Updated September 4th, 2018.
Located on the east side of the Malaysian Peninsular on the coast of the Gulf of Thailand, many travellers stop briefly at Chumphon en route by train or bus from Bangkok to the popular islands of Koh Tao, Koh Phangan and Koh Samui.
Most travellers just use it as that – a transit point – but Chumphon (meaning: ‘lots of blessings’) is definitely worth a stopover if you have the time.
The main draws of staying here are simple – natural beauty (that include beaches, islands, national parks, and mountains), as well as a variety of cultural events that take place throughout the year, and which beautifully reflect the unique Chumphon way of life.
The friendly local inhabitants of Chumpon – a spectacled langur.
Where to Stay in Chumphon:
In Chumphon, you can choose from a vast array of accommodation that will suit pretty much every kind of budget, ranging from simple beach bungalow ‘cabanas’ on Thung Wua Laen Beach to spacious and luxurious hotels in the city.
Some of our favourites include:
Salsa Hostel – Clean, comfortable well-designed hostel with a friendly social vibe. Located just 450 metres from the train station it’s great for travellers who want to hit the sack immediately after a long journey. Chumphon night market, which is worth a visit is 10 minutes away. The owners are very helpful and are able to arrange onward transport for wherever you’re going next. A bed in a mixed AC dorm room costs $6.50 USD and there’s a shared kitchen for anyone wanting to cook their own dinner.
TongTom Yai Homestay – This property is located right over the ocean and only 5 minutes walk from a deserted sandy beach (Had Sai Ri Beach), of which there are many in this province. You can take a free kayak from the homestay and explore the amazing surrounding area. If you’re looking for a unique stay and to immerse yourself in the Thai way of life, this homestay is for you! Travellers also rave about the fresh seafood. Dorm beds cost $9 USD.
Thirty Three Garden House – With dorm rooms and privates, this family-run accommodation is located in a big beautiful newly renovated Thai style house. The rooms are bright, spacious and airy and the house is surrounded by peaceful luscious green gardens. The owners here will go out of their way to help you and the whole place just feels like a home from home. Double rooms start at $18 USD. Perfect for couples.
Things to do in Chumphon:
Visit Thung Wua Laen Beach:
Just 15km away from the train station you’ll find one of Chumphon’s biggest attractions, Thung Wua Laen Beach, also known as ‘Cabana Beach’. Think gorgeous weather, warm tropical waters, 3km of beautiful clean sand and an abundance of wildlife and forests close by.
Now it’s up to you how you enjoy this special place. You can relax on the sand, enjoying the view and tranquillity, OR you can discover hidden treasures by diving, kitesurfing snorkelling, kayaking or trekking!
At night time, the atmosphere is quite lively (choose from a variety of live music/cocktail/pool/disco bars by the sea) – although all this is nonetheless a world away from the commercial and frenetic bustle typical of its neighbours. You’re more likely to see Thai families out here enjoying themselves as opposed to rowdy tourists.
To get to Thung Wua Laen Beach from Chumphon town centre:
- For a tuk-tuk, expect to pay 300 THB.
- A taxi-bike will set you back just 150 THB.
Kitesurfing in Thung Wua Laen
October to January is kitesurf season in Chumphon with plenty of wind and waves. There are a few kitesurfing schools who teach complete beginners or offer courses for the more advanced. It’s a great place to learn to kitesurf with gentle winds, few tourists and affordable prices, considering this is an expensive sport to learn. The cost is around 4,000 THB for a one day lesson or 11,000 THB for a 3-day (9-hour) course.
Diving off Thung Wua Laen, Chumphon
February to October is the best for diving when the waters are calm and clear. While the backpacker mecca for diving, the island of Koh Tao, lies just offshore, many divers say that the reefs around Chumphon are actually healthier and better as they’ve seen much fewer divers in recent years. So, if you’re looking for an off the beaten track, uncrowded place to dive, this may be it! The dive sites are clumped together about 1.5km east of Thung Wua Laen beach.
