Guide to the North Klong Prao Beach area
✔ Accommodation all in large resorts
✔ 1.5Km long beach that rarely gets crowded
✔ Plenty of places to eat & drink. Plus a Russian shop for latex rubber items.
All you need to know, and more, about the northern end of Klong Prao beach and Chai Chet. To be honest, the man made delights of Chai Chet are few and far between with not a lot to hold your attention unless you are looking for beer bars, a petrol station or a builder’s merchant. ( Here’s a pictorial guide to the armpit of Koh Chang.)
However, there are some great views from the cape and large, popular resorts and plenty of small shops & restaurants at the northern end of Klong Prao beach.
When travel reporters from visit Koh Chang the one comment that is always made is that Klong Prao will become the island’s equivalent of Chaweng on Samui or Patong on Phuket. Meaning that as Klong Prao has a long stretch of sand, plenty of beach front real estate still up for grabs and land behind the beach where a small town is beginning to grow; then things will gradually snowball and before you know it they’ll be resorts the length of the beach and the road will be a clutter of restaurants, workers’ housing, karaoke bars, motorbike rental shops and beauty salons. :-(
White Sand Beach is currently the most touristy beach but further development is limited by the lack of usable land – i.e. any development on White Sand Beach is pretty much limited to a roadside strip. Unlike in Klong Prao where there is far more land available, and if the development of the island continues at the rate the government and local developers would like to see then it would Klong Prao will eventually morph into the main town on the island. Fortunately that prospect is still a few years away.
Chai Chet ( as this area is also known )
As you travel south from Pearl Beach you go over a rise and head past the Chai Chet stretch of roadside that is rapidly being lined with small beer bars plus a couple of resorts which offer longstay accommodation in addition to daily room rentals. The new garbage disposal plant – along the paved road heading inland , was intended as a big improvement on the old hole in the ground which was where all the island’s garbage went until a couple of years ago. You can still see this if you drive up the road and the gates to the disposal plant are open. The plant originally had lots of automated machinery – this has all broken and never been fixed. (Some photos of how the island’s garbage is processed.)
A couple of places of interest in this are Max’s Bistro – popular with expats for his weekly buffets and ‘Zorb & Zip’ a small zorbing and zipline place directly opposite the bistro. This is the only place you can have a go in a zorb ball on the island. But it’s a short course, 40 metres or so and so the thrills are limited. Likewise the ziplines are nowhere near as extensive as those in the Treetop Adventure Park in Bailan. ( Note that as of Nov 2016 the Zip & Zorb is closed. It was up for sale, so perhaps will re-open. )
Opposite this turning are some new spacious, cheap shop units set over 20 metres back from the road, plenty of parking space the the red dirt quickly turns to mud when the rainy season commences. These initially housed various businesses but most have been made into bars now which are all open from mid morning onwards in order to provide liquid breakfasts to their regular customers.
Opposite these bars is the grandly titled, Koh Chang Entertainment Plaza. A motley collection of an ever decreasing number of beer bars housed in what was built as an indoor market. Most nights you could spray the place with machine gun fire and still not hit a customer. It’s that quiet. But if you’ve ever dreamed of
pimping hookers running a bar in Thailand then you’ll be able to find one for rent here.
A little further south on the same side of the road there’s a great little restaurant called ‘J. Kloy’ . One of those small, no frills places that is packed throughout the day with locals, Thai visitors and expats in the know. Large portions of very good, inexpensive Thai food.
Moving swiftly on, two roadside resorts, the oddly named ‘Pengwan’ and Thai Garden Hill have good value rooms. Have a look at Kerdmanee if you plan on staying longterm and want weekly/monthly deals.
Thai Garden Hill has small rooms with fridge, AC, cable TV, hot water plus a swimming pool for under 1,500 Baht/night in High Season. From here it’s 5 minutes walk to the north end of Klong Prao beach. Once you’re inside the resort it’s pretty good spot – There’s no traffic noise and the pool is a good spot to hang out and sunbathe. No sea views of course, but you do face the jungle clad hillside,
A petrol station and the builders’ merchant round off the list of Chai Chet’s highlights.
More cheap and fairly miserable longstay accommodation is available in rooms and bungalows behind the petrol station. You’ll also see a coffeeshop and noodle shop on the forecourt of the petrol station so no need to miss your morning coffee or cheap lunch if you’re unfortunate enough to be staying here. On the opposite side of the road, down a narrow concrete road leading towards the sea, there’s some newer, better quality bungalows for monthly rent. These are called ‘Baan Fine Times’. They’d be my choice for renting longterm in this area of the island.
