Truth be told, Cha-am is not a spectacular beach. It doesn't have crystal clear water (and really no beaches in the upper part of the Gulf do), it's not one of Thailand's amazing beaches, and it's probably not worth flying 10+ hours to visit. But, it is a pleasant beach and one with warm water, gentle waves and nice views. Visiting Cha-Am makes the most sense when you've just got a couple of days and want to squeeze in a beach trip but want to drive from Bangkok, or when you're based in Bangkok and are just looking for an easy weekend getaway.
Getting Around Hua Hin:
Although there is a central Cha-am Beach, many of the resorts and hotels are spread out along the coast, so if you want to go farther than your immediate vicinity, you'll need to have a car or motorbike or arrange transport with your hotel. Most visitors to Cha-am choose to stay close to their hotel or resort, so you may not need any transport anyway.
Getting to Cha-Am:
Cha-am is about 20 miles north of Hua Hin and a quick, easy drive from Bangkok, making it one of the easiest weekend getaways from the capital. To get there, you can take one of the daily trains from Bangkok's Hua Lumpong Station then circle back to Cha-Am, drive the two-and-a-half hour drive from Bangkok, or take one of the many government and private buses that go from Bangkok to Cha-am from Bangkok's Southern Bus Terminal. Not all buses heading to Hua Hin will stop in Cha-am but most will, so make sure to check before boarding.
Where to Stay:
What to Expect:
Cha-Am is a resort town so most of your experience there will be dictated by the place you choose to stay in. That being said, Cha-am is known to attract lots of European retirees, local students and local and foreign families with small children looking for a quick, easy break from Bangkok so depending on where you are staying, that's what you'll likely be surrounded by. It's definitely not as big a party town as Hua Hin (which isn't saying much, since Hua Hin's party reputation is pretty mild).