too long the resorts of Cha-Am and Hua Hin have been linked
with a "&" for no valid reason. There is no
reason why they should be linked, they are both in different
provinces, Cha-Am in Petchaburi and Hua Hin in Prachuab Kirikhan
and each has their own sector of the travel market. "Cha-Am
is a retreat, it's an escape from Bangkok," explained
Danny Chan, General Manager of The Regent Cha-Am, "The
guest who likes to come here will not enjoy Hua Hin and most
definitely not Pattaya. The appeal of Cha Am is that it has
no night life!"
The charm of Cha-Am is what it can offer
families with young children or those in the golden years
of their life that are either close to retirement or are already
enjoying it, a quiet well ordered lifestyle free from the
hassle of beach vendors.
WHAT TO SEE IN CHA-AM
addition to having a great beach, there are many places of
interest in the area that are no more than 45 mins away by
car. Phra Nakom Khiri or Khao Wang is a hilltop
palace, built by King Rama IV in 1859. The style is mainly
European with some Thai and Chinese influences. Sitting on
three peaks, the temple of Wat Phra Khew is to the east; the
main stupa of Phra That Chom Phet in the middle and the residential
Grand Palace to the west.
Both Kings Rama IV & V used the palace
at their leisure and to entertain their visitors. After the
death of King Rama V, it was used less and less and sadly
slipped into a state of decay. In 1935 it was registered as
a national momument by the Fine Arts Department and was restored
to be a National Museum and National Park. Open daily 9am-4pm.
It can be conveniently reached by funicular railway roundtrip
B40. Once at the top entrance to the Museum is B30 for foreigners
and B10 for Thais. It is an excellent half-day excursion and
takes a couple of hours to walk the path linking the three
peaks. The views are spectacular.
Phra That Chom Pet was
renovated by Rama IV by covering the existing one and is 40
meters tall and 20 wide. He was also responsible for constructing
Wat Phra Kaew in the same style as the building
of the Temple of the Emerald Buddha at the Grand Palace in
Bangkok. Being a keen and knowledgeable astronomer, the King
also built Chatchawan Wiangchai Observatory
to study the stars and constellations. A statue of the King
is housed in Wechayan Wichien Prasat; a temple
built in Prang style that was typical of the period. The King's
bedroom was in an interesting two storey Chinese building
Pramot Mahaisawan Hall.
To complete the full walk linking the three
peaks can be tiring and visitors are advised to take enough
fresh drinking water.
gone back down the hill, Phra Ram Ratchaniwert Palace
is close by in the Army compound. King Rama V was frequently
sick during the rainy season, especially in the month of September,
at this site was chosen as it was the best place for him to
stay when the rains came. Building of the south facing palace
started on 19th August 1910, designed by a German architect
Karl Dohring, with Dr Bayer responsible for the projects engineering.
The two-storey building, with two domes and a brown tiled
roof from China, was styled on Kaiser Wilhelm's Palace in
Germany. Sadly, King Rama V died before the building was completed.
Rama VI finally completed the construction in 1916.
simple looking exterior hides its elaborate interior. On the
east side, there is a perfect geometrically symmetric circular
staircase with tiled pillars decorated with cherub statues.
The upstairs circular hall is art nouveau.
The Royal Dinning Room is a blend of modern
German and French art nouveau with a statue of Poseidon, the
Greek God of the Sea.
Thailand's first ever known Badminton Court
was laid in what is now a small courtyard with a fountain.
The Queen's Bedroom above had an uninterrupted view of the
former court. From the Kings Bedroom, there is an unobstruced
view of Khao Wang.
must see is Mrigadayavan Palace the "royal
home of love and hope" of King Rama VI. This site was
chosen when the fresh water supply at the existing royal residence
at Khai Luang became scarce. Not only did Huay Sai Nua have
an abundance but it was also close to a railway station. The
King decided to dismantle the former palace and reassemble
it on the more desirable site. The palace is built of Thong
(Golden) Teak with empty space under the building in the style
of a traditional Thai house. The building is supported by
1,080 concrete columns, all of which have their base immersed
in water at ground level to prevent ants and insects entering
the building. All the buildings are by airy walkways. There
is a Gatsbyesque quality to wonder with bare feet on polished
teak and feel the cool sea breeze in your hair.
While staying, the King on their first visit
in 1924 Phranangchao Intharasak Sachi, the royal consort fell
pregnant and the King was delighted with the thought that
he might soon have a son. But his hopes faded fast when it
was discovered that the royal consort could not give birth.
The King nursed his wife with concern and sadness at the Palace.
VI returned to Mrigadayavan Palace with Phranangchao Suwattha,
another royal consort and were in residence from 12 April
until 20 June 1925. It was as if the King had come back to
say farewell to the royal residence that he loved as he died
shortly after returning to Bangkok.
Mrigadayavan Palace, Rama VI Camp, Cha-Am
Ram Ratchaniwet Palace, Royal Thai Army Camp, Petchaburi
Entrance to both Palaces is free of