Dannok

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Dannok

Dannok

 

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When asked a question, Thais will give you the answer they think you wish to hear or an answer that prevents them from losing face. They won't tell you they don't know something (for fear of losing face) and they won't give you what they perceive to be bad news. Always bear this in mind when asking questions in Thailand.

Dannok - Page 1

What is Dannok?

Member pub, Dannok - Click for larger image Dannok is a small town on the Thai/Malaysian border located in the Sadao district of Songkhla province, not far away from Hat Yai. It is so insignificant that it doesn't feature on my large map of Thailand.

Quite a lot of para-rubber is grown in Sadao but the area has no natural attractions and there is nothing much that is culturally interesting; certainly not in Dannok. To be honest, Dannok is one of the most unattractive towns I have ever been to in Thailand.

In the days when foreigners could live permanently in Thailand on perpetual back-to-back 30-day stamps, there used to be a constant stream of farangs in Dannok who would appear once a month to get a new passport stamp.

However, since around the end of 2006 when the immigration rules changed, they have all but disappeared.

Karaoke bar, Dannok - Click for larger image Despite all this, Dannok continues to grow at an incredible pace, with new hotels springing up all the time and this web site receives a fair few search queries for Dannok. Why then, you may wonder, is there such interest in a dirty, ugly little town on the Thai/Malaysian border that has nothing of interest?

The answer isn't very difficult to work out and Dannok isn't dissimilar to many other border towns elsewhere in the world where a commodity is easily available in one country, but not in the country on the other side of the border. These places spring up from nowhere due to the natural forces of supply and demand.

There is great demand for a particular commodity in Malaysia that Thailand is quite happy to supply; and that commodity is commercial sex.

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Pronunciation and Spelling

ด่านนอก

Karaoke bar, Dannok - Click for larger image As usual, the common transliteration of a Thai place name into English is completely hopeless. If you pronounce Dannok as it would normally be pronounced by a native English speaker, a Thai won't have a clue what you are trying to say.

The first syllable is a long vowel sound - daan - and there is a distinct pause between the first and second syllables. The second vowel is also long - nohk - with a 'k' sound at the end that you should begin to voice but not finish, so there shouldn't be any aspiration.

Karaoke bar, Dannok - Click for larger image The first syllable daan (mid-class initial consonant and first tone mark) is pronounced with a low tone. The second syllable nohk (low-class initial consonant, dead syllable, long vowel) is pronounced with a falling tone.

Despite the standard Thai system of transliteration being next to useless, I will continue to use it here purely for the benefit of Internet search engines.

With regard to street names, etc., you will see that different hotels transliterate the same Thai names into English in several different ways. They are normally all misleading. On one hotel business card, the name of the contact was given as Kong - as in King Kong. When I looked at the Thai spelling, I saw it was actually Goong (shrimp, in Thai).

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Click for more details about Preuksa Spa in Hat Yai

Fast Growth

Karaoke bar, Dannok - Click for larger image There has been tremendous growth in Dannok since I first visited some time in 2004 to get a visa stamp.

Prostitution, although widely tolerated in Thailand, sits uneasily with most Thais. Many ordinary and influential people make a lot of money from the industry and many poor girls survive and support their families from it. For as long as there is demand, there will always be supply. And that demand will never stop.

In places like Hat Yai, there has been a bit of a move to clean up the industry a little. Many massage shops are just that - with no other services offered, and even the large aab op nuat bath and sex places keep a lower profile these days. For instance, photos of the girls inside are no longer displayed outside.

Dannok now has a branch of McDonalds - Click for larger image Malaysian sex tourists have complained about this on some sex tourist Internet forums and many have apparently turned their back on Hat Yai to go to Dannok instead. Being right on the border, it is also more convenient for them.

Many of the working girls who previously worked in Hat Yai have moved there to live and thus this small town continues to grow but the growth is all centred around one industry.

I started this page in 2008 after a couple of visits to Dannok. For a long time after that I didn't go again. I went again in February 2012 just to see what had been happening. I was amazed at how much more development had taken place.

