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A transit town funneling travelers to and from Ko Tao or southwards to Ranong or Phuket, Chumphon (ชุมพร) is where the south of Thailand starts proper; Muslim headscarves are a common sight here.

While there’s not a lot to do in town while you wait for your ferry, it's not an unpleasant place and the surrounding beaches are alternative sun and sand stops far off the backpacker bandwagon. Beautiful Hat Thung Wua Laen (Fast Running Cow Beach), 9 miles (15km) northeast of town and full of traveller amenities, is the best known and during the week you'll have it mostly to yourself. On weekends it will be rocking.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Chumphon.