Cha-Am’s beach road with open access to the foreshore has long been the focus of the town’s attraction to visitors. However a recent survey of Cha-Am expats, many are looking for a development plan with questions being asked about the quality of some recent changes and the neglect of some important infrastructure.
At the northern end of the beach a real working fishing harbour, pier and village should provide an unusual cultural experience for visitors along with the freshest seafood and some of the best seafood restaurants anywhere. Travelling north along the beach road a small bridge is crossed before reaching the entry to the fishing village.
There have been recent changes near to the entry with seafood restaurants being dismantled and a new development under construction on the ocean side. Soon after crossing an entry portal the road changes into an unsealed track with large and deep potholes posing a hazard to any vehicle and maybe only suitable for a fourwheel drive. The deterioration of the main acess to the fishing port and to the adjoining pier has been happened over some years, but it now almost impassable. Locals are hoping that there is some grander plan so that anyone can enjoy the sights and sounds (and smells!) of one of Cha-Am’s most important attractions.
One example of a recent change has been the installation of new LED lighting on both sides of the beach road. Providing quality illumination for the verges has been very welcomed, but the quality of the installation is open to question. Being able to walk along the footpath was already difficult with street vendors and other stall holders blocking the way, but now the lighting posts add yet another obstruction. Not only the posts, but each base uses fixing bolts which are exposed. They are of varying height, often 30 mm above the surface, a perfect trip hazard for the unwary. Perhaps it’s just a visual illusion (we haven’t taken a spirit level) but many posts seem far from vertical. Locals have been shaking their heads at this good idea which seems to have been an opportunity lost.
The subject of official advice to tourists along the beach road may bring a wry smile to the face of locals. There’s long been a tourist police station but largely ignored by visitors. It’s never been ‘user-friendly’ or inviting with a very questionable level of English language being offered by the limited staff. Tourist Police on the beach have also lacked visibilty. However renovations to the building are underway so maybe that will see a welcome change.
Cha-Am also has a Tourist Advice Centre operated by the Tourism Authority of Thailand. Why this is positioned some 1.5 km south of the town centre traffic lights and about 2 kilometres away from tourist precincts is beyond anyone’s understanding. It’s inaccessible, out of sight and out of mind. The community is asking for a development plan which adresses deficiencies and allows for an understanding of improvements that may be on the horizon. Cha-Am has the potential to become a thriving tourism precinct but some fundamental changes are overdue.