There is Chonburi province, and there is it’s capital, Chonburi town. I can’t imagine you, or anyone else, would want to stay in Chonburi town. It’s not even on the coast. There’s simply nothing to do or see there. It’s a stop on coastal highway to the Cambodian border or to change buses for Pattaya if you’ve not taken a direct bus for some reason. Most people go to the province for the seaside “resort” of Pattaya, which IMHO, is the asshole of the universe. (Well, Poipet, Cambodia probably wins that title, actually.) It is SO sleazy that even I avoid it. It is not only hooker central, but also Sodom and Gomorrah, it is everyone’s crudest idea of Thailand brought to life. The water off the coast is incredibly filthy too, from all the sludge and sewage pumped into it, so you can’t even go swimming without a good chance of catching a weird skin disease, or worse.
I always say there is no reason to go to Pattaya unless you want to fuck a whore – pardon my bluntness – but still I know people who take their families there. I know one Englishman in particular who takes his Thai wife and their three children as regular as clockwork, and I can never understand what they get out of the place. I sure hope they stick to the hotel pool!
Now also in Chonburi province, a bit to to the north of Pattaya, is Bang Saen. It is a much nicer beach town, albeit very low key. At least, it was much nicer 21 years ago, the last time I stayed there! It’s one of those places everyone here has heard of as a family vacation spot but most people have not been. Sort of like Atlantic City before the casinos moved in, I would imagine. (Never been to Atlantic City.)
If you want a nice beach town that’s not too far from Bangkok, I recommend Hua Hin. It’s in the other direction, about 2-1/2 hours by bus and on the Malay Peninsula. The wife and I really like Hua Hin. It has a small bar scene that by no means dominates the town like Pattaya’s does. The water is clean enough to swim in. (Tip: When you exit onto the beach from the main beach road leading to it, Damnoen Kasem Road, DO NOT sit at the beach-chair ghetto immediately to your left. Instead, turn right, walk a quarter of a kilometer, and there’s a much nicer beach-chair area, and that section of beach is nicer too.)
But that’s not Chonburi. Is there some reason other than tourism you are specifically interested in Chonburi?
I suggest picking up a good guide book, and I always recommend Lonely Planet. They just issued the 13th edition of their Thailand guide in August, so it’s pretty up to date. However, the Chonburi chapter is dominated by Pattaya and does not even mention Bang Saen.
Farther along the highway after it makes a sharp turn to the east to head for the Cambodian border are the provinces of Rayong and Trat, which contain the islands of Samet and Chang (Koh Samet and Koh Chang). Other islands too, but those are the main ones. I recommend Chang over Samet, but Samet is closer. The ferry to both from the coast takes about an hour. On both islands, the farther south you go, the less crowded it is. On Koh Samet, we awoke each morning to the pleasure of medical rubbish washed up on the beach. Seems boats take it out to see from the mainland and dump it at night, then it washes up onto Samet. Local staff are good at cleaning it up quickly, though.
Schools for the deaf: They do exist here. Actually, I personally know of only a school for the blind in Bangkok, but I just called the wife, and she confirms there are schools for the deaf in Thailand. I caught her at rather a busy moment, but she promised to get me some information later. However, an initial Google search turns up the Pattaya Orphanage, which I see contains a school for the deaf. Perhaps this is your mission to Chonburi?
The earlier comment about deaf sidewalk vendors is correct. There are many of them, especially along lower Sukhumvit Road and doubly especially on the north side of the road (the side with the even-numbered sois, or small lanes leading off of the road: Soi 5, Soi 7 etc.) Start from Soi 3 and head up in numbers along Sukhumvit. Accessible from Nana Skytrain Station.
Also, the big, main food court upstairs in MBK Centre, formerly called and still known to locals as Mah Boonkhrong, is sort of an unoffical club for deaf people. On weekends especially, you can see large groups of deaf people signing to each other in one corner of the food court. That’s also a good and cheap place to grab abite MBK is a huge shopping center, very popular with locals and tourists alike and accessible from National Stadium Skytrain Station; in fact, there’s a walkway into MBK from the station, so you don’t even have to go down to the ground.
I’ll get back to you with deaf-school info.