Dannok, a border town between Malaysia and Thailand, is still largely unknown to most of the world. Overshadowed by more popular cities such as Bangkok and Hatyai, Dannok remained for many years as a quiet place one passed through from the Sadao Customs and Immigration. Recently, however, the town has shown slow but steady progress in making the place more tourist-friendly.
Dannok is a small town, perfect for a day trip from popular cities. If you’re driving, park at the duty-free complex in Bukit Kayu Hitam and walk to the checkpoint. You won’t have to take a tuk-tuk to get anywhere- everything is reachable on foot, but have sunblock and umbrellas at hand if you melt easily. Start your journey before noon and you’ll be satisfied by night time. Here’s a list of things to do in Dannok.
1. Raid the convenience stores
Dannok shopping is a pretty unorthodox but fun experience. There are no malls here, but don’t let that put you off. What Dannok does have is a proliferation of convenience stores, from 7-Elevens to their local cousins. There are so many you’ll literally find another every few meters.
Convenience store shopping sounds odd, but it’s the best way to get the Thai snacks you can’t live without. We’re talking Tao Ke Noi seaweed, Thai instant noodles (they sell these in bulk and individual packs too), chips, and Pocky. You’ll find that most snacks are much cheaper in Dannok than anywhere else because they’re manufactured locally. Great deals on groceries and other essentials are also to be had!
2. Go on a street food hunt
Foodies will rejoice at the accessibility of the street food here. All you need to do is walk- both sides of the main road have no shortage of delicious fare. There are already stalls literally steps away from Customs, but do wander around as there are lots more options. Within 200m (700 ft) of the Oliver Hotel, you’ll find many stalls scattered around, selling every kind of food from som tam to pad ka pow. There’s also a morning market, a good choice if you want to do as the locals do.
Be sure to sample the famous mango rice; there’s also a durian and mixed version for those who can’t decide which fruit they like better. Fried or grilled chicken (kai yang) with glutinous rice is a popular choice, as is phat kaphrao (spicy minced chicken with basil over rice).
3. Relax in a massage parlor
Even if you’ve only got a day, that shouldn’t stop you from finding inner peace under the professional hands of a masseuse. You’re in Thailand, after all! Head to Mei Spa in He Jia Grand Hotel for a great Dannok massage with oil and unlimited usage of spa facilities after your session. You’ll feel completely rejuvenated and ready to continue exploring without any soreness or pain, as the staff is all experienced.
Alternatively, if you’d prefer an establishment not in a hotel, there’s the Gaya Thai Spa, opposite the Oliver (you’ll find the Oliver a very handy landmark if you get lost). Simple but clean and unpretentious, this is the place to go for traditional foot massages that will bring back a spring to your step.
Mei Spa (in He Jia Grand Hotel)
Address: 42 Moo 7, Karnjanaruji 2 Road, Samnakkam, Songkhla, 90320 Sadao, Thailand
Gaya Thai Spa
Address: 16-18, Rattanakorn 2 Road, Samnak Kham, Amphoe Sadao 902320 Thailand
Facebook: Gaya Thai Spa
4. Experience the Asian Cultural Village
Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing
The newest attraction in town, the Village is suitable for the whole family, and will undeniably become the best part of your trip. This expansive park has over 10 separate highlights, guaranteeing a great time for everyone.
Kids will adore the aptly named Panda and Lovers’ Park, where about 50-odd panda statues dot a serene garden- all of them hand-painted. The Dinosaur Park is one of the main attractions and should not be missed for those who know their velociraptors from their Triceratops, as the exhibits are all larger than life, and the roars frighteningly real. There’s also the Wu Lin village, featuring two long rows of traditional Chinese wooden shophouses. Rows of red lanterns lend a festive look to the place, where you can check out each gorgeously decorated room, and maybe even try on some pretty traditional costumes for a small fee. If you get hungry, fear not, as there’s a seafood restaurant and food stalls in the park itself.
