During our month in Khanom we chose to do one guided tour. Khanom is most famous for their pink dolphins, which are extremely rare. These dolphins are not to be confused with pink river dolphins, though. Instead, they belong to the Chinese White Dolphin species, a sub-species of the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin. Khanom loves their pink dolphins. They are celebrated with statues all over the small city and appear on every street sign.
So, as you can imagine, there’s no way we were going to pass up a tour to see the pink dolphins. We chose a tour company that is owned by the same people who run the restaurant we went to on our first night in Khanom. Tours are done for groups of 6. Since Kyle and I were by ourselves and we were staying for a month, the tour company waited for a group of 4 others to request a tour. When they did, the company contacted our Air BnB host and let us know the date for the tour and pick up time.
First stop on the tour was a bathroom break as there wouldn’t be another one before lunch. Next, we hopped on the little boat and set out to see the dolphins. Seeing the dolphins is not a guarantee as they are living in the wild, but we got lucky. We passed a boat on the way out and the driver gave our guide the thumbs up that he’d just seen some dolphins very close. In less than 5 minutes we were in a small cove. The driver cut the engine and our guide quickly pointed out a mother and baby dolphin feeding on fish.
Our guide was very thorough in his explanation of why the dolphins come to this particular place with their babies. He explained how they feed, how the mommy dolphins feed their babies, and all of the conservation efforts that he is involved in to help ensure these pink dolphins remain a part of the Khanom culture. The baby dolphins are born grey and turn pink as they grow older. The dolphin pictured below is mostly grey but if you look closely at his nose you can see where he’s beginning to turn pink.
The entire tour was very conservation conscious and educational for all of us, but especially for the two kids that were in our group. On the way to the next stop we went through a school of jumping fish – many of which accidentally ended up jumping right into our boat! Our guide asked everyone to scoop up each fish carefully and toss them back into the water. No fish left behind!
Our next stop was the famous pancake rock. This type of rock can only be seen in Khanom and New Zealand. The unique weather patterns here allowed this rock to form over the past 30 million years. The rainforest above the rocks is home to many beautiful birds and monkeys that can often be seen from the water.
After the pancake rocks, we continued on to a small temple only accessible by boat. Near the base of the stairs, a short distance from the sea water, is s small fresh water well. Our guide told the stories about Thai people throughout history using the fresh water from this place as well as the story of the monk to whom the temple is dedicated.
The Fish Spa
We took the boat back to the dock and drove to the restaurant where we began our day. Lunch was included in the tour and it was delicious. Next up was a trip to the fresh water natural fish spa. I *thought* we had experienced a similar fish spa in Oman, but I was very wrong. If you’ve never heard of a fish spa, you sit on a platform and place your feet into the water. The fish then rush over and begin to nibble away all of the dead skin on your feet.
In Oman, the fish were very small and when they nibbled on my toes it was just a faint tickle. In Khanom; however, I couldn’t believe the sensation of all the fish eating away not only my feet but every part of my leg that was in the water. These fish were so aggressive that when I lifted my feet up out of the water some would hang on and allow half of their own bodies to be pulled out of the water before letting go. I was never able to tolerate both feet being in the water at the same time. It was a really cool experience though and I highly recommend it.
By the time we finished at the spa I was getting pretty tired. It had been a long day of exploring and it was pretty hot outside. We still had one more adventure though.
Our final stop was Khao Wangtong Cave. We grabbed our hard hats and climbed the stairs to the cave entrance. Some places in the cave were so low that you had to duck walk through, but only for a short distance. The cave is home to bats and at least one massive spider, though we only saw it from a distance. The cave is much larger than I expected and also much hotter. Most caves I’ve been in have been a lot cooler than the outside temperature. Going through this cave was the hottest part of our day. Also, the dirtiest. It was a great experience though and the views of the rain-forest from the cave entrance were spectacular.
When we returned our hard hats our guide brought out cold water bottles and a fresh pineapple and cut it up for us. The fruit in Thailand is unrivaled in my book. It was the perfect ending to the day.
I highly recommend using Khanom Fishing and Tour if you’re ever in Khanom or any of it’s surrounding locations. They have a variety of tours available and I love how passionate they are for conservation of the local wildlife and forests.