Paradisiacal beaches, crowds of people and party-enthusiastic travelers alike: associations often related to Thailand’s southern provinces. Today, you’ll learn more about two regions where you cannot only find breathtaking natural beauty, but also authentic experiences. Chumphon and Ranong have plenty to offer and are more than just an alternative to the popular destinations Surat Thani, Phang-Nga, or Phuket. Find out what you can experience in the provinces in this post.
Chumphon: Gate of the South
The province of Chumphon is officially called “Gate to Thailand’s South.” It’s located about 500 km south of Bangkok and offers an impressive mixture of culture, nature, and gastronomy – a miracle the region isn’t more popular! There are deserted white sandy beaches and impressive rocky coasts, as well as a night market with the best of Thai cuisine and locally produced traditional goods.
If you are in the area at the moment or planning a trip to Thailand during spring: don’t miss the Naval Festival in the provincial capital taking place between March and April every year. The program offers a great variety: from handicrafts exhibitions, to a seafood festival, a mini-marathon, fishing competitions, and a surf competition. Locals present their talents and you can learn more about the people and their city! After the festival’s hustle and bustle, it’s a good idea to spend some quiet days in the region. Explore the beaches of Chumphon and Mo Ku Chumphon National Park with its coral reefs. It’s worth it, I promise!
By the way: The Chumphon Cabana Resort and Diving Center are the perfect, eco-friendly starting point for a diving holiday in this breathtaking landscape.
The fishing culture can still be seen throughout the region (not only during the Naval Festival). It is also worth visiting the harbor or a shrimp farm near the mangroves. For those who want to head inland, the CBT Network‘s tours give you an insight into the everyday life of locals and you can learn more about cultivating regional fruits and vegetables! For up to 5 nights you can live and work with farmers. That way, you not only learn to appreciate the delicious fruits, but also gain an insight into people’s real lives. The CBT Network coordination center also offers courses to produce shampoo, peeling, soap, etc. Best of all, you first harvest all of the ingredients and greens in the garden and then process them with instructions.
Ranong: Evergreen miracle of nature
Similar to Chumphon, Ranong is an insider tip among Thailand travelers. We understand why, because Ranong has so many exciting facets! Among other things, the region is known for the large amount of precipitation as well as for the very low population density. If you now think “help, too much rain” you worry without any reason, because the area is as beautiful and green thanks to the rain! Especially in the monsoon season visiting the Nam Tok Ngao National Park is worthwhile, also known as a waterfall park. Evergreen forests, various flowering orchids, impressive mountain ranges, some wild animals and lots of waterfalls await you here. The Ngao Waterfall is the most spectacular of them all.
And there’s even more to discover: just outside the provincial capital, you’ll find hot springs at Wat Tapotharam. They rise from the ground with about 65-70°C and are clearly too hot for swimming. However, you can bathe in somewhat cooled water at some rustic baths.
If you’re longing for sun, beach, and the sea, a trip to the coast of Ranong, more precisely to the National Park of Laem Son, is worthwhile. The park is the longest protected beach in Thailand with more than 100 kilometers of coastline! A little further in the Andaman Sea you’ll find the paradisiacal islands of Koh Khang Khao and Koh Phayam, known for their colorful coral reefs ideal for diving and snorkeling and an impressive variety of native birds’ home.
You can also explore Ranong with community-based tours offered by Local Alike. On the “Once a miner” tour, for example, you will learn the secrets of digging and then make your own ceramic souvenirs. As if that weren’t enough, the tour takes you to fruit farmers, through the village by bike, to local handicrafts and to the highest mountain in the province! Of course, you will stay overnight and eat with the locals.