Although Chumphae is far from the most happening city in Thailand, there are some amazing restaurants, cool bars, and some all around pretty awesome things to do.
And well, frankly I’ve spent a lot of time in Chumphae, and I feel it deserves a mention.
This small Issan city is only an hour and a half away from Khon Kaen, and there are vans running pretty much all day to and from.
The van ticket cost from Khon Kaen is 95 baht
Although I would never want to spend more than 1 or 2 days in Chumphae, there are plenty of hotels between 400-600 baht a night, making Chumphae a cheap weekend getaway, or a nice stop while traveling through Isaan.
** For a good cheap hotel in Chumphae try Nakhonchai Mansion. The rooms are between 350-400 baht, with cable, air con, and hot showers.
So here it is. The Top Things to do in Chumphae, should you ever find yourself out that way.
Chumphae Walking Street
Every Friday night Chumphae throws down with a massive market. The market spans down a long narrow street that comes alive with food vendors, soap sellers, acrobatic B-Boy dancers, and live music.
There are plenty of restaurants alongside the narrow street, and there’s even a western Farrang bar called Joe’s Bar.
Truth be told, at this point I thought I was completely over Southeast Asian markets, but the awesome variety of music and the energetic buzz of the Walking Street made me love this Chumphae claim to fame.
But words can only convey so much, the pictures tell a better story.
So what other things can you do in Chumphae? Well you can…
Swimming in Thailand is the best thing ever. It’s like crossing the Gobi desert, and then being handed a glass of ice water and a York peppermint patty.
Unfortunately in Northeastern Thailand there are a lack of nice pools. Chumphae however has two large beautiful swimming pools (see below).
Pool Cost: 120 Baht
The pool at the Tarakool Hotel is gorgeous. There’s beautiful vegetation surrounding the pool area, and there’s even a kids pool.
Major Grand Hotel
Pool Cost 60 Baht
The pool at the Major Grand is beautiful, and they have an extensive food menu on hand as well.
***Although I can’t afford to stay at either one of these hotels, I’ve used both pools multiple times. Luckily you don’t need to be a guest at either hotel to use their swimming facilities.
But swimming isn’t the only thing you can do at the Major Grand Hotel. You can also…
Definitely more for families and people with young kids, the Major Grand Hotel has a quaint little petting zoo called Farm View . For 20 baht you can buy bushels of veggies and feed goats, and sheep. There’s also a pen filled with adorable rabbits.
It’s hokey and lame, but kids love it.
Climb the Rock Wall
Not into putting your mitts all over caged farm animals? Fear not, right next to the petting zoo is an artificial rock-wall. The price is 60 baht a pop.
Fun, healthy, rewarding… what’s not to love about a rock wall? When you reach the top, you can see right into the goat pen, which is perfect if you want to watch your kids from a distance…just kidding.
Similar to the petting zoo but aimed more for single male adults and bachelor parties, Major Grand Hotel has a “titty- Karaoke- Bar.” Truth be told, I’ve never been. But I have friends who have gone and said it was a killer time. Hot chicks scantily dressed and willing to wear even less, and a rock and roll catalog of all your favorite karaoke songs…what’s not to love?
If you’re not into the girly action, and you’d rather listen to someone other than yourself sing, fear not, Major Grand Hotel also has a beer garden which hosts live music every night except Buddhist holidays.
Enough about hotels I can’t afford to sleep in though, let’s get out of the Major Grand and talk about the rest of Chumphae. So what else can you do?
Play Killer Billiards at Koosai Restaurant and Bar
Koosai Restaurant and bar is a really fun expat hangout in Chumphae, frequented by both Western and Thai folks.
Friday nights they host a killer billiards tournament, sometimes with as many as twenty people playing, and prizes for first place.
Aside from the absolutely delectable Thai food, Koosai restaurant also has a scrumptious and vast selection of western food including hamburgers, Cornish pasties, thick-cut sandwiches, pizza, and even apple pie. They also keep a stock of imported beers and ciders.
Mark the owner is a really swell guy who is sure to strike up a friendly conversation with you.
Mark is also part of the tourist police, and he provides free legal advice out of his restaurant. So if you ever have a question about the law, or need some help, Koosai restaurant and bar is the place to go.
Koosai restaurant and bar is a Chumphae staple, and shouldn’t be passed up. Stop in, grab some western food, and put your billiards skills to the test with a game of killer.
Dance your butt off at Tawan Daeng
Tawan Daeng is a popular dance club all throughout Thailand, and if you want the authentic Thai dance club experience, then this is it.
Bring an entourage and buy a bottle of Johnny Walker on-site to share. A house band plays all of the Thai classics, plus the new hits in a literally non-stop set-list.
Several different singers come out on stage throughout the night, and they are constantly changing their outfits to add a bit of fashion-flare. Sometimes lady-boys will even come out and give a full risque performance.
This is without a doubt the most happening place in Chumphae, and it tends to stay open until 2:30 AM or so.
But what if you want to stay out later than 2:30? What if you’ve had a red bull, and too much whiskey, you’re dancing, and you just don’t want the night to end?
Well you’re in luck because you can always
Rent a Karaoke Room at Srisuphan Grand Royal Hotel
That’s right, if you want to pull an all nighter, then head to Srisuphan and rent a Karaoke room. They usually stay open until 3 or 4 in the morning, and they’ll serve beer up until closing.
You’ll pay a small fee to use the karaoke room, but truth be told Srisuphan has one of the most extensive English song lists I’ve ever seen in Thailand. This is not the place to go and meet people, but if you’re already out with a solid group, and you want to continue the night, then Srisuphan is the spot to go… the only spot 🙂
Eat the Beef Stew at Somjai Restaurant.
On the same street as Koosai restaurant is an amazing restaurant with a full western menu. Although every meal I’ve eaten there has been phenomenal, their beef & lamb stew is something out of this world.
The stew costs 200 baht, is massive, loaded with meat, potato, and veggies, and comes with toast. This meal is a slam dunk, and is the perfect breakfast after a long night of whiskey and dancing at Tawan Deng.
And as if the food wasn’t reason enough to go, the owner is an absolute sweetheart to boot!
So that’s pretty much my list of recommendations for a day in Chumphae.
But there are a couple of other things that deserve mentioning.
Chumphae Lake and Market
Smack dab in the center area of Chumphae is a lake and a local market. Although the market is nothing to write home about, there is a little park area next to the lake, and there is usually an event there at least once a month.
If you’re out and about in the town, it’s definitely worth driving by the lake to see if there is anything going on. Sometimes there is even live music playing there.
Drink a Latte at Coffee Relax
Having lived in Seattle for ten years before coming to Thailand, the biggest challenge of living in Isaan for me, is the lack of good coffee.
In Chumphae there is an awesome coffee house called Coffee Relax. The bevies are delicious and made from actual java beans, not instant coffee packs.
The vibe in the shop is good, and the place is decorated beautifully.
So there you have it, Chumphae in a day (or a day and a half). If you live in Isaan, I definitely recommend checking out this spot, it’s a small city with some big things to offer.
Have anything to add to this list? Comment below! I’d love to hear from you.
** Want to see more cool places from Isaan? Check out Wat Pha Sorn Kaew!
Thanks for reading, and happy travels!