Photo: Lazy chairs on Cha-am's beach.

Introduction

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A bit of a seaside dump saved by its proximity to Bangkok, the long beach at Cha-am is popular with working-class Thai weekenders and a scattering of foreigners. Though you’ll find much better beaches further south, Cha-am boasts terrific seafood and is more affordable than nearby Hua Hin.


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Many of Bangkok’s wage earners escape the grind of answering phones and serving drinks by loading into garishly coloured coaches that blast Thai pop music while pulling up to Cha-am Beach for a day or two of leisure. Their merrymaking doesn’t waste a minute, as some tours budget only half a day of beach time before heading home or perhaps popping over to Phetchaburi for a whirlwind spin through the temples and palaces.

Build a sand chedi while here. Photo taken in or around Cha-am, Thailand by David Luekens.

Build a sand chedi while here. Photo: David Luekens

From Saturday morning to Sunday mid-afternoon, festive crowds of Thais dig into seafood, iced beer and whiskey around deckchairs set in neat rows beneath the casuarina trees that line the beach. Often the bravest (or drunkest) of them test out their English skills by inviting passing foreigners to join them for a beer or three. By Monday Cha-am empties out as room rates fall and some businesses close.

With coarse tan and off-grey sand tapering into murky brown-blue water, Cha-am Beach is no better than average as far as Thai mainland beaches go. Erosion has affected the southern stretch, where the water washes straight up to a rocky break wall at high tide. It gets better to the north, where the best patch of sand across from the Methavalai Hotel stays wide enough for a Frisbee toss no matter the tide.

The fishing village is worth a look. Photo taken in or around Cha-am, Thailand by Stuart McDonald.

The fishing village is worth a look. Photo: Stuart McDonald

The beach road runs beside the sand for a full eight kilometres in central Cha-am. Stacks of hotels, guesthouses, restaurants and shops join some ugly abandoned buildings on the inland side of the road, while only lounge chairs overseen by tiny seafood kitchens nudge right up to the sand. Vendors wander around hawking snacks, sarongs and knick-knacks as beach dogs try to look cute in exchange for a nibble of grilled squid. Some of the livelier tourists get up and rip over the water on jetskis and ... Travelfish members only (Around 700 more words) ... please log in to read the rest of this story.


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What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Cha-am.
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 Read up on where to eat on Cha-am.
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