In a nutshell
To put it short, Chumphon is the gateway to Southern Thailand. A hub for travellers heading to the islands in the Gulf of Thailand or going even deeper south, Chumphon is an easy access port of operations.
Why go to Chumphon
Most tourists find Chumphon to be the easiest, most cost-efficient starting point to get to Koh Tao and Koh Phangan with Koh Samui reachable, too, though if you are going to start with Samui, consider using Suratthani as your starting point.
Trains, planes, or automobiles – you name it – Chumphon has it. Some accommodations include a joint bus-ferry ticket, otherwise, tickets can be purchased individually or through a travel agency.
The majority of travellers pass through Chumphon and head straight to the islands, missing out on a great opportunity to explore a less tourist congested area. Chumphon is the tourism underdog, host to some of the more beautiful beaches and diving sites in Southern Thailand.
More of a land-lover? The area surrounding the town offers an array of waterfalls, forests, mangroves, rivers, caves and, more famously, Mu Koh Chumphon National Park. The park was established in 1989 and covers almost 80,000 acres of beaches, sea, and islands ripe for exploration.
Chumphon seems to have something for every type of adventurer; beachgoers and lovers of the great outdoors are not left wanting for activities. Some of the more sought after activities are trekking, rafting, kayaking, and kite surfing. For the more laid back traveller, a day lazing away in the sand enjoying the stunning scenery is just what the doctor ordered. There are tons of beautiful islands for great day trips or overnight excursions. With all the activities Chumphon can provide, it is a wonder that it remains one of the least congested areas in Southern Thailand.
When to go to Chumphon
Chumphon’s prime time is from January to May because, like most areas in Thailand, rainy season falls between June and December. Temperature wise, December to February is the cooler season, the hottest season from March to May.
Where to stay in Chumphon
Chumphon offers a variety of accommodation. There are two main tourist areas: Pathio Coast ( having more than 20 km of coast and beaches nearby the airport) and Chumphon City (the commercial hub and capital of the province located about 37 km from the airport.)
The Pathio Coast consists of an array of resorts and guesthouses with prices ranging from basic, air-conditioned bungalows at THB400 to and more high-end hotels at above THB2000. Depending what beach you choose, some of the cheaper bungalows will still have sea views from the balconies. Most of the guesthouses and resorts include pick-ups from the airport, train or bus station for free or at a minimal cost.
Chumphon city has a mixture of fan only guesthouses or hostels starting at around THB150 per night, up to fancier hotels, resorts or even houses for rent up to THB4000 per night.
Note as selling ferry tickets and transfers to the islands is what actually many of the cheaper guesthouses earn on, you can easily be refused a stay if the owners discover you are not going to buy your onward tickets from them. It did happen to us a couple of times, so do not be surprised if it happens to you, too.
Where to stay in Chumphon
A coastal location, Chumphon has a wide variety of fresh seafood at low prices. The freshest seafood can be found and devoured right on the beaches at one of the many seaside restaurants. For the more daring diner, a night market not too far from the train station has an array of different street dishes at typical local prices. If you are in the mood for more international food, both Fame and Farang Bar (doubling as guesthouses and travel agencies) can satisfy those cravings.
Chumphon famously has some of the spiciest dishes in Thailand. The morning market provides a variety of tongue melting curries such Southern Thai orange curry (gaeng som) which includes fish and vegetables (typically pineapple or green papaya).
How to get around Chumphon
As a smaller city, Chumphon has the advantage of being fairly walkable. There are some local buses near the Chumphon Markert on Tha Taphao Road that run between Chumphon - Sawi -Lang Suan from 6am to 6pm.
Motorbike taxis are the easiest way to get around and can be found in front of the train station, at the taxi stand and busy corners. Typical prices range from THB50 to THB150.
Motorbikes can also be rented for THB200 to THB300 for the day.
Songthaews are an inexpensive way to get to the beach at only THB30, watch out for the red or white trucks that leave every 30 minutes.
How to get to and from Chumphon
Since Chumphon is mainly used as a transportation hub for travellers heading to the islands, it has railway, airport, bus and ferry access.
The airport is 35 km north of the city and serviced by Nok Air, which has 2 flights from Bangkok to Chumphon daily at 5.45am and 5.40pm. The flights take around an hour and passengers heading to the islands are able to make connections through the Lomprayah ferries. To get into the city from the airport there are minivan services and hotels offering connections.
