Anyone close to me knows that I love quiet places. The population of Suratthani city is a little under 300,000 (Suratthani province is about 1mill+). Despite it being an extremely small city that virtually no tourists visit, I still live in the heart of it – and city life can get exhausting and tiresome.
That’s why I absolutely love escaping to the surrounding districts of Suratthani to get away from the city. It’s an ongoing theme to how I travel – I used to always escape Wellington and Melbourne CBD by hopping on trains to (beautiful) surrounding suburbs.
Luckily, my manager (Holly) lives in Chaiya, only 45 min. from the city – and still part of Suratthani province. She graciously showed me around her new city by taking me to all the best spots, and it was the perfect remedy of relaxation that I needed.
Chaiya is one of the oldest cities in Thailand. It was once one of the principal trading cities of the Srivijaya Empire during the 8th and 13th century, and for that reason, it’s home to several temples.
We visited Ban Pu Ma Riang, a quiet fishing village renowned for its hand-woven silk and gazed in awe as workers effortlessly used handcrafted machines to weave tiny threads in and out, up and down.
Wat Suan Mokkh Temple, the temple of Ajarn Buddhadasa (one of Thailand’s most revered monks), is an iconic landmark of Chaiya since it’s where a 10-day meditation retreat takes place. It was lovely to walk around the grounds and explore, but I wouldn’t sign up for any type of meditation retreat in the near future, especially since we all know how my yoga classes in Bali went (not well).
We also went to Phum Rieng Beach and walked along mangroves while two stray dogs followed us.
My favorite bit was going to the mountain hot spring and taking a dip at the perfect moment – it started sprinkling, so it balanced out the warm water. Thailand doesn’t have many spas/jacuzzis, so this was as close as we could get – and a natural hot spring was pretty cool. Far easier to swim and relax in than Japanese onsen for sure.
The meal we had in Chaiya was absolutely amazing, especially the portion size. To conclude everything, I found a bunch of different food at the market to snack on during my bus journey back. Ah, contentment.