Chumphon is a quiet fishing province on the Gulf of Thailand, considered the gateway to Southern Thailand and the Gulf islands, especially Koh Tao. Chumphon province is moderately popular for domestic tourism, but very few foreigners stay there longer than the time needed for jumping on board of a ferry bound for the islands. And certainly the beaches along Chumphon’s 200 km long coastline are not as gorgeous as the best in the Gulf islands. But some of Chumphon’s beaches are very beautiful, and what’s even more remarkable: quiet and uncrowded. Or, usually, completely empty. Something almost impossible to find in the famous nearby Gulf islands.
So, in a nutshell, Chumphon can be a great destination if you are looking to spend some relaxing beach time away from the crowds, and indulge in fresh fish and seafood every evening. Chumphon province is very green, it has miles and miles of palm trees, forests and mangroves, as well as several small islets with very good snorkeling. The public transport system is deficient, so it is essential to have your own wheels, be it a car, motorcycle or bike.
Chumphon city is considered to be the gateway to Thailand’s southern provinces, as well as the Islands in the Gulf of Thailand and particularly Koh Tao. In the province’s over 200 km of coastline there are many beautiful quiet beaches.
ℹ️ Top Things to Do in Chumphon
Along the 200 km coast of Chumphon province there are many good beaches, all of them with shallow waters and sands than range from white to khaki. Thung Wua Laen is widely considered the best of them all, a wide beach with powdery white sand backlined by cocnut trees. No doubt Chumphon’s beaches cannot compete with the prettiest ones in Thailand, but Wua Laen is truly beautiful, and you can be sure no crowds will bother you. In fact, in Chumphon’s beaches you’re likely to find only a bunch of Thais, and almost no foreigners. If you are based in Chomphun town, there are public songthaews with frequent departures going north to Wua Len beach and south to Hat Sairi beach. Other than these, you will need to have your own wheels.
Near the coast of Chumphon there are several islets which are part of the Mu Koh Chumphon National Park and offer very good snorkeling. Most snorkeling tours include 3-4 stops and include goggles and snorkel. You have several ways to visit these islets:
1) The tours organized by the National Park itself. A boat usually costs about 3,000 THB and can be hired at the headquarters of the Park.
2) The company Siam Catamaran Tours has 5 boats of different sizes. They do daily tours from 8am to 4pm with several snorkel stops and lunch included.
3) If you gather enough people you can consider charting a private boat from a local agency as Chumpon Speed Boat.
Whether you are an experienced diver or just want to give it a try, in Chumphon there are some dive agencies as Chumpon Diving Center that can take you to explore the underwater marine life of Mu Koh Chumphon National Park. February to October are the best months for diving in Chumphon, when the waters are calm and clear. If you are looking for a PADI certification or want to mingle with fellow divers, you’d better head to the island of Koh Tao, the backpacker mecca for diving, which lies just offshore. But if you prefer a quieter environment and only want to do an occasional dive, Chumphon is a really good option. With much fewer divers, the reefs around Chumphon are actually healthier.
Koh Phitak Island
If you want to experience how is real life in a non-touristy inhabited small Thai island, look no further: Koh Phitak is the perfect daytrip for you. If you have some more time, you can even overnight in one of the basic homestays (800 THB/fan room). You’ll find only the most basic commodities, a few little shops and no motor vehicles other than boats. But you’ll be able to enjoy the authentic atmosphere of a Thai fishermen’s island, eat the freshest fish and seafood, swim in the island’s rocky beach, kayak around the island and climb to the top of a hill with beautiful views. To get to Koh Phitak island, first you’ll need to drive 80 km south from Cumphon town to Ao Thong Khrok’s pier -there’s no public transport to get there-. Once at the pier you’ll find some boatmen willing to take you to Koh Phitak, only 1 km offshore, for around 50 THB.
Dim Sum Breakfast
The city of Chumphon doesn’t have much to offer when it comes to tourist activities. It is a typical small Thai town with local restaurants, a couple of shopping centers and a small market. However, Chumphon is famous among Thais for its Dim Sum breakfasts. Dim Sum is a Cantonese –Chinese– food that is served in small portions in small baskets or plates, allowing to sample many different delicious specialities. The most famous place for Dim Sum breakfast is Hor Jiah @Chumphon restaurant. In the evening don’t miss Chumphon’s Night Market, both to enjoy its huge variety of food options and observe the lively local atmosphere.
