Cha Am in Petchaburi Province Thailand--Travel Thailand Series
Cha Am Thailand is a district in the southern part of the Petchaburi province in central Thailand. While its beaches might not be as well recognized as Krabi, Phucket, or other island beaches in Thailand, it is a great beach on the mainland. Cha Am is also an area to consider in retirement and the cost of living ranges from inexpensive to expensive. Besides the beach it offers sailing, nearby scuba diving, golf and nightlife activities. Its beaches and the general area has changed from a local attraction to an international resort area, much the same as Hua Hin which is just south of Cha Am.
Longest White Sandy Beach and Close to Bangkok
Cha Am has two drawing cards. They claim to have the longest sandy white beach in Thailand. That along with its proximity to Bangkok, being only 180 kilometers or 112 miles south, makes it only two or so hours from Bangkok, depending on traffic.
The Beach Road
Ruamchit Road, or the Beach Road, is only meters from the water’s edge. On one side of the road there is the sandy beach and the Gulf of Thailand and the other side is lined with lodging accommodations ranging from small guest houses and hotels to five star luxury resorts and spas. There are also internet cafes, photo shops, shells, gems and jewelry stores, tailors and more. There are many restaurants with international cuisines. On the sidewalk and on the street near the curb are vendors with more souvenirs and food than you can imagine.
Umbrellas and Lounge Chairs
Closer to the water are rainbow colored umbrellas and lounge chairs with tables. The commerce is divided into sections with different persons or businesses in charge of their area. They will greet you and offer you seats, tables, and an umbrella. They will run a tab if you wish and at the end of your visit on the beach you will pay for your site and food and drink that you have ordered to be delivered to you. The costs are quite reasonable.
Vendors walk up and down the beach usually in the umbrella shaded area, selling things like fish or shrimp, fresh fruits and vegetables that are ready to eat, soups, roasted peanuts in the shells, soft drinks, fruit juices, and beer. The native sarongs with traditional elephant motifs, beads made into jewelry, cotton candy, and much more can be bought by signaling to a vendor carrying his or her ware. Occasionally a vendor walks along the open sand area selling kites or styrofoam airplanes.
There are also passing vendors offering foot peels, Thai or oil massages, pedicures and manicures. They usually set up shop right where you are at.
Horses and Other Activities
Horses may lope, gallop or walk along the beach close to the water‘s edge. The horses are available for rides for a price. There are also banana boats pulled by jet skis and jet skis available for rides.
The beach holds an array of sunbathers, colorful sand buckets and children’s toys, sand castles or other sand structures, shells, stray beach dogs and birds in the sand. The waves and sometimes the white caps swell and subside as they come to meet you on the beach. Crabs can be found in the sand and if you are skilled and knowledgeable about locating them you can catch one. Sand dollars can also be found, although more rarely.
The Aura of the Beach
While strolling on the beach or sunbathing you are sure to hear the lilt of happiness from the beach goers under their umbrellas, the birds, and the rhythmic waves. Families, friends, lovers...sharing good times. Whether you are with someone or alone, watching the sunrise or the sunset in silence in the early morning or evening, it can be a sacred time.
Bicycles, Motorbikes and More
Transportation for pleasure and utility is available. There are bicycles for rent…single, double, up to four seaters for only a few baht and they are a good way to move along the more centrally located 6 km beachfront road. Motorbikes are also available for rent for 200-300 Baht per day and you can negotiate for a cheaper rate for longer periods. You can also hail a motorbike taxi. These taxis are probably the easiest way to get around the town of Cha Am.. They charge about 20 Baht per person for most places in town. Again, If you want to go further you will need to negotiate a price. There are also tuk tuks, taxis and of course your good old feet will take you where you want to go if you can bear the heat and distance involved.
If you decide to rent a motorbike there a few things you might want to know. Legally you need an international motorcycle license and are required to wear a helmet to drive in Thailand. The law is rarely enforced but if you should get stopped a bit of side money. may get you off the hook. The neighboring Hua Hin beach area does enforce the helmet law. Reportably a sign written in Thai was placed at the tourist police station stating that the helmet law will be enforced as of March 1, 2011. Regardless, you should wear one for safety.
Another very important consideration is to be extremely careful and aware of road hazards. Thai streets have bumps, holes, dogs, people and erratic traffic patterns and all require a constant watchful eye. You would also want to make sure the motorbike you are driving is insured as well as you having your personal insurance.
Cha Am weather is like most of Thailand, tropical and hot. There are two distinct seasons, wet and dry. The dry season is split into either cool and dry or hot and dry. November to February is the coolest dry season and might be the optimal time for a visit to Thailand or the beaches. March and April are generally the most uncomfortable with the season being hot and dry. The wet season is usually from May to October. It is said that Cha-Am is probably the least rainy place in Thailand and that might be attributed to the mountains that lay behind the town to the west.
Other Attractions in the Area
Market and Shops
The beach is mostly void of umbrellas on Wednesday because that is the day the beach is thoroughly cleaned and swept or raked. This might be the day to visit some of the other attractions in the area.
It is 2 km to the main town with the market and shops. The main road to and from the beach is called Narathip Road. It is along this road that you will see some beautifully colored golden brown whole barbequed pigs and chickens that can‘t help but make your mouth water.
There are a number of higher education facilities in the Cha Am/Hua Hin area. The Webster University is the only American university in Thailand. There are about 200 international students attending this small college.
Parks, Waterfalls, Caves and Golf Courses
The nearby Khao Nang Phanthurat Park has a 3 km nature trail where you can see some of the local flora and fauna. Butterflies, tropical birds and at times a group of Langurs (monkeys) are to be found. At any rate you will probably hear their strange call. The trail will take you up high for a fantastic view the coastline and area and then into the valley. There are also six world class golf courses, waterfalls, and caves to explore in the area, The Kaeng Krachan National Park is the largest national park in Thailand and is nearby.
There are two royal palaces which were used as summer getaway residences near Cha Am and its beaches. The Mrigadayavan (Maruekkhathayawan) Palace or Palace of Love & Hope, was built in 1924 as a summer getaway for King Rama VI. It is located about 10 km south of Cha Am. King Rama IV's Royal Palace with Phra Nakhon Khiri historic park was built in 1860 and is 35 km north and west of Cha Am.
There are also a number of Buddhist Temples including Wat Neran Chararam, which is the home of a large white statue of the six-armed Phra Pitthawan. The large white statue is prominent when first getting on the beach road.
Beach South of the Beach Road
The beach to the south of the 6 km beach road has either few or no vendors. The beach itself is less commercialized and each area is usually managed by the hotels, lodging resorts or spa that makes up their beach front property. These beaches are smaller and more intimate.
Lazy Days in the Sand
Cha Am has much to offer and is likely to be a nearby favorite beach that is returned to over and over for those living in the Bangkok area. Along with that it has earned the international tourist community who often returns. After exploring the beach and the area it may leave you with a surprised desire to fit it into your retirement dream.
Think of it: lazy days in the sand…massages…a bicycle built for two and more.
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1. Beach 2. Mrigadayavan Palace - Palace of Love & Hope 10km south 3. Wat Neran Chararam & Phra Pitthawan,6 armed statue 4. Khao Nang Phanthu
King Rama IV's Royal Palace
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