Easily accessible from Bangkok with its own airport, Chumphon is a popular seaside province overlooking the Gulf of Thailand. It gets its fair share of visitors each year who come to enjoy the beaches and slower pace of life – although most use it as a gateway to travel on further by boat to the nearby islands of Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao.
However, this “One Night Stay with Locals” trip lets you get a taste of true Chumphon while avoiding the crowds that flock to the islands. Your homestay for the night is just a short drive to the south from the airport, located in the province’s Bang Son community. In fact, you’ll be staying next to the community’s namesake ‘khlong’, in Thai meaning ‘canal’, which forms a pretty stretch of water covered by greenery on each side and plenty of hidden ‘beaches’ to be discovered along its banks. As the khlong links to the nearby sea, the waters are full of fresh seafood – which you can enjoy trying to catch and eat as much of it as you like!
Upon arrival, your first adventures are on land – rather than on the water – as you travel up Dinso Mountain to spot the migrating falcons. At a nearby temple, there’s the chance to pay respect to the local monks. At the ‘crab pawn shop’ you can give a helping in hand to some of the crabs trying return to their home, too.
Back to base, and it’s time to hit the water for one of this trip’s “Extraordinary Experiences”. The evening activity involves being towed on a raft behind a fisherman’s boat along Khlong Bang Son. Think of it as a dinner cruise ‘canal-style’ as you tuck into an impressive seafood buffet with fresh crab, squid, shrimps, shrimp paste and other Bang Son delicacies. The two-hour trip takes you to the mouth of the bay and back again, with fireflies able to be seen on the way back as dusk falls.
If dinner cruises aren’t your thing, this visit to Bang Son also has other options in terms of trip itineraries. You can also opt to choose Program 2, which focuses more on community activities, such as learning about local cooking methods and seeing the nature of the mangrove forest. Another option is Program 3, which starts much earlier in the day giving you time to do more. Activities include touring the community, learning how to make local snacks, experiencing the only sand dunes in Thailand (the highlight) and visiting a beach near the mountain at Tung Sang Bay.
Depending on which program you choose, on the morning of day-two you’ll either head out at dawn to see the sunrise at Wat Khao Chedi (which has a stunning 360-degree view of the region), or take an early morning boat ride out for some snorkeling fun at a nearby island off the coast of Chumphon.