Chaiya and Baan Phumriang

Chaiya and Baan Phumriang

Worth exploring

More on Surat Thani

Home to prehistoric people 6,500 years ago and a major trading port as early as the fifth century CE, Chaiya district is the cultural and historical heart of Surat Thani province. Travellers looking for ancient ruins, intriguing temples, traditional silk-weaving workshops and maybe even a splash in the Gulf of Thailand will be rewarded by a day trip to Chaiya and the seaside village of Baan Phumriang.

Travelfish says:
A diverse family of Buddha’s at Wat Phra Borommathat Chaiya. Photo by: David Luekens.
A diverse family of Buddha’s at Wat Phra Borommathat Chaiya. Photo: David Luekens

Chaiya is famous for its salty duck eggs, or khai khem, which are preserved in sea salt and rice husks and then served mostly in spicy salads. If your taste buds lean heavily towards the salty, pick up a box or two from the many vendors who sell them in the car park that fronts Wat Suan Mokkh.

Leaving Route 41 and turning east towards Chaiya town on 4011, we stopped to check out an elaborate example of ancient Srivijayan art at Wat Phra Borommathat Chaiya—a highlight of the area. Archaeological digs and ruins have shown that Chaiya was a centre of Srivijayan civilisation from around the seventh to the 11th centuries CE; it’s likely the term Chaiya derives from Srivijaya, or Siwichai as rendered by the Thai tongue. Reflecting the seafaring kingdom’s roots in Sumatra and Java, Wat Phra Borommathat’s namesake chedi displays a multi-pointed Javanese style that’s very rare in Thailand.

Serene scenes at Wat Suan Mokkh. Photo by: David Luekens.
Serene scenes at Wat Suan Mokkh. Photo: David Luekens

Beside the Wat Phra Borommathat complex is the Chaiya National Museum, where a 100-baht ticket provides a deeper look into the art and history of the Srivijaya kingdom—and the people who preceded it. Uncovered in the Chaiya area, exquisite 1,200-year-old statues depict a naga-hooded Buddha, a striking feminine Avolokitesvara and a sturdy Ganesha, exemplifying the Srivijaya’s adherence to a mix of Vajrayana/Mahayana Buddhism and Hinduism. You’ll also find ancient stone tools, beads and ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 700 words.)

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Reviewed by

David Luekens first came to Thailand in 2005 when Thai friends from his former home of Burlington, Vermont led him on a life-changing trip. Based in Thailand since 2011, he spends much of his time eating in Bangkok street markets and island hopping the Andaman Sea.

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Our top 5 other sights and activities in and around Surat Thani

Wat Suan Mokkh
Wat Suan Mokkh

Meditation centre

Wat Phra Borommathat Chaiya
Wat Phra Borommathat Chaiya

Elaborate Srivijaya-influenced temple

Wat Sai
Wat Sai

Small but atmospheric

Ko Lamphu
Ko Lamphu

A scenic public park