Massage in Thung Wua Laen
There are 3 massage salons on the beach:
- Body & Soul: Found on the main road in front of the beach, with a calm atmosphere, air-con and music.
- Daeng Massage: To the south of the beach, this is a traditional massage room with a friendly atmosphere.
- The third is currently under construction, right on the beach! Watch this space.
Caving Adventures in Chumphon
There are a number of different tour companies operating in Chumphon, so you won’t be lacking in choice. Some caves are an easy visit, but other ‘adventure caves’ are more challenging, and involve climbing over rocks using ropes, scrambling over boulders, squeezing through tight crevices and generally getting dirty, sweaty and out of breath! Apparently (we particularly love this bit!) if you find a new cave, you also get to name it!
Thai Food in Chumphon
Take your pick from all the Thaï specialities you can dream of: seafood, pad thai, noodle soup, fried chicken, shrimp, squid… Of course, there’s also a good fare of ‘farang’ food available (pizzas, burgers, steaks, pasta…)
Hire a Motorbike and Explore:
Or if you prefer a slower pace, just plain old-fashioned cycling! Hiring a motorbike will cost around 250 THB per day. If you’re a beginner, read our tips for hiring a motorbike in Thailand here.
The market runs north-south between Th Pracha Uthit and Th Poramin Mankha. Or you could spend even more baht (and escape from the swelter) at the heavenly air-conditioned Ocean Shopping Mall.
Have a beer at Farang Bar!
‘Farang’ means foreigner in Thai and that means that you’ll find some foreign faces at this bar in the heart of Chumphon. Guesthouse, restaurant and watering hole, owner Ivor will make sure your visit is a fun one!
Getting There – Chumphon:
Both first and second class (fan or A/C) trains in Thailand are more than comfortable. Travelling in the daytime is always a good option – it’s your best bet for admiring the Thai landscape, and you’ll be in more of a position (ie not asleep for most of it!) to meet those all-important interesting people along the way…
Saying that the overnight sleeper train will save you time, and the service for food is excellent. Choose second class A/C or fan, and you’ll travel in style all the way.
For families or couples, we recommend taking the first class with your own private compartment. Don’t forget a visit to the restaurant for a drink, something to eat, or even for an attempt at a duet with the bartender on his karaoke! The Bar closes at 10:30 pm.
Top Tip: Make reservations in advance because trains are a popular means of transportation in Thailand – especially on weekends and holidays.
Buses in Thailand are the most popular means of transportation – they’re quick, easy, comfortable and cheap – AND they cover ALL of Thailand. VIP buses are generally more comfortable than local buses.
You can easily arrive in Chumphon from anywhere in Thailand by bus and from Phuket or Krabi, buses leave for Bangkok every 2 hours. Since Chumphon is on the way, it’s easy to jump on here and arrive in Chumphon in just a few hours.
The companies are Lomprayah, Seatran, Songserm Express, and Chookeenan – all quite reliable, and with excellent safety records. In Bangkok, go to South Bus Terminal (sai tai mai) by taxi. From there, you’ll find many buses leaving all day (and into the evening for overnight trips) to Chumphon.
Prices vary from 450 THB to 550 THB (around $13-17) for the VIP buses. We’d recommend the Chokeenan Tour VIP Bus (the direct line to Chumphon town). If you’re on the Khao San Road, travel agencies will hook you up with something convenient.
By Air: To reach Chumphon from Bangkok, fly with Solar Air. Check flights via Skyscanner.
Where to go next?
From Chumphon, you can reach many places in Thailand:
Koh Tao: A small island famous for it’s diving and beautiful beaches.
Koh Phangan: An island of two halves – peaceful deserted beaches in the North, and the famous Full Moon Party in the South.
Koh Samui: A big island with beautiful beaches. You can get a flight from here to either Bangkok or Phuket.
Ranong: Found on the border with Burma, this is a popular place to do a visa run (or get a visa extension).
Kao Sok National Park: Visit the rainforest and trek to one of the peaks for a spectacular view.