Cha-am is located in the southern part of Phetchaburi Province, approximately 175 km (109 miles) from Bangkok. The city is especially known for its night market on Wednesdays and for its beach, which is very popular among Thais throughout the province and even from Bangkok.
The night market on Wednesdays is supposed to be the biggest night marked outside of Bangkok. Unfortunately, I was not at that time of the week, so I did not have the chance to check out the market, which is located near the train station. It is open from 18:00 (6 PM) to 22:00 (10 PM).
Near the train station, you will also find a large fresh market for both private citizens and for businesses. Even if you are not looking to buy fresh food, it can be quite an experience to walk around and enjoy the atmosphere and not the least the many exotic scents (and some less pleasant scents).
You will not find much nightlife in Cha-am, especially not nightlife for tourists. Cha-am is primarily for relaxation in Thai style. If you want some of the usual tourist offers, you can go to Hua Hin, which is 25 km (16 miles) south of Cha-am.
Sun Shading the Thai Way
You will not find many tourists in Cha-am, which is obvious when you look at the beach. At the tourist beaches you will usually find endless rows of sunloungers, each with an associated parasol, where you can at best have a chat with the neighbour, but otherwise, you will be enjoying the sun and beach in solitude.
That is not the way the Thais enjoy a visit to the beach. Their trip to the beach is more like a picnic where you enjoy the company of your family and friends. Instead of parasols in solitude, you will find a roof consisting of parasols placed so close together that not a ray of sunshine can get through.
Under the parasol roof, you sit gathered around small tables where you can enjoy your picnic with food brought from home or bought at the beach. In my eyes, the Thai way seems much more appealing than using sunloungers in solitude.
The prices at Cha-am Beach are also quite different from the prices at the popular tourist beaches. For example, here you get a ride on a banana boat for 100 baht, which is considerably cheaper than at Patong Beach where you will have to pay three to four times as much if I remember correctly.
The beach is five kilometres (three miles) long and along its entire length runs a small road, studded with small stalls where you can buy everything from beach stuff to clothing. You will also find eateries and places to get a relaxing massage along the beach.