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Koh Chang, a complete guide to the beaches

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

 © Frank P. Schneidewind

The past gave us plenty of opportunities to explore this tropical paradise in depth and over a wide variety of weather conditions and side-trips across the entire island. The largest island in the Gulf of Thailand, has an abundance of beaches, jungles and places for the exploring traveler and we want to give true beach lovers an overview  and updated guideline.

In order to help with any decision making, when locating your holiday destination. We have added quite a few pictures and short videos, to show you a 180° degree cam-swing of the different bathing beaches, which we found suitable for individuals and families with kids as well.

Enjoy the sights on Koh Chang!


This map gives you a basic idea, how the layout of Koh Chang is and where the shown beaches are. The island is in Trat province, roughly 300 km southeast of Bangkok.

We start our beach reviews in the geographical north of the island. When you arrive on the island by ferry in Ao Sapparot or at Centerpoint pier, almost all beaches are located like pearls on a string along the island's main road. If you follow this road counterclockwise, you come to the community of Khlong Son first. You are near the northwesternmost point of any road and can access Khlong Son Bay to your right via small side roads. The first beach access is possible at Chang Noi Beach, a classy residential development close to the forested Koh Chang Noi peninsula (uninhabited) as shown below:

This area boasts few residential bungalows and a restaurant, luxurious accommodation on a daily or weekly basis is available. Check with Royal Park View! The natural beach appears fortified to avoid erosion, but fortifications appear not to be disturbing the paradise here.

More can be found at the Aiyapura across the bay. A multi-star facility with plenty of luxurious bungalows and villas. Unfortunately there is no natural beach there, but the management trucks in huge amounts of sand from elsewhere, it never seemed to last long though.

The man made coast line here is a sorry excuse for a tropical island, but the resort is trying their best to make their well heeled guests happy. A fabulous entertainment on site is granted, other villages are only accessible by own transport. There is no footpath to access Chang Noi Beach, a canal with commercial fishing trawler traffic and no bridge prohibits that.

This overlook gives you an idea of the concept here:

Loungers on sea side turf welcome sun seekers, from here you can watch the trawlers go by.

The main area for all touristic activities follows if you cross the final hill on the north end of the western side, from here you have a fantastic panoramic view of White Sand Beach and the villages and beaches south of it. As you can see, most developments here, do follow the main road. The primary accommodations being on the beach side. There is a year round crowd here and businesses do not have a tendency to close for the rainy season. Banks run branches here and there is a plentitude of shops, spas, massages and bars here. The beach itself stretches for miles and is completely free of any sand flies !

White Sand Beach has always carried the vast majority of our stays on Koh Chang. The unique blend of food offerings and accommodation options, did suit our taste best. The Top Resort at the southern end of town, on the cliff, had been our home for almost all nights in this eastern part of Thailand. No other location offered us more comfort and cozyness in a relative close proximity to a fabulous bathing beach for their kind of prices.

There are plenty of reports on this location alone, so we will almost skip it here now and move on with our guide to the island.  Read our day-by-day chronicles, if you like to learn more about White Sand Beach.

South of White Sand Beach community, over a hill or two south on the main road, Pearl Beach in it's rough beauty attracts few guests at their single resort here. No other businesses nearby, make this location ideal for patrons, that want absolute peace and isolation. The Resortel here has plenty of meeting facilities and rooms.

Concrete slabs are intended to make a passage into the deeper water painless, but to us this resembles more of a sea side quarry, than a tropical beach.

Kai Bae Beach, the northern part, has shady trees and plenty of fine sand. A few restaurants and shops in walking distance, makes Kai Bae village the main competitor to the dominant White Sand Beach area. The restaurant here, is quite unique with its setting near bathing and kayaking facilities.

 

The southern part of Kai Bae is dominated by fine sand and a great view over some small islets.

Bang Bao Beach is the last regular beach on this side of the island and can be found about a kilometers past the parking lot for the picturesque fishing village on stilts, bearing the same name. Going any further south, will get you onto private property at the Lagoona Resort. They currently charge a whopping 200 Baht admission to access their property, but Bang Bao Beach is by far the better option for swimming and sunbathing in our opinion.

Some local folks rent ocean kayaks or umbrellas with a pair of sun loungers, things are rather laid back here, no accommodation options were spotted nearby. The beach offers fine sand, but is fairly narrow.

Refreshments can be bought locally, their prices do not justify bringing your own cooler and picnic-basket. Snacks can also be had here cheaply. A good place for a day trip or half day trip from White Sand Beach, Bang Bao community has plenty of restaurants, mainly locally caught seafood.

Here is another of Melona's cam swings, to give you an idea of the entire layout here. Note the white lighthouse in the short video, that tells you the distance to Bang Bao pier.

Below photos show Long Beach, an area not accessible by the main road! In order to get here, one needs some form of off-road transport and some time. Follow the island road clockwise 'till it ends and then follow the rough dirt road for a few more miles. The marine battle monument (French war ships sunk half the Thai fleet here in the 40's) is here as well. Chances are, that you are the only person on this neat stretch of natural beach. Accommodations a few kilometers away, are rather basic backpacker-style huts. This was by far the best beach for swimming on the island!