Lots of new hotels - some quite large - had sprung up since my last visit and Dannok even has a branch of McDonalds now. In 2004 it was just a little outpost on the border with a small traditional market and an immigration office, and now it is turning into a substantial town.

Is Dannok the new Pattaya? - Click for larger image Most visitors are groups of ethnic Chinese and Indian men from Malaysia. Malaysian food is available everywhere, prices are often given in Malaysian Ringgits, the Thais working there speak Chinese, there are Chinese signs, and hotels provide Malaysian telephone numbers on their business cards.

In some ways it is just like an extension of Malaysia, but as it is in Thailand it doesn't have the conservatism of an Islamic country. There is a large non-Muslim population in Malaysia.

One sign I saw was quite interesting. It said 'New Pattaya'. I can see similarities between Dannok and Pattaya, even if Dannok is nowhere near the sea. Pattaya was once a sleepy little fishing town that grew into a large ugly mess purely because of the sex industry. I think there are some people who really do want to make Dannok the new Pattaya.

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People

Muslim girl with her young daughter - Click for larger image You will see lots of groups of ethnic Chinese and Indian Malaysian men, and lots of Thai girls to entertain them in various ways. The girls tend to come from the far north of Thailand. Thais from this region - and also the northeast (Isaan) region - tend to be poorer and prostitution is the only way many of the girls can make a living. Also, Thai girls from the north are normally fair-skinned and this is something that Chinese Malaysian men prefer.

Some massage girls I spoke to were from Chiang Rai. They told me that lots of girls in Dannok come from Chiang Rai. A Thai girl working in the rice fields, which is hard work, might earn Bt100 a day. As I was wandering around I was offered a girl for the night. I asked how much and was told Bt3,000.

If a girl has the option of making as much money in one night lying on her back as she does by picking rice every day for a month, you can start to understand why so many poor Thai girls go into prostitution.

The girls are very used to dealing with Malaysians and most seem to speak Chinese. A few I spoke to gave the impression of feeling uncomfortable when speaking with farangs. It's not like Pattaya or Patong where the Thai prostitutes are very familiar with farangs.

It's easy to work out if a Thai working girl normally deals with Malaysians or Singaporeans because if she tries to speak English, she will add 'lah' or 'ah' to the end of every sentence.

I also find in Dannok that I get unwelcoming looks from the Chinese Malaysians there. I've been told in the past that Malaysian men consider the deep south of Thailand as their own personal playground and they don't seem to appreciate farangs encroaching on what they consider theirs.

The level of rudeness in Dannok is unusual for Thailand because it is not generally the Thai way to be rude. However, because of the nature of what goes on in Dannok I guess it is to be expected.

As well as customers and direct employees of the sex trade, there is a large contingent of staff to support it, including hotel workers, some regular massage girls, singers, dancers, bar staff, etc. etc. I also know of hairdressers and retailers who have moved from Hat Yai to Dannok because business is perceived to be better there.

There are also a lot of Muslims in southern Thailand close to the Malaysian border and a fair number in Dannok. The traditional Thai street market located there and many of the roadside stalls are run by Muslims. Also, there are quite a few Muslim restaurants.

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Safety

There has been a Muslim insurgency in southern Thailand for a very long time. This insurgency was escalated in January 2004 and the situation has been bad ever since. Thousands of people (civilians and security services personnel) have been killed.

The three worst affected provinces are Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat. However, the problems also spill over into Satun and Songkhla provinces occasionally.

On Sunday 22nd December 2013 there were terrorist blasts in the Sadao district of Songkhla, inclusing blasts in Dannok at the Oliver Hotel and outside McDonalds.

Danok blasts: Two Thais killed, over 20 injured

On my visits to Dannok I have never felt in any danger, but there is always a risk anywhere in southern Thailand near the Malaysian border. Always be careful and vigilant, but there is no need to be paranoid.

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Things To Do In Dannok

Yes, people ask.

The only reason that Dannok has developed the way it has is because of the cross-border sex industry. Apart from regular Thai massage, there is nothing else in Dannok apart from commercial sex. There's a border post and most of the surrounding area is filled with rubber plantations. It's nowhere near the sea, and there are no beaches or scenic natural attractions.

