Beaches of Koh Chang, Thailand; photos & info all beaches

Koh Chang's tropical beaches have character & ambiance

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We list hotels that guarantee, in writing, to discount the lowest rates found on-line for visitors who book direct. Cutting out middlemen saves money for both guests and hotel. See our GUARANTEE list on this page, then contact the hotel via the e-mail box on the hotel page.
We also sell DISCOUNT HOTEL VOUCHERS for some hotels – the very cheapest rooms available – but they are limited.

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Koh Chang's beaches have many attractions and great ambiance that many visitors love, even though they don't qualify as the most beautiful in Thailand. Most beaches here are quite narrow, the result of being squeezed between the steep mountains and the sea. At high tide many are underwater, while even the widest beaches at Sai Khao and Klong Prao virtually disappear under spring high tides. Most beaches are too shallow for swimming at low tide – though they're great for lying around and relaxing on, and for other pursuits.
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If the beaches of Koh Chang are far from the most beautiful in Thailand, what is it about them that so many people love?
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The laid-back ambiance plus the low level of development are high on that list. The wide range of beachfront resorts, from budget to 4-star, adds to the attractions. The wild and rugged landscape all around; the sense of being away-from-it-all; the like-minded people who come here for real relaxation and a bit of fun; together they create an allure that is quite unique among Thailand's many beach destinations, one that attracts thousands of people from around the world.
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Note that Koh Chang's limited amount of sandy beach has forced many resorts to build on rocky shorelines or headlands. Some have built concrete or stone walls to try to keep the sea out, sometimes destroying the original nature of the beach. Thus, if a beautiful, sandy beach is an important requisite for a beach holiday in Koh Chang, check the photos in our beach-by-beach photo galleries. We show the beach, be it sand, pebbles or rocks, in front of virtually every qualified resort on the island.
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Another anomaly that visitors should be aware of is the unusual pattern of tides in the Gulf of Thailand; there are generally only two tides each 24 hours, not the usual four. Through many high season months the tide in Koh Chang (and Koh Samui, Phangan, Koh Tao) can be low throughout the day, then high through the night. Day-long, low tides do not make great swimming conditions – except, perhaps, in the moonlight.
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Regardless, Koh Chang's beaches satisfy countless 1,000s of visitors, with each differing in conditions of sand, water and shade, and each having an ambiance very much its own. To show what each beach offers, this site has an individual, detailed page for every beach on the island that has beachfront accommodation.

some sandy beaches, some with red sand or pebbles; then rocky shoreline

Sand is at a premium on Koh Chang, and a small plot of beachfront land facing a sandy beach is now worth a large fortune. In terms of sand, Sai Khao (White Sand Beach) is perhaps the most beautiful, with the finest, whitest stuff on the island. It's one reason this is the most popular beach, with side-to-side accommodations lining almost every inch of it. Look to the north end of Sai Khao – and the north of most beaches here – to find the widest sand and the deepest water. Monsoon waves wash in from the southwest, pushing sand towards the north of most beaches.
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Without enough sandy beach for all resorts, some have turned to the next most attractive parts of the coastline – beaches made of pebbles. These are a rare sight in tropical Thailand, and are something of an attraction for the locals. Khai Mook (Pearl) Beach, just below Sai Khao, has the best examples, with many areas covered in shiny pebbles. The ocean has sorted and graded the pebbles, placing them in different spots according to size and type. For some, an unusual pebble beach has its attractions too.
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After pebbles comes rocky shoreline, somewhat less attractive. The southern end of the island has more rugged shoreline and less sandy beach. Yet some of the bungalow hotels here found remote, waterside locations that are quite attractive in their own way. Some have mangroves and other trees running well out into the ocean. Others have lonesome views of green, almost pristine hills falling into the sea.
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Again, the photos in the gallery of each accommodation establishment here, be it cheap bungalows or a 4-star resort, show exactly what kind of beach each has, be it sand, pebbles or rock.
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Families bringing young children to Koh Chang really need a good sandy beach right by their accommodation. Rocky shorelines and children simply don't mix, especially the sharp rocks found along much of this island. Several beaches here would be fine for families, but check the photos carefully to see the state of the beach before looking for hotels.

those big beach trees steal the sun, provde shade, on Koh Chang ...

Few trees can grow right out of the sand on a beach, but in Koh Chang many do just that, without the salt killing them. But more commonly, a virtual forest lives right on the edge of the sand, hanging so far out towards the water in the competition for sunlight that the island's beaches are often blocked from view. Google Earth's imagery would have us believe that Koh Chang has no beaches at all.
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When beach trees steal the sunlight in this manner, they create many cool havens for human visitors. Here on Koh Chang there are so many of these naturally-shaded retreats that they have been turned into one of the island's major advantages. The trees come in many different species, shapes and sizes, with the pockets of protection they create sometimes sufficient to shade even a large restaurant. There are few beach umbrellas on this island because trees provide so much shade, so naturally. Beach trees provide branches for swings and hammocks, while their roots and trunks become chairs, backrests and interesting props for photos. Koh Chang's remarkable beach trees are truly a beach-seeker's friend.
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Virtually all of Koh Chang's beaches are shaded by overhanging trees, though the cool mini-world that trees create on Sai Khao Beach are almost without precedent in Thailand. Other Thai islands certainly have big, shady beach trees, though only Koh Samet, also in the eastern Gulf, might rival Koh Chang for natural shade. Here restaurants remain cool and shady enough to stay open on the sand through the midday heat. Massage ladies ply their trade in cool comfort while many little beach bars have delightfully atmospheric spots between trunks and branches where the thirst can be quenched all day long – and particularly when it's scorching hot on the sand just outside.

