Chaweng Beach, located on Koh Samui's east
coast, is the most developed and popular area on the island. It
attracts many young travelers and families alike, and remains good
value for the money. The beach is approximately 7 Km long, with
powdery white sand. It is bordered by dreamy, emerald-blue waters
and a coral reef where waves break, leaving the bay quite peaceful.
Two small islands are close to the reef -- the nearest one can
easily be accessed by walking through the shallow waters. The second
island, further out and larger, provides the perfect opportunity to
enjoy snorkeling and kayaking. Bring shoes if you plan to walk
around the islands, as they are made of sharp coral sands.
The beach offers great swimming and plenty of water sports, dining
and accommodation options. In both the summer and winter high
seasons, Chaweng Beach is packed with sun-seekers soaking up the
rays and has a fun, holiday atmosphere. It is not the most secluded
or peaceful of Samui's beaches, but everything one could desire is
within a few metres of your sunbed - from cold drinks and snacks to
massages, making it a great option for lazing away the day in
If you do feel like a calmer alternative, at the southern end of
Chaweng, on the ring road traveling towards Lamai, there is a
separate little stretch of beach called Chaweng Noi, which is pretty
and less crowded and also boasts good swimming.
On the whole, Chaweng beach offers similar services and ambience
along its entire length, so if you're visiting for the day, just
walk down from the beach road at any point and find a spot to relax
lay down your towel. The southern and middle sections have the
deepest water and are therefore the best areas for swimming and
water sports. At the northern end the water can be very shallow and
there is a reef just offshore, however this makes it ideal for small
Before heading out for a swim, lookout for red flags, which warn
bathers of dangerous currents at certain times of the year. Most of
the time the azure waters are perfect for bathing but when the
temperatures warm up in the hot season you may need to find a hotel
pool to cool down in.
If you are not staying in a hotel on the beachfront, then some
resorts hire sunbeds and umbrellas to non-guests for about 100B per
day. Alternatively, just take a towel and stake your claim to a
patch of sand, although it can be difficult to find shade during the
hottest hours so don't forget the sunblock.
An army of vendors patrol Chaweng beach selling ice creams, fruit,
grilled sweetcorn or chicken and Thai papaya salad, cold drinks,
jewelry, sarongs. They also offer services such as henna tattoos,
hair braiding and pedicures.
The vendors are mostly polite and not too persistent or pushy. They
will take a friendly "no" for an answer. But if any of the goods and
services on offer appeal, this is a nice way to spend your money
with local people. Vendors often come from Thailand's poor
northeastern provinces and have travelled to work in the tourism hot
spots in order to support their families back home.
One great luxury for westerners is being able to have an affordable
massage right on the beach, which is lined with massage salas
attended by legions of jolly women ready to knead and pummel away
Although not quite as rigorously trained as some of the masseurs in
salons and spas on the beach road, these ladies provide a great
service nonetheless, and there is nothing quite like listening to
the lap of the waves while strong hands ease your tense muscles.
Most of the beach masseurs offer Thai and oil massages, as well as
aloe vera body wraps for those that overdosed on sun. The busiest
time for the beach massage is between 4-6pm, so it is sometimes
worth booking beforehand.
Chaweng beach may be the perfect spot to laze around and work on the
tan, but there is also a good range of sports available for the more
active visitor. Just walking along the beach you will find many
places that rent jet-skis, catamarans and kayaks, and you can even
indulge in some banana boat mayhem.
Two of the best and reasonably priced hire outfits are located near
the deeper waters at the southern end of the beach.
Dolphins, near Chaweng Resotel and Cabana Resort, offers catamarans,
windsurfing, waterskiing, wakeboarding, parasailing and kayaking.
The friendly and knowledgable staff can also arrange fishing trips.
A few minutes to the north you will find Chaweng Water sports, which
has lots of jet-skis and a banana boat or two, they also have speed
boats that you can charter for a day-trip with a skipper.
As the sun goes down, many of the beachfront restaurants put out
tables on the sand, and when darkness falls, the candles and fairy
lights create a romantic ambience.
Chaweng's development has naturally centred on the beach, the main
road runs parallel to it, and the beach
itself is lined with resorts
and hotels along its entire length. At the northern and southern
ends there is a calmer, more family orientated atmosphere, whilst
around the central nightlife zone near the famous Soi Green Mango,
budget beach resorts attract a younger crowd.
The seedier side of Thai tourism is in evidence but not dominant in
Chaweng, and can be easily avoided. The overall atmosphere will
appeal to anyone who likes people watching, and to those who enjoy
staying where every service and amenity is conveniently close to
Soi Solo Bar
Chaweng beach road is lined with shops, restaurants and bars of
every size and description. International chains such as Starbucks,
and Burger King sit alongside rickety canvas-covered market stalls.
Long stretches of the main road are occupied by small local business
selling many different souvenirs, handicrafts while money changing
booths and ATMS, internet cafes, laundry services, travel agents,
car and motorbike rentals and international-style pharmacies fill
the spaces in between.
Over the years, Chaweng Beach has developed at an incredible pace
and because of this the infrastructure does not always keep up with
demand. The beach road suffers from inadequate drainage in the
monsoon season, as well as traffic congestion, although a recently
instigated one-way system has reduced traffic jams. This one-way
system also takes tourists through some of the more "Thai" areas off
the main beach road, which could be of interest to more adventurous
The Thai market area of Laem Din is located directly behind the main
tourist strip with a covered fresh produce market, as well as local
cooked delicacies, and bargain clothes. These backstreets are also
where many Thai people that work in Chaweng live.
The best way to go from place to place is to ride a songtaew, a dark
red, covered pick-up which hoots its horn about every 10 meters.
Prices can vary depending on the mood of the driver, but it should
be around 20 B/person for a ride within the Chaweng area. You can
also use a motorbike taxi, easily recognized by the drivers' colored
jackets, for 10-20 B depending on the distance.
If you rent a car and are not familiar with the Thai way of driving,
you will realize that driving and parking here can be difficult
exercises. Renting a motorbike is the easiest way to get around the
island but it is also the most dangerous. Don't forget to carry your
driver's license and to wear a helmet as the number of bike
accidents is quite high in Samui.
Motorbike and car rentals can be found in all the tourist areas and
usually cost about 120-150 B/day for a bike and 800-1,000 B/day for
a car (usually a Suzuki Caribbean, in more or less good condition).
Big bikes can also be found in Chaweng, though only experienced
riders should consider renting them given the dangerous driving
On the Beach road, the streets can seem deserted during the hottest
hours of the day, when the tourists are all on the beach, so most
business is conducted after 5pm, when the hustle and bustle begins,
with people cruising for pre-dinner drinks, souvenir shopping at the
little street-side stalls, and choosing where to dine.
The scene as the sun goes down is a colourful, noisy melting pot of
pedestrians strolling the sidewalks, with motorbikes, taxis crawling
along the road n search of a fare. While down in the clubbing zone,
the vibrant atmosphere continues way into the night and the crowds
don't disperse until the sun comes up.
Chaweng is Koh Samui's Party Central. All along the Beach Road you
will see sois (streets) leading off into warrens of bars and pubs of
varying appeal and popularity. The epicentre of all this hedonism
and fun is undoubtedly Soi Green Mango in Central Chaweng, with Soi
Reggae, by the lake, coming in a close second.
Before we get too hyperbolic about Chaweng's nightlife it's best to
remember that bars close at 02:00 by order of the police so the
party curve zooms upward past midnight and peaks a little earlier
than some would prefer. And yes, some bars stay open later ? those
whose owners have friends in high places.