Getting to Cha Am from Bangkok
Travelling to Cha Am is fairly straightforward and there are a number of different transport options for anyone who is wishing to visit this popular beachside resort. Situated approximately 200km from Bangkok, Cha Am’s close proximity to the capital means that you can escape the hustle and bustle of city life and be sat on a beautiful beach in just a couple of hours.
The main transport options for travelling to Cha Am are car, minibus, train, bus and plane; providing you are travelling from Bangkok, Cha Am can be very easy place to get to indeed.
Cha Am by Car
If you are flying in to Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport than one of the easiest ways to get to Cha Am is by car.
However, if you are visiting Thailand for the first time, driving is not something that is recommended, especially after a long flight. If you have some experience of driving in Thailand then the journey down from Bangkok can be fairly straightforward.
To leave Bangkok for the direction of Cha Am you need to drive to the Rama IX Bridge and then join the Rama II Road and follow signs for Samut Sakhon. You now need to stay on this road for approximately 85km until you start to see signs for Phetchaburi. Right at the end of the Rama II Road the highway splits into two. The left hand lane is signposted ‘Phetchabri’ and the right hand lane is signposted ‘Ratchaburi’. You need to make sure that you exit left for Phetchaburi.
You will now be on the Phet Kasem Road or Thanon Phetkasem as it is known to Thais. This is the main highway that heads south, to Hua Hin. Once you are on this road, it is just a matter of simply following the signs for Cha Am.
When you are about 30 minutes away from Cha Am you will pass Phetchaburi town. As you drive past the town you should see a Big C supermarket on your left hand side, keep on going and you will start to see signs for Cha Am beach. Once you get to a set of traffic lights that have a green sign above them that is labelled ‘Cha Am Beach’ turn left. You will now be on Narathip Road, carry on straight until you can see the beach.
Cha Am by Taxi
Thankfully there are many metered taxis at the airport that can often provide reasonable rates on journeys to Cha Am. All you need to do is to go to the authorised taxi stand, which is located outside the arrivals hall and ask for a taxi to Cha Am. The journey itself can take between 2 and 3 hours, depending on the traffic and should cost somewhere in the region of 3000Baht. Although this is the most expensive way of travelling to Cha Am it is probably the easiest, especially if you are coming directly from the airport or you are travelling as part of a group.
Cha Am by Minibus
There are many minibuses that travel regularly to Cha Am which depart from the minibus depot at Victory Monument, not far from the BTS Skytrain station. The minibuses can accommodate 14 people and cost about 160Baht, taking just over 2 and half hours to get to Cha Am. The minibuses run frequently throughout the day, between the hours of 5am and 8pm.
However, there is often little or no space for luggage and sometimes drivers can drive very fast as the travel down the highway at what seems like breakneck speeds. On occasion they can also stop for gas at a filling station and depending on what time of day it is, you could be waiting rather a long time.
With all things considered, for 160Baht, taking a minibus can be a cheap and easy way to travel to and from Cha Am.
Cha Am by Train
There are ten south bound trains that leave Bangkok’s Hualamphong station everyday between the hours of 8.05am and 10.50pm. However, the vast majority of these trains only stop in Hua Hin, and there are in fact, only two trains that stop at Cha Am, the 9.20am and 3.35pm, which arrive at Cha Am station at 1.30pm and 7.42pm, respectively.
If you end up getting a train to Hua Hin you will need to take a taxi or minibus back to Cha Am.
You can also get one of three trains from that leave Bangkok’s Thonburi station at 7.25am, 1.05pm and 7.15pm, which arrive in Cha Am at 11.16pm, 17.20pm and 10.09pm respectively.
The train station in Cha Am is about 2 kilometres from the beach so you will probably need to get a taxi or motorcycle taxi to take you to the beachfront or directly to your hotel or guesthouse. If you don’t mind walking then come out of the train station and keeping walking straight, along Narathip Road, through the crossroads, a continue straight until you see the beachfront.
Cha Am by Bus
You can get a bus to Cha Am from the south terminal station (Sai Ta) Talling Chan, which is just outside Bangkok. The bus station, which opened in 2007, has a wide range of different shops, restaurants and other facilities available.
Although the buses hardly ever leave on time they are actually quite comfortable and have air conditioning. Some even have televisions, free drinks and snacks available to passengers. Some of the really new buses even have massage chairs in VIP class but these are normally only available when travelling long distances such as Bangkok to Phuket.
Buses depart Sai Tai bus station for Cha Am approximately every hour between 5am and 10pm. The journey normally takes between 3 and 4 hours, depending on traffic leaving Bangkok.
Buses from Bangkok’s Sai Tai bus station to Cha Am cost 140Baht.
Buses stop in Cha Am at the bus stop which is located just past the main set of traffic lights at junction of Narathip Road and Phet Kasem Road. From here you might want to get a motorcycle taxi to the beachfront or to your hotel. This will normally cost you between 20 and 40Baht.
Cha Am by Plane
The nearest airport to Cha Am is at Hua Hin, approximately 25km away and as of 15th April 2011 the Thai domestic airline, Solar Air is operating flights from the Don Mueang Airport in Bangkok to Hua Hin.
Flights are available on Sunday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at 4pm.The journey time takes a little over 30 minutes and there is a return flight operated on the same days that departs Hua Hin at 5pm. Flights cost around 2700 Baht.