Rapid and express trains leave throughout the day from Bangkok’s Hua Lamphong Railway Station. These vary in price between THB500 for a 2nd class fan seat to almost THB1500 for a first class sleeper. The first train leaves the station at around 8am, and the last one leaves at around 10.50pm ranging from 6½ hours to 9 hours. Trains typically take longer than a bus but have the advantage of being a more comfortable way to travel. However, it is not unheard of for trains to be late.
Buses leave regularly from the Southern Terminal in Bangkok throughout the day starting from around 6am and leaving all day through till almost midnight. Bus travel takes 7-8 hours. Tickets cost between THB380 to 440.
Often the best option if continuing straight to the islands is buying joint tickets with Lomphraya or Songserm, receiving transportation straight to their piers. Both can be arranged before leaving Bangkok through travel agencies or the ferry websites. Prices range between THB750 to THB1500.
Lomphraya ferries leave Chumphon at 7am and 1pm daily and take about 1 hour 45 minutes to Koh Tao before continuing on to Koh Phangan or Koh Samui.
Songserm departs from Matapon pier at 7am and takes about 2½ hours to get to Koh Tao.
Soon Lomphraya will open a new pier closer to the airport, making it more accessible for those flying, as well as a shorter travel distance with a bus.
Is Chumphon safe?
Overall there are not much crime statistics in Chumphon: it seems to be a safe destination to travel.
If in need of medical assistance, Chumphon has 3 main hospitals, though it should be noted that 2 are government-run and may not be up to Western standards with their facilities, and may not have staff speaking English. Thonburi-Chumphon Hospital is private and is able to provide care more suited to international standards.
Chumphon station guide
Chumphon - train
From Hua Lamphong Station in Bangkok, there are both rapid and express trains traveling to Chumpon Province. Chumpon Train Station is in the center of Chumpon town and another station, Pathio is located in the northern area, near the provincial airport.
Chumpon Province is located in the uppermost part of South Thailand which makes it the border and gateway to all other southern towns of Thailand.
Chumphon Bus - Bus
Boasting 125 miles of coastline, Chumphon is home to numerous desolate and wonderful beach areas along with some of the Gulf Coast’s finest snorkelling and diving opportunities. The city of Chumphon is the gateway to southern Thailand.
Chumphon has two public bus stations. The main one is situated on Surat Thani Road, about seven miles out of town, and the other is situated in town. From here buses follow routes to Hat Yai, Ranong and Phuket. From Bangkok’s Southern bus station, daily air-conditioned buses service Chumphon’s main terminal, taking around eight hours. Daily rail service is also available from Bangkok’s Hua Lumphong station to Chumphon.
Chumphon is a great destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Some of the available recreational outdoor activities include: snorkelling, canoeing, jungle trekking, fishing, diving, kite surfing, hiking, bird watching and white-water rafting. Located north of Chumphon, Wet Cats Center on Thung Wua Laen beach is one of the greatest diving and snorkelling destinations.
From Chumphon it is easy to reach Koh Tao. Tha Yang Pier is located less than 10 kilometres from town and is accessible by taxi. From here boats sail to Koh Tao, a 20-minute trip. Not far from town, near Hat Sai Ri, is Mo Ku Chumphon National Park. Here, travellers can walk over creeks and through lush mangrove forests. At the park’s visitor centre tourists can ask for information about other scenic walks.
Chumphon Province’s actual national park region is enormous and takes in mangrove forests, creeks, mountains, jungles, beaches, ocean and islands. Visitors have the option spending the night here. At Pong Pang viewpoint travellers will find bungalows and a camping zone along with two quality restaurants.
Any visit to Chumphon should commence at the city’s national museum. Opened 15 years ago at Khao Samkaew, this interesting museum provides an overview of the province, ranging from ancient to present times. Even for those visitors who aren’t overly fascinated by history, the media resources and attractive displays will inform and fascinate.
Lang Suan - Bus
Lang Suan is a peaceful district and community on southern Thailand's Central Gulf Coast. Phithak Island fishing, the Somdej Phra Srinkarin Chumphon park, and the beaches of Lam-son and Khor Khao are the worthwhile attractions in this largely undiscovered area just over 80kms south of Chumphon. Cave lovers may enjoy spelunking at Khao Kriab and Khao Ngoen.
