Cha-am is a resort town on the Gulf of Thailand, near Hua Hin.
Cha-am is an extremely popular destination for Thai day trippers and weekenders probably due to it's long strip of beach and it's relatively inexpensive seafood. Cha-am can become very crowded on holiday weekends. The area is also home to a sizable amount of expats, mainly Scandinavians. aside from the beach there is still plenty to see in this unique town. A fishing village north of Ruamchi Road features Thai shops, fishmongers, and restaurants. You could spend half a day touring the area and immersing yourself in one of the town's most important industries, fishing.
Mainly served by a regular fleet of minivans from both the South (Hua, Hin, Pranburi) and from Bangkok. Long distance buses also stop at Cha am from Bangkok en route South or en route North. Minivans are much quicker but driving can be very erratic. There is a train station but the trip is long and arduous. Only a handful of trains stop at Cha-am. Private Taxis from Bangkok should be no more than 2000baht, although 1600baht -1800baht is possible with some bargaining.
The Eurasia Cha-am Lagoon is a resort and residential comunity 3 km north of Cha-am. It boasts two free-form pools overlooking the gulf. It is free to the public and open 24 hours a day. A terrace restaurant serves Thai food that will cost you 100 to 300 baht. Beer and liquor will cost you more, so you might want to bring in your own drinks. This place is seldom crowded so it's the best place to hang out and take a dip.
Cha-am Forest Park is a small nature preserve as parks go, but it's still worth seeing. All-terrain vehicles are available for guided tours of the park. The rental ranges from 500 baht for half an hour to 900 baht per hour. There is also a restaurant within the park.
The summer palace Phrarachanivet Mrigadayavan was built in 1922 for the king and members of his royal household. Held open for the public as it is no longer used by royalty, it lies south of Petchakasem Rd, about 9 km from Cha-am. The palace consists of a group of teak houses on stilts connected by a maze of walkways. The rooms are airy and the walkways are raised. There isn't much information available in English so you may want to hire an English-speaking guide for the tour.
Khao Nang Phanturat Forest Park encompasses most of the mountain that overlooks Cha-am from the North. Free admission. There is a nicely maintained park at the visitor centre. A hiking trail that goes up into hills starts near the visitor centre and gives a close up of this sample of karst limestone. There are several curious rock formations, including a a rock window that is perfect for a romantic photo, and a cave (bring a flashlight).
Not alot to buy aside from Souvenirs and Seafood, although foreign tourists will welcome the lack of price gouging from the shop/stall owners, both Thais and Foreigners pay the same price and souvenirs (T-shirts etc) are substantially cheaper than you will find in other coastal resorts in Thailand that cater mainly for foreign tourists.
From drinking on the beach from the vendors to drinking in one of the many foreign restaurants dotted along the beach road there is no shortage of options. Prices are also very favorable in comparison to other popular coastal resorts in Thailand. There is also a bar area south bound on the Beach Road named Soi Bus Stop, although is not recommended for families.