The journey is serviced by a 19 seat twin propeller engine aircraft, which has capacity for 12 passengers.
How To Get From Cha Am To Bangkok
Getting from Cha Am to Bangkok is very straightforward as you just follow the same route in which you travelled down. Upon leaving Cha Am beach join Narathip Road until you get to the traffic lights and the crossroads. At the traffic lights turn right onto Phet Kasem Road and follow signs for Phetchaburi. You now need to keep on Phet Kasem Road until you start to see signs for Bangkok.
There are no metered taxis in Cha Am, however, you can organise a private taxi from the taxi stand that is situated opposite Unico Sandara Hotel on the beach front (Ruamchit Road). A private taxi to Bangkok could cost a little more than one of Bangkok’s metered taxis (probably around 4000 Baht) so it is best to visit the taxi stand a day or so before you need to go to Bangkok and try and negotiate a good price.
Minibuses from Cha Am to Victory Monument in Bangkok cost 160Baht, regardless of which of Cha Am’s 3 minibus stops you choose to use.
The first minibus stop in Cha Am is on the left hand side of Narathip Road, (if you were approaching the beach). From this stop buses depart to Bangkok operate every hour from every hour from 4.30am to 8.30pm. There are also services to Nakhon Pathom (from 5am to 7.30pm, 140Baht) and to Ratchaburi (from 5am to 7.30pm, 120Baht).
The second minibus stop is a little further up Narathip Road, next to doctor’s clinic, almost opposite Family Mart. Buses run every 30 minutes from this stop between the hours of 5am and 7pm (8pm at weekends).
The third minibus stop is situated on the Phet Kasem Road on the corner of the large 7/11. The bus stop is a little further up, next to the opticians. Buses go to Victory Monument every 30 minutes between 4.30am and 7.30pm. At this bus stop there is also a ticket office where you can buy minibus tickets to a number of locations in Bangkok, such as Mo Chit (every hour from 7am to 6pm) and Sai Tai Southern Bus Station, (every 30 minutes from 5am to 8pm).
From the stop on Phet Kasem Road you can also board a minibus to Pattaya (every 2 hours from 6.30am to 6.30pm, 350Bat) and to Nakhon Pathom (every hour from 6am to 6pm, 140Bhat).
The trains from Cha Am to Bangkok are fairly infrequent and it is probably easier to use alternative transport. Also, the train can take twice as long as going by road as it is very slow and stops at many different stations. However, it is very cheap at just 40Baht for 3rd class.
There are two trains available one at 4.55am, arriving in Bangkok at 9am and another train at 2.33pm, arriving in Bangkok at 7pm. That total journey time by train is about 4.5 hours. It is advisable to be at the train station nice and early because although Thai trains often run late, they can just as easily not run to schedule at all and turn up 30 minutes earlier than advertised, so bear this in mind and plan you journey accordingly.
If you want to take the bus to Bangkok you need to buy your tickets before you travel from the ticket office that is located between 7/11 and the opticians on Phet Kasem Road. The ticket office is set back a little from the minibus stop, which also doubles up as a stop for the big buses too. The bus from Cha Am to Sai Tai Bus Station, Bangkok costs 140Baht and are every hour from 5am to 10pm.
Cha Am To Hua Hin
If you ever want to step out of Cha Am and head to Hua Hin then probably the easiest way to do so is by taking a minibus. The minibus stop for buses travelling south to Hua Hin is located on Phet Kasem Road, more or less outside Baan Thai Property. Buses to Hua Hin are about every 15 minutes and costs 40Baht.
You can also take a train to Hua Hin from Cha Am, with daily departures at 11.16, 12.39, 18.01 and 19.43. Tickets cost 20Baht and the journey takes approximately 25 minutes.
Of course you can also arrange for a private taxi to take you Hua Hin. If you wish to go by your hotel might be able to organise this for you. If not, visit the taxi stand opposite the Unico Sandara Hotel and try to negotiate a reasonable price.
Getting Around Cha Am
Cha Am is only a relatively small town and if you are staying on the beachfront you could easily spend your days wandering along the 6km of coastline without any problem. However, if you want to go off and explore a little further afield, then easiest way to do this is by motorcycle. There are a number of places dotted along the main road on the beachfront and you can hire one for between 200-300 baht per day. The longer you hire the bike for the cheaper it will be. For example for 1 month’s rental you can expect to pay in the region of 2500 to 3000Baht.
If you have not driven a motorcycle in Thailand before then you need to take extra care driving around. Thai roads are likely to be very different to what you are used to back in home so try to be as safe as possible, look out for hazards in the road and always pay close attention to what other road users, especially motorcyclists, are doing.
If driving a motorcycle isn’t your thing then you can always hire a motorcycle taxi to take you around Cha Am. They are dotted all over the town and you will notice that the drivers will be wearing yellow or green bibs. They usually charge around 30Baht but may try to charge foreign tourists more. If they do be prepared to negotiate!
If you don’t want to hire a motorcycle or take a taxi, you can always rent a push bike. This is probably the safest and most fun option. Travelling around on a bicycle is also very relaxing and gives you a good chance to see things that you might otherwise miss if you were whizzing around on a motorcycle. Cha Am is very flat and renting bicycles is popular with many people who visit the resort. You can hire a bicycle from one of the many stalls that are situated right along the beachfront, you can’t miss them!