There is a little sliver of land that lives between the Gulf of Thailand and the Indian Ocean, and connects Thailand to Malaysia. Dotted with incredible destinations on both coasts, this very special part of the world called the Kra Isthmus on the Malay Peninsula. The Southern Thai provinces populating this peninsula include places rich in local culture. Chumphon is one of them, brimming with adventure, white sand beaches, incredibly fresh cuisine and smiling friendly faces. Hopefully, this guide to things to do in Chumphon inspires to add this off-the-beaten path Thailand destination to your list.
Bangkok to Chumphon
Flying into Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport is easy from any direction (search flights here). I flew from Paris to Bangkok where I spent one night exploring the city and resting before gathering myself to visit Southern Thailand for the week.
Thirty-five miles from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport is the city’s second airport, Don Muang. Nok Air flies from Bangkok to Chumphon leaving from Don Muang. The Bangkok to Chumphon flight is only a is a short one-hour hop, a much more comfortable option than the Bangkok to Chumphon train which can take anywhere from 6.5 to 9.5 hours.
Once you arrive in the capital of Chumphon, it is easy to explore as many destinations as you like in this part of the country, and even nearby islands. Following my visit to Chumphon, I went on to explore Krabi and Phuket, flying from Phuket to Bangkok. Air Asia has regular flights returning from Chumphon to Bangkok or from Krabi to Bangkok.
Things to do in Chumphon
It seemed fitting to begin our week-long tour of Southern Thailand in Chumphon as it means “Lots of Blessings”. As the name suggests, it is abundant with treasures to explore. An off-the-beaten track Thailand tourist destination there are so many unique things to do in Chumphon. It is also the gateway to the other provinces of Thailand with easy access to the south and beyond.
Nong Yai Tang Chang Public Park
Our first stop was Nong Yai Tang Chang Park, that has a beautiful intention and mission. The park exists because of King Rama IX’s initiative to create a reservoir to prevent flooding in the region. The decision was made following the devastation caused by a typhoon in 1989 which destroyed 7,130 km2 of farm land and tragically led to the deaths of 529 people, displacing 160,000 others.
A system of flood control measures were implemented as a result. This story is shared using a stone carved storyboard in the park. The sentiment is also reflected in the beauty of the park. A highlight of the park visit is the Nong Yai Wooden Bridge which is a one kilometre long footbridge that spans a waterway. The bridge carries you to an island where you can even stay overnight.
Related: Unique Things to do in Bangkok
Baan Tong Tom Yai
From there, we made our way to the fisherman village of Baan Tong Tom Yai which is also known as “Seahorse Village”. This village was awarded a national award of community collaboration in marine conservation. It offers a very traditional homestay experience where travellers can stay for a couple of nights with the family.
The lunch I enjoyed here was one of my very favourites of the trip. We ate family style, traditional Thai dishes, on the wooden planked deck floor floating above the nearly clear water with seahorses floating below and all around us.
Visitors who visit or stay here can enjoy fishing with the locals, snorkeling and other water activities, scuba, marine preservation activities and helping to prepare the traditional daily meals. It is no doubt that you will meet Gai, the owner who left his secure corporate job many years ago to follow his passion for creating and maintaining this homestay. This authentic experience was a highlight of visiting this area of Thailand.
Twelve kilometres southeast from the Chumphon city centre you can find yourself at Sairee Beach. You’ll find white sandy shores and crystal blue water warm enough to dip a toe into. We visited this beach, home to a monument of Krom Luang Chumphon, the Prince of Chumphon who established the Navy of Thailand. He passed away in 1923 but still commands a deep respect from the Thais, both local and visiting to pay respects – affectionately known as the “Father of the Navy”.
From the beach, climb a set of steps to a temple. It is here that you can enjoy a 360-degree scenic view point overlooking Chumphon city and the coast. Be prepared to hear fireworks in a nearby building, visitors buy packages of fireworks and set them off in a contained building as a tribute to the Prince.
Related: How to Spend a Weekend in Bangkok
Tham Singh Village
Our last stop in Chumphon was a visit to the Tham Singh Village. For more than ten years the villagers have gathered together to set up a group of coffee houses that have produced over fifty tons of coffee per month, showcasing the best quality coffee in the area. We sampled a variety of coffee from these beans. We were also greeted by a local farmer selling durian from the back of his truck which was an unexpected treat.
Related: What to do in Chiang Rai
Chumphon Night Market
The night market in Chumphon is a delight for all five senses where you can find a variety of street food delicacies. Enjoy their famous Pad Thai before shopping for various local crafts, home goods and other textiles. Situated along the Komluang Chumphon Road near the Chumphon Railway Station, this market is one of the most popular things to do in Chumphon.
Wat Phra Yai
Not on our list this time but noteworthy for visiting if you are in the area is a climb up to Wat Phra Yai. Located in the Wisai Nua sub-district of Chumphon about twenty kilometres from the city centre, this little temple has a giant golden Buddha statue overlooking Highway 41, also referred to as Wat Khao Chedi and Wat Tuprasong.
Wat Pa Yang
A stop to see the golden wonder of Wat Pa Yang, a stunning temple in Saphli Village is also a must. The buildings, statues and temple complex are covered in gold which will make for an incredible photo for your Instagram gallery.
Related: Unique Things to do in Chiang Mai
Island Hopping from Chumphon
Day trips can easily include island hopping to those close-by which include Koh Tao, Koh Nang Yuan. Koh Tao is popular island destination to add on to your Southern Thailand itinerary. Travelling from Chumphon to Koh Tao is simple and takes a few hours, depending on how you choose to travel. The Chumphon to Koh Tao ferry is a popular and scenic option.
Smaller islands nearby include Koh Smet, Koh Tiap, Koh Kai, Koh Ngam Noi, Koh Ngam Yai and others. These islands offer a much quieter experience to the other bigger islands like Phuket and Samui with similar water sport activities and local adventure activities. The beaches are pristine and the water is a unique Thai blue not found in many other places in the world.
We travelled on from Chumphon to Krabi. The trip takes anywhere from 5 in a private taxi to 6.5 hours in a van.
There are also flights with Nok Air from Chumphon to Bangkok and then Bangkok to Krabi.
The Fit Traveller was a guest of Tourism Thailand for our Chumphon tour. As always, the opinions, words and imagery are authentically our own.
Pat Bailey is a certified Bhakti Yoga Teacher, published poet, writer and entrepreneur with a passion for exploring the globe. Pat is also the founder of The Hell Yes Life, where she has created her own branding academy helping to elevate brands and students through authentic and intuitive coaching.