From Phuket we drove to Krabi & stayed a couple of night then on 26th August we left Krabi at 8.30am for the drive to Cha-Am and arrived 7 hours later, it was a good drive with not much rain along the way. We always stop at petrol stations that have Amazon Coffee shops, just love all the huge statues of elephants, chickens, kangaroo’s etc out the front of the garages.
There was one part of the highway where we had many trucks for hundreds of kilometers and some pretty bad sections of road; it looks the same as a few years ago when we drove up this way to Bang Saphan.
Now our plan is to stay in Cha-Am for one night then carry on, our drive was to also include Ubon Ratchathani & Nakon Ratchasima as I had a list of things for us to do & see in these areas, however this plan was thrown out the door due to staying in Cha-Am longer & deciding to head further down south on the way back, so we only made it as far as the Phra Nakhon Khiri Historical Park which is about 150 kilometers south of Bangkok.
In Cha-Am we stayed at the Nirundorn Resort over the road from the beach. We paid 1000baht a night for their only deluxe beach front room with balcony & free wifi. This room was great for watching all the activities on the street & beach.
The hotel is very popular with Thai’s & I love their booking system, the reception desk is on the footpath, you pull up in your car, they show you a poster with photos of the rooms & if you like it then you drive into their car park! Our room was very modern, lots of opening windows, big television etc, we really liked it but it was also extremely noisy, you could hear every bike & car that went past. Anyway we ended up staying here for 4 nights as we loved Cha-Am.
There is so much to see and do in the area, you can hire up to 5 seater pushbikes to get around, these are so popular, there is also another one like a golf cart for 4 people but it is also pedal power. The fishing pier area is also excellent with lots of seafood restaurants, the pier is 1.5 kilometers long & only opened last year, great spot for photos as well & popular for wedding photos!
Cha-Am (and surrounding beaches) do not have sun lounges, they have groups of deckchairs & they are all covered with beach umbrellas, every Wednesday morning they are all taken away to be cleaned so the beach is totally empty, then they are all returned from about 6m on Thursday mornings. There are food sellers on bikes everywhere delivering to people on the beach, I could sit & watch them all day, riding their motor bikes with one hand holding a huge tray of food.
A few places we had meals are Poom Seafood, nice place with good priced seafood & Thai food, also great for people watching, our seafood rice was the best I have had, just full of seafood, our bill here for food & drinks was 700baht.
Neeshy Café is Australian owned &, I had my first steak here in 3 mths, a big T Bone with lots of great veggies for 260baht. Drinks were also very cheap with a Singha being 50baht & Bacardi & coke 70baht. Everything was good here to start with, tasty food, good prices, but then we were ignored, empty plates left on our table for 20 minutes, empty glasses - the waitress was too busy talking on her phone - the owner was there with a couple of people but said nothing to her. We would have stayed for a few drinks but in the end after waiting so long Gary called out to her for the bill.
One of our favorite meals was at a local Thai restaurant where they are cooking the whole pig over a barrel on a hand turned rotisserie & bbq chickens. The menu is in Thai, but the girl serving us was fantastic, we wanted to try the chicken & pork so she suggested 1/2 kilo of Pork, 1/2 a chicken & sticky rice.
The whole pig only takes 1.5 hours to cook & to order a whole one is only 4,000baht! Our food with a large bottle of Singha & a large Pepsi was only 325baht, it was delicious &the dipping sauces were sensational, especially the red hot coriander sauce, my eyes & nose were running it was so hot, but the taste was amazing.
I had heard about these huge statues in the sea at Puek Tian Beach which is a small resort town about 20 kilometers north of Cha-Am, so off we go to have a look. The statues depict characters from one of Thailand's greatest poets Sunthon Phu and his 30,000 line story Phra Aphai Mani. Worth a visit, very unusual! Plus the drive there is interesting with a couple of nice Temples to call into.
Another day we drove to Phetchaburi which is just under 150 kilometers from Bangkok to visit the Phra Nakhon Khiri Historical Park.
