Cha Am, Thailand

Cha Am is by far the most popular beach of Petchaburi province. The beach itself is a clean white sand beach stretching over 7km long, and offers a variety of accommodations. Arrays of shops and recreations abound in the area: water scooter, horse riding, banana boating, golfing or even para-gliding.
The north and south end of the beach provides more quietness and are more suitable for leisurely pursuits such as sunbath, swimming or just observing the coastal environment and the locals’ way of life. Compared to the crowded and brassy ambience of Pattaya, Cha Am offers an alternative of a peaceful and less touristy seaside resort ideal for a relaxing getaway.
Cha Am beach was established after Hua Hin had been taken up by the royalty and dignitary as the imperial resort. A group of aristocrats had pushed the clear-up of this sea-front mangrove forest to build a new seaside village in 1921. They built a route from the railway station to this beach, and another road along the beach.
A cart-path was cut behind the sea-front plots of land. The prince called the new village Sahakham Cha Am. Since that time the site has undergone several developments, including the establishment of modern roads and the opening up of new resorts as well as myriad of facilities to serve tourists. Nowadays, Cha Am ranks among one of the most frequented weekend resort towns.
Apart from the beautiful sand beach, there are many attractions around Cha Am and most of them are within short reach. Here are some of the points of interest you may like to stop by while you are in Cha Am.
Maruekkha-thayawan Palace
This palace was once a seaside summer palace of the royal family. Designed by an Italian architect during the reign of King Rama IV, it comprises of three two-storey wooden buildings adjointed to each other by elevated walkways. Today the palace is open for public viewing.
Hua Hin
Hua Hin is a well-known seaside resort of Thailand and the oldest one of its kind. The beach extends about three kilometers southwards of the fishing village. It boasts a fine white sand, quality resort hotels, many water sports opportunities and boasts to be as popular as when it was first established.
Phra Nakhon Khiri Historical Park
Phra Nakhon Khiri Historical Park, or more locally known as Khao Wang, represents a fantastic mixture of traditional Thai, Chinese and Western architectural styles. Its construction was commissioned by King Rama VI for himself and royal guests. The park comprises of palaces, temples, royal halls and groups of building sprawling on Mahaisawan Hill.
Kaeng Krachan National Park
This park is the largest national park of Thailand. Visitors to Kaeng Krachan will find plenty of outdoor activities available here such as trekking along the mountain paths, visiting cliffs and rock formations, boating in Kaeng Krachan Reservoir and watching various species of birds.
Khao Luang
The cave is located at about 3 kilometers away from the township inside Khao Luang, and boasts a fine collection of magnificent stalagmites and stalactites which reflects the sun beams filtered through the ventilating hole at the top. In addition to the beautiful natural environment of the cave, there are also several Buddha images built by King Rama V.
Phra Ram Ratchaniwet (Ban Puen Palace)
The construction of this palace was commissioned by King Rama IV who conceived it to be his retreat in the monsoon season. It was modeled after the palace of Keiser Wilhelm in Germany and a German architect was ordered to design and overlook its construction. The final product is an impressive combination between the Baroque and Art Nouveau architectural styles.
Wat Kamphaeng Laeng
Wat Kamphaeng Laeng is the biggest and oldest historical site of the province and perhaps of the country since its historical relics suggest that Petchaburi was a great settlement from 12th-13th century. The dominant architectural style of this temple is influenced by the Khmer’s style. The wall is made of laterite and there appears the Dvaravai stucco mouldings in patterns of Naga or serpent gripped in the mouth of dragon and the lotus petals on the capitals of columns.
Wat Yai Suwannaram
This well known temple houses a fine collection of mural paintings which can be dated back to Ayutthaya period. The ubosot enshrines the main stucco Buddha image in the posture of subduing mara and a cast figure of the former Supreme Patriarch Taeng-mo.
Wat Ko Kaeo Suttharam
This temple was built during the late Ayutthaya period and has a unique architectural style characteristic of its time. There are various mural paintings depicting ten previous lives of the Lord Buddha. The wooden panelled walls of its exterior-walls or Fa Prakon are regarded as the most beautiful in Thailand. Sala Kanparian, the pavillion, has a superbly-carved wooden pulpit by the river is called Sala Mahesuan.
Wat Phuttha Saiyat
Wat Phuttha Saiyat is more popularly known by the name Wat Phra Non by the local people. The temple houses one of the four largest statues of the reclining Buddha or Phra Phuttha Saiyat in Thailand. The statue is presently enshrined in Phra Wiharn (formerly laid outdoor) which contains inside many Dvaravati and U-thong Buddha images.
Wat Mahathat Worawihan
Wat Mahathat Worawihan was built according to the Buddhist precept by erecting a temple inthe middle of the town to enshrien Bhudda relics. The temple is believed to have been bulit 800 years ago and has in its collection a variety of historical and artistic artifacts.
Shopping
The famous souvenirs of visitors to Cha Am are sweets which are mostly made of tanot (palm) sugar, flour, eggs and coconut cream, and handmade crafts made of seashells. Other souvenir iems include woman accessories and housewares made of hemp, products of palm sugar and a variety of processed fruits. Sweet shops can be found in abundance around Khao Wang, along Phetkasem Road and in the town center.
Dining
Cha Am is a paradise for dining because you’ll find a cornucopia of restaurants serving both local food and seafood along the beach road. The dishes are prepared upon request and generally have reasonable prices. In addition, there are many food sellers who walk around selling fruits and skewerd meat balls or dried squids right up to your beach chair.
Golf
Golf has been a very popular outdoor pastime in Cha Am. There are several fine golf courses that they are usually very full most weekends, so reservation in advance is recommended. Many of the hotels run FOC shuttles and most clubs can arrange pickup and drop-off to any hotel. Visitors can request for more information from the hotel’s information counter.
Watersports
While most of the larger resorts will plan watersports activities for you upon request, you can make arrangements with small operators on the beach (for a significant savings). Most resorts forbid noisy jet skis, but the beaches are lined with young entrepreneurs renting them out for 500B ($12) per hour. Windsurfers and Hobie Cats are for rent at most resorts or with small outfits along the beach (starting at 300B/$7.30 and 600B/$15 per hr. respectively).