A ROAD TRIP FROM THE ROYAL COAST TO THE CHUMPHON COAST

The shortest road distance between Hua Hin and Chumphon is close enough to 300 kilometres.  For many Chumphon is just stop on the route heading south.  Lonely Planet even describes it as a ‘transit point’ particularly to Kho Tao, Kho Samui and Kho Pha-Ngan and other islands further south.   

However Chumphon can be the destination for a road trip from Hua Hin not just a stop-over.  There is also a more coastal route for the final 100 kilometres or so; there’s plenty of sights and places of interest for this phase of the journey and it’s an escape from the busy highway.

After 200 kilometres of the main highway head towards the coast, it’s never far away.  There are numerous ways of avoiding the highway from Prachuap Khiri Khan City onwards.  Heading for Bang Saphan is just one of the options. 

There are sections along an official scenic route with marked view points and a road which is only 5 years old, less travelled and in great condition.  There is a dedicated bicycle lane as a favourite bicycling route for Dutch visitors; it’s easy to see why.

You may be slowed down by bends and turns and sometimes given choices of direction at intersections, but generally this is a very pleasant and scenic way of heading south towards Chumphon.

Some Highlights Getting Closer To Chumphon

A ROAD TRIP FROM THE ROYAL COAST TO THE CHUMPHON COAST

There are many sculptured bays and appealing beaches along the way.  Sandy dunes also feature and shrimp farms dot the landscape.  However for us there are three standouts; must see stops along the way.

Kon Takiab

You approach Kon Takiab along a 5 kilometre stretch of road off the main route.  It winds through palm oil plantations alongside towering cliffs until reaching the ocean.  It’s really a dedicated small fishing village right on the beach of a tranquil protected bay with clear, calm water and an outlook towards hilly green headlands and off shore islands. 

A ROAD TRIP FROM THE ROYAL COAST TO THE CHUMPHON COAST

This is probably the most beautiful place on the coastline and rivals the most scenic locations in Thailand.  A big difference is the absolute lack of development. 

Not a hotel, resort or restaurant in sight, only the fishermen’s needs are catered for, not the tourists’.  I am sure that many a ‘would be developer’ has salivated at the thought of taking over such a pristine location, but this is a unique piece of Thailand’s natural heritage worthy of preservation.

Wat Keaw Prasert

A ROAD TRIP FROM THE ROYAL COAST TO THE CHUMPHON COAST

Returning to the main route several kilometres further on and you’ll come across a magnificent temple complex on the inland side of the road.  It’s set on a hillside and requires a steep climb partly by road and then by foot. 

You will find a combination of Chinese inspired buildings, more Thai traditional Buddhist places of worship and statues.  There’s even a ship’s profile lookout named after King Rama VIII, pointing towards the coastline below.  It’s a fantastic view back towards the bays and islands and overlooks of our previous stop.  On a clear day this is a photographers dream come true

It’s clearly a favourite for Thai people with not a falang in sight but everyone is welcomed.  You can enjoy lunch inside with a real Thai ‘buffet’, an honour system of payment and an expectation that you will wash your own dishes. 

Tung Wua Len

A ROAD TRIP FROM THE ROYAL COAST TO THE CHUMPHON COAST

You’ll pass through a number of small settlements and finally the town of Saphli before reaching Tung Wua Len.  This time the beach is about tourism, mainly Thai and those foreigners who accidentally discover its charms. 

Tung Wua Len is named after the legend of a wild bull appearing on the beach without warning and being untouched by the spears of hunters.  There’s a statue on the beach of this mythical creature to celebrate the story.

You’ll find a narrow beach side road, separated from the blue waters only by a few palm trees and a wide stretch of fine white sandy beach.  Along the 3 kilometre strip you’ll find an eclectic mix of Thai and European operated bars and restaurants, often with a particular theme (the ‘Pirate’s Den’), bungalows and small hotels. 

If you stay for a day or two you can forget about your vehicle and just take an easy stroll to wherever you need to go.  This is a very relaxing place to recharge the batteries and absolutely chill out.  Although some of the accommodation and restaurants are on the ocean side of the road, beach access is not compromised or restricted. 

A ROAD TRIP FROM THE ROYAL COAST TO THE CHUMPHON COAST

The Mali Blues Restaurant and Bar typifies the how to enjoy your stay.  Pi (‘brother’) Boi and his family run a combination beach side bar (you can sit with your toes in the sand) or 15 metres away a Thai and European restaurant.  There’s even a great cocktail mixer and a small art gallery on site.  

The name ‘Mali Blues’ is an accurate description of what to expect.  The patron is an accomplished musician (guitar, harmonica and vocals) offering semi-acoustic sounds from reggae and blues genres; renditions of Bob Marley and Bob Dylan often feature. 

Pi Boi’s mother said that he requested his first guitar at age 12.  He has now travelled throughout Thailand and has been featured in music festivals in Germany.  He presents an individual style with a voice sounding something like a laid back Eric Clapton with a Thai accent.

A Final Word

The Chumphon Airport and a new marina are under development and destined to make a big impact on the tourist market

When you think about Chumphon we would suggest you don’t think about the city but concentrate on the provincial coast.  The city is about 12 kilometres inland as a commercial hub.  Sure there are reasons to stay overnight if you are just in a ‘transit south’ mode but that won’t really give you the flavour of the region.