The nine-hour journey between Lang Suan and Bangkok can be accomplished by train or bus. Air-conditioning, however, is not provided on the buses which depart three times per day from Pinklao – Nakhon Chaisi Road's Southern Bus Terminal. Lang Suan's nearest air gateway, Chumphon Airport, offers daily 50-minute flights to Bangkok's Don Mueang Airport.
Local red buses stand ready at Lang Suan's bus station near the local market to transport passengers throughout the region. Visitors can also use any of the motorcycle taxis at the rail station. The larger community of Chumphon contains two bus terminals, a centrally located rail station, and a number of ferry operators.
There are a handful of hotels in Lang Suan, including the small Jane Hotel and larger Thawat Hotel. Thai Charoen and Khan Ngoen are both located on Lang Suan Road. Chumphon offers a larger selection of places to stay along with sights like the National Museum of Chumphon, a number of lovely beaches, and the sacred Prince of Chumphon shrine.
Lamae - Bus
Lamae is a small town nestled along the coast of the Gulf of Thailand around 550kms south of Bangkok. It is another 100kms onwards to Surat Thani, the principal gateway to the islands of Koh Samui and Koh Phangan.
The surrounding district is noted for the stunning Hat Tawan Chai Beach and the hot springs at Tham Khao Plu. The town is home to a faculty of Mae Jo University. Lamae is on the main southern road and rail route. Intercity buses running between Bangkok and Surat Thani or Hat Yai stop here. The drop off and pick up points for passengers is in the town centre.
Three southbound trains a day call at Lamae railway station. There are four rapid class services a day heading north to Hua Lumpong station in Bangkok, taking around 11 hours. Night trains have buffet cars which shut up shop at 22:00.
It is sometimes possible to walk into Hua Lumpong or Bangkok’s Southern bus terminal and buy travel tickets, but online booking ensures a seat. The two Bangkok stations have plenty of outlets to buy food and drink for the trip.
Lamae itself is not on the tourism trail and the Lamae Beach Resort is one of a limited number of places to stay in town.
Thung Tako - Bus
The Gulf of Thailand lies east of Thung Tako, a district found in the centre of southern Thailand's province of Chumphon. Thung Tako's nearest significant bus station is located in Sawi, which offers service in both air-conditioned and non-air-conditioned buses to Bangkok's Southern bus terminal.
Thung Tako contains the quiet beach of Hat Arunothai and the Wat Hat Samran temple. However, its most unusual attraction is Suan Nai Dum, a tropical fruit orchard famous for its unique toilets. Mu Ko Chumphon and Khlong Phrao are the closest national parks. Tusita Resort and Spa stands on the shores of Hat Arunothai, while Payamai Resort and Iyara Lake Hotel and Resort boast Sakaekrang River views.
Tha Sae - Bus
The name of the southern Thailand district of Tha Sae comes from a public canal pier surrounded by catechu trees. There is regular bus service between this Chumphon province district and Bangkok's Southern terminal, a distance of about 450kms. Pathio contains the closest rail station, while Chumphon Airport is the nearest air gateway.
Tha Sae is home to two serene forest parks. Kapo Waterfall Forest Park contains a large number of plant species around its namesake waterfall, while the Khao Phang Forest Park entrance features a Prince Chumphon shrine. Khao Phang Forest Park's steep mountain peak is a popular hang gliding spot. Nearby Pathio contains most noteworthy hotels such as the Saphli Villa Beach, Chumphon Buadara, and Chanthima Country resorts.
Sawi - Bus
The southern Thailand district of Sawi is situated in the middle of the province of Chumpon just under 500kms south of Bangkok. Buses with or without air-conditioning frequently travel between Sawi and Bangkok's Southern terminal, a journey which usually lasts less than six hours and 20 minutes.
The 40 caves around Tham Thip Prida, the Hat Sai Ri Sawi beach, and the Kaeng Roi Ru waterfall are just some of Sawi's outstanding natural landmarks. Sawi also contains Mu Koh Chumphon National Park, a popular diving and camping destination. Most hotels, such as Ban Suan Hotel and Mukda Resort, are located on Thanon Phetkasem Road. However, Tong Tom Yai Home Stay is situated closer to the water.