Exploring the Chanthaburi Coast

Little visited by island-hungry foreigners, the coast near Chanthaburi is well worth exploring, as either a day trip from the city, a scenic diversion en route to or from Rayong, or a hideaway for a couple of days munching seafood, appreciating the verdant scenery and strolling the seashore. It's within bicycle reach of the city and is a popular cycling circuit for Thais. All the beaches mentioned here offer places to stay and eat.

At Laem Sing, some 20km from Chanthaburi by road, the river estuary, spanned by a bridge, is wide and handsome. There's a fishing fleet here, an offshore island and a long beach backed by a park. There are numerous eateries and simple guesthouses.

From here, Route 4036 heads northwestish, passing turn-offs to a handful of quiet beach villages before reaching more developed Hat Chao Lao, an elongated settlement with bungalow and resort accommodation. Close by is Hat Laem Sadet, with medium-market resort hotels, a beach and a bay, Ao Khung Kraben. A mangrove reserve lets you explore the estuarine ecosystem on wooden boardwalks.

The last of the beaches on this stretch, some 15km beyond Chao Lao and Laem Sadet, is Hat Khung Wiman, with a nice narrow beach and pleasant westerly outlook. The road through the village continues to various viewpoints on a nearby promontory, then loops round to a fishing village on the bay side; there are good places to snack on simple seafood here.