To escape the smog of North Thailand we did stay a few weeks at Hat Chao Lao in Chanthaburi province. So in the next days you will see more about this beautiful province. But Hat Chao Lao is just one of the many beaches along the coast-line of Chanthaburi province, what is one of the 4 provinces along the Eastern-Seaboard of Thailand. The coastline was originally mangroves, laguna's, bays and rivers and it is being said that about 1.000 years ago the area of nowadays Chanthaburi town was the seaside. Along the seaside laguna, mangroves and bays have been partly converted into farming of shrimp, crab and oysters. What are a major export product for Thailand. Due to all the mangroves and rivers the coastline was difficult to access in the old days, but with the building of many bridges you can now easily travel along the coast. The coastline of mangroves, empty beaches, stunning viewpoints and small fishing villages offers a splendid scenery. And being less as 300 km away from the metropolis Bangkok I am surprised that this area is not developed into something like Hua Hin. Actually the opposite, no high-rise buildings, no bars, no real night-life. The beach-life is actually amazingly relaxed with wooden shacks and small local restaurants. And yes of course the beach is famous for delicious seafood! The Chalerm Burapa Chollathit Road (the scenic-route) runs alongside the coastline from west to east for about 35 km and is ideal for traveling by car, motorbike or bicycle (yes there are bicycle lanes).
Hat Kung Wiman (1)
The beaches of Chanthaburi province begin on the west-side of the coastline, with Hin Khrong Viewpoint and Hat Kung Wiman. At the latter is some real beach and here are along the beach some simple Thai seafood restaurants. Following the scenic-route road from Hat Kung Wiman you will be passing Hat Kep Tawan, a small beach located lower as the road. A bit further is Noen Nang Phaya Viewpoint from where you have a beautiful view along the curved coastal road. Going down from the viewpoint you will see a fishing village on your right, at the end of this fishing village is Jaedee Klang Nam Viewpoint (Water Pagoda). From this viewpoint you see a huge laguna surrounded by mangroves (Khung Kraben) and Ao Khung Kraben. Hat Kung Wiman is popular as day-trip destination but there is also some accommodation like Peggy's Cove, Vanavaree Resort, Faasai Resort and Madina Beach House.
Laem Sadet (2)
From Hat Kung Wiman following the scenic-route road going around Khung Kraben you will end up a round-about. Going to the right you will go to Laem Sadet where is a small fishing village, Demonstration of Sea Farming and a Park where you can walk thru the mangroves along Ao Khung Kraben. Along the boulevard at the seaside are always some food-carts selling somtam and other Thai deliciouses. Laem Sadet is a popular day-trip destination but there is also some accommodation like The Pier Resort, Jungle Bay Resort and El Vaso Resort.
Hat Chao Lao (3)
Going to the left at the round-about you will hit the 7 km long main road of Hat Chao Lao. Along the main road are hotels, seafood restaurants and shops. Behind the main road are 2 smaller roads more close to the beach for about 3 km. Here are many small resorts, some with bungalows right along the beach. Others within 50 - 100m walk from the beach. Half-way the beach is Chao Lao fishing pier where the local fishing boats bring their fresh catch of the night. At the end of the main road of Hat Chao Lao are some seaside seafood restaurants. They look simple but are serving good fresh food. My favourite location.
Hat Chao Lao is the most popular beach of Chanthaburi and in the weekend most hotels will be full. Be aware that in the weekend they also charge a higher room price. Also be aware that many hotels are a bit older, especially the ones with rooms right along the beach. One of the newer hotels is Sand Dunes Chaolao.
Kung Krabaeng Wildlife Sanctuary (4)
Following the scenic-route road to the east you will go over a cape where you will find Kung Krabaeng Wildlife Sanctuary (entrance fee enforced). Just before the entrance gate is a small viewpoint.
Hat Bang Kachai (5)
Following the scenic-route road you will go over the Pak Nam Khaem Nu bride that crosses the Wang Ta Not River (nice viewpoint) and you will drive to Ban Pak Nam Khaem Nu where you find the famous Blue Temple and next to the bridge there is Pak Nam Khaem Nu Viewpoint. From here the scenic-route is for about 12 km not so scenic along the seaside. And although you will see some hotels & restaurants along the way, actually only the beginning of the road has some kind of beach.
Laem Sing (6)
At the end of the somewhat boring scenic-route road along Hat Bang Kachai you find the area of Laem Sing with in the beginning Ao Mu what is just a small fishing village without a beach. But the next signs for Ao Yang and you will find a very nice small beach with a few hotels and seafood restaurants. And just before the bridge to Hat Laem Sing there goes a small road to Khao Laem Sing Forrest Park (free entrance) with a Ao Krathing. The latter is beautiful small beach, but no restaurant or even a coffee shop. Just before the forrest park another road goes to Phairi Phinat Fort and Laem Sing Lighthouse.
Hat Laem Sing (between 6 and 7)
Following the scenic-route road from Laem Sing you go over the famous Taksin Maharaj Bridge with a beautiful viewpoint at the highest point. This bridge is crossing the Chanthaburi River. Although almost along all Hat Laem Sing are hotels and restaurants only the first 1 km has a real beach. The beginning of Hat Laem Sing is famous for Tuek Deang (build by the French) and Kuk Kai Ki (prison build by the French).
Ko Proet (7)
Keep on following the scenic-route road (although not so scenic anymore) you will find Ko Proet, a small "island" (peninsula) what is actually a huge rock in the sea with a small picturesque fishing village that is now famous for a coffee shop & viewpoint at the top of the island. But take your time and walk thru this little village (only 2 roads) that seems to be forgotten by time.