A new temple has been built on the road going to Hat Yai, and on the same road you can find Southern Hills golf course, Tongthai Ban Rai golf course, and a shooting range, but there's nothing else. Some of the bigger hotels probably have some evening entertainment to keep guests entertained, but not a lot.

I will be interested to see how Dannok continues to develop. The Pattaya authorities have announced on several occasions that they want to try to cleanse Pattaya of its sleazy image and that they want the town to become more family-friendly. Perhaps Dannok will go the same way eventually?

The only problem is that there doesn't appear to be a development roadmap or any clear town planning - as is usually the case in Thailand. Lots of individual property developers all do their own thing with no one looking at the big picture.

If you are a single man on a mission you will find what you are looking for in Dannok. If you are looking for somwhere to take your partner of family for a break, it's probably not the most appropriate location.

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Shopping

Duty free shopping centre, Dannok - Click for larger image There are no big supermarkets or department stores. Most visitors to Dannok only stay for a short time. You can find the ubiquitous 7-Eleven stores that are found all over Thailand, as well as other small shops and stalls.

There is a large Duty Free shopping centre on the piece of land between Thailand and Malaysia which is possible to visit without leaving Thailand. Whether prices are actually cheaper than elsewhere is queastionable, so check first. I have often found Duty Free shops at airports to be much more expensive than shops outside.

You should be able to get anything for your basic needs but generally people don't go to Dannok to shop.

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Dannok vs Hat Yai?

This is another search query that I see occasionally when people arrive at this site.

With people who ask this question, I don't have to guess too hard what their primary motive is for visiting Dannok. And yes, you will be able to find plenty of what you are looking for in both places.

But what do you do when you are in a vertical position? For all activities outside of your hotel room, Hat Yai wins hands down. Hat Yai has a lot of shopping, whereas Dannok has virtually none. The same applies to restaurants and regular massage shops.

Hat Yai has big modern shopping malls (including Central Festival, the biggest in southern Thailand), traditional Thai markets and lots of small specialty shops. It's actually quite a lot of fun wandering around the streets of Hat Yai exploring.

Dannok isn't like this at all.

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Border Runs

The Malaysian/Thai border at Dannok - Click for larger image If you are in southern Thailand and need to do a visa run, it is easy and convenient in Dannok. There are plenty of minivans that go back and forth between Hat Yai and Dannok.

As you approach the border control station on the Thai side, it is likely that a motorbike taxi will offer to take you to the Malaysian side and back. He will probably ask for Bt100. However, it's an easy 10-15 minute walk to the other side if you don't mind a quick walk.

After getting your Thai exit stamp, simply walk across the border and get a stamp at Malaysian immigration. Then turn round and repeat the procedure.

You can stop off at the Duty Free shop on the way to shop or get a coffee.

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Transport

Minivans at Hat Yai bus station leaving for Dannok - Click for larger image Minivans to Dannok leave from Hat Yai's main bus station (Map 4), not from the van station in Hat Yai Nai. Thais refer to the bus station as 'kon song' or the acronym 'bor kor sor'. The bus station is easy to get to by sawng-thaew, including sawng-thaews from the airport.

Vans to Dannok used to leave from near Vichusin Centre on Phetkasem Road and before that they left from the Clock Tower/Hat Yai Plaza. The information on this page was out of date for quite a long time. Sorry about that, but no one told me about the change and it's impossible for me to keep up with every single item that changes in Hat Yai, especially as I don't use public transport myself.

Dannok minivans no longer leave from the clock tower area - Click for larger image A few years ago there were vans leaving for different destinations from all different locations in Hat Yai. It was a mess and it was confusing for people who didn't know where to find the vans they wanted.

The local municipality fixed the problem by moving all of the vans out of the town centre to either the bus station or the minivan station. Vans to Dannok were the last to be moved.

The journey time should be around an hour but it often takes longer because the drivers cruise around to get a full load of passengers and it isn't unknown for them to make deliveries of goods on the way. The drivers are basically a law unto themselves.

The cost during the daytime is Bt57 (June 2015). The last van leaves at around 8pm and the fare rises to Bt100.

