A visit to Laem Mae Phim has long been on my wish-list as I have heard so much about it, so it was with great interest and an open mind that I ventured forth last weekend. It appears that I choose the worst weekend to travel as tropical storm Linfa was bringing unseasonal wet weather and it rained virtually every minute I was there!
When one thinks of beach resorts to travel to from Bangkok, generally the choice is Pattaya 1 ½ hours or Hua Hin 2 ½ hours. Mae Phin is actually exactly a great alternative, just 2 hours from Suvarnabhumi airport and it’s a good road all the way. So, if you are looking for a relaxing and restful ‘island feeling’ then Leam Mae Phin it is highly recommended.
Laem Mae Phim, or just Mae Phim as it s mostly referred to, is mainly just an extremely long 5 km beach backed along it’s entire length with Casuarina Pine trees. There are no permanent developments directly on the beach and the resorts, condominiums and shops are located on the other side of the road. Whilst there are a handful of hospitality and residential property, they are all low rise and tastefully built helping to maintain a natural, ‘low-key’ resort.
The western end of the beach is untouched. Plenty of parking space but minimal facilities. The beach however is clean, the sand soft and the gentle slope is lovely for splashing in the water and safe for kids. As you drive East you will find vendors with umbrellas and beach chairs and at the very end a row of wooden built restaurants and bars directly on the beach.
However, Mae Phim beach is not the only place for that island feeling! Around a headland is the gorgeous little Ao Khai beach with white sands and a small selection of beach bars and a lovely restaurant. If you explore west towards Rayong you will find many little, virtually un-discovered beaches with such names as Coca Cola beach, Ken’s beach and even Kim’s beach. I really wanted to visit the beach that shares my name but unfortunately due to the heavy rains the only access road was flooded!
There is quite a choice of accommodation and most are located across from the beach. We stayed at the Grand Blue Resort which is an excellent, modern and very comfortable hotel providing 4 star service at 3 star prices. Fully equipped and very tastefully decorated rooms, an oversized swimming pool and an excellent bar and restaurant with lovely staff. Highly recommended www.grandbluethailand.com
In addition to a variety of Thai style resorts there is also the futuristic Centara Q Resort. There is also a great choice of Condominiums and Villas available and even the ultra high-end Resort Villa with 14,000 sq metres, 70 full time staff and over 1,000 sq metres of infinity pool. It is really worth taking a look at their website www.theresortvilla.com
Several large hotels are resorts are also located nearby including the Rayong Marriott, Bandara on Sea and Novotel. However for an authentic, ‘island-style’ beach holiday try to stay in Mae Phim. Two Mercure Hotels are currently under construction, one is unfortunately a 14 storey tower and the other looks more like villas directly on the sea.
Food and drink are 2 subjects close to my heart, and whilst the food in the Grand Blue is excellent, we needed to venture out and discover more. Towards the Eastern end of the beach there are numerous restaurants on the beach. Whilst predominantly seafood (which is excellent) the choice is extensive with a good Italian, western food and even an open-air Irish pub complete with fireplace. Naturally Guinness also on draught.
In the evening venture out the short distance to Ao Khai as here you will find the exquisite Ao Khai beach restaurant and the laid-back and fun Drift Beach bar with it’s amazing beach parties.
Whilst the emphasis in Laem Mae Phim is beach and relaxation there are also a number of excursions available. Nearby is the rather lovely Sunthorn Phu memorial, then there are islands to discover including Koh Samet, the Koh Mun Islands, Koh Talu and even Koh Chang. There are Natural Parks with waterfalls and caves, in addition to the amazing Mangrove Forests. Rayong with its shopping centre of just a short drive and there many superb golf courses with a 1-hour drive.
There are some condominium complexes located here and all are low rise and low key. Several villa villages have also been constructed and the main inhabitants are from Scandinavia. Mai Phin is normally very popular during the winter months as these owners depart their cold climates. It must be a great atmosphere during this time. I did have the opportunity to meet with people what have purchased Condos and Villas, naturally with the borders still firmly closed these are people who live in Bangkok and prefer the laid-back atmosphere yet are just a short drive from Bangkok. Prices are reasonable and standards look very high with some creative architecture ensuring that all construction blends in with the local environment.
If you need contact with the leading local developer, it is www.MaePhimProperty.com
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