posted Mar 13, 2017, 9:19 PM by Shayne L. van Vlerken
updated Mar 13, 2017, 9:19 PM
The two resorts couldn’t be more different. No wonder people are investing in property in this charming province
By David James
less than 30 minutes you can leave the glitz and gaudiness of Pattaya
and find yourself in a neighboring province that couldn’t be more
different in character and pace, thanks to its timeless fishing village,
markets for-the-locals, clean, sandy beaches, and near pristine
countryside dotted with rolling hills and forest. Welcome to Bang Saray,
the Eastern Seaboard’s hidden secret.
It’s a reminder of
what first attracted visitors to this long stretch of coastline decades
ago. And considering it’s just 20 or so kilometers south of Thailand’s
busiest beach resort, Bang Saray’s relaxed way of doing things comes as a
very pleasant surprise.
While Pattaya has undergone a major
transformation, this nearby province has somehow escaped the attention
of developers, tour operators, and mass tourism.
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and expats who have discovered Bang Saray in recent times hope it stays
that way. And they have good reason to be hopeful, for the authorities
here have been extraordinarily disdainful of so-called progress by
putting the interest of local people before all others. This is seen in
the way that they have rebuilt part of the beachfront to suit the
traditional Thai way of enjoying the sea, with carports and vendors
selling picnic mats. Even more amazing is the public park and football
pitch that occupies what is probably the most valuable piece of real
estate in the entire province.
It may not be everybody’s idea
of a modern beach resort, but it underlines the authorities’
determination to stave off the get-rich-quick brigade and their
questionable developments. Seen another way, it’s this kind of
philosophy that gives Bang Saray its inestimable charm.
At least a
third of the 20-kilometer coast here is devoted to Bang Saray’s thriving
fishing industry, with dozens of jetties affording a safe anchorage for
hundreds of boats. The phrase ‘catch of the day’ has real meaning in
the local markets. Freshly caught fish arrives on no particular day –
you have to take your chance when to buy the best fish and crustaceans.
But when they’re available, you’re in for a real treat and an
inexpensive one at that.
The village’s many seafood
restaurants are famed for the quality of their cuisine. Most are located
on piers built over the sea, so even in the hottest of days and nights,
there’s a cooling breeze. Best known are Rim Hat Seafood, Bang Saray
Seafood, and Jay Juk Seafood.
The main beach road has seen a
number of pleasant bars and trendy outdoor restaurants open during the
past couple of years. All are low-key affairs that blend in nicely with
the resort’s tranquil ambiance.
For years, it was said that Bang
Saray would never have a high-rise building on its beachfront because of
the nearby presence of the Royal Thai Navy. Sadly, this is no longer
the case as one 30-plus story condo has been built, but locals are
certain it is an anomaly, a one-off project that won’t be repeated.
Another third of Bang Saray’s coast boasts soft sand and reasonably clear seas, though much of it is covered during high tide.
village itself comprises a main street characterized by dozens of
independent bars, pubs, bistros, and coffee shops. Then there’s a
delightful lane that runs parallel to the sea which is full of little
houses and shops, all geared to the needs of local people rather than
Accommodation is confined mostly to small guest houses
and inns. There are exceptions, of course, including the U Pattaya,
located on one of the best stretches of beach, as is the nearby Sea Sand
Sun Resort. A Marriott hotel is scheduled to open on the main beach
road, emphasizing the resort’s growing popularity.
there’s more to Bang Saray than the beach. Located on the main
Pattaya-Jomtien-Bang Saray road are the Nong Nooch Tropical Botanical
Gardens, which features daily ‘cultural’ shows and arguably the best
collection of flowers and plants in this corner of Thailand, as well as
the Cartoon Network Amazone Waterpark boasting all kinds of breathtaking
and hair-raising rides! Also nearby are two superb golf courses,
Phoenix and the Royal Thai Navy course.
The hilly countryside
to the east of Bang Saray is rapidly becoming one the most favoured
areas for residential investment on the Eastern Seaboard. Several
upmarket housing projects, such as Buraran and Sunplay Bangsaray, make
the most of their elevated sites to give residents wonderful panoramic
views of the coast while living in a wooded compound and green
environment. Property prices here are still very reasonable and the
long-term investment projections are extremely favourable.
Saray’s star is also on the rise because of its proximity to U-Tapao
International Airport, Thailand’s third largest such facility after
Suvarnabhumi and Don Muang. A new highway is being built beyond the
hills of Bang Saray to ensure that the airport’s growing importance
won’t impact on the resort’s tranquility. Of course, locals recognise
the convenience of having such close access to a major airport.
car from Bangkok, the journey to Bang Saray takes about two and half
hours. Once the new highways open, travel time will be marginally