Travel in Thailand Cha Am
About 25 km north of Hua Hin on the way to Bangkok is Cha Am, a beach that curiously you'll read much less about in the guides and brochures than Hua Hin, but which at the weekend seems to be almost as busy, if not busier than its more well-known neighbour, Hua Hin itself.
Pictured here, Cha Am is a long beach which is very popular with Thais and becoming increasingly popular with Westerners. The beach area itself is not quite as nice as Hua Hin but as it is not an area of royal residence, as Hua Hin is, the rules are less relaxed and unlike Hua Hin you get lots of people selling things on the beach, something which very much appeals to the Thais, funnily enough. Yep, they see people bothering them every couple of minutes wanting to sell them something as an opportunity whereas the average farang sees it as a nuisance which bothers their leisure time. don't ever believe that Thais and westerners are not very, very different.
Like Bang Saen Beach, Cha Am is very popular with Bangkok Thais, as well as upcountry Thais, who flock their in droves at the weekend. Good luck trying to find a place to park your car, if that is how you choose to travel there, especially if you are only there for the day. (If you stay in a hotel then you'll be able to get parking there without much trouble). On weekdays the beach is quiet and relaxed and you can have big sections of the beach to yourself.
The big advantage of Cha Am over Hua Hin is that generally speaking, Cha Am attracts Thai tourists who are a bit more sensitive to price than Westerners. That means that things are cheaper. it also means that there is less in the way of restaurants that directly target Westerners but that is not to say that Westerners will have any problems there, quite the opposite. More and more Westerners seem to be heading to Cha Am and I was amazed at how many Western tourists were there on my last visit. The majority seemed to be older Europeans and I would not be surprised if Cha Am is sold as a cheaper alternative to Hua Hin, or perhaps it even gets some of the overflow from Hua Hin in the high season.
I have to say that I am not a huge fan of Cha Am. OK, truth be told, I really have not spent that much time there, just a few hours, but the very reason for going there, the beach, is not all that special. I really think the beach at Hua Hin is much nicer and so I'll always choose Hua Hin over Cha Am. Still, if you are sensitive to price, then Cha Am offers you nice Thai beach resort at very reasonable prices.
Cheaper than Hua Hin, especially in the case of lower end accommodation.
The beach really is not that special.
The Bottom Line
An alternative to Hua Hin.