Shopping & Eating
As you round the sharp left hand turn you enter the northern part of Klong Prao beach. This is the most heavily developed area of the beach. Here you’ll find a range of shops including tour agents – CocoDeeBo – is recommended if you need someone reliable to sort out your holiday or travel plans; a bank, several ATMs, supermarket, opticians, beachwear vendors and numerous small restaurants in the bowels of the two shopping plazas that lie on the inland side of the road. Of course there’s a 7-eleven and also a Tesco Express, just in case the supermarket doesn’t stock whatever it is you want.
VJ Plaza, look for the concrete elephants standing guard at the entrance houses what was – until Tesco arrived on Pearl Beach, the largest supermarket on the island V Mart, plus a branch of Siam Commercial Bank which is open daily until late for currency exchange. there is also a standa alone currency exchange close by. Both give better than average rates – as I discovered when i set out to find the best exchange rates on the island.
Inside the plaza several small restaurants either serving Thai or Italian food or both, compete for business. The further you enter into the bowels of the plaza the quieter the restaurants become and the more it resembles a commercial death zone, with many of these bars and restaurants changing ownership on a regular basis.
Having said that the Hungry Elephant, at the end of the plaza on the left does some of the best French / Western food on the island. It used to be roadside on Pearl beach and has a loyal following of expats and tourists.
And if you want good cheap Thai food, just grab some somtam, noodles or 30 baht a plate Thai food from the stalls directly under the eves of the supermarket. At night food vendors set up shop by the roadside outside the bank, you can get a good, cheap Pad Thai, kebab or banana roti.
The roadside area outside the plaza is Ground Zero for Koh Chang’s kebab war. For some reason, visitors seem to love kebabs. Presumably as they are reminiscent of food at home, contain some salad – so are healthy, and are relatively cheap. I’ve no idea what part of an animal, or indeed what animal, the meat comes from but they aren’t too bad. I’ll admit to having one for a quick lunch once in a while. You’ll see several scooters and sidecarts parked up from lunchtime onwards. Figure on 60 – 80 Baht or so for this pita bread wrapped delicacy.
At the bottom end of the plaza you can’t miss VJ Island View Apartments where a fully furnished AC room can be rented long term for around 6,000 Baht in high season and 4,000 Baht/month low season for long term rental. ( You might need to haggle a bit to get these prices though.) Rental rates have actually decreased in the past couple of years as more longstay bungalows open up on the island and people have more options as to where to stay.
One floor of the apartment block has now been given a makeover and begun a new life as a backpacker hostel called The Habitat Hostel Koh Chang. They’ve done a nice job of creating a bright, cheaper alternative to the very popular Pajamas hostel a kilometer further south..
But they have been recently refurbished, have cable TV and security and relatively few psychotic expats. Although every year there are always one or two who get island fever and then jump out of second floor windows after being spurned by their loved one or have a penchant for parading naked around the corridors.
Next door, the recently revamped Koh Chang Plaza has large, good but expensive coffee shop ‘Marin’ guarding the entrance. They do make good coffee, but be prepared for Starbucks prices.
Further back are various small businesses, most with signs in Russian – giving you an indication of who the make up of the typical tourist staying in resorts nearby. If you take a look around you’ll find a few tailor’s shops, tour agents and a pretty good Thai restaurant called ‘Yes’, a longstanding Italian restaurant ‘Abella’ and a little cocktail / reggae bar called ‘Malibu’ – worth a stop for a few after dinner drinks.
On the right hand side ( beach side) you’ll find more shops and extensions to the popular Coconut Beach Resort which offers all manner or rooms, most located off the beach. Follow the concrete access road and it will lead you past Chai Chet Beach Resort, which as mostly aging bungalows but in a good location, the rocky cape and ‘Chai Chet Resort‘ which has been undergoing upgrades over the past couple of years. A new swimming pool / reception / restaurant area offers spectacular views over the bay and along the length of Klong Prao and Kai Bae beaches as do new some very nice seafront bungalows that line the walkway leading to the rocky headland. You can also still find older AC bungalow here for around 1,800 Baht even at busy times.
Chai Chet Resort has also built a nice little trekking trail that takes you around the rocky headland and over the hill. It’s easy to follow, has some nice sea and panoramic views and is a good way to spend 30 minutes or to or work up an appetite. Walk around the back of the pool/reception area, head towards the cape, keep the hillside bungalows on your right and you’ll see a well marked start to the trail and also a wooden sign with a route map.