This beautiful park is located on three peaks of a 92m high hill. On the western peak is the palace, the middle peak is a big Chedi named Phra That Chom Phet Phra Nakhon Khiri Historical Park - The eastern peak houses Wat Phra Kaeo, which is the royal temple is built in a similar style to Wat Phra Kaeo in Bangkok. The whole complex was built as a summer palace by King Mongkut & construction finished in 1860.
There is a cable car to get you up & down the hill! Be careful though, there are hundreds of feral monkeys here.
While in Petchaburi we had lunch at JM Cuisine, I ordered their signature dish but not sure what it was called as it was in Thai, but it was fantastic, a noodle dish with crab & egg, so tasty!
Well that’s a little bit of what we saw in Cha-Am, the photos show a lot more. We went to Hua Hin for a few hours but did not enjoy the area at all, the beaches looked awful so we had lunch & decided to keep driving.
Oh one thing I forgot to mention was the dogs in Cha-Am, I have never seen so many in the streets & on the beaches, packs of them, mainly early morning & night time.
Next stop was the Dolphin Bay Resort in Prachuabkirikhan about 40 kilometers from Hua Hin. The resort is surrounded by Khoa Sam Roi Yot National Park which was used for many scenes from the movie The Killing Fields & a beautiful 5 kilometer long beach. The bay is also a breeding ground for about 20 pink & grey dolphins.
Our budget for hotels when we are on the road is normally around 1000baht, but Dolphin Bay looked so nice we happily paid 1590baht a night for a bungalow with sea & pool views. The only bad thing was they charge 1000baht per 24 hrs for internet!
We stayed here for a couple of nights & had decided we would stay longer until we woke up on our 2nd morning to what sounded like hundreds of children, looked out the window & sure enough a couple of busloads of families had arrived during the night, both pools were full of kids.
That’s it, we are out of here ha-ha. But the hotel is fantastic for families with playgrounds, bike hire, pool tables, water slide, beautiful beach etc & food & drinks at the restaurant are very reasonably priced.
Now we are off to Nana Beach Hotel at Thung Wua Lan Beach which is about 16 kilometers north of Chumphon. This hotel looked nice so we went for the Pool Villa with free breakfast & wifi at 1800baht a night & it would have to be our worst night ever in Thailand.
The room was so nice with a huge bathroom plus an outside bathroom but the bed was a shocker, it was like sleeping on cement, it’s a high density foam mattress. We decided we would ask if they have mattress toppers & if they did we would stay longer, so first we go to breakfast. Wow, now we can say we have also had the worst breakfast in Thailand served by very surly staff.
Off we go again to look around Chumphon & Pac Nam Chumphon, and then the plan is to head for Nakhon Si Thammarat.
Did you know there is a Cowboy & Indian town outside Chumphon ha-ha, it is called Cowboy Country.
We were on our way to see the Prince Chumphon Shrine & Memorial but we didn’t go back to the main highway but took the back roads from Thung Wua Lan to Pac Nam Chumphon (not Chumphon as in the town) & thought we were seeing things when we started to see teepees.
This place is not finished yet but half of it was open. There are Saloons, Bars, Karaoke, a bank, Sherriff, a leather shop, coffee shop & much more. I went closer to have a better look at the teepees, and then noticed shoes out the front of one, people are sleeping there!
We both really liked the Chumphon area, there is so much to see and do. The Prince Chumphon Shrine & Memorial is definitely worth a visit. The Prince was the founder of the modern Thai Navy. The Memorial is an old warship that you can go on & look around; it is very hands on as well at the bottom of the hill in the Sai Ri area.
Also on highway 4001 very close to the Tha Nang Bridge there is a nice monument for the World War 11 Youth Volunteers, it was built to commerate the bravery of these young men for their fighting against the Japanese during 1941.
Soon we are back on the road again heading for Khanom in Nakhon Si Thammarat Province. Another nice drive of around 180 kilometers.
We checked into the Khanom Sunrise Resort which is on the beach in a Deluxe Beach Front room for 1700baht & includes breakfast & free wifi. The hotel is very Thai style (but with a fantastic bathroom) & we were made to feel so welcome. However we can only stay here for 2 nights as the hotel is booked out after that for a conference.
