Situated on the Gulf of Thailand about 200 km south of the Thai capital, Bangkok, Cha Am is a pleasantly uncrowded fishing town and seaside resort in Cha Am district, Petchaburi Province.
Its peaceful atmosphere and relatively close proximity to Bangkok is one reason for its popularity among Thais, who often visit for a weekend or longer if they have time. The lack of a vibrant nightlife probably also accounts for it being overlooked by most foreign tourists who head for the better known island resorts, such as those on Koh Samui, and Phuket, etc.
Cha Am is definitely a daytime kind of place. There are a few night spots such as the string of bars in Soi Bus Stop, but they’re decidedly tame when compared to similar areas that you would find in Pattaya or in Bangkok’s red light districts of Patpong and Soi Cowboy. Most close around 1 am or midnight.
You can get to Cha Am by bus from Bangkok’s Southern Bus Terminal (Sai tai). The distance is around 200 km and takes around 3 hours. Buses leave for Hua Hin via Cha Am every hour throughout the day. The cost is 155 baht (July 2013). At the drop-off point, motorcycle taxis can take you and your luggage (within reason) to a seafront guest house or hotel for 50 baht. Motorcycle taxis are plentiful throughout the area and are a good way to get around. Standard taxis are also available.
There is a limited train service from Hualamphong station to Cha Am. To the south, the neighbouring seaside town of Hua Hin has more train services from Bangkok, but only two of those (9:20 am and 3:35 pm) stop at Cha Am around 4 hours later.
Taxis are the fastest and most convenient way to get to Cha Am but will cost around 2000-2500 baht from Bangkok.
Travelling to Cha Am from the south of Thailand (or even further south from Malaysia) is more conveniently arranged by travelling to the neighbouring seaside town of Hua Hin which has better transport links than Cha Am. You can then take a minibus, taxi or public bus to Cha Am which lies a further 16 miles (25 km) to the north
Accommodation is plentiful in Cha Am, ranging from guest houses to plush ‘sea view’ hotels. Perfect House guest house, in Soi Bus Stop about 3 mins walk from the seafront is a typical example of a clean, friendly and well-run guest house. Expect to pay around 600 baht per night for a double room with aircon, fridge, cable TV and Wifi.
The beach is clean and not crowded. There are some watersport activities but not enough to spoil the calm atmosphere.
Bicycle rental shops are common on the sea front and you can hire a bike for 20 baht per hour. You can also hire tandems and even doubletandems, if that’s the right phrase, for around 100 baht per hour. Bicycles are a great way to get around the seafront and further afield.
Cha Am is noted for its high quality golf courses, which are among the best in Thailand. Expertly designed and set among attractive natural surroundings, these courses attract golfers far and wide. Zoom in to the map below to see their locations
There are a few interesting Buddhist temples in and around Cha Am, such as Wat Nerun Chararam with its six-armed, Buddha prominently situated in the temple grounds, or the impressively old Wat Cha Amlocated further west, with its reclining Buddha set in a cave.
Cha Am Harbour
This is an interesting and a very photogenic area with lots of fishing boat activity going on. It lies to the north of the beachfront Rd and you can see the harbor jutting out to the sea from anywhere on the beach. It’s a pleasant bicycle ride of about 15 – 20 minutes to get there.
Pharmacies are a common and medical aid can be received at various clinics around town as well as at Cha Am Hospital in the north of Cha Am. This is a fairly small hospital in Khlong Thian Rd. If you require hospital treatment, assuming it’s not an emergency, you might instead consider heading to the seaside town of Hua Hin, 16 miles (25 km) to the south, which is better served with larger and more extensively equipped hospitals.
Legal aid is available at the Foreigner’s Legal Aid Centre (and police station)on the seafront road (Ruangjit), situated between the north and south beachfronts.