The southern peninsula of Thailand is dominated by the Andaman Sea to the west and the Gulf of Thailand to the east and stretches to the border with Malaysia. Major resorts include Cha-Am/Hua Hin, Koh Samui, Krabi and Phuket. The outstanding natural beauty of South Thailand's beaches and islands, with miles of white sand lapped by azure waters and teeming coral reefs, attracts millions of visitors. But the region has much more to offer. The region is among the most fertile in the country with fast-growing rubber trees, sugar and oil palms, coffee beans, cashew nuts, pineapple, rambutan and durian fruits. There are still many colorful fishing villages along the coast. Dense jungles characterize the interior and are interspersed with rocky mountains and mangrove forests. The region is also well-known for the astounding beauty of its national parks and wildlife sanctuaries. It is a unique area with a rich multi-cultural heritage.
From Bangkok to Koh Samui – Exploring the Gulf Coast
A narrow coastal strip with the mountains in the background on the border with Myanmar stretches from the cultural center of Phetchaburi to the fishing town of Chumphon. To the north are the seaside towns of Cha-Am and Hua Hin with their popular beaches. Inland you will find the vast hilly Kaeng Krachan National Park and on the coast the limestone cliffs of Khao Sam Roi Yot and further south Kuiburi National Park, the best wild elephant sighting spot in Thailand.
Near the town of Prachub Khiri Khan, Thailand is only 12 km wide.
From Chumphon highway 4 from Bangkok becomes highway 41 in the direction of Surat Thani.
Off the coast of Chumphon are the islands of the national park of the same name.
Further south, the trading town of Surat Thani is best known as the gateway to the islands of Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao and the truly unspoilt scenery of Ang Thong National Marine Park, all located off the coasts of Chumphon and Suratthani.
Inland lie the spectacular cliffs and rainforests of Khao Sok National Park.
Destinations - Sights - Hotels
Phetchaburi & Khao Wang Palace
Located 125 km south of Bangkok on highway 4. The capital of the Phetchaburi province is one of Thailand’s oldest towns and an important cultural center. Interesting temples can be explored like the Wat Mahathat and Wat Kamphaeng Laeng.
During the 19th century it became a royal retreat, and King Rama IV built a summer palace on the hills of Khao Wang, now part of the Phra Nakhon Khiri Historical Park. Nearby is the large Khao Luang cave, filled with stalactites and many Buddha images.
Popular beach resort, approx. 180 km from Bangkok. (See our beach destinations)
Thailand’s oldest and very popular beach resort, approx. 200 km from Bangkok. (See our beach destinations)
Kaen Krachan National Park & Pa La U waterfall
South of Phetchaburi town and west of Cha-Am and Hua Hin lies the Kaeng Krachan National Park. Containing tropical evergreen forest, the national park is the largest in the country. It spans an area of nearly 3000 sq km and is home to many mammals and birds. The park offers some excellent hiking, as well as boat rides through the 45-sq km Kaeng Krachan Reservoir, and waterfalls, a.o. Pa la U waterfall.
20 km south of Hua Hin cross a river and enter Pranburi. The place is known for its beautiful beaches and the Pranburi Mangrove Forest Park located by the Pranburi River
Khao Sam Roi Yod National Park
Just south of Pranburi lies the approximately 100 km2 Khao Sam Roi Yod National Park, a beautiful and varied landscape of limestone formations, mangrove forests, freshwater swamps, caves, and beaches on the Gulf of Thailand. The park is known for the limestone peaks, which rise straight out of the swamps up to 650 m. The swamps are a refuge for many waterfowl and the limestone formations are home to several monkey species. Hiking trails have been set out in the park and you will come across impressive caves such as the Tham Praya Nakkon, one of the country's most photographed caves.
Kuiburi National Park
Located 40 km south of Khao Sam Roi Yod National Park and on the way to Prachuab Khiri Khan. Known to be the best wild elephant and gaur sighting spot in Thailand. It is almost 99% sure the visitors will see wild elephants any given day of the year in Kui Buri National Park’s wildlife watching area.