Minivans in Dannok leaving for Hat Yai - Click for larger image Minivans returning to Hat Yai leave from outside the 7-Eleven store on the main road in Dannok. If you are a farang, you will get asked by lots of men if you want a taxi to Hat Yai. It's up to you but they will want about 10 times as much as the minivan fare. I am not keen on minivans, however, I wouldn't pay ten times as much for a taxi. It's up to you, of course.

A reader informed me that there is a minivan service from Dannok to Hat Yai airport for Bt357 and another reader told me that the cost is Bt250. Either way, it's not going to break the bank. If you are looking to save money, you can get a regular minivan into Hat Yai and then board a sawng-thaew to the airport for Bt20. If you're in a hurry you may want to pay a bit more and go directly to the airport. Missing flights is an expensive business.

Travelling from Hat Yai airport to Dannok is quite straightforward. If you rent a car, turn right on the airport road towards the Airforce 56 base and then go through an area called Baan Pru. This will take you to the main road between Hat Yai and Sadao. Just turn right, follow the main road and you will end up in Dannok.

If you aren't driving, just jump on a sawng-thaew at Hat Yai airport and for a Bt20 fare the driver will take you to the bus station where you can then board a minivan to take you to Dannok. The journey time to the bus station from the airport should take around an hour (it goes the long way round) and the minivan trip to the border also takes around an hour. Make sure that you have plenty of time because van and sawng-thaew drivers usually keep passengers hanging around for a long time while they wait for their vehicles to fill up.

Although the new blue and yellow taxis in Hat Yai are referred to as 'Meter Taxis' the fares to various destinations are fixed.

The taxi rank outside Odean department store has a list of fixed fares and the taxi fare from downtown Hat Yai to Dannok immigration is Bt950.

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Going Mainstream?

Looking at Dannok, I can see many similarities with Pattaya. Just as Pattaya tried (unsuccessfully) to shake off its reputation as a sexual playground a few years ago by being more welcoming to families and couples, the way that Dannok is developing has started to change.

When I first visited Dannok most of the accommodation on offer looked seedy and geared up towards single male visitors. More recently, however, some larger, plusher, more family oriented hotels have opened.

The sex industry is still very much in evidence, but it seems as if Dannok also wants to attract families and couples who just want a quick, convenient weekend break in southern Thailand. Being located right on the border, it is very convenient for visiting Malaysians.

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Dannok Accommodation

As I said above, Dannok is changing at an extremely rapid pace.

A few years ago the only accommodation available seemed to be for sex tourists. The hotels were cheap, but most looked decidedly seedy. Many hotels, in addition to their overnight rates, posted room rates for one or two hour stays and the purpose for such short stays didn't need any explaining.

Now, however, there are larger, better quality hotels that seem quite suitable for families. Compared to when I first visited Dannok in 2004, and even compared to just a couple of years ago, the choice of acoomodation now is far more extensive.

You will find that it is common for room rates to be displayed in Malaysian Ringgit. To convert to Baht, most places just use a standard exchange rate of 10 which doesn't fluctuate in the same way as the official exchange rate. Therefore, RM40 = Bt400.

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Bestino Hotel

Bestino Hotel, Dannok - Click for larger image

Address: 55 Thai-Janglon 8, Dannok, Sadao, Songkhla, 90320.
Telephone: +66 (0)74 523540
Rate: Large rooms Bt400 per night, Small rooms Bt380 per night

Latitude: N 06° 31' 16.1" (N 06° 31.268')

Longitude: E 100° 25' 13.3" (E 100° 25.221')

Google Maps: Street Map or Satellite View

Comments: Every time I visit Dannok (about twice a year), I find that a load more hotels have appeared. This is one of them. The Bt20 difference between large and small rooms at this place makes me wonder how different the rooms really are. If you've stayed here I would love to receive your feedback.

The room price goes up to around Bt500 during festivals and holidays, for example, Songkran and New Year.

There are lots of Karaoke bars in the area where girls can be rented by the hour or day, and Lina Karaoke is just next door.

Guest Comments: No guest comments yet. Be the first to comment. Send an e-mail to phil@phil.uk.net, or use the following form. Comments will be added anonymously.

