Cha Am (70,000 citizens) is a town in the province of Phetchaburi. Cha Am is located about 125mi southwest of Bangkok and about 19mi north of Hua Hin. Cha Am is particularly known for its beautiful beaches and the many resorts. Cha Am also houses the Webster Academy, the only American International School in Thailand. Approx. 300 international students attend this school. In the area of Cha Am are a number of parks including the largest national park in Thailand, Kaeng Krachan. This park is often visited by the royal family, a number of palaces are therefor in this region. These palaces can be visited. The main reason to go to Cha Am is for the 3mi long beach full of hotels and resorts.
Sights and Tourist Attractions
Location: 31mi from center - 1 hour | Price: 200THB | Category: Nature
Kaeng Krachan is, with its acreage of approximately 1.100mi², the largest national park in Thailand. The largest part of Kaeng Krachan consists of rainforest with several rivers running through it. As result to the location of Kaeng Krachan park the flora is incredibly diverse. The flora of this park includes lianas, orchids and various fruit trees. Like the flora also the fauna is very diverse. There are more than 400 species of birds in Kaeng Krachan and 57 species of mammals, including tigers, cheetahs, and wild elephants.
Tham Khao Luang
Location: 28mi from center - 1 hour | Category: Culture, History and religion
The Tham Khao Luang cave is located in the Khao Luang hill. In this cave you can find a golden Buddha, which is made by order of King Rama V and was dedicated to King Rama IV and III. This cave is seen as the largest and most important cave in the province. At the foot of the hill there is a large Buddhist monastery. This monastery is known under the name Wat Bun Thawi.
Huai Sai Wildlife Breeding Centre
Location: 12mi from city center - 0.5 hours drive | Category: Nature
Huai Sai Wildlife Breeding Centre is a zoo that is part of the royal wildlife conservation program. Here are several conservation and breeding programs. Upon entering Huai Sai Wildlife Breeding Centre, the first thing you see are different kinds of deer. At the entrance you can buy food for the animals. In the park a lot of birds and monkeys are held. Most birds are kept in cages. Some monkeys are running through the park, others sit on an island surrounded by canals.
Phra Nakhon Khiri Historical Park
Location: 28mi from city center - 45 minutes | Price: 40THB | Category: Nature, history and culture
Phra Nakhon Khiri Historical Park is also known under the name of Khao Wang, which roughly translated means "Palace on the hill". This park has three hills. On the western hill in the park a palace was built by king Rama IV in 1850 (hence the name Khao Wang). This king was very interested in astronomy and had built an observatory next to his palace. In the palace on you will find a museum, here you are able to see how the king lived. On the eastern hill you will find the Wat Phra Kaeo temple. This temple is built in the same style as Wat Phra Kaew at the Grand Palace in Bangkok. On the hill in the middle lies the Phra That Chomphet temple. This temple was built by King Rama V.
Location: 10mi from city center - 20 minutes | Price: 90THB | Category: History and culture
The Mrigadayan palace was built in 1924 by order of King Rama VI. The original purpose of this palace was a summer residence for the royal family. The palace consists of 16 buildings, all of which are connected by means of covered paths and walkways. There are several rooms in the main building, among them the residence for the men, personal bedroom of the king and the residence for the women. There are two covered paths going from the palace to the beach, one for men and one for women.
Location: 10mi from city center - 20 minutes drive | Category: History, Culture and Nature
Puek-Tian beach in a neighboring village is known for its many statues. These statues are scattered across the beach, the road alongside the beach and in the sea. In particular, the statues which are placed in the sea make an impressive view. It is possible to stay in some smaller hotels and guesthouses in this village.
Damnoen Saduak (Floating Market)
Location: 75mi from center - 2 hour drive | Category: Culture
The floating market in Damnoen Saduak, Ratchaburi is accessible from Bangkok, Kanchanaburi and from Cha Am. Every morning there is a market on the water, of which the boats are the stalls. Due to the many tourists who come here every day, it is not as traditional as you might think. The authenticity has been replaced by commercialism.
In the region of Cha Am and Hua Hin are quite a lot of opportunities to play golf. Most courses are closer to Hua Hin. In 1924 the first golf course in Thailand was build. These golf courses are usually placed in and around luxury resorts. Often they give the non-golfing family members lower rates. The golf courses are well maintained and are very beautiful. During the golf sessions you can enjoy a magnificent view and the caddy will make sure you have everything you want and/or need.
In and around Cha Am, there are more than enough opportunities to make beautiful walks. Nature parks in the area and the beautiful coastline are perfect for a walk in the morning or the afternoon. During these walks you will see all the beauty which Thailand has to offer.
The beaches in Cha Am are pretty nice and well kept. But they are not as stunning as other beaches in Thailand like those of Koh Samui, Koh Chang or Phuket. But the beaches of Cha Am are a lot quieter. On some beaches the use of motorized vehicles such as jetskis and speedboats are even forbidden. This makes these beaches an ideal place to really relax.
Entertainment and Nightlife
If you go to Thailand for the nightlife, then locations like Phuket, Bangkok, Koh Phangan and Pattaya are far better options. If you want to sit on a nice and quiet terrace, having a drink and enjoy some good food, Cha Am is perfect for you. There are several bars and pubs in Cha Am. The highest concentration of bars can be found in the south of Cha Am. Also on the boulevard there are several bars. If you go away from the boulevard you will find the only disco in Cha Am.
How to get there
Cha Am can be reached in different ways:
Daily two trains depart from Bangkok to Hua Hin which make a stop in Cha Am. A train journey takes about 4 hours. A 3rd class ticket costs around 40 THB. Keep in mind that the level of comfort of the 3rd class is not great. This, together with the many stops, makes it a very long ride.
Daily minibuses depart from Bangkok to Cha Am. These buses can be found at the Victory Monument. A ride on these busses takes about 2 hours and costs 160THB. These vans can take 14 people and the driver will not leave until the minibus is full. This means that you may have to wait a long time before you can leave. Also it is an impractical way to travel if you have lots of luggage due to the lack of space. If the driver thinks your luggage is too big, he can even charge 100THB extra per suitcase or bag .
Daily every half hour a bus leaves to Cha Am from the southern bus station "Sai Tai Mai" in Bangkok. If you want to be sure of departure then choose the state bus instead of the Khao Sarn Road "VIP" bus. These private busses don’t leave regularly because they only depart when the bus is full. The trip takes about 4 hours. 1st class ticket costs about 140THB
Car - Taxi
It is also possible to go by taxi to Cha Am. A taxi ride will cost about 2.000THB and will take about 3 hours. You can also drive yourself to Cha Am. The big advantage of driving yourself is that you can stop at interesting places. The distance is about 120mi. Please note that the Thai drivers use a different style of driving than you are probably used to. It is very chaotic, especially in the busy streets of Bangkok. This can cause a lot of stress for the driver and passagiers.
Cha Am is the ideal location to spend the winter months in a quiet environment. If you are looking for a cheap guesthouse that is possible, the cheaper rooms in guesthouses cost about 200THB per night. For 400THB you can rent more luxurious rooms, where for example air conditioning is available. For the most luxurious resorts, you can go to Cha Am as well. Most hotels and resorts are located on the boulevard. The prices are very diverse and range from 600THB per night up to 8.500THB per night.