Cha-am district is located in the province of Phetchaburi. It’s only a small area of this province and well known for its beaches. Cha-am is a famous place for Thai weekend travelers, expats and tourists of all sorts. As Cha-am can easily be reached by highway from Bangkok. The distance of around 170 km from Bangkok makes it a popular spot. The location of Cha-am is at the west coast, on the same longitude as Rayong on the east coast of the Gulf of Thailand.
When you are coming from Hua Hin. You can catch a bike taxi for max 40 baht to the Hua Hin busstation and there take a minibus to Cha-am for 30 baht. It’s around 30 km north of Hua Hin and therefore a half hour drive. The minibus stops at the minibus stop of Cha-am, which is located at the (only?) road for tourists regarding bars, pool tables and bargirls. Plus plenty of hotels and guesthouses.
The train from Bangkok to Cha-am takes 4 hours. Prices are 143 for a 2nd class seat (90 for 3rd class), around 300 for a sleeping coach and less than 500 baht for a sleeping coach with airco. Coming from Hua Hin the train takes you to Cha-am in half an hour for only 13 baht. The train station of Hua Hin is at walking distance from the beach area. Check the train schedule first, because there are only a few trains to choose from.
Cha-am is somewhat hard to speak or pronounce. Both A’s can be spoken as AA with a split of second break between them. The town itself could be passed by the time you’ve finally learned to speak its name. This being said, it’s absolutely worth a visit. The town has something of a sleeping giant. In daytime it’s quiet and most places are closed. It has a serenity that comes to life in the evenings.
It’s a strip of about 100 meters length. The minibus stop is at one end of this strip, while the beach is located at the other end of the strip. The strip is a wide road with on both sides bars, guesthouses, apartments, hotels and restaurants. The road doesn’t seem to be wide because of the special way this town, or this centerpoint for tourism and happenings, is set up. In the middle of the road are bars too. Call it buildings, call it huts, call it whatever you like, but all those places seem to have one thing in common. They have a pooltable, a small bar, a couple of seats and a small number of tables.
So the wide road became actually two roads thanks to the bars in the middle. Some of the bars have the space to both sides or roads, while some have only the space of one side. Yes, that small, but with a pooltable.
According to travel guides or websites, the beach can be a crowded area. It depends on the season you go. If you avoid weekends and some busy hours of the day. Then it also depends which beach or part of beach you are going. So overall, it all depends. At the time that the writer of this article went, 2pm early July, there were simply no people to be seen on or around the beach. Surely not as in a beach place like Pattaya, but even nearby Hua Hin had more people. A beach chair cost you 30 baht and you can order food and drinks.
This can be experienced as positive too of course. A quiet beach. I wonder how it looks in a busy season or on a busy day. Perhaps there are water activities to be done or seen, like jetski and the like. The beach road has some supermarkets, hotels and restaurants. With a view on the sea, this can be a nice change from ‘The strip’. When paying attention to the visitors on the strip, you will notice that most of the expats live there and come for a beer. Most are of retirement age. You will also notice when you pay attention to the so called bargirls, that many of them are in their late 40’s or early 50’s.
Hotels & Transport
Clean rooms with aircon, bathroom, fridge and tv can be found starting from around 400 baht at the strip. Everything else is on walking distance and the minbus stop house is there. So you can easily catch direct transport to Bangkok and other places, even to towns like Kanchanaburi. Cha-am can be seen as boring or dull by some but as a heaven by others. That already makes it worth to check it out for yourself. An impression video of the bus station Hua Hin, Cha-am strip and beach can be seen here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vdhYlpgJsXA