

      Hey Jean! I understand the hesitation. Most people only venture to the touristy spots, as that’s what travel agents sell, and where the majority of transport is heading. I thought I’d take a chance for NYE, and I’m so happy I did 🙂 Spin the globe is my favourite game (along with pin the tail on the map.. which was more along the lines of this one)… but rarely do it. I think 2013 should bring with it many more stories such as this! Happy Travels!

  2. Lyndsay/ Discount Travel Blogger January 5, 2013 at 1:33 pm - Reply

    Nice photos you have there! I love the Koh Thalu and Red Cliffs part. Weather is better now but then we don’t have enough time. Back to work!

    • Ian Ord January 5, 2013 at 1:52 pm - Reply

      Thanks Lyndsay! There’s never really enough time, is there? 😉 I loved the Red Cliffs… I’ll have to go back to explore more of Koh Talhu, maybe on a less rainy day as well (and Koh Sing and Sang are close by as well!)!

  3. Mark Howe May 7, 2013 at 6:49 pm - Reply

    Hello Ian, I have traveled a bit in Thai and love it. But now looking to visit and , maybe , live in a small seaside town.I have no problem “not” being in farang communities. I am not a rich farang and on a budjet but could live comfortable. Please share your travels I enjoy your adventures.

    • Ian Ord May 11, 2013 at 2:31 pm - Reply

      Hey Mark, thanks for the comment! Bang Saphan Noi is a perfect example of a small seaside town with low farang (foreigner) population! I found a lovely bed and breakfast there with a private beach, and easy access (with use of a scooter) to all the neighbouring villages. It’s a perfect getaway if you’re looking for solitude and relaxation! I’d say it’s best shared in the company of someone, mind you, or it may be a bit too isolated 🙂 Enjoy!

  4. choro May 17, 2013 at 11:53 am - Reply

    please share how safe is the place?

    • Ian Ord May 18, 2013 at 12:56 pm - Reply

      Hello Choro! Thanks for your comment and interest in the site! I’d have to say that I didn’t feel unsafe once during my stay here. It’s an incredibly beautiful place, and the people were very friendly. This being said, you always have to have your wits about you as well. No matter how safe a place is in the world, trouble can still happen. It just takes one person with bad intentions…. though I’d be inclined to say that the percentage of people with bad intentions here are very low. Just practice safe travel habits, and you should be fine 🙂

      • michael September 29, 2013 at 4:24 am - Reply

        Ian,
        I too am looking for a beach town, or village off the tourist track, so thanks for the information. If by chance you know of any long term accommodation at any of your “finds”, please let me know.

        Cheers,
        Michael

  5. Greg Smith August 9, 2013 at 1:32 pm - Reply

    I am currently sitting on the beach at Bang Saphan Yai, which I think also fits the bill for seclusion. Will be back in the area in Decembef and give Noi a try. Cheers.

    • Ian Ord - Where Sidewalks End September 30, 2013 at 4:04 pm - Reply

      Hey Greg, very cool mate. We had actually meant to get up to Bang Saphan Yai, but due to some complications with reservations, found ourselves down a but further south for New Years. Not a bad thing to happen, as you can see though! Enjoy it when you head down in December 🙂 Cheers!

  6. marc September 16, 2013 at 9:00 am - Reply

    Hey guys, thanks for posting this. Quick question, about how much would a flat cost (either outright purchase or monthly rent)? What about average foods/utility costs?

    • Ian Ord - Where Sidewalks End September 30, 2013 at 5:45 pm - Reply

      That’s a great question Marc! It really depends on where you go or what property you’re looking for. My flat in Bangkok is roughly $300/month +util (about an extra $30). Food – depends entirely on the person. It will vary between $1/meal for street food -$5/10 per meal for eating out at decent western/ethnic restaurants… that’s not including alcohol (which with only one beer/meal can more than double your food expenses). So.. your food can be as cheap as $90/month… or as expensive as well, you want it to be.. I hope this helps!

  7. […] when you thought the sleepy town on Bang Saphan Noi couldn’t get any more chilled out, along comes Sananwan Beach B&B. Located only 7 km […]

  8. Theresa Curby May 5, 2016 at 3:49 am - Reply

    Wohh precisely what I was looking for, thanks for putting up.

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