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Lonely Beach used to actually be a fairly "Lonely Beach" but that has all changed in the last few years.
Now many people come to Koh Chang just to stay here and the reasons are quite good. Lonely Beach is very laid back, pretty well a Bohemian meets Thailand, meets Jamaica kind of feel. Hugely popular with the Gap Year crowd and younger traveler, the resulting businesses that have sprung up here have catered to that.
The beach is great and the farther north you go, the better it gets..
Lots of Internet, tattoo, bamboo resorts with lots of a rotating parties on the local club scene. There once was an agreement that each club would host a party on each weekday and that worked great until there were eight clubs and only seven days in the week. So now there is a lot of competition between them all. But each one offers a slightly different party, but all include party buckets, beach music and a lot of dancing
Things are changing a bit over the last few years though for Lonely Beach and it could be slowly, slowly changing into a much more up-scale area in the years to come. There are few more upper end resorts now but the backpacker huts and lower cost bungalows are still doing a raving business here. We still get emails about "Tree House" the original Lonely Beach resort and we are sad to say it is all gone now.
One caveat about Lonely Beach; If you are staying in the central area, take a look what clubs are around you and the noise level. Good or bad on that you can decide.
Lots of places to get a meal on Lonely Beach. We are listing the most popular here but there are many more!
Kai Bae has some really decent nightlife that overall has a more laid back and intimate feel than anywhere on the island. Good place for a date or couples night out.
Head to the beach for some great places to hang out, there are also a lot of smaller lounges scattered about, or their daytime versions of the clubs!
Bailan is about 5km south of Lonely Beach and is much more quiet and relaxed than the Lonely Beach area.
There are several good places to stay, and some surprisingly good restaurants. We would recommend here as probably the quietest place on the island. If you really want to get away from it all Bailan would be a good place to start.
There is not really a beach to speak of, but the tidal pools and snorkeling can be good. If you want to party in Lonely Beach and make your dollars or Euros go a bit farther accommodations here are bit less but more importantly the fact that you can actually get some sleep and quiet may drive a lot of people here.
The one big draw here is "Tree Top Adventure Park" and its a great time for swinging through the trees, zip lines and just having a great time. Even if you afraid of heights keep in mid all the cool pictures you will have when you get home. We take it as a must-do for Koh Chang!
With the lack of a real beach at all Bai Lan has not been too developed and yet a few more resorts are going in here, some of the owners fear it may become a clone of Lonely Beach in the years to come, but for now it remains a very laid back, quiet getaway on Koh Chang.
Bai Lan is a good choice if you don't really care about being on the beach, want a quieter place to rest and enjoy paying a bit less than Lonely Beach.
Bang Bao is at the far south end of Koh Chang and is the home to the diving companies, boat charters, island hoppers and a small enclave of fishermen. The village itself has turned more and more towards tourism but in between the T-shirt sellers, Thai faux-antiques and DVD sales one can still glimpse the real village, but that can be hard to see at times.
If you are actually looking for something to take home from Koh Chang, Bang Bao has the best selection of souvenirs, T-shirts and other assorted goods on the island. The addition of some small art shops selling oil and acrylic copies of famous paintings and their own designs are quite nice and compared to back in the West, quite affordable. If you ever wanted to get a family portrait done in oil, just drop off your photo. The best shop for something unique is located at the start of the pier on the right hand side (its the largest and called Bang Bao Shop) and carries some interesting gifts. The Buddha head made from welded bolts and the cool T-shirts are more or less unique on the island.
Although Bang Bao may seem to be quite quiet there are some good places to go that are not advertised that well. If you want some fresh seafood try Chow Lay, Ruen Thai or Lom Talay. If you want a cool dining experience head to Buddha View and dangle your feet over the water while having a good meal. Tantra on the north shore is getting great reviews also (and they come pick you up!)
Although Bang Bao has no real beach, just a few kilometers down the road is Bang Bao Beach (also called Klong Kloi Beach). It is usually quite quiet and we think one of the better beaches on the island. Of course us telling people about this might be changing the quietness!There are a few places to get some drinks and snacks but it is also one of the best places for a massage (waves lapping against the shore and being pummeled is a surprising good combination).
If you continue down the beach the road ends in the largest resort on Koh Chang called "Koh Chang Grand Lagoona" and to enter you need to pay around 200 Bht. Actually just to see the place is worth it. The resort has a history of controversy and contains some "interesting" features such as floating ship like rooms, a real ship used for hotel rooms and other interesting features that make the trip worthwhile. Sadly, the resort is slowly rusting away and that in itself is something to see. The beach though is worth a look - very nice actually.
The road ends at the resort, it does not circle the island. It is a good idea to have a scooter if you are headed down here, the taxis don't come very often and as such charge a premium (to say the least) to pick you up and drop you off in this area.
The dive companies for Koh Chang are basically all located here. One of the best things about diving in Koh Chang is that it is not a traffic jam on the waves. There are some excellent spots and most of the divers here are very passionate about their profession. Rates are very competitive and so the best idea is to talk to several companies and see who you like the best.
Around Bang Bao are some interesting places, a decent beach is down the coast, great views and if your diving - it is really the place to stay. If you want something slightly remote, quiet and relaxing, Bang Bao would be a good choice.