The beach at Cha-Am is often very busy, especially on weekends and even more so on long weekends. On the long weekend of 10th to 12th August, the Mother’s Day long weekend brought out the beachgoers in droves.
This 5 kilometre long stretch of beach is well loved by Thai people who travel from Bangkok and many other places around Thailand to escape their day to day pressures and enjoy what the seaside has to offer.
The first thing you will see a dense forest of beach umbrellas stretching the length of the beach. This means a complete canopy of shade 20 metres wide with deck chairs and tables for everyone. There is a foreigner or two but Thai families dominate this strip of beach.
One of the big advantages the Cha-Am beach has is public access for all. No domination of the beach front by private development, it’s open for everyone.
So what is available at the beach?
- Food, Food, Food! Hawkers are ready to provide a huge variety of Thai food directly to your table.
- Drinks, Drinks, Drinks! Just wave your hand and drinks will arrive; anything you want!
- Kid’s Stuff. Kids can find inflatables of all shapes and colours. A variety of toys is on show such as polystyrene aeroplanes, plastic spades & buckets for sand castles and hand held windmills.
- Something to take home. Souvenirs can be bought whether the item is the typical Cha-Am shell decorations, artwork of all shapes and sizes or colourful garments.
- Water rides. Whether this is on a banana boat or an inflated inner tube, there’s plenty of opportunity for fun on the water.
- Horse riding. A constant stream of ponies parade along the beach offering rides for all ages.
- Photography is a high priority for all especially young couples and teenagers who are eager to pose (you know the two finger salute) whenever a camera is pointed in their direction.
Many people at the beach clearly have no intention of making it to the water; the beach umbrella ‘terrace is close enough for them. Not dressed in a way that is too informal but content to enjoy the company of their friends and families without getting wet. Even those who approach the water or take a plunge are often still wearing their ‘street clothes’. Even kids swim in their shirts, shorts or long trousers.
The busy Cha-Am beach scene may not be for everyone especially those of foreign origin. Of course there are many alternative beach options available nearby which are less populated or commercial.
However the main Cha-Am beach is still the most culturally Thai you can find and a recommended experience. You may be subject to the occasional curious stare, especially from kids who are not inhibited in showing their surprise at seeing a falang amongst the beachgoers. However if you find a friendly face (they are everywhere!) and are invited to join the table you will be saturated in real contemporary Thailand culture (and Thai whiskey) and never be bored.
In answer to the question posed in our heading – what’s missing? The only answer we can come up with is:
Footnote: The Cha-Am beach is cleared of deckchairs and umbrellas every Tuesday late in the afternoon for the beach to be cleaned on Wednesdays (except during holidays); good job!