Located less than 200 km south of Bangkok
and just 20 km north of Hua Hin, Cha-am is a quiet beach retreat
in Petchaburi Province; a long stretch of silvery sand that is
far quieter than nearby Hua Hin.
Cha Am has become a firm favourite with weekend visitors from
Bangkok, and is becoming increasingly popular with international
visitors keen on experiencing a genuinely Thai resort town.
There’s a complete absence of bars along the beach, local bylaws
won't permit them.
There are though numerous hotels and restaurants dotted about
the 3 kilometre long beach and it is easy to pick up a place to
rest in a deckchair under an umbrella. You can get a donkey ride
if you want one and it is possible to rent bicycles to explore
the area. There are also herds of food stalls selling excellent
Cha-am is remarkable in that it is unremarkable - this is a
pleasant beach with green water , and that's about it. Cha Am is
not 'in your face' and that can make a genuine change and
probably what is making it more attractive to foreigners.
The sea at Cha-am is generally calm, making it safe for
families with children, while rental jet skis and banana boats
are available for those looking for a little more fun. Generally
speaking however, Cha-am is for those looking for a quiet and
relaxing retreat, particularly on the week days, when the
weekend warriors have returned to nearby Bangkok.
The beach is long and sandy and the sea not deep. It is lined
with casuarina trees and generally pretty quiet during the week.
During weekends and public holidays, it will get busy. There are
plenty of deck chairs and eating and drinking spots, especially
around the main drag. In fact some may say too many. When busy,
prices will not be so cheap.
The main administrative area and old part of town is to the west
of Petchkasem Road. Here you'll find the Post Office, government
buildings, police station and train station. As with most Thai
towns of this size, there's a vibrant local market that's worth
taking a look around.
Nightlife is a lot less lively than Hua Hin, but there is a
group of bars at Inthira Plaza offering the standard hostess
service and an increasing number of family-friendly
establishments offering relaxed atmosphere and good food.
This beautiful beach, twinned with Hua Hin of Phrachuap Khiri
Khan, is located 40 kms. south of the town or 20 kms. north of
Hua Hin, and another 2 kms. along an access road. Cha-am was
originally a small fishing village. After a royal palace was
built near Hua Hin in the reign of King Rama VI, the land was
occupied by the royal family and the elite. Today, it is very
popular among Thais who love superb seafood and comfortable
hotel or bungalow accommodation.
Cha-am Forest Park is fairly modest, but worth getting along to.
You can hire vehicles for guided tours and it's popular with
families and small groups. The park is located on the west side
of Petchkasem Road about 1km south from the main intersection.
Cha-am is easily reached from Bangkok by train, bus or minivan
or from Hua Hin by the same and taxi. The journey from Hua Hin
should only take around 20 mins.
Turn right at Km.201-202, 4 kms. before arriving at Cha-am
and continue for another 8 kms. This area was originally dry and
infertile. In 1962, King Rama IX had an idea to help local
farmers and established the Hup Kraphong Rural Development
Project with the support of Israel. There were studies on
various crops growing in accordance with market requirements.
Tourists can buy farm produces as well as fine crafts made of
This summer palace, referred to as "the palace of love and
hope" is located between Cha-Am and Hua Hin. It was built under
the royal command of King Rama VI in the year 1923, with the
materials from the demolished Hat Chao Samran Palace. It is a
two-storeyed wooden pavilion with series of halls linking each
other, and a long corridor leading to the sea. The compound is
open everyday, Mon to Fri 8 a.m.-4 p.m. ; Sat, Sun and public
holdays 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
Klai Kangwon Palace
Klai Kangwon PalaceBuilt as a summer palace by King Rajakhipok
(Rama VII) for his Queen Rambai Barni, Wang Klai Kangwon,
remains the home of HM King Bhumipol, HM Queen Sirikit when in
Prachuab Kiri Khan and neighbouring provinces. Now long after
this royal seaside retreat became popularised among commoners,
it's open to the public when royalty's not in residence.
It was designed in the Spanish style to suit the tropical
climate, by Prince Iddhidesarn Kridara, a graduate from L'Ecole
Des Beaux Art and the director of the Department of Fine Art.
Site preparation began in October 1926 and on 21 September 1927
construction started, paid for by the Privacy Purse. Its
completion was celebrated on 10-11 April 1929.
Klai Kangwon PalaceAs it's a summer palace, there's no throne
room for audiences. Originally just three two-storey mansions
faced the sea. The largest, Phra Tamnak Piamsuk, sits between
Tamnak Plukkasem to the north and Tamnak Noi to the south.
Sectioned away by walls, the entourage resided in bungalows.
It feels more like a large house than a formal palace - hence
the name "Far From Worries". Yet within just three years,
worries found their way down to Hua Hin and on 24 June 1932,
following a bloodless coup, it was the site of the abdication of
absolute monarchy by King Prajadhipok and the acceptance of a
constitutional one. There's nothing on display to record the
event, unlike the pen and desk used in the abdication of Edward
VIII of English, that are preserved at his Fort Belvedere study.
In 1935, King Prajadhipok decided he was unable to continue as
King and abdicated to live in Cranleigh, England, until his
death in 1941.
More recently, HM King Bhumipol commanded a mansion to be built
for HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn in the same style as the
original seventh reign buildings. Fronting the palace an
Italianate garden features topiary bushes and trees, stone
sculptures from Bali, nautical items and a sundial.
Klai Kangwon Palace, Petchkasem Beach Road, Hua Hin 77110
(66-32-511155, fax 66-32-510979) Daily 9 am.-4 pm. (except
during royal residence)