Bang Saen Beach in Chonburi Province is just over 100 km east of Bangkok. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s because it’s not a beach that would make it on a “top ten beaches of Thailand” listicle, let alone top 100.
In Thailand though it’s a popular beach destination, especially for Bangkokians who want a quick beach break. It’s a place to hang out with friends and eat seafood, with a water view and sea breeze to go with it.
I visited Bang Saen because I was curious to see what the closest beach to Bangkok looked like, and also for research about the Eastern Economic Corridor and future high-speed train that will connect the province to Bangkok.
The future high-speed train will connect Don Muang Airport, Bang Sue Central Station, Suvarnabhumi Airport, then along the eastern side of the Bay of Bangkok to Chonburi, Pattaya, and U-Tapao Airport. That would then make places like Bang Saen a potential commuter suburb of Bangkok.
From Bangkok I got the stopping-all-stations train to Chonburi, which took 2 hours and 55 minutes (definitely not a commutable time). I completed the journey with a Grab Taxi to the beach.
I stayed in a little guesthouse that had no English name or signage. It’s not the sort of place that foreigners visit I suppose. After asking a shop for directions I found my room.
My guesthouse was at the southern end of the beach, known as Wonnapha Beach. It appears to be where the fishing boats congregate.
On my street there were cool cafes and places to eat that suggested that they get regular out-of-town visitors here.
The first thing I did was go for a walk along the beach promenade. The tide was going out, revealing a muddy-looking beach and rubbish blown ashore from the bay. On closer inspection the mud is actually brown sand, but the brown water didn’t help in changing this illusion of mud.
The beach promenade though is pleasant, with a good walking path and shady trees along the way.
If you look to the south you can see the skyline of Pattaya, offering a completely different urban beach experience to the one on offer in Bang Saen.
Halfway up the beach walk I went inland to have a look at what the regular town looked like. Bang Saen is home to the Institute of Marine Science at Burapha University, so there is a lively university town feel to it.
I was surprised that I was able to find real coffee here. There was a great cafe next to where I was staying, and in the town centre Standtall Coffee makes a cafe latte that would pass a Melbourne coffee snob taste test.
The beach was too long to walk the full length in the midday heat, so I saved that for the late afternoon. The beach length is 3.7 km (according to Google Maps), making it a decent walk to do the length and back.
All along the beach there are beach chairs set up under umbrellas. As you get up to the northern half of the beach it becomes a forest of beach chairs.
I can’t recall seeing so many beach chairs crammed into one place. This is the beach of Bangkok, which explains why there are so many chairs. I would have liked to see what this looks like when it is in peak activity.
There is more sand at the northern end, and thus more activity on the beach.
I have seen photos of Bang Saen with clear water that is more associated with beaches in the south. The blue water apparently happens from October to February. I was there in March and there was a strong onshore breeze. The water was choppy, and rubbish was being blown onto the beach.
If you are from Bangkok though and in urgent need of Vitamin Sea, I can see how this beach appeals.
At the end of the beach is the Bangsaen Walking Street.
On the weekend there is a night market, where you can eat street food with a sea view.
On the walk back things had got much busier as people came to watch the sunset.
The next morning before I got the bus I went for a little walk. This time the tide was in, swallowing up the beach completely.
If you’re a foreigner visiting Thailand, this is not the Thai beach of your tropical dreams. On the other hand, f you don’t care to go swimming, if you like low-key destinations, and if you don’t want to run into other farangs all day, then maybe this is the beach for you.