To get from Chumphon to Bangkok, you have your usual choice of a bus or a train. Buses are faster, but the main bus station which serves the capital is a bit far from the town. Trains are slower, but you have a good choice of seats and sleepers and the train station is located right in the centre of Chumphon.
From Chumphon to Bangkok by bus
There are two bus stations in Chumphon. The smaller one, which is located in the city itself, serves southern destinations like Hat Yai, Ranong or Phuket. A new, bigger Chumphon provincial transport station, from where buses to Bangkok depart, sits on Highway 4, some 14 km west of town. Note that there are no public transport which serves the new bus station, so you will need to arrange a taxi (about THB100).
There are a number of operators serving the route between Chumphon and Bangkok, including Suwannatee tour. Though the location of Chumphon bus station is really out of the way, you may still consider taking a bus instead of a train as buses bring you to the capital just in 6½ hours while trains take no less than 8½ hours. Suwannatee Tour offers three Bangkok-bound buses during the day, at 10am, 2pm and 10pm. All of them are Express buses with tickets just under THB400. Snacks and drinks are served on the way, there are toilets on board and air-conditioning. Note that the afternoon departure arrives to Bangkok at 8.20pm, and the last one – at 4.20am, so arrange accordingly.
In Bangkok, buses arrive to Sai Tai Mai, the Southern bus terminal, located in Thonburi district on the western banks of Chao Phraya. Numerous BMTA buses connect it with other parts of the capital, but it is not an easy task to figure out which one you need and not convenient if you travel with luggage. Consider taking a taxi instead to get to the city.
From Chumphon to Bangkok by train
Chumphon Train Station lies right in the centre of the city, northwest of Chumphon Night Bazaar. Trains from Chumphon to Bangkok leave throughout the day. Taking a train is the most comfortable way to travel, especially if you book a sleeper. Trains #174, #168 (8.25pm), #86 (9.10pm) and #84 (12.05am) each offer the most popular second class AC sleepers at around THB850-THB900. Be ready for a freezinf air-conditioner, though. If you do not want to risk your health, opt for a second class fan sleeper, which is a bit cheaper at THB650. There are 2nd class fan sleeper carts in #174 (7.30pm) and #168. All these trains take from 8½ hours to 9½ hours to reach Bangkok.
Then there are two trains which are the fastest from the bunch, #40 leaving from Chumphon at 12.45pm and arriving to Bangkok at 7.45pm, and #42, which departs at 10.45pm and arrives at 5.55am. There are second class AC seats only in both of them, so think twice before you book your 7-hour journey. If you are looking for the cheapest train ticket, consider a night train #168 which has second class fan seats only at THB500. And good luck for your lower back!
Should I make a stopover in Chumphon?
Chumphon is the transit point to the diving Mecca of Koh Tao, as well as the gateway to the south of Thailand, including both Ranong and Phuket. The overwhelming majority of the tour agencies and guesthouses in the city are geared towards providing travellers with onward ferry and transfer tickets. But besides giving you access to the islands of the gulf, Chumphon serves as a nice pit stop for backpackers who want to take a break from travelling. While there is actually not much to see and to do in the city itself, there are some pleasant and quiet beaches nearby, including Hat Sai Ree (20 km on 4119 and 4098) and a famous Hat Thung Wua Laen (16 km on 3108). The city is also a good spot for sightseeing with Chumphon National Museum displaying prehistorical artefacts found in the province and a handful of historical temples including Wat Pradoen and Wat Chao Fa Sala Loi. The nearby islands of Koh Maprao (permit for visiting is required), Koh Lava, Koh Thalu and the like which are great spots for diving and snorkelling close to coral reefs are not be disregarded either.
First-hand experience: a homestay or a coffee-roaster shop?
The majority of those who seek for budget accommodation in Chumphon end up checking in at Suda Guest House which is arguably the most popular place with backpackers and flashpackers who decide to stay overnight in the city. We were not so lucky, though, as on finding out that we had just arrived to the mainland from the islands and were heading backwards to Bangkok, the reception guy said that there were no more vacancy at Suda’s. Most probably he was cheating as a foreign couple who arrived a few minutes after us got a room – obviously because they were going to Koh Tao the next morning, and the owners planned to sell them a bus+ferry combo to the island.
If you happen to have the same problem, do not despair. Just one shop down the street from Suda’s there is a great place to experience Chumphon hospitality to its fullest. There is a small rest house, ingeniously called New Rest House. Basically, it is a rambling private house of local coffee-roasters with over 50 years in coffee-roasting business.
They offer two very primitive fan rooms with shared toilets outside, but the owners are so friendly and accommodating and the atmosphere of a real ‘living’ house is so relaxed, that you cannot help but fall in love with the place.
In the morning they brew their roasts for the guests and you can also have a look at a very primitive – but obviously efficient! – coffee-roasting machine they use. Local robusta is very toning up – take a chance to buy some to bring back home, even if the beans look too overroasted.