CHA-AM IN BRIEF
WHY GO: Cha-Am is a laid-back beach resort near Bangkok, small enough for most of its hotels and restaurants to be actually located next to the beach, what is not often the case with bigger holiday resorts.
WHY NOT: Sea is murky in front of Cha-Am, and the restaurant options limited.
FAMILIES: Cha-Am’s best hotels have great swimming pools, and the beach has plenty of shade from trees and parasols to protect the little ones from intense sun even on the hottest time of the day.
50+: Cha-Am is an easy-going beach resort, which attracts people who are not interested to show of but to relax. You won’t be surrounded by perfect beach bodies here instead the atmosphere is very much like come as you are.
BANGKOK & BEACHES: Bangkok is just two hours drive away. Cha-Am is the closest real beach resort to Bangkok, after Pattaya, and the two resorts cater to very different kind of travelers.
Cha-Am is ideal for those looking for a laid-back beach resort close to Bangkok. Although Cha-Am is located just two hours from the Thai capital, the resort has staid inexpensive and has a relaxing down-to-earth feeling. Cha-Am is particularly well liked by families and mature travelers.
Cha-Am can easily be described as a countryside cousin of the more sophisticated Hua Hin, which lies just 25 kilometers away. You won’t find many fine restaurants or cafes here, but maritime atmosphere is all the more present in Cha-Am, where hotels and restaurants stand right by the sea. And if you want to shop or try out new restaurants, you can always make the short trip to Hua Hin.
Cha-Am’s casuarina-lined beaches are long and wide, but the sand is slightly rough, and sea is grey in color. During weekdays Cha-Am is very sleepy, but the resort comes alive on weekends, when Bangkokians come for a beach break.
Orientation: Cha–Am’s Best Beaches
Cha-Am has two very distinct beach areas: The beach by Cha-Am’s lively village, called Cha-Am Beach, and much quieter beaches south of it. Which one suits you better, is a matter of taste.
Cha-Am Beach has a village like atmosphere. A road runs between the beach and the hotels, and the sand is mostly covered by rows of parasols (the use of beach chairs costs around 50 bahts per person). You have a plenty of restaurants and small shops within walking distance.
The finest hotels of the Cha-Am area are located further down on the secluded southern beaches. An area called Bang Kwai is some five kilometers away from Cha-Am’s beach village, and Tassanee Beach is 10 km further away, making it actually a bit closer to Hua Hin than Cha-Am.
Both Bang Kwai and Tassanee beaches are very secluded, with just a handful of tourist services. There are no parasols ruining the sea views. Only way to move around is to get a taxi, which are usually waiting in front of the hotels. Some of the hotels have a paid shuttle bus service to Cha-Am Beach and Hua Hin a few times a day.
Cha-Am’s Sights and Activities
Cha-Am sights and activites are the same as in the neighboring Hua Hin. It’s a short drive to Hua Hin’s numerous golf courses and historical sights. Kids will enjoy Black Mountain Water Park.
Good options for day-trips from Cha-Am are Sam Roi Yot National Park and a visit to Pala-U water fall, the latter offering a good chance to see wild elephants.
There are no snorkeling or diving places anywhere close to Cha-Am.
The only real sight walking distance from Cha-Am’s beach village is Wat Neranchararam, which has a curious and rather rare Buddha statue. The statue has covered his eyes, ears, mouth and nose with its six hands as a sign that Buddha has abandoned all the pleasures and temptations of life.
One can also walk to the far end of the fishermen village’s breakwater; there’s great views both to the sea and to the border mountains of Thailand and Burma.
Cha-Am’s Best Hotels
Cha-Am hotels has plenty of nice hotels. They prices go up at weekends, when Bangkokians travel to Cha-Am for a short beach break, and during the week one can find good discounts.
You just have to choose, if you prefer to stay at the busier Cha-Am beach, or opt for the quieter Ban Kwai or Tassanee Beach.
For families great hotels in Cha-Am are, for example, Methavalai Hotel at Cha-Am Beach, Regent Chalet in Bang Kwai and the luxurious Sheraton Hua Hin Resort & Spa (which despite its name, is located in Tassinee Beach between Hua Hin and Cha-Am).
For romantic couples a beautiful, artistic place is Yaiya Resort at Tassinee Beach.
Cha-Am Bech has the widest selection of restaurants in the area. Most of the restaurants offer both Western and Thai food. A popular place is for example Aroy Restaurant on Chao Lai Road, whose long menu has everything from Thai food to steaks. Breakfast is served from 8 am.
At the northern end of Cha-Am Beach, after a small bridge, is a fishing village with a number of seafood restaurants right by the beach. Fish and crabs are kept alive on water tanks, and they are guaranteed to be fresh. A good bet among the restaurants is Krua Medsai, for instance.
Next to Cha-Am’s bus station at Narathip Road, there are food stalls side by side selling Cha-Am’s specialty, whole roasted pork. Order a portion of the fatty pork with crispy skin, and enjoy with sticky rice and somtam papaya salad. Simple and delicious!
If you are staying in Bang Kwai, you’ll find a small village with restaurants and simple shop behind Marriott Courtyard Hotel.
Cha-Am’s most legendary restaurant is Sung Wean Seafood, which is located on the beach next to Springfields@Sea Resort, close to Bang Kwai. This very basic looking restaurant does some of the best seafood you can find in Thailand. Even a Thai princess has feasted here! Sung Wean Seafood is hugely popular during weekends, but don’t get turned away by the masses; the restaurant’s amazing kitchen staff does miracles both on the taste of the food but also how fast they manage to deliver it!
Cha-Am is not a party place, no nightclubs here, but you’ll find a few nice bars on Cha-Am Beach.
ChaAm Pub’s small dance floor gets crowded on weekends, when a swinging live band sets the party mood. During the week the Aussie owned ChaAm Pub hosts also movie nights and shows sport events on big screen. The pub is located on Chao Lai Street, close to the popular Aroy Restaurant.
Baan Chang has live bands every day, and during the popular Sunday jazz jam sessions the customers can showcase their talents too. Baan Chang is located at the end of an alley between Golden Beach Hotel and Methavalai.
Shopping in Cha-Am
Cha-Am Beach has small shops selling basic beach toys and clothes. Premium Outlet Cha-Am sells branded products at discounted prices a few kilometres drive away from Cha-Am. Santorini Park, also a taxi ride away, is a Greek themed open air mall mostly good for photo ops and souvenirs.
More serious shopping can be done in close by Hua Hin, which has several malls.
Travel to Cha-Am
A taxi ride from Bangkok to Cha-Am costs around 1500 to 2000 bahts and takes about two hours. Remember to ask the same driver to pick you up for your return trip, since Cha-Am’s own taxis charge 2500 baht for the same journey.
Buses to Cha-Am depart every half hour from Bangkok’s Southern bus station, which is located far from the city center. More convenient option is to take a minivan (150 bahts) from the Victory Monument BTS station. Minivans leave whenever they are full.
Buses and vans stop at the junction between highway and Narathip Phetkasem Road. Cha-Am’s main beach is a few hundred meters down.
Buses run frequently along Phetkasem highway to Hua Hin, a much busier beach resort.
Best Time to Travel to Cha-Am
Cha-Am is pretty much a year-round destination. Cha-Am is located on Central Thailand’s relatively dry coastal area, which gets a lot less monsoon showers than Southern Thailand, for instance.
Read more: Thailand’s Weather and Climate
Good to Know
Cha Am’s first-aid clinic is open 24 hours, but in more serious matters you should turn on to the international hospitals of Hua Hin or Bangkok.