Chaiya (ไชยา) is a small town on the Malay Peninsula, below the Kra Isthmus, at the Central Gulf Coast of Southern Thailand. It offers an interesting history, temples and handicrafts, and is worth visiting if you're making a round trip of Surat Thani, Ranong, and Nakhon Si Thammarat provinces.
Chaiya was once one of the principal trading cities of the Srivijaya Empire during the 8th and 13th century. Archeologists believe that Indian traders from Madras have been visting the town as far back as the fifth century. Parts of the town's interesting history remains vague but historians believe this city to be the capital of the said empire. A number of archeological sites in Chaiya have uncovered artifacts supporting this belief.
The town's role in maritime trade has long ago ceased and though archeologists 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.
Minivan from Surat Thani Makham Tia Bus Station cost 60 baht.
Chaiya is accessible by rail through the Bangkok-South Thailand line.
Drive from Chumphon on Highway 41.
The nearest airport is 30 minutes away on the outskirts of Surat Thani city. A private Taxi from the airport may cost you around 600 baht, You can try walking to the entrance of the Airport and flag down a blue coloured local bus heading north, cost approximately 40 baht.
Jump on a blue Songteau local bus for 10-20 baht around the town area.
Visit Wat Wiang, Wat Kaeo and Wat Long all four temples are located in Chaiya town.
Visit the quiet fishing village of Ban Pu Ma Riang (Phum Rieng Beach) which lies east of Chaiya and is popular for its hand-woven silk.
Attend a 10 day meditation retreat course for foreigners at Wat Suan Mokkh temple, located six kilometers south of Chaiya. Retreats begin every 1st of the month and are taught in English and include meditation, yoga/tai chi , hot springs and Dhamma talks. Turn up for registration on the last day of the previous month to register your place on the retreat (9am - 5pm). Retreats cost 2000 baht for 10 days.
Take a train from Chaiya train station to the north or south of Thailand and into Malaysia.
Take a minivan or Songteau from the market (located next to the train station) to Surat Thani city bus station and to Surat Thani Airport and to other destinations. (ask the drivers or locals for details)