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The medium sized provincial capital of Chumphon, 460km south of Bangkok and 195km north of Surat Thani is considered by Thais as the gateway to southern Thailand both in the literal geographic sense as well as culturally.

Historically, it has been a battlefield several times over, in struggles with Burma for possession of the Isthmus of Kra, and more recently, a Japanese invasion during World War Two.

Today, among the travelling fraternity, Chumphon is known as more or less of a pit stop on the way to the islands, though some would simply stop at the word 'pit'. The name originally means social meeting place, but nowadays it's more like, waiting room for cranky falang.

This is where you stop-over to catch the ferry to Ko Tao, which is renowned for it's scuba diving and mellow, party atmosphere. It's also the major junction for visa runs to Burma via Ranong to the west.

And it is here that forms the first stop of the overnight tour buses from Bangkok. They disgorge their cargoes in the wee hours at travel agents across the small provincial capital. People are jumping off to get the boat to Ko Tao, to switch buses to Ranong and Phuket, to jump on the train, or even, in some enlightened cases, to stay in Chumphon.

Because you see, once the smoke clears, the boats leave and the buses pull out of town, Chumphon is quite an interesting little place -- and the surrounds, especially the beaches, are well worth a look-in.

The town has some great little guesthouses, motorbike hire is easy, prices are affordable, and, once the show-and-blow tourists have left town, you'll see how the denizens of Chumphon begin to show their warm, welcoming side.

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Text and/or map last updated on 29th October, 2015.

Last reviewed by:
Stuart McDonald co-founded with Samantha Brown in 2004. He has lived in Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia, where he worked as an under-paid, under-skilled language teacher, an embassy staffer, a newspaper web-site developer, freelancing and various other stuff. His favourite read is The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton.

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Check Chumphon tickets online

Chumphon - Bangkok, Southern Terminal ฿382 6h 20m
  •   Bus Express XL 10:00, 14:00, 22:00
  •   Bus Express XL 09:00, 12:00, 14:00, 20:00, 21:00
  •   Bus VIP 32 22:00
Chumphon, Lamae - Bangkok, Southern Terminal ฿445 – ฿685 7h 30m – 8h 30m
  •   Bus Express XL 07:50
  •   Bus VIP24 24 19:50
  •   Bus Express XL 09:00, 20:00
  •   Bus VIP 32 22:00
  •   Bus VIP24 24 22:00
Chumphon, Lang Suan - Bangkok, Southern Terminal ฿430 – ฿660 7h 10m – 7h 55m
  •   Bus Express XL 08:25, 12:20
  •   Bus VIP24 24 20:25
  •   Bus Express XL 09:00, 12:00, 14:00, 20:00, 21:00
  •   Bus VIP 32 22:00
  •   Bus VIP24 24 22:00
Chumphon, Chumphon Lomprayah (Train Station) - Koh Samui, Maenam (Samui) ฿1,200 6h 20m
  •   High Speed Ferry 05:00
  •   High Speed Ferry 08:00, 12:30
Chumphon, Tung Makham - Koh Samui, Maenam (Samui) ฿1,100 3h 40m
  •   High Speed Ferry 13:00

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