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 making a round trip of Surat Thani and Nakhon Si Thammarat Provinces.


Chaiya was once one of the principal trading cities of the Srivijaya Empire between the 8th and 13th centuries. Archaeologists believe that Indian traders from Madras visited the town as far back as the fifth century. Parts of the town's interesting history remain vague, 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.

By train

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

By car

Drive from Chumphon on Hwy 41.

By plane

The nearest airport is an hour away, in Surat Thani.

Go next

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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