Important - Please read the following carefully before sending me your comments: Do not use this form for availability or rate enquiries. I am not a travel agent, and neither am I affiliated with any hotels or guest houses in Hat Yai. Contact the establishment directly using the information given above. Use this form only if you have stayed at this particular establishment and wish to give some feedback.

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Caesar Palace

Caesar Palace, Dannok - Click for larger image

Address: 12-14-16 Soi 7, Thai-Janglon Road, T. Sumnackam, Dannok, Sadao, Songkhla, 90320.
Telephone: +66 (0)74 301381, 301563
Rate: Bt400 per night

Latitude: N 06° 31' 17.7" (N 06° 31.294')

Longitude: E 100° 25' 05.6" (E 100° 25.093')

Google Maps: Street Map or Satellite View

Comments: Almost indistinguishable from the lesser-known Caesars Palace casino and luxury hotel located on the Las Vegas strip, world class performers including Elvis Presley, Sammy Davis Jnr, and Frank Sinatra provide the evening entertainment here in Dannok.

The hotel tends to get fully booked when championship boxing matches are held in its outdoor arena so book early. And all this for the bargain price of Bt400 a night.

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Important - Please read the following carefully before sending me your comments: Do not use this form for availability or rate enquiries. I am not a travel agent, and neither am I affiliated with any hotels or guest houses in Hat Yai. Contact the establishment directly using the information given above. Use this form only if you have stayed at this particular establishment and wish to give some feedback.

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Ever Green Mansion

Ever Green Mansion, Dannok - Click for larger image

Address: 107-108 Kanchanavich Road, Sumnakkham, Dannok, Sadao, Songkhla, 90320.
Mobile: +66 (0)86 693 3066 (Thailand)
Mobile: +60 (0)16 968 7932 (Malaysia)
Rate: Bt400 per night

Comments: The sign outside says Bt450 but I get the impression that when it is quiet, you can get big discounts. With the nature of what goes on in Dannok, hotels will be busy at weekends but quiet mid-week. This small mansion building has 14 rooms.

Guest Comments: No guest comments yet. Be the first to comment. Send an e-mail to phil@phil.uk.net, or use the following form. Comments will be added anonymously.

Important - Please read the following carefully before sending me your comments: Do not use this form for availability or rate enquiries. I am not a travel agent, and neither am I affiliated with any hotels or guest houses in Hat Yai. Contact the establishment directly using the information given above. Use this form only if you have stayed at this particular establishment and wish to give some feedback.

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F4 Mansion

F4 Mansion, Dannok - Click for larger image

Address: 8-12 Moo 7, Soi 8, Thai Changlone Road, Somnakkham, Dannok, Sadao, Songkhla, 90120.
Telephone: +66 (0)74 301809, 301810
Rate: Bt400 per night

Latitude: N 06° 31' 16.3" (N 06° 31.271')

Longitude: E 100° 25' 10.3" (E 100° 25.172')

Google Maps: Street Map or Satellite View

Comments: Another identikit Bt400 per night cheap Dannok boarding house with 35 rooms.

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Important - Please read the following carefully before sending me your comments: Do not use this form for availability or rate enquiries. I am not a travel agent, and neither am I affiliated with any hotels or guest houses in Hat Yai. Contact the establishment directly using the information given above. Use this form only if you have stayed at this particular establishment and wish to give some feedback.

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First World Hotel

First World Hotel, Dannok - Click for larger image

Address: 14/50 Soi 14, Thai Jang Loon M.7, Samnakkham, Dannok, Sadao, Songkhla, 90320.
Telephone: +66 (0)74 557227-30
Mobile: +66 (0)89 733 2522
Rate: Bt550 per night

Latitude: N 06° 31' 19.2" (N 06° 31.321')

Longitude: E 100° 25' 13.3" (E 100° 25.222')

Google Maps: Street Map or Satellite View

Comments: It may be called the First World Hotel but this hotel is located in a distinctly Third World region of Thailand. It has quite a fancy reception and aims to be a cut above the typical Bt400 Dannok flophouse. There are 60 rooms.

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Dannok Accommodation Page 2

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Dannok Accommodation Page 3

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