The meals at the hotel are also cheap & delicious. There was not a good selection of alcohol at the bar, it is more a place of bring your own or buy a bottle. Gary ordered a scotch & coke, so they bought out a bottle of Benmore, a bucket of ice & 4 bottles of coke, all for 420baht! No Bacardi or Vodka, but no problem next night I took my own ha-ha.
Khanom Beach is beautiful, no people, kilometers of white sand & some of the most fantastic sunrises I have ever seen. Just perfect!
We went for a drive to Nakhon Si Thammarat which was about 80 kilometers away, great place with lots of history. Called into the Wat Mo Khlan Archaeological site which use to be a Hindu sanctuary dating back to the 7th-9th century plus looked at a few smaller Temples but our main aim is to see Wat Phra Mahathat Woramahawihan.
Wat Phra Mahathat Woramahawihan is one of the most important historical sites in Thailand & is a Royal Temple of the First Class. It is absolutely beautiful, the Pagoda is 55.70 meters high & the top is covered in pure gold. Once again my photos will tell the story better than I can.
We will go back to see the beautiful place again as we did not realize just how big it is & it will take many hours to see everything properly.
We both really loved staying at Khanom Sunrise Resort, but could only stay 2 nights as they were fully booked after that for one night (as was nearly every hotel around the area plus Surat Thani due to a huge meeting of some sort happening in Surat Thani). So after checking out quite a few different hotels, that were all booked out we decided to go for the big splurge at a very flash place down the road for a couple of nights as they had a villa vacant.
Now we are at the Racha Kiri Resort and Spa at Nai Plao beach, there are no so called normal rooms here only suites, the price for the Villa Suite was 6,500baht a night so I asked could they do it any cheaper so the man on reception rang his manager then said to us we can do it for 5,500 a night.
Well you only live once so we checked in for a couple of nights!
Now for a little bit of history on the resort:
On June 9th 2007 a beautiful 5 star resort called Racha Kiri Resort and Spa at Nai Plao beach in the Khanom district of Nakhon Si Thammarat was officially opened by HRH Princess Soamsawali who also stayed the night in their Villa Suite, there are only 4 of these Suites & the princess stayed in the one with the best views which was Suite 201.
This suite is only booked if the hotel is full etc, normally it stays empty!
Guess where we are staying, yes we are in the same Villa Suite & it is amazing, it is decorated in King Rama V colonial Thai style, there are 10 acres of lush tropical gardens, beautiful swimming pools, and private secluded beaches.
Oh we were also offered the Grand Suite, their top suite for half price, 5000baht instead of 10,000baht, it was so big & beautiful, but we knocked it back, it was magnificent but way to many steps to get up there plus the views are not as good as the Villa Suite!
Have left the link for the photos of this hotel.
The drive back to Phuket from Khanom took us just over 4.5 hours; even though it is only around 250 kilometers away we had a stop at Chicken Town for lunch then of course the Amazon Coffee shop in Phang Nga.
All up we were gone for 12 days & once again it was a fantastic road trip. We are already planning more for next year which will be another drive to Khanom and also a big one in Issan (again) with the rellies.
I thought I would be able to cover all of September in this report but it was a busy month, so will do the rest of September next report. (That includes another road trip to Trang, 5 nights in Singapore, a few more birthday parties, cruising Phang Nga Bay in a friend’s 78ft luxury cruiser & another Atv tour).
Krabi to Cha-Am & Nirundorn Resort - Cha-Am Beach
Cha-Am - Puek Tian Beach etc
Cha-Am - Faces & Places
Cha-Am - Eating Out
Phra Nakhon Khiri Historical Park
Dolphin Bay Resort & Sam Roi Yot Beach - Prachuab Khiri Khan
Nana Beach Hotel –Thung Wua Lan Beach Chumphon
Chumphon & Pac Nam Chumphon
Khanom Sunrise Resort – Nakhon Si Thammarat
Racha Kiri Resort & Spa Khanom Nakhon Si Thammarat
Wat Phra Mahathat Woramahawihan - Nakhon Si Thammarat
Last of our road trip photos