Hua Hin is a seaside resort on the Gulf of Thailand, in the southern Thai province of Prachuap Khiri Khan. Once a quiet fishing village, it grew into a fashionable escape for residents of Bangkok after the 1920s, when the Thai royal family built summer palaces here. Hua Hin Beach, popular for kitesurfing and other water sports, is the main stretch of sand, lined with high-end hotels and seafood shacks.
Cheap and cheerful Cha-am is a popular beach getaway for working-class families and Bangkok students. On weekends and public holidays, neon-painted buses (called ‘chor ching cha’), their sound systems pumping, deliver groups of holidaymakers. It is a very Thai-style beach party, with eating and drinking marathons held around umbrella-shaded beach chairs and tables. Entertainment is provided by the banana boats that zip back and forth, eventually making a final jack-knife turn that throws the passengers into the sea. Applause and giggles usually follow from the beachside audience.
Cha-am doesn't see many foreigners; visitors are usually older Europeans who winter here instead of more expensive Hua Hin. And there are even fewer swimsuits on display as most Thais frolic in the ocean in T-shirts and shorts. But Cha-am’s beach is long, wide and sandy, the grey-blue water is clean and calm, the seafood is superb, the people-watching entertaining and the prices are some of the most affordable anywhere on the coast
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