The town of Salak Phet offers unique wooden bungalows on stilts with your personal pier. Dock your yacht here, if you're hungry;), or need a bed for the night. Their seafood restaurant claims fame beyond my wallet.

There is no beach here, but boats ferry guests to outlaying islands with great beach opportunities. Again, their tendency to overcharge lets us look for alternatives with no needed boat transports. There are plenty of them on Koh Chang, the last of the large islands in Thailand, that still retained some of it's old charm. We'll be back there for sure!

Tanjong Rhu, Langkawi’s northernmost Beach – Malaysia

Monday, April 5th, 2010

© 2010 Frank P. Schneidewind

 

 

Pantai Tanjong Rhu is the Malaysian name for one of Langkawi’s finest Beaches, Tanjong means cape and it is located on the northernmost tip of Langkawi, facing the southernmost Thai islands. Rhu means sea pine or casuarina. So the sea-pine-cape is, what your SIAMPEDIA Team tries to describe here, as it is one of the few beaches on our All-time personal Top-10 list in Southeast Asia.

There are only a few developments at Tanjong Rhu, a single De-Luxe beachresort, one or two souvenir stalls and a couple of restaurants near the tip of the cape. Other than this, it offers plenty of natural beach and a reasonably low number of visitors. Unlike Pantai Cenang, the developed beach on Langkawi in the west of the island. Tanjung Rho offers that type of cleanliness and tranquility, that we like so much and can hardly find further north.

A long, fine sand beach in inviting colors stretches here for many kilometers. Three islets in ocean kayak distance are a part of the 100 islands that belong to Langkawi. The Sultanate of Kedah’s territorial waters border the Thai Province of Satun, one can see Tarutao island on the northern horizon. Koh Tarutao is already in Thailand. Chartered boats can cover the distance in season, but the lack of immigration facilities may make cross-ocean travel for adventurous tourists a risky venture.

Snorkeling is rewarding in these waters, as there are several coral reefs within easy reach. Taxiboats ferry tourists to the islets or other great snorkel sites. Mighty casuarinas (sea pine trees) give their shadow near the tip of the cape and at stretches along the beach. Beach umbrellas are very few, do not expect a serviced touristic beach in Tanjung Rhu. Other than the in area in front of the 5-star resort, a visitor here brings his beach mat and accessories along. Somehow this appears to us, like the endless beaches of Phuket or Samui, way before the onslaught of mass tourism. For us it is like traveling back in time here.

Strong negotiating skills are required to deal with the Taxiboats here. It used to be easy and relatively cheap up to 5 years ago, but then the boat owners learned about the dream profits of their counterparts in Krabi, Phang Nga and on Phuket and prices escalated rapidly. Langkawi, being a duty free island in it’s entirety was a heaven for tourists. It still is, as Alcohol and Tobacco are nowhere cheaper in Southeast Asia, food is reasonable and tourist’s services and accommodations slowly creep up to Thailand’s levels. Kuah town is home to dozens of duty free shops with a world class selection!

The water is clean here and colors change, according to the sun from a deep turquoise to various shades of blue or green. Sales people bothering guests are unheard of here. Small developments in terms of ATV rentals or banana boat rides surfaced over the recent past, but still do not appear as crowded as elsewhere.

Langkawi can be reached by ferry from Satun’s Pak Bara pier, once daily from Penang or by frequent ferry from the towns Kuala Perlis or Kuala Kedah on the mainland. There is an international airport on the western side and private vehicles are shipped across every other day by cargo-barge. Rental cars and scooters are offered in Kuah town (2 km from the jetty) or in Pantai Cenang. Rental cars can be picked up at the airport also.

The spot at the northern end of the dead-end road from the Padang Lalang traffic roundabout is where most beach related businesses and restaurants are. Here it is also easy to find a shady spot to chill out. Total driving time with a rented moped or scooter from Kuah town is about 40 minutes, taxis need 30 minutes for the distance. Tanjung Rhu is equally far from Langkawi’s airport in distance.

A small hut here has an agency dealing with boat charter requests of tourists. Smart,  budget minded folks deal directly with the boat owners and book their eagle feeding cruises or snorkel trips at the fisherman’s pier a kilometer south of here at the small lagoon on the western side of the dead-end road. The famous Langkawi Geopark is also accessible from here, although you’re at the northern end of it and a bit to the west. The Geopark is full of bizarre rock formations, limestone caves and home to many sea eagles, which are fed by the boat owners and tour guides during cruises.

Tanjung Rhu offers no accommodation, but the one and only 140 room DeLuxe resort (250 US-$++ per night). Usually we stay at more modest Hotels in Kuah town or in Pantai Tengah or alternatively in Pantai Cenang. Take your pick of the plenty of options on rooms on Langkawi to suit your taste and budget, but make sure to witness this great location for some long lasting memories! We return here again, as developments are slow paced and the bulk of holiday seekers hasn’t discovered this paradise yet.