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Chaiya (ไชยา) is a town of 5,500 people on the Malay Peninsula, below the Kra Isthmus, on the Central Gulf Coast of Southern Thailand. It offers an interesting history, temples and handicrafts, and is worth visiting if you're touring Surat Thani and Nakhon Si Thammarat provinces.


Chaiya was one of the principal trading cities of the Srivijaya Empire between the 8th and 13th centuries, a stop on the Maritime Silk Road. Archaeologists believe that Indian traders from Madras visited the town as far back as the 5th century. Parts of the town's history remain obscure, but historians believe it to have been the capital of the empire. A number of archaeological sites in Chaiya have uncovered artifacts supporting this belief.

The town's role in maritime trade has long ago ceased and though archaeologists continue to unearth more and more artifacts testifying to its earlier culture, the town has mostly been forgotten. The Wat Phra Mahathat temple, found in Chaiya, is said to be the last well-preserved example of the Srivijaya Empire. It is one of the most venerated temples in Thailand. Other temples depicting the Srivijaya Empire architecture are the Wat Kaeo and Wat Suan Mok temples, also found in Chaiya.

Get in[edit]

By bus[edit]

  • From Surat Thani, either by minivan 80 bhats south of Talad Kaset 2 (Soi Talat Mai 31 and Soi Thattong 5; hourly from 8.30am until 5.30pm), either by songthaew 50 bhats north of Talad Kaset 1 (Soi Talat mai 10 and Thamma Bucha Rd.). (Jan 2024)

By train[edit]

Chaiya is accessible by rail via the Bangkok-South Thailand line.

By car[edit]

Drive from Chumphon on Hwy 41.

By plane[edit]

The nearest airport is about 45 minutes away, in Phunphin district, Surat Thani.

Get around[edit]


  • 1 Suan Mokkh: The Garden of Liberation (สวนโมกข์พลาราม). Founded 1932 by Ajahn Buddhadasa with the goal of teaching the true heart of Buddhism. Since then, it has served and become one of the most revered Theravada Buddhist temple in Thailand. Current abbot Ajahn Poh. No teachings or activities for foreigners outside of visiting the grounds. Can sleep for free for up to 7 days with basic amenities dorm (wood bed, wood pillow, ask for straw mat, cushion and mosquito net, bucket shower, squat or western toilets with bucket flush; men and women separated; possibly breakfast 8am in kitchen & cantine space north side aka after entrance on right - or maybe just at retreat end day, else restaurant shop at front of monastery for about 50 bhat). Keep in mind this is a monastery and morning bell at 4am. Many barking dogs. free. Wat Suan Mokkh (Q9347661) on Wikidata Suan_Mokkh on Wikipedia
  • 2 Wat Long (วัดหลง). An ancient temple most likely constructed between the 8th-9th centuries. Long deserted, only the remains of bricks and the base are left. The Archaeological Division of the Fine Arts Department excavated and restored the pagoda from 1981-1984. Free. Wat Long (Q25534274) on Wikidata
  • 3 Wat Phra Borommathat Chaiya (วัดพระบรมธาตุไชยราชวรวิหาร). The pagoda here is an ancient monument built with the influence of the Mahayana sect of Buddhism in the Srivijaya period. The pagoda is surrounded by small pagodas in the four cardinal directions, and a cloister where ancient Buddha images in different sizes are housed goes around the four sides. The pagoda is a revered monument of importance in Buddhism of Surat Thani. Free.
  • 4 Phumriang Village (หมู่บ้านพุมเรียง). A small Muslim fishing and handicraft village famous for their handwoven silk products. In the back of the main shops, you can often see the women dyeing the silk threads, spooling them, and then weaving them on traditional wooden looms.
  • 5 Leam Pho Palace (พลับพลาแหลมโพธิ์). Not an actual palace, rather it is a small remembrance platform to commemorate the place where Taksin the Great, King of Thonburi, visited Chaiya. After Rama V, King Chulalongkorn, came to see where King Taksin visited, Leam Pho Palace was built as a remembrance to both kings.
  • Blue crab statue (Leampho Beach).
  • 6 Koh Set (เกาะเสร็จ).


  • 1 Chaiya National Museum (พิพิธภัณฑสถานแห่งชาติ ไชยา์), +66 77-430-166. W-Su 09:00-16:00. The museum was incorporated as a national museum in 1935 by the Fine Arts Department. The museum has a wide collection of artifacts dating back to pre-historic times. 100 baht. Chaiya National Museum (Q13018168) on Wikidata
  • 2 Chaiya Folk Museum.
  • 3 Siam Hot Springs (บ่อสยามน้ำพุร้อน). 05:00-20:00. 5 bathing pools ranging from 38 to 44 °C. 20 baht adults, 10 baht children.
  • 4 Suan Mokkh International Dharma Heritage (Suan Mokkh IDH), 68 Lamet, Chaiya District, Surat Thani 84110 (20 min walk from main monasterity, opposite side of highway), +(66) 81 079 0295, . 10-day medi­ta­tion silent re­treats from the 1st-11th of each month. Teachings on ānāpānasati "mindfulness with breathing" in English. Registration the day before, basic amenities dorm (wood bed, wood pillow, straw mat, blanket and mosquito net, bucket shower, western toilets with bucket flush, hand laundry; men and women separated), water refill stations, dress code shoulders and knee covered with no tight clothing like leggings, 2 vegetarian meals per day. small shop in retreat center (thai pants, sarong, tshirt, repellent, detergent, green oil...). All retreat content provided at the end (pdf, audio...). . 2000 bhat required donation. Suan_Mokkh on Wikipedia
  • 5 Don Kiem Dhamma Hermitage (don kiem, buddhadasa school, garden of trees), Lamet, Chaiya District, Surat Thani 84150 (South of Suan Mokkh IDH). Community center for foreign practionners (men), attached to Suan Mokkh main monastery.





Go next[edit]

The quiet fishing village of Ban Pu Ma Riang lies east of Chaiya and is popular for its hand-woven silk.

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