Chumphon

Chumphon

Gateway to Ko Tao

Gateway to Thailand’s southern region, Chumphon province is best known among foreign travellers as a jumping off point for Ko Tao with its many diving outfits and mainstream tourism scene. Those who tire of the crowds could stick around Chumphon to taste fresh seafood while lounging on vast mainland beaches that are usually empty, save a few fishers and beach dogs.

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The province will introduce you to the coconut groves and vast coastlines that help to define Southern Thailand, as well as the food, culture and dialect that culturally set this region apart from the rest of the Thai kingdom. The regional cuisine features pungent curry pastes and seafood products, while the Muslim minority found throughout the South starts to become noticeable. The province, and Tha Sae district in particular, produces enough Robusta beans to make Chumphon one of Thailand’s largest coffee-producing areas.

Fresh seafood galore in and around Chumpon. : David Luekens.
Fresh seafood galore in and around Chumpon. Photo: David Luekens

Centuries ago, Chumphon was a battlefield between Thai and Burmese kingdoms fighting for control of a crucial trade route over the Isthmus of Kra. During the World War II, the area lived up to its martial reputation when volunteers resisted an occupying Japanese force. A memorial to Prince Chumphon, a decorated early 20th-century naval captain, now stands beside an old warship at Sairi Beach. The province was called Chumphon long before the prince came along, with the name referring to either a “merging of people” or a type of banyan tree.

The provincial capital, Chumphon town, is a typical Southern Thai city of some 30,000 residents located 15 kilometres from the coast. A fistful of travel offices and guesthouses service the travellers who crash here for a night before catching a ferry to Ko Tao or heading southwest towards Ranong, Phuket and Krabi. While it’s a pleasant enough spot to wander around, Chumphon town has no real attractions and isn’t much of a travel destination ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 800 words.)

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