200km south of Bangkok, along the western seaboard is the beach towns of Cha-am. Once a low-key fishing and market village, Cha-am has grown in popularity, particularly with local Thais who yearn for a weekend escape from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok. Thailand's longest white sand beach is the main feature of Cha Am.
Cha-am is mainly know for its fresh seafood, and eating and drinking in a relaxing seaside environment is the main draw for the locals. The local fare can be enjoyed at both open-air eateries with umbrella-shaded tables out on the beach, and more traditional restaurants near the north end of the beach or cantilevered out over the water on stilts at the edge of the harbor. The beaches are very nice with warm gentle waters perfect for swimming.
Cha-am's beach is divided in two by Naranthip Rd which runs from town till it bisects the beach road, Ruamjit Rd. To the north guesthouses and shops cater to Scandinavian and European tourists who have staked out a small claim, while to the south, the beach strip is dominated by Thai tourists.
With no real center, the town stretches along the length of the white-sand beach, said to be Thailand's longest. However, the post office and market are near the train station, and these three landmarks constitute the old center.
The beach has plenty of deckchairs and umbrellas for rent, and beer, soft drinks and tasty seafood are available all day long from local vendors. There is a good selection of accommodation set back from the beach, with small hotels for budget travelers and more luxurious big-name chains for those looking for something a bit more comfortable.
Located 9km south of Cha-am, Maruekatayawan Palace is one of the oldest and most attractive royal palaces in Thailand. The Maruekatayawan Palace was constructed by His Majesty King Vajiravudh (Rama VI) in 1923 as a place where he could fully relax in great comfort amid a naturally serene atmosphere.
The architectural design of the raised-floor wooden palace, with its three sections facing the sea, was drafted by the Monarch himself. Following the completion of the interior decoration in 1924, the King gave it his first visit and stay. His last visit to this seaside palace was made only a few months before his demise in 1925.
This palace is noted for three two - storeyed wooden pavilions facing the sea, and is referred to as "the palace of love and hope". Series of halls are linked together throughout the palace. Residential halls of the royal consort members are located on the right wing. The central group of halls which is the royal residence consist of royal sitting and relaxing rooms, accommodations for close royal servants called Phisan Sakhon Hall, and the reading room. See pictures
Cha-am Forest Park
west side of Petchakasem Road, 1 km south of intersection with Naranthip Rd.
A small, modest nature preserve that is still worth a visit. ATV (All Terrain Vehicle) rentals are available for guided tours. You won't be able to explore around on your own, but there are sufficient bumps and water crossings to make it amusing, especially for families and small groups. Pricey though, at 500 THB per ATV for a half hour, 900 THB for an hour. One child can ride on the back with you for and extra 150 THB, flat rate.
Heading north on Ruamchit Rd the road turns to dirt passing through a line of Thai shops, fishmongers, and associated restaurants. The road tees at the harbour--to the right is the beach and Shylae Seafood. To the left, the road continues around the harbour past the docks, and a narrow bridge leads to the other side. It's worth half a day or so just to wander around and take in the bustling scene.