For shopping, there’s a duty-free store selling all kinds of Thai food products, all nicely packaged for your convenience. A forested area with a small huts for local vendors to sell their handmade crafts also makes for a unique experience . By night, most of the attractions light up brilliantly- a true sight to behold. Besides all these, there’s also a mini zoo, two temples, waterpark… I could go on, but you’ll have to come and see this amazing place for yourself!
Asian Cultural Village
Address: 888/333 Moo 7, Kanchanavanich Road, Samnakkham, Sadao 90320, Thailand
Facebook: Asian Cultural Village
5. Have a fabulous Thai meal at the Water View Restaurant
You can’t miss having a satisfying meal while in Dannok, and if going as a large group or a family, Thai-Chinese restaurants will be your best bet. For lunch or dinner with a view, the Water View Restaurant more than provides. It’s in a remote area near the border, so charter a tuk-tuk to get there.
They serve delicious seafood and authentic local favorites. Have a few items in mind before ordering, ask your waitress for accurate pricing and prepare to be wowed. Orders come by boat (yes, really) as the restaurant is stretched along the banks of a lake. With your own private hut to feast in, you’ll appreciate the peaceful atmosphere in the afternoon, and the twinkling lights at night.
Even with all that said, the greatest part about Water View still has to be its food. Prepared by Thai chefs, each dish is expertly spiced and cooked to perfection, from the fried fish to the cashew chicken. This also means no watered-down tom yam kung- you’ll face the whole heat of the chilies here. Bring a crowd, place your orders, and have some Singha while just enjoying the natural surroundings.
Water View Restaurant
Address: Padang Besar Alley 4, Sadao, Thailand
6. Enjoy Dannok's nightlife
After your productive day in Dannok winds down, it’s not an invitation to head off to an early sleep. That’s because when it comes to Dannok, you’re also gifted to one of the most vibrant nightlife scenes in all of southern Thailand! No matter your reason for staying in the region, you’re going to want to check out absolutely everything that the bars and dance clubs have coming your way.
You’ll be able to identify the party as soon as you walk through the nearest club’s front doors. The DJ has the music going, the dance floor is filled with an enthusiastic crowd, and the light set the perfect ambiance. Exclusive musical performances leave it all out on the stage, regularly thrilling club-goers with a wonderful combination of excitement and music. Trained dancers only add to the existing scene.
And with so many locations partaking in the thrilling nightlife scene, there are so many options worth your while in Dannok! Whether you find yourself enjoying M Club, Pattaya Club, Jaguar Club, First Club, or any other world-class nightlife option, it’s an experience in Dannok well worth the investment. Forget the fact that you’re sacrificing sleep for adventure; when it comes to Dannok attractions, the nightlife simply can’t be beaten.
7. Check out the M Darts Sports Bar
You’re not going to receive the full Dannok experience without a trip to the M Darts Sports Bar in Dannok. A popular hang-out location with the locals, this venue presents the opportunity to sample some of the beverages which qualify as local favorites! Discover life at a pace most conducive for your own enjoyment, at M Darts Sports Bar, a hidden gem in southern Thailand if there ever was one.
Innocent-looking and entirely unassuming, M Darts Sports Bar offers a wide range of delectable foods, together with affordably priced beverages. When paired with the quality of the company there and quick service, it’s a location that has much to offer, with such little investment. Whether you’re stopping in simply for a drink before you decide to hit the road, or if you’re coming to spend the evening inside, this local Dannok attraction contributes much to the overall feel of the region.
A homey, exciting vibe characterizes the location’s interiors, where billiards, darts, and more sports-themed activities await. Take easy advantage of a well-equipped menu, or ask the experienced bartender on-staff for their own advice. Either way, it’s a Dannok endeavor that will undoubtedly qualify as a quiet favorite, for everyone you decide to bring along for the ride!
M Darts Sports Bar
Address: Kohlanta Ko Lanta 81150
A gem of a town
Dannok packs a lot of punch into a small package. I hope this guide has made you want to visit, and that you’ll leave with great memories to last a lifetime!
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