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.
Chaiya is accessible by rail through the Bangkok-South Thailand line.
Drive from Chumphon on Highway 41.
The nearest airport is an hour away, in Surat Thani.
The quiet fishing village of Ban Pu Ma Riang lies east of Chaiya and is popular for its hand-woven silk.