Prachuab Khiri Khan
Located along the narrowest stretch of Thailand, between Myanmar on the west and the Gulf of Thailand on the east, 90 km south of Hua Hin. Prachuab Khiri Khan is a significant fishing port and prominent provincial capital in southern Thailand. The inland edge of the town is ringed with limestone mountains. A famous landmark is Khao Chong Khra Chok, the “mirror mountain”, and offers visitors fine panoramic views right across the town and bay. The town has a nice promenade near the pier. Close to the town are some lovely bays and beaches, like Ao Manao and Hat Ao Noi.
Hotel: Prachuab Grand Hotel - 3 Stars (3/5) ; T-Boutique Hotel - 4 Stars (4/5)
Ban Krut & Bang Saphan
Approx. halfway between Prachuab Khiri Khan and Chumphon are lovely stretches of beach facing the Gulf of Thailand. At Ban Krut the Chedi Kiti Prakat is a great spot to view the coastline of the Gulf of Thailand. From the fishing harbor Bang Saphan, you can visit the small islands of Koh Talu, good for a daytrip.
Hotel: Baan Grood Arcadia Resort & Spa - 4 Stars (4/5)
Located about 500 km south of Bangkok, the important provincial capital and transport hub, Chumphon is a transit point to Koh Tao, Koh Phangan and Koh Samui. The town is located on the Isthmus of Kra with the mountain range of Ranong to the west and the Gulf of Thailand to the east. The main attractions are Pak Nam Chumphon, the fishing harbor, and the islands of the Chumphon National Marine Park. From Chumphon highway 4 becomes highway 41 in the direction of Surat Thani, gateway to the Koh Samui archipelago.
Hotels: Novotel Chumphon Beach Resort - 4 Stars (4/5) ; A-Te Hotel - 4 Stars (4/5)
The town of Chaiya is one of the oldest and historically one of the most important settlements in Thailand. A beautiful example from the Srivijaya period (7th-13th century) is the Phra Boromathat Chaiya Temple and it houses the National Museum of Chaiya.
Strategically located at the mouth of the Tapi and Phum Duang rivers, approx. 600 km from Bangkok. Surat Thani is the capital of the largest province in southern Thailand. The town is an important center with its fishing harbor, cultivation of rambutan, rubber, rice, and coconut, commercial seaport, and jumping-off point to the islands of Koh Samui and Koh Phangan, or even Koh Tao, Surat Thani has an airport, and is an important stop on the railway link between Bangkok and Hat Yai. The province is home to the Khao Sok National Park, the oldest rainforest in Thailand.
Hotels: Diamond Plaza Hotel - 3 Stars (3/5)
Khao Sok National Park
The Khao Sok National Park, together with neighboring reserves, forms the most impressive and largest tract of virgin rainforest in southern Thailand. The park is a combination of the Klongsang Nature and Wildlife Reserve, with 1,000-meter peaks, and the fairytale Chew Lan Lake, which includes over 100 islets with majestic rock formations rising from the water. Elephants, bears, wild boars, monkeys, tigers, panthers, and other felines inhabit the park, along with approximately 200 bird species, including argus pheasants and hornbills. Interesting flora includes the rare rafflesia flower, the largest flower in the world that can reach a diameter of up to 80 cm. Nature lovers can indulge themselves. Many hiking trails are suitable for everyone, but there are also more difficult tours for experienced hikers. Main attractions are Chew Larn lake, canoe and bamboo rafting trips on the Klong Sok river, Nam Thalu cave and Coral cave, Than Sawan waterfall and Sip Chan waterfall. Khao Sok, a wilderness of jungle, limestone cliffs, caves, and waterfalls.
Hotels: Khao Sok Rainforest Resort - 3 Stars (3/5) ; Khao Sok Boutique Hideaway - 3 Stars (3/5)
Thailand’s third largest and most well-known island of the Koh Samui archipelago. (See our beach destinations)
15 km north of Koh Samui. Popular island resort. (See our beach destinations)
Approx. 1 hour by highspeed ferry from Chumphon and 1.5 hour by highspeed ferry from Koh Samui. (See our beach destinations)