You can find an affordable guesthouse in tightly packed North Cha-am with your eyes closed. Things become more spread out and generally pricier in South Cha-am, though Soi Bus Stop has a good collection of budget options to choose from.
Running from the railway rd north to the fishing village, North Cha-am is the more developed of the two halves of Cha-am Beach and is packed with cheap guesthouses and deckchairs.
We walked past this place a couple of times thinking it was just a trendy cafe, but when we stopped in for a super-sized iced latte and discovered they had rooms we had to have a look -- and found one of our Cha-am favourites. Oversized rooms (for a shopfront set up) are reached by broad wooden staircases with exposed steel supports (they must have totally gutted the existing building to craft... Read our full review of Cha Inn Cha-Am .
Once the premier luxury hotel on Cha-am beach proper, the Methavalai is looking a little long in the tooth now, but it does offer some good online rates (especially on weekdays). Set about half way between the road to the beach and the fishing village to the north, the sprawling lounge/reception area seems at once refined and hastily thrown together, as from the street you end up walking along... Read our full review of The Cha-Am Methavalai Hotel.
Very central, with a great freeform swimming pool that comes with plenty of shade and backs onto the seaview restaurant, Bann Pantai offers solid resort value -- especially on weekdays. Rooms are of a very good size, with a wooden and white linen finish common in many Thai hotels, and come with all the mod-cons you'd expect at a resort of this level. The pool is really noteworthy here -- kids... Read our full review of Bann Pantai .
From the railway Rd heading south, this strip is more spaced out, with some large resorts further south. You'll also find Soi Bus Stop this way which has some good cheap guesthouses to choose from.
Paso is set way, way, way towards the southern end of the beach. Don't give up! Keep on walking and you'll reach it eventually. Rooms are very smart in this modern hotel and the seaview rooms are great weekday value, with proper verandas and not too much passing street traffic to deal with. There's a ground floor lap pool situated a little oddly at the rear of the lobby -- it looks good, but... Read our full review of Paso Resort .
It's difficult to miss the bright green Anantachai, a convenient spot located on the beach road, just to the south of Soi Bus Stop. All rooms have air-con and range in price according to both their size and location -- all are musty and feel heavily used and lightly maintained. We were shown a cheap standard and a seaview superior and neither were great value -- if anything we'd have gone for the... Read our full review of Anantachai Guesthouse.
An honourable mention for an off the beach budget option, the farang-Thai run Blue Lagoon has affordable fan-cooled and air-con rooms in a multi-storey building a five-minute walk from the beach. The ground floor is a pub, which runs a very popular trivia night every Monday and is otherwise a bit of a local hangout for the usual suspects. The fan-cooled room is pretty small, but the air-con... Read our full review of Blue Lagoon Guesthouse and Bar .
You'll find Cha-am My House Hotel located about a third of the way up the south side of Soi Bus Station and, with a new elevated pool just finished (and more rooms going in), this is fantabulous value. Air-con rooms are clean and inoffensive (if forgettable), with TV, minibar, cable TV and WiFi. Though we didn't stay here to trial it, management made a very big deal about their WiFi, so we assume... Read our full review of Cha-am My House Hotel.
Talay Hotel & Villa (previously JJ Hotel) is first off the rank as you reach the beach road and turn south. It has two main options, standard rooms in a clapped out old hotel building and far better superior rooms in a longhouse setting running opposite. It's a bit of a quirky set-up and we can't help but think they're biding their time before knocking down the old joint and remodelling it in the... Read our full review of Talay Hotel & Villa .