South of Coconut Beach Resort you come to Paradise Resort, the best in this area with a couple of hundred metres of beachfront and some stunning new pool villas all built in a modern Thai style. If you’re looking for a good combination of privacy, beachfront, views and restaurants/shops within easy reach then this is hard to beat on Koh Chang.
Adjacent is Koh Chang Resort, a fading 2 star if ever there was one. This really has seen better days – the late 1980s for example, when it was constructed. Great location but there are plenty of better options to choose from. A quick glance at the Tripadvisor reviews tells you all you need to know. ‘Flora i Talay’ is a new bungalow resort just south of Koh Chang Resort which has been open since mid 2013. It’s a very nicely designed resort and the restaurant already has a good reputation for the quality of the food. Recommended spot for an evening meal by the beach. It’s also expanding and the new bungalows and a new reception area will be completed by late 2017.
Down on the beach the old favourites, basic Palm Beach and Lay Lay Tong restaurants have gone. This, in order to make way for the expansion of Flora i-Talay. That’s a shame as it leaves the beach with only one stand alone beach restaurant. This is the Ko Ko Mo Beach bar and Restaurant just south of Klong Prao Resort. This is run by a Swdish woman Helli who has been on Koh Chang since time began. Well worth calling in for a chat and a cold beer or smoothie. Adjacent a new sailing and watersports centre is being set up and will be operational by the end of 2016. Head here to hire a Hobie Cat or learn to sail one.
Just south of Flora iTalay, you’ll find an access path leading from the main road to the beach, follow this and you’ll come out onto the main road. The first thing you’ll see are the new Nong Beua Seafood restaurant and adjacent Pajamas Hostel.
The hostel is a safe, modern ‘flashpacker’ type of place ideal for sociable people on a budget. There are both dorm rooms and private rooms available. The restaurant is a branch of the long established Nong Beua on White Sand beach. Very good seafood and Thai food at reasonable prices.
Around this area on the roadside in this area, few shophouses that house a real mix of businesses including restaurants, laundry, internet cafe & gaming centre, hair salon, mobile phone shop, a vet’s and Koh Chang Latex, that specalises in selling expensive natural rubber mattresses and pillows to Russian tourists.
You’re now approaching Klong Prao Resort, one of the first in the area, that has older rooms for around 1,500 Baht/night. But if you want anything that resembles comfort then go for the VIP rooms by the beach. ( Anyone with a credit card is a VIP here) or the newer lagoonside bungalows, with a bright, modern design and well appointed interior for around 3,500 Baht/night. The plus point is a long stretch of beach, the downside is that the resort, like an increasing number on the island, is very popular with package tourists – often from Mother Russia and her former republics, no doubt drawn here by the opportunity to purchase rubber mattresses nearby.
On the main road by the entrance to the resort, yet more new shop houses and a long row of shop units have been built. Here you’ll find places to eat cheaply, rent a scooter, to book a dive course, have some business cards printed and buy artwork. Plus there’s a car-wash.
In late 2010 a new tourist attraction, a Thai dancing show, which combined a sanitised Thai meal plus extravagant dance show opened for about a week before closing permanently. In late 2014 this was then redeveloped into Bhu Tarn Resort. This has the same owner as the nearby Klong Prao Resort and whilst the location isn’t as good, it’s not beachfront, it does have very well appointed rooms, a pool and backs onto the lagoon. So you can hop in a kayak and paddle to the beach if you don’t fancy 3 minute walk. A good choice if you want better value for money than most beachfront resorts can offer.
If you’re in need of American comfort food, Annie P’s does old fashioned home cooking just like Mama used to make. So if you need your pulled pork or cheesesteak this is the place for you.
Head down the beach from Klong Prao Resort, you’ll pass the aforementioned Ko Ko Mo Beach Restaurant. Then come the a stretch of beach rented by Aana Resort before reaching the mouth of the Klong Plu & Klong Prao river estuary. Aana Resort itself is located a further 300 metres into the estuary, so guests kayak or take the free boat service to the beach. The mouth of the river is often too deep to wade across, for most of the year you will have to swim 30 – 40 metres or so to cross the river. But towards the end of the High Season the river mouth gets shallower as sand is deposited and it’s then relatively easy to walk across in waist deep water.
More on this estuary, that most people who visit the island don’t see on the next page which covers the southern half of Klong Prao beach.
Before you gaze longingly at beach photos, here’s a video ‘ride through’ of Chai Chet and the northern part of Klong Prao beach, so you can check out what’s near your resort.