On an island as wildly diverse as Koh Chang, picking the best beach for your tastes isn’t always easy – with each offering differing landscapes and atmospheres.
Nestled in the Gulf of Thailand, Koh Chang (which translates to mean ‘Elephant Island’) is a tropical haven known for its immaculate beaches, exotic marine life, dense jungles and mountainous terrain – not to mention laid-back part vibes. Indeed, Thailand’s third largest island attracts large numbers of visitors, and while many of Koh Chang’s coastal villages are seeing a spike in tourism, large parts of the island remain untouched. As for its beaches, they vary dramatically in atmosphere, landscapes and backdrop. Here are the 5 most charming beaches in Koh Chang.
White Sand Beach (Hat Sai Khao)
Koh Chang’s largest and most popular beach, the 2 km White Sand Beach is an idyllic stretch of shoreline, featuring powder-white sand, crystal-clear waters and ombre sunsets. Tranquil by day, the beach comes alive when the sun goes down, with families, backpackers and couples sipping cocktails on beanbags, dining on deckchairs and listening to live music being pumped out from beach bars long into the night. There is hardly any access to the beach from the street, which lends it a welcoming remoteness. On the street itself, hotel resorts, expat bars, convenience stores, restaurants and cannabis shops stay busy into the early hours. Meanwhile stray dogs jump out of the way of songthaews that ferry tourists to and from the nearby pier. All of this activity is set against a thick jungle overgrowth which serves as an eye-catching backdrop to the beach.
Kai Bae Beach
Kai Bae Beach perfectly encapsulates what makes Koh Chang so unique: relaxation, adventure and fun. This western part of the island has an infectious atmosphere that spills out of the nightclubs, international restaurants and bamboo tiki bars peppered along the narrow main street. Once the revelry ends, tourists stroll back to an eclectic mix of accommodation including guesthouses, resorts, bungalows and jungle huts. These striking surroundings, including a nearby waterfall, add to the charm of Kai Bae Beach, making it an ideal destination for families and tourists alike. Kai Bae’s location also makes it the perfect vantage point from which to marvel at some of Koh Chang’s most beautiful islands. In fact, if the tide is low, you can rent kayaks to explore the closest of them – where you’ll find little else but a handful of trees and the burnt ashes from a barbeque.
Lonely Beach (Hat Tha Nam)
If you’ve come to Koh Chang for a taste of bohemia, Lonely Beach is your place. With its cheap accommodation, many backpackers choose the island’s liveliest beach as the base for their stay. As well as affordable seafood restaurant, beachgoers also have access to tattoo shops and motorbike rental stores. Hang around until after dark and you’ll be treated to fire shows and loud music until the small hours. But beware, sound travels, so if you’re not here to party, be sure to select accommodation away from the beachfront. On the beach itself, vendors weave in and out between sunbathers, hippies meditate in silence, and palm trees bend in the breeze. Back on the pedestrianised street behind, gap year millennials sit on benches sipping cheap cocktail buckets, while monkeys look on enviously.
Klong Prao Beach
Situated between White Sand Beach and Kai Bae Beach, Klong Prao Beach find a neat balance between being a tourist haven and a tranquil hideaway. As the longest beach in Koh Chang, it’s divided into two parts (north and south) with quiet and deserted patches where you’ll have the entire stretch of sand to yourself. The area’s main attractions are upscale resorts, elephant camps, the Klong Plu Waterfall and the Wat Klong Prao Buddhist temple. Days here are spent relaxing on the lush sands, participating in a cookery class or trekking along trails that take you past waterfalls, rivers and mangrove forests. Don’t miss one of Klong Prao’s stunning sunsets, either – best enjoyed over a beverage on the terrace back at your accommodation.
Long Beach (Hat Sai Yao)
Whisper it quietly, but Long Beach is one of Koh Chang’s hidden gems. Nestled on the ‘trunk’ of the elephant-shaped island, tucked away from the swarming tourist hordes, the small beach is flanked by a rocky coastline. Quite simply, there is nothing to do here except lie in the shade of the coconut palm trees. The only onlookers are residents of the twenty wooden bungalows, who have shelled out around 200 baht a night ($5.84/£4.62) for lodgings with sparse electricity and WiFi. Until recent years, the only way of accessing the beach was via boat, jungle trek or on two or four wheels via an extremely rugged stretch of road. Gratefully for visitors, that road is now much smoother, and the beach’s remote setting amid pristine natural surroundings makes the effort to get here worthwhile. What’s more, the drive will reward you with some of the best views of the island.