I often receive letters from people asking for information about beaches near Bangkok. The islands in Southern Thailand, like Koh Samui and Phuket, are world famous. But, sometimes people want to go somewhere a bit closer to Bangkok. The nearest beach to do as a day trip is Bangsaen in Chonburi. It is less than 90 minutes from Bangkok. Not exactly the cleanest beach as this is the point where mangrove forest and mudflats become sandy beach for the first time. However, it is very popular with Thai people. A little bit further down there is an island called Koh Si Chang which is a popular day trip or weekend trip.
Further down the same coast is the beach resort of Pattaya which is only 150 minutes away from Bangkok. This is still not a tropical paradise but it is slightly cleaner than Bangsaen. You could just about do this as a day trip but it is better to stay the night. Some people find Pattaya too sleazy and prefer to go to the southern end of the city and stay on Jomtien Beach or head out to Koh Larn. Pattaya is a good place to go if you want to be surrounded by foreigners and signs in English. The best beaches are further away in Rayong such as the island of Koh Samet.
An alternative to Pattaya are the beach resorts of Cha-am and Hua Hin on the opposite side of the Gulf of Thailand. The King used to spend a lot of time here so the city has remained more family orientated. Cha-am, which is about 3 hours south of Bangkok, is popular with Thai people during long weekends. A bit further down, you will find Hua Hin which caters for more upmarket tourists and has a mixture of both Thai and foreigners. The quality of the sand and sea is better than Pattaya. If you continue south you will reach the beaches in Prachuap Khiri that are not only quieter, but a lot better.
So, where do I go for my beach holidays? I have been to all of the beaches mentioned above and I like them all for different reasons. I also enjoy my trips to the “beach” in Bang Khun Thian district of Bangkok. Not many people know about that one. It is not in any guidebook that I own. It doesn’t exactly have any sandy beaches but you can enjoy the fresh sea breeze. But, that isn’t my favourite. You won’t find the beach I like to visit in any guidebooks. It only takes me two hours to drive there. It has clean beaches and clear water. Where is it? Well it is the mainland of Rayong. As I have my own car, it is easy to find an isolated stretch of beach here.
What about you? What is your favourite beach within 2-3 hours from Bangkok?