Chaiya (ไชยา) is a small town 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.
Chaiya is accessible by rail via the Bangkok-South Thailand line.
Drive from Chumphon on Hwy 41.
The nearest airport is about 45 minutes away, in Phunphin district, Surat Thani.
- 1 Surat Thani International Airport (URT IATA), 73 Moo 3, Hua Toei, Phunphin district (30km south of Chaiya).
- 1 Suan Mokkh: The Garden of Liberation (สวนโมกข์พลาราม). Founded 1932 by Ajahn Buddhadasa with the goal of teaching the true heart of Buddhism. For almost a century, it has served and become one of the most revered Theravada Buddhist temple in Thailand
- 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.
- 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), ☏ . Wed-Sun 9AM-4PM. 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.
- 2 Chaiya Folk Museum.
- 3 Siam Hot Springs (บ่อสยามน้ำพุร้อน). 5am-8pm. 5 bathing pools ranging from 38 degrees Celsius to 44 degrees Celsius. 20 baht adults, 10 baht children.
The quiet fishing village of Ban Pu Ma Riang lies east of Chaiya and is popular for its hand-woven silk.