You don’t have to go all the way out to Ko Tao to find good beaches. The Chumphon coast boasts several long and underrated stretches of sand drawing only a trickle of Thais and very few foreign travellers. They make good day trips from Chumphon town, but are also worth considering for a quiet, affordable and family-friendly holiday.
The best one is probably Haad Thung Wua Laen (Playing Cows Beach), a broad stretch of powdery white sand backed by some coconut trees with trunks that reach towards the sea at close to 90-degree angles. The water is shallow for a long distance offshore, but this is the case for practically every mainland beach from here to Hua Hin. This and the huge amount of space make Thung Wua Laen a good choice for families with small children.
Thung Wua Laen can easily be reached by public songthaew from downtown Chumphon town and offers several places to stay on a narrow beach road with plenty of seafood restaurants and even a few little pubs (not the seedy kinds). Miao’s Guesthouse looked like a solid option for budget travellers, while long-running Cabana Resort at the beach’s southern end is a tried-and-true option in the flashpacker price bracket.
If you have a vehicle, do make a trip 20 kilometres north from Thung Wua Laen to Pathio district and check out Ao Bang Son, a fine khaki-sand beach located to the south of Laem Thaen Cape and Bang Son Canal, which is lined by colourful fishing boats. Another vast beach stretches north of Laem Thaen, just east of Chumphon airport, and is ideal for long walks on the sand. On Ao Bang Son, Sara Resort is a comfy midrange option with a couple of Labrador retrievers that spend their days splashing in the sea.
Some 15 kilometres east of Chumphon town and also reachable by public songthaews, Haad Sairi (not to be confused with the far better-known Haad Sairee on Ko Tao) is another long beach with an old battleship and monument to Prince Chumphon at the north end. Here we enjoyed an excellent seafood dinner and saw a few Thai travellers staying at Kumsairi Resort and Devsea Almond Hotel.
Just north of Haad Sairi, Haad Paradon Phap is a long tan-sand beach with a mix of fishing shacks and mostly private houses, apart from the massive Novotel Resort and Golf Club located on the inland side of the road. We chatted up the fishers unloading their catches before sampling pungent preserved fish sold along the roadside. At the south end of the beach road, look for a red sign pointing to Batik Pha Daeng, where local artisans craft beautiful batik fabrics.
You’ll find plenty more beaches if you have the time to explore down the coast. South of Haad Sairi, Ao Thung Kha is a huge bay with a mangrove walkway and the headquarters for Mu Ko Chumphon National Park, which oversees a cluster of small islands. We’ve also heard good things about Haad Arunothai, a very quiet beach located in Chumphon province’s southern reaches.
How to get there
Yellow songthaews depart frequently for Thung Wua Laen from in front of Chumphon town’s Municipal Market on Phacha Uthit Rd, with the last one shoving off at around 18:00.
Large songthaews depart frequently for Haad Sairi (and Pak Nam) frequently from a stop off the north side of Poraminmanka Rd, just east of Pisist Payabal Rd and the Chumphon City Pillar, with the last departure at 16:00.
By David Luekens.
Last updated on 15th October, 2016.
The Travelfish newsletter is sent out every Monday and is jammed full of free advice for travel in Southeast Asia. You can see past issues here.