Chao Lao, Chantaburi

BEACH
Chao Lao, near Chantaburi is a 6-kilometer beach with fine sand, well known by the local Thais. The northern end of the beach is called Hat Laem Sadet. Although the beach is busier during weekends and holidays, it is long enough to find nice quiet places.

This beach is ideal for long walks. It has fine sand, and the water is perfect for swimming. However, the water is not crystal clear, making the sea less suitable for snorkeling.

WHERE TO STAY
Most of the stays are from middle to upper range and seem to a little too ‘Disney’ to us, lacking authentic Thai style. Yet you find a few notable exceptions on the better part of the beach, away from the main road: The Chaolao Tosang Beach Hotel is a decent and comfortable place to stay, and the Chivaree Hotel and Resort is an elegant find.

The Boon Rimm Sook, with its wooden mid-range bungalows, provides a good option for visitors spending one or more nights in the area. If you sleep on the second floor of the main building near the sea you get very spacious rooms, built in typical Thai style.

There are plenty of restaurants and food stands at Chao Lao. It is easy to rent bicycles or scooters.

PLACE
Most western tourists have not yet discovered the beaches around Chantaburi. During the weekends you will find some locals on these beaches, but during the week it is possible to have an entire beach to yourself. We’ve found one such beach to add to the TreasureBeaches website.

WHAT TO DO
Chantaburi is a nice city to visit for a day trip, offering small shops and nice restaurants and bars. A good time to visit is late November or early December, during the jewels and gems festival.

Be sure to visit the Waterfront with its old, restored houses, alleys, cozy cafes, and shops. Stroll the streets, visit the temples and enjoy a meal at one of the nice restaurants. Crossing the river, you will find yourself at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, which is one of the largest cathedrals in the country and is more than 100 years old.

There are 2 National Parks in the vicinity of Chantaburi. Namtok Phlio National Park is 40 kilometers from Chao Lao and Khao Khitchakut National Park Marve is 60 kilometers from Chao Lao beach. These are home to a green forest, native plants and animals, waterfalls and nature trails.

Near the beach of Chao Lao, you can visit Wat Laem Sadet, a Buddhist monastery. On the way to this monastery, you will pass the Khung Kraben Bay Aquarium and the Khung Kraben Bay Mangrove Forest Education Center. Both places we found worthwhile.

TRANSPORT
From Bangkok, there are several good bus and minibus connections to Chantaburi which is a 4-hour trip. From Chantaburi, you can take a private taxi to Chao Lao (350 baht), or you rent a scooter in town, in either case it is about a 30-minute drive. If you have limited time, we recommend renting a car in Bangkok at one of the airports.