Feeling Adventurous? Pitch Your Tent on a Deserted Beach on Koh Chang
I’ve been to Wai Chaek many times but never spent the night there, let alone foraged for food fished for my dinner and. So, big thanks to Ben Schaye for contributing this post. You’ll find more of Ben’s articles at It’s better in Thailand.
A lot of people probably dream about camping on a deserted beach in Thailand, living out a Robinson Crusoe fantasy. I know it’s something I thought about before I ever came. Once you get here though, you quickly realize that nearly all the beaches are developed, and camping just isn’t really an option.
After moving to Thailand, I had mostly forgotten about the idea of beach camping until a few years later when I was living in Koh Chang and I became aware of Wai Chaek beach. I did an exploratory mission by kayak from Klong Kloi beach and saw how beautiful it was, then another one by scooter via Salakphet to scope out the road in, and I realized that this was something totally doable.
About Wai Chaek
Wai Chaek is a long, crescent-shaped sandy beach in a small bay with rocky points extending out on either side. There are very nice coral reefs on either shore off of these rocks, although the water visibility is often quite bad here.
At the east end of the beach, a small river spills into the sea but not before forming a beautiful mangrove-lined lagoon that reaches back into the jungle. Somewhere back in there is a waterfall, but I’ve never seen it. Directly behind the beach are straight rows of coconut palms growing out of tall grass.
Wai Chaek is Koh Chang’s most remote beach. Getting there is not easy, so there are no resorts, no hotels or restaurants, and almost no other development of any kind. You can get there by a rough road in a four-wheel-drive car or jeep, or by motorbike which you should only attempt if you have some skill driving off-road.
You can hire a boat to take you there either from Bang Bao or Salakphet. You can also kayak to Wai Chaek from either spot, but it takes 45 minutes to an hour and you should only try this during the dry season when there is a clear weather forecast. When we camp there, we always see a few daytrippers, but by sundown, we have the place to ourselves.
The one big drawback of Wai Chaek and something a lot of visitors complain about is the amount of garbage strewn all along the beach. This really is unfortunate, but the reality is that that’s the trade-off of having a beach with no development. The only difference between Wai Chaek and the beaches most people visit along the island’s West Coast is that the workers from the resorts and restaurants lining those beaches pick up the trash daily.
No resorts at Wai Chaek means nobody there to clean the beach regularly. If you’re visiting Wai Chaek and have the ability to carry anything out, please think about bringing along a large garbage bag to fill and take out.
Camping at Wai Chaek
My friends and I are pretty into the deserted island fantasy of camping here, but it’s definitely not a “survival” trip. If you found yourself actually stranded on a beach like this, you would spend a miserable night getting eaten alive by mosquitoes. We used to take tents, but found them pretty uncomfortable on sand so we switched to hammocks with integrated mosquito netting.
For food, we try to catch or forage most of what we eat, but we also like eating well so we bring a lot of seasonings, a few vegetables, and some rice and pasta. Coffee, of course, comes along too, and I’d be lying if I said that a bottle of Sangsom doesn’t get polished off each night around the fire.
Most of the food we get by spearfishing which is much more reliable than sitting and waiting with a rod and reel. Still, because the water clarity is usually poor here we sometimes spend a combined eight to ten hours a day trying to get enough. We do avoid shooting parrotfish and other reef fish as it can be unsustainable, and for some of them, illegal. Check out this guide for more on spearfishing in Thailand legally and ethically.
Besides fish, we also catch squid on a rod and reel, and dig for clams back in the thick mud of the lagoon. We don’t know the jungle flora too well, but enough to find wild ginger, palm hearts, kaffir lime, and a few types of fruit.
The owners of the land behind the beach still harvest the coconuts so please avoid taking those from the trees or the ground, but we occasionally see them and ask permission. When that happens we have coconuts as well.
Other Camping Around Thailand
Wai Chaek is not the only place where you can camp on a beach in Thailand, or even around Koh Chang. Many of the small islands in the archipelago have small sandy beaches and it wouldn’t be hard to kayak out or have a boat drop you there and pick you up again later.
The two big advantages Wai Chaek has are that you can drive there, and that there is fresh water. We bring our drinking water in big bottles but bathe back in the river near where the road crosses it coming into the beach.
During the rainy season this river can swell high enough that you have to park before it and hike the last ten minutes to the beach. Toward the end of the dry season, it is completely dry at the surface, although it flows underground and there always seem to be a few pools with non-stagnant water in them. If you try camping on the other islands, you will have to bring more fresh water with you or make do with less.
If you want to try beach camping in Thailand but don’t have your own camping gear, many national parks will rent it out to you. You can camp right on or behind the beach in the beautiful Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park south of Hua Hin.
If the beach isn’t your thing but you want to camp right out in nature surrounded by jungle wildlife, check out the amazing Ban Krang campsite in Kaeng Krachan National Park in Phetchaburi Province.