swimming on Koh Chang's beaches sometimes takes a long walk

Those who seek a beach where they can really swim need to choose carefully to avoid disappointments on Koh Chang – for a couple of reasons. First, throughout the monsoon season the entire West coast is battered by waves, and the number of government signs warning about the dangers of rip currents speaks of the dangers at this time of year.
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Then, during the 'high' season from November onwards the water is, for many months, very shallow. All of the beaches run into quite shallow water, and when the tide is out one might have to walk a few hundred metres to get to water deep enough for swimming. Shallow water can create a little paradise for children, and a comfort for concerned parents. Many visitors just lie around in the calm, tepid water, often with a book or cool beer in hand.
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If you see a small coloured pole along the beach with a sign saying 'vinegar', note that it is placed there in case anyone gets stung by jellyfish. Though dangerous stingers of the box jellyfish type do exist in Thailand – and all of Southeast Asia – they are very rare. There are no reported cases of deaths or life-threatening stings from Koh Chang, though a box jellyfish stung an Australian boy at nearby Koh Mak in 2007. Be warned, and remember that the only cure is application of vinegar to the wounded area as quickly as possible.

Sai Khao & Lonely Beach; Koh Chang's fun, active and social beaches

Fun, active, social; there is only one beach on Koh Chang that really qualifies for such a description – Haad Sai Khao (White Sands Beach) the first beach on the west coast. Yet even this is certainly not active nor crowded in the manner that say Pattaya or Hua Hin beaches are. It earns this title only by comparison with Koh Chang's other, quieter beaches.
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Sai Khao Beach has few activities save swimming, taking massages, watching the sunsets and relaxing on the beach. But in high season there are quite a lot of people on this beach, particularly at sunset. This is the social time of day when it seems everyone comes to the sands to drink, chat and contemplate while watching nature's daily spectacle.
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Haad Sai Khao's most popular feature is the long line of beach bars, massage huts and restaurants along its mid section. Many are hidden in the shade of the huge beach trees. Activity on this beach is thus defined in such terms; relaxing in a beach bar, taking a massage, watching the sunset and having dinner right there on the sand. And there is lots of this kind of 'action' on Sai Khao.
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Koh Chang's second 'social' beach caters to a much younger set of visitors – the backpacker and so-called flashpacker groups, along with others who wish to socialize with young international travellers and dance the night away with sand between their toes. It includes a good number of tanned, middle-aging beach-lovers trying to stretch out and hang onto their carefree years of youth.
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Originally nicknamed Lonely Beach (real name Ta Nam) by the international backpackers who put it on the map, it hardly qualifies for such a title today. But Ta Nam is an especially attractive beach, with a good mix of budget and mid-range accommodations plus a few laid-back lounges where young people from around the world, socialize and connect. By 2012 a surprising, welcome phenomena could be seen here; a new breed of international, English-speaking Russian youth had discovered the social scene and begun to blend in with their global peers as the older generation of Russians has consistently failed to do.

the quiet, peaceful beaches at the south end of Koh Chang

Where are the quietest beaches on Koh Chang? Without going to the really remote, little-developed east coast (which we will cover in the near future), you just need to go south. The further you go from the ferry terminals at the north end of the island, the quieter things become.
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Thus, Klong Kloi Beach , the last beach on our Koh Chang island map qualifies as the quietest beach here with good quality accommodations, though cheap bungalows are also available here. This is the island's the only beach facing directly south. As the photos in this beach's gallery show, Klong Kloi is also one of the most attractive, palm-fringed beaches on the island, and one of the few here that might be said to hold the classic 'tropical paradise' look.
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Next is Bai Lan Bay , and this too is indeed especially quiet and peaceful, though here the majority of accommodations do not have a sandy beach. The best of Bai Lan's hotels, the Mercure, occupies the longest patch of sand here. Bailan Beach Resort, at the top of this beach map with 3-star rating, is the other resort with an especially beautiful beach, one that is effectively private for its guests. The other ocean-side hotels between these lucky two ones offer lots of tranquillity, but without the beach.
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The sandy beach at Lonely Beach (Ta Nam) is not so lonely anymore, for today many people come to appreciate its especially beautiful beach and natural surroundings. See why have we named Ta Nam one of Thailand's top female beaches . Just south of the main beach you can find especially quiet, out-of-the-way budget bungalows if you are willing to go without a sandy beach in front.
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None of the beaches north of here really qualify as particularly tranquil nor lonely, though they do not get really crowded either, save Sai Khao Beach in the peak season. The one part of this most popular of beaches that is generally quiet is the far north end. The only other beach that warrants mention for genuine tranquillity is Sai Daeng Beach on the northeast corner of the island. Here you can definitely find peace and quiet, in an environment quite different to that of the major beaches down the west coast.
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by John Everingham

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