Laem Mae Phim……you’ll be forgiven if like me the name isn’t somewhere that jumps to mind quickly and that’s part of its beauty.
Mae Phim beach has to be one of if not the best kept secrets on the East Coast of Thailand, located only 180 kilometers from Bangkok in the province of Rayong and only just over an hour’s drive from the vibrant city of Pattaya this somewhat hidden gem is a must see to believe. Although on the mainland Mae Phim has a distinct ‘Island Feel’ and with a spectacularly beautiful coastline that stretches tens of km Mae Phim is undeniably one of the finest beach locations in Thailand.
Enjoying Mae Phim doesn’t take much planning it’s that ‘Island Vibe’ again, the way of life here seems so laid back and everything you could want or need is easy at your disposal it’s simple enough to get around hire a bike/car and visit one of the many pristine beaches, have a massage, a bite to eat or a drink or two.
Having said that Mae Phim once a small sleepy fishing village is seeing real growth not only from European tourists but Thais alike flocking to the beaches here whether it be for a weekend break which is perfect due to its proximity to Bangkok and Pattaya or a second home destination for many and at the same time holding on to its bona fide Thai environment.
Laem Mae Phim is not the beach where you will go if you want dawn to dusk excitement, but if you want a peaceful time, on a beautiful beach, then look no further than here.
At weekends and holidays – as with most beaches near the populated areas – it gets busy, Mae Phim is big enough to cater for the crowds and mid-week you can almost have this long beach to yourself – almost!
Having visited and lived on and around various beaches you can get that same feeling of looking out at the same expanse of water but Mae Phim best known for its beautiful sea, clear waters and lush white sand has so many beaches to choose from each offering their own unique character as well as being so close to many neighboring Islands including Koh Samet, Koh Mun and Koh Talu.
Mae Phim beach, Coca-Cola Beach, Ao Khai Beach
Over 4 km long Mae Phim beach has unrivalled beauty and is instantly impressive and set back from the sand are a number of beach side restaurants and bars offering everything from authentic Thai delicacies, seafood to many western delights. Not far from Mae Phim beach heading towards Ban Phe you will find the popular Coca-Cola Beach just look for the ‘sign’!
Coca-Cola Beach has the tranquility of Mae Phim Beach with secluded areas, palm trees with wooden swings and hammocks but at the same time is a little busier and seems to be real ‘Hang Out’ place with more people swimming, drinking , sunbathing and playing water tennis.
The area also has numerous beach bungalows and amenities including dive and snorkeling as one of their many activities.
Ao Khai is a little east of Mae Phim beach and maybe my personal favorite spot it’s a small beach but still houses the newly opened Centara Q Resort and other beach side restaurants.
We ate at The Sabai Bar also recently refurbished and it has that real sea-side vibe offering authentic Thai dishes in a relaxed setting.
My number one spot for sundowners and I guess sunrises if you so like is The Drift Bar (they say Mae Phim’s first beach party bar). This really is a bar with a difference and somewhere I can’t recommend highly enough situated right on Ao Khai beach (I mean right on the beach) you can enjoy a cold beer or whatever takes your fancy while watching the sun drop over the horizon whilst listening to a real eclectic music mix.
The staff are friendly and the whole ambience is laid back the bar is ultra-cool and somewhere I was instantly hooked on this is the perfect place to escape a real hidden paradise and place where locals and visitors choose to chill.
Grand Blue Resort & Beach Club
When looking for somewhere to stay I can’t recommend Grand Blue Resort & Beach Club highly enough located right on Mae Phim Beach this new hotel and beach club resort really ticks all the boxes with a variety of room to suit all needs from a single travel to a family.
Grand Blue really has its own resort feel with a large swimming pool overlooking the ocean and a restaurant/bar Mezetto which serves a variety of international dishes as well as Thai food, it’s a great place to relax, hang out drink a cocktail from their extensive menu whilst sitting in a beachclub lounge environment.
The resort also has an American style steakhouse ‘Buffalo Bills’ with an extensive menu including great steaks, chicken wings and many other mouthwatering treats.
I guess what I’m saying is I’ve found my go to destination without having to leave the mainland and go to an Island and its only 100 kms away from Pattaya.
Like Pattaya it has sand and water but that’s where the similarities end, Mae Phim is certainly a must visit for anyone who loves Thailand and I’m sure you’ll be planning your next visit before your first visit is even over.
by Paul Johnson