Introduction to Cha-Am (Phetchaburi)
Thailand's longest white sand beach is the main feature of this lesser-known resort town only two hours outside of Bangkok.
As most foreign beachgoers choose to stay at nearby Hua Hin, Cha-am is very much a Thai resort. 178 km from Bangkok, it is quiet on weekdays, busier on weekends and bustling on holidays. 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. After swimming in the sea, you can wash off with fresh water at one of the public bathhouses for a nominal charge. 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.
Nine km south of Cha-am, the summer palace (Phra Ratchaniwet Marukhathayawan) of King Rama VI is open to the public through the gates of Rama VI Military Camp during government office hours (9.00 a.m. ' 4.30 p.m.). The palace consists of a series of one-and-two-floor units on stilts, linked by covered walkways. The whole structure is made of teak, with shuttered windows and tiled roofs similar to those of Vimanmek Mansion in Bangkok.