Chumphon Tourist Attractions
Chumphon Town, the capital of a province that has a population of about 356,000, appears to be one of those busy places largely untouched by tourism with no important sights of any great interest. Yet the country around it does have a great deal to offer, with open grasslands to the north, a nearby coastline extending for 220 km (137 mi.), fringed by offshore reefs and islands, dense rainforests in the hinterland, and mountains riddled with caves and caverns. Chumphon is also of particular interest in the geographical sense since it is the eastern point of the Kra Isthmus, the narrowest part of the Malay Peninsula, and only about 40 km (25 mi.) from Kraburi on the Indian Ocean to the west. The area is also famous for the nests of its swiftlets, which are collected to make the Chinese delicacy of bird's nest soup. In 1989 the whole of the province was devastated by floods.By car: Highway 4 (460 km (286 mi.) from Bangkok).By bus: from Prachuap Khiri Khan or Surat Thani and Ranong.By rail: on the Bangkok-South Thailand line (8-hour, 485-km (301-mi.) journey from Bangkok).At the foot of a wooded hill 10 km (6 mi.) south-east of the town is the fishing port of Pak Nam, busy morning and evening with the coming and going of boats. It is worth taking a walk down along the coast, with views over the sea and the high rocky islands, to a shrine erected in memory of Prince Chumphon, after whom the town was named.From the harbor boats go on trips to islands such as Ko Raet, Koh Mattra, Koh Lawa, Koh Maphrao and Koh Talu, with the caves where the edible-nest swiftlets build their nests during the breeding season from March to August. These nests are taken by collectors and sold to the restaurants. Koh Tao, 8 km (5 mi.) from Chumphon, is also worth visiting (attractive bungalow resorts).
Khao Kriap Cave
On Highway 409 18 km (11 mi.) south of Chumphon, the Khao Kriap Cave, reached by 300 m of track and at the foot of the Khao Kriap mountain, boasts a stalagmite 20 m (66 ft) high.
Paradonpap beach, 16 km (10 mi.) south of Chumphon at the mouth of the Pak Nam Chumphon, has some good fish restaurants. On Ri Beach, 5 km (3 mi.) further on, and very crowded at weekends and holidays, the torpedo boat HMS "Chumphon" is on show as a reminder of the battles that took place here in the 19th c. between Thailand and Burma. The nearby Prince Chumphon Shrine is dedicated to the Prince who was the founder of the Thai Navy. The Mo Phon Traditional Herb Garden grows many healing herbs on an experimental basis for the Thai government. There is also a fine beach at Thung Wua Laen, 17 km (11 mi.) north of Chumphon towards Bang Saphan.