Since the mid-1980s Cha-am has experienced a dramatic surge in popularity. It has been developed from a quiet fishing and market village into a lively playground for Bangkok weekenders. Tall condominiums and huge resort hotels have sprung up alongside the long, sandy beach. During the week, however, it can be remarkably quiet.
The resort caters primarily to Thais, who focus their attentions on eating and drinking rather than swimming. At umbrellashaded tables strung along the beach like a high tide mark, visitors feast on delicious grilled fish, squid, shrimp, and mussels. Spicy dips and cold beer complete the culinary adventure. Those who prefer more formal eating will find restaurants serving the same range of succulent fare at the northern end of the beach.