🏨 Where to stay in Chumphon
Best Areas & Beaches in Chumphon:
The most popular areas that travelers choose to stay in while in Chumphon province are the provincial capital, Chumphon tow,- or Hat Thung Wua Laen beach. In addition to these, there are resorts on other even quieter beaches along the coast.
Best for: Backpackers and travelers in a hurry.
Accommodation available: Mainly guesthouses and basic hotels, and a few midrange hotels and resorts.
✔️ Liveliest area in the province.
✔️ Widest offer of restaurants, shops and other services.
✔️ Some good value inexpensive accommodation.
✔️ Near Koh Tao-bound ferry piers.
✔️ Keep in mind: downtown Chumphon is 6 km inland.
Hat Thung Wua Len
Best for: Travelers looking for a seaside location.
Accommodation available: from cheap guesthouses to midrange resorts.
✔️ Best beach in the province, with powdery white sand.
✔️ More than enough accommodation options catering for different pockets.
✔️ Plenty of seafood restaurants, and even a few pubs.
✔️ Well linked to downtown Chumphon (12 km) with frequent songthaew departures.
🏖️ Best beaches in Chumphon
1️⃣ Hat Thung Wua Laen
Almost everyone agrees it is the best in the province. A beautiful 2 km long white sand bech backlined by palm trees and a narrow and little traveled road, across which the few resorts, bars and restaurants in the area are found. The photogenic palm trees that rise from the sand, together with the little cape that marks the southern end, give the place an idyllic touch. Don’t expect turquoise waters. The beach has clean blue water, but not dazzling. Thung Wua Laen beach is located 12 km northeast of Chumphon town.
2️⃣ Ao Bang Son
Ao Bang Son is a beautiful bay just south of Cape Laem Thaen. The quiet beach there has khaki sand, and it is usually livened up by colourful fishing boats. Conveniently located 5 minute drive from the airport, despite there are only a few accommodation options, they cover the entire price spectrum. From basic and inexpensive resorts like KanHaLee Resort, to the most luxurious option, the 5* Sara Beachfront Boutique Resort. Ao Bang Son bay is located a little over 30 km north of Chumphon town, and you will need to drive your own vehicle to get there.
3️⃣ Ao Bo Mao
Ao Bo Mao is a very long crescent-shaped beach shaded by pine trees, ideal for long walks on the sand. It is located immediately north of Ao Bang Son beach, on the other side of Cape Laem Thaen. It is right next to the airport, so staying in one of its resorts can be a good option if you only spend one night waiting to fly out. Every evening low, tide uncovers a wide flat stretch of sand, and villagers go to collect crabs and shellfish, one of the specialities that can be enjoyed at the many beachside restaurants. From Ao Bo Mae beach you can see the small island Koh Khai, which is less than 30 minutes by boat and is an excellent half-day trip.
4️⃣ Ao Yai
Ao Yai is a very quiet little cove with white sand, quite different to the wide long beaches that abound in Chumphon province. There is only one resort with direct access to the sand: the 3* New Nordic Coral Beach Resort. Ao Yai is located about 7 km north from Ao Bo Mao beach, and about 43 km northeast of Chumphon town.
5️⃣ Hat Sairi
✈️ Getting to Chumphon
From Bangkok, you can get to Chumphon by plane, bus or train.
➡️ Air Asia and Nok Air offer flights to Chumphon Airport (CJM) from Bangkok Don Mueang Airport (DMK)
➡️ Chumphon airport is found 35 km north of Chumphon town.
➡️ The tour agency Fame Tour runs minibuses connecting airport with town in both directions, scheduled to service all arrivals and departures, for 150 THB/person.
➡️Bangkok South Bus Terminal (Sai Tai Mai) offers daily buses to Chumphon. There is a daily departure from Khao San area with Fame Tour company as well.
➡️ The journey costs between THB 400 and THB 700 depending on the type of coach, and takes around 7h.
➡️ The provincial bus terminal is located 11 km west of Chumphon town, off route 41, but some companies use more convenient departure/arrival points in downtown Chumphon.
➡️ Chumphon city is a main stop in the Southern railway line, connected to Bangkok, Hua Hin, Prachuap Kiri Khan, Surat Thani, etc.
➡️ Chumphon’s train station is conveniently located downtown, at the west end of Krom Luang Rd.
➡️ From Bangkok’s Hua Lamphong station there are a dozen daily departures between 07:50 22:50.
➡️ Ticket price depends on class and whether it is a sleeper train or not, and ranges between 200 and 1,450.
➡️ The journey from Bangkok to Chumphon takes between 7 and 10 hours.