463km (288 miles) S of Bangkok; 193km (120 miles) N of Surat Thani

Chumphon was once known for simply being a stop on the way south; plans are now underway to transform this little town into a tourist hub. Today it's got a pier, completed in 2007, and is a busy transit point for boats to Ko Tao to the southeast and Ang Thong Marine National Park due south, both of which are popular diving areas. Surrounded by its famous fruit orchards inland, and a couple of great beaches, such as Sairi Beach, 22km (14 miles) east of town, and Thung Wua Laem Beach, 12km (7 1/2 miles) northeast, it's a good place to slow down and take time out.