Elephant’s Leg



Pattaya’s skyscrapers loom in the background, but it’s easy to forget the city while lounging in Bang Saray’s clear waters

Talk to any old-timer expat here in Thailand and chances are that, before long, they’ll regale you with tales of when places such as Pattaya and Phuket were quiet fishing villages, and then lament that if only they’d bought land or property back then, they’d be stinking rich now.

Which raises the question of where tomorrow’s Pattaya or Phuket might be, or whether there even remains such potential in a country which is vastly more ensconsced on the tourist map than it was in the 1970s or 80s. Surely anywhere of commercial opportunity will already be long-discovered?

Maybe not. There may well be some places which, while not likely to explode along the lines of Pattaya, Phuket and Ko Samui, could nevertheless still have growth potential.

With this in mind, I headed for the little-known Chon Buri provincial village of Bang Saray, a 30-minute bus ride south of Pattaya, last weekend.

Having never before heard of the place, my interest was piqued when I saw a real estate advertisement selling condominiums off-plan in Bang Saray at a mere 695,000 baht (£13,900). While I’m as-yet unsure as to to the length of my stay in Thailand, that is so cheap that it’s almost worth investing in simply because I can.

The question, though, is what will become of Bang Saray in the future? If I don’t buy one of these condos at such a modest price, and end up staying in Thailand, will I one day be among the number of ageing expats bemoaning the fact that I didn’t get involved before the boom, before the international hotels, the nightclubs and, crucially, the package tourists?

Then again, if I did buy, and nothing happened, I would be the proud owner of a property that wasn’t appreciating, in a village of a low population – and thus few potential tenants – which is too far from my work to commute from.

Bang Saray beach road

Well, first things first, and so to my inaugural visit. Putting aside property musings, the idea of a relatively untouched beach town not far from Bangkok appeals in its own right.

Sure, there are several seaside options close to the city, but most of them are indundated either by foreign tourists (generating prostitution, fast food and dramatically hiked prices), domestic tourists (causing the carpeting of entire beaches with parasols), or both. When I mentioned Bang Saray to expats and locals alike, nobody had heard of it. That was very promising.

The approach road, leading to the beach from the bus stop, featured a handful of guesthouses, mostly independent small shops and a few small bars and eateries. No big hotels, no entertainment strip, no malls and no McDonalds. Good.

To the seaside: the road traversing the coast is quiet, with an occasional family-run shop or restaurant, and only one ramshackle bar, which apparently closes at 8pm. There are even old-style houses directly facing the sea, with families still living in them. Such scenes in Thailand’s developed beach towns are unimaginable.

The beach itself is a little underwhelming. The sand, which is dark but soft, runs in a thin but long strip of, at a guess, a kilometre and a half, and there is shade between the road and the beach provided by rows of palm trees. This thankfully negates the need for the dreaded parasols which obliterate the landscape in so many Thai-oriented seaside towns.

While sitting beneath one of these shady palms, an occasional snack vendor will come along, but they are infrequent and not at all pushy. Again, this is most pleasingly contrary to the typical Thai beach experience. If you want food or drink in between their visits, there are a few small stalls set up along the road.

And now for the highlight of Bang Saray beach – the water. From a distance, it is bright blue and green, and up close, is clean and clear. Swimming is safe and refreshing. How nice to be able to enjoy such a delight so close to Pattaya, where the sea water is notoriously polluted.

You wouldn’t catch me doing this in Pattaya

All told, a very pleasant day out, and for someone seeking a beach break from Bangkok that isn’t overrun by tourists, I’d definitely recommend going that little bit further south past Pattaya to Bang Saray.

And what of the future? Well, as a visitor, it would be just fine by me if Bang Saray remains “undiscovered”, as that would mean I’d continue to have the option of a quiet, hassle-free, clean seaside spot near Bangkok.

But if I had an eye on investment, obviously I’d want the village to grow. And will it?

The motorcycle taxi driver who transported me from the bus stop to the beach said he’d already seen modest development in the past few years, and I did see a few advertisements for condominiums dotted around. Have the seeds of tourism and foreign investment been planted?

Certainly the location is very appealing. The total drive from Bangkok is about two hours, and to Pattaya is just 30 minutes. This alone could mean Bang Saray is set for growth, as Pattaya’s neighbour town of Jomtien has benefitted economically simply due to its location beside the exponential growth of “Sin City”. It stands to reason that continued growth would follow the coast, not go inland.

If so, will the Bang Saray of today be unrecognisable in 10 years or so? And whether or not that would be a good thing depends, I suppose, on who’s got a financial stake in the place. While anyone who witnessed the Pattaya or Phuket of old would probably not like what they have turned into, those who own property there will surely be laughing.

9 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Its depends on how its developed and who by. I saw on TV that the property developers “claimed” entire villages after the tsunami. Even the locals had to legally fight to keep there land.

Comment by Liam Hunt

That is indeed a valid point. Development is almost never ethical.

Comment by elephantsleg

Pattaya That’s Good.

Comment by Pattaya Realty

I’m considering buying a condo there and will probably have a look in May. I Like the article, please do some research on more quiet fishing towns with condo developments.

Comment by Tim

Hi Tim, We are planning of visiting Bang Saray this december. Also we are interested in buying some property. We are curious about your visit and if you have found some interesting condo’s?
With kind regards,
Jeroen & Esther
the Netherlands

Comment by Jeroen

Hi Noticed you were looking for property in Bangsaray. I am selling a lovely home full European standard at below market price with everything included.My contact details are kate97abc@yahoo.com this is a private sale.

Comment by Kate

Hi Tim… well such research is not really my remit. I just thought it was something interesting to write about at the time. But if I come across anything similar, I’ll either do another piece or I’ll email you. Meanwhile I’d be interested to know your thoughts on Bang Saray, too.

Comment by elephantsleg

I can definitely recommend Bangsaray. It is a nice quiet village but not too far from the resources of Pattaya.

Some great housing, resorts and beaches. In fact some of the beaches just a little way past (towards Sattahip) are even nicer and pretty much untouched.

There’s also Buddha Mountain (Silverlake) and the mountains and temples which have fantastic views. Check it out if you’ve not ventured there before.

Comment by housey

Hi, any contact for me to book a room on 12-14/04 I need a budget hotel. Thanks

Comment by Vincent

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