Visitor Guide to Pearl Beach
✔ No beach – despite the name
✔ Some good value accommodation in small well run resorts only 5 minutes by scooter from White Sand or Klong Prao beaches
✔ Has a large Tesco supermarket, a Big C supermarket and Post Office
A kilometre south of the International Clinic, you’ll reach ‘Pearl Beach’. This beach is also marked as ‘Hat Kai Mook’ the Thai name for ‘Pearl Beach’ on quite a few maps. Some resorts & some online booking sites like to lure customers to the resorts here by just classifying it as part of White Sand Beach.
Ahhhh . . . . . ‘Pearl Beach’ the very name conjures up images of coconut palms swaying in the sea breeze whist g-string clad couples stroll on a sun kissed expanse of pure white sand. I’m almost doing a ‘hula’ just thinking about it, book me in now.
In reality, unless there’s some error in the translation I’m at a loss as to how this ‘beach’ got it’s name other than a local entrepreneur thought that ‘Stony coastline with a severe lack of sand’ wasn’t going to encourage tourists to spend their hard earned eurodollars here. (In fact, the story goes that the beach was named after the new born daughter of the first Thai/Western couple move to the area. Call in at ‘Paradise Palms‘ for the full explanation.)
Where to Stay?
However, there are some very nice bungalow resorts here with sunset views an also some good options if you want to rent a bungalow cheaply for a few weeks. The lack of good beach means that you usually have no problems finding a sensibly priced room and the resorts are quieter and often better value than on the busier beaches. Some resorts even throw in free scooter hire to entice guests.
Down on the shore, a couple of resorts have created mini artificial beaches for guests to laze on but the stones underfoot make walking along the beach or wading into the water difficult. On the plus side, there is some pretty good snorkelling off a small coral reef just offshore. You will definitely see far more fish here than if you try to snorkel off the sandier west coast beaches.
Get into the water at Enjoy Resort. ( Head down the road adjacent to the Honda Scooter shop and stop at the end ). There’s also a small, rocky peninsula here which you can walk out on and get good views north and south along the shore.
But before you write off Pearl Beach, bear in mind that as the beach isn’t so great, many resort owners seem to make more of an effort when it comes to offering decent, imaginative, well priced accommodation and good service.
The cosy, wooden ‘Remark Cottages’, uniquely styled ‘Keereeta’, family orientated ‘Penny’s Bungalows’ and the good value ‘Paradise Palms’ are all nice places to stay. Paradise Palms in particular regularly wins Tripadvisor Awards and gets voted one of the Top B&Bs in the country.
‘TP Hut’ & ‘Macura Resort’, along a paved track on the inland side of the main road, cater for people who hop off the pick up truck taxi just before it rounds the corner at the northern end of Pearl beach proper. TP Hut can also do good long stay deals and it’s a nice location, nestled at the food of the hill.
Then you have ‘Elephant & Castle‘ and ‘Baan Ton Rak’. Both also well reviewed, not so much for the location as for the ambiance and the hosts who go out of their way to take care of guests and make them feel at home.
These aren’t places for your average backpacker, or for people wanting direct access to sand. Just for anyone looking for a quiet, convenient, moderately priced place to base yourself for a week or two.
The area has one large resort – Koh Chang Resortel, which has the largest swimming pool on the island, but is one of those places that very few people know of or bother to consider when looking for 2-3 star accommodation. The pool, pictured above, is the largest on the island and even includes concrete starting blocks – of the type last seen at the Moscow Olympics in 1980. When I took that photo, during last High Season, there was no-one around save for two cleaners, no other hotel staff in sight and although the rooms were made up, there were no signs of guests – apart from one guy who had the best pool on the island to himself.
However, that looks set to change and the resort is under new ownership and, as of early November 2016, is being refurbished. So expect some new signage and to see it appearing on booking sites in the near future. Ignore the bad reviews that you see online. I’m sure things will improve with the change in ownership. ( They couldn’t get worse. )
If you have a large family or want an ideal place for a group of friends to stay then Inspiration Villa, a large standalone beachfront home is a great spot. It’s hidden away, out of sight of the main road, but is the only holiday home by the sea in this part of the island.
By the roadside
On the roadside in Pearl Beach, you’ll also see several of new shophouses in the area surrounding the Post Office. The Post Office not only does a roaring trade in stamps, but you can also rent a PO Box cheaply if you are staying on the island longterm.
A well known print shop, KCP, is also nearby and is a popular place to get anything printed ,eg menus, business cards, t-shirts, banners and lightboxes for your business.
If you’re looking for a location for a business & home the shophouses in this area are a good bet providing you don’t require any walk in customers. Dive Supply, purveyor of snorkeling and diving equipment, has a shop in this area and the office of Whitesands Publications who produce good maps and a printed quarterly guide to the island is adjacent to the Post Office. They also run a large second hand bookshop, ‘Books Thailand’ out of the same office.
A Honda scooter dealership also opened to the delight of the locals.
Behind the Post Office you’ll also see the main office for the TOT, the Telephone Organisation of Thailand. If you need an ADSL / Fibre optic internet connecting, this is the place to visit. It’s also the place to go to complain when your new internet connection stops working – which will happen if you use TOT. Then you’ll be back every few days for the next month or two until eventually they set a date to fix it – by which time you’ve signed up with another , far better, friendlier and efficient ISP. Such as AIS or True.
The aging concrete monolith that is ‘Sky Bay’ pub, which was Koh Chang’s top i.e. only, Thai style nightclub, also sits slowly crumbling on the inland side of the road. It is now closed and partially obstructed by un-rented shophouses that have stood largely empty since being built in 2009. Nearby both ‘Sanaes’ and ‘The Elephant and Castle’ will do you proper English food if that’s what you’re craving.
Opposite the boutique Keereeta Resort, which has a couple of dozen very nicely appointed rooms in various designs, but not much English spoken.
Further south, a couple more places to eat can be found near the Post Office and Dive Supply and a couple of dirt tracks lead from the main road towards the sea and down here you’ll find a couple of small bungalow places that have seen better days, it isn’t always easy to tell if they are open or not.
The two remaining highlights of this shopper’s paradise are the Tesco Lotus and Big C supermarkets. Tesco was the first large supermarket on the island and Big C followed a year later. Both have cheap, in-house bakeries, good selections of fruit & vegetables plus some imported goodies. I prefer Big C, as it’s brighter inside and the staff seem fairly interested in their jobs. Tesco has an air of desperation about it. Also Big C has a pretty good, cheap coffeeshop just inside the entrance.
But there is one reason why every visitor to Koh Chang should head to Pearl Beach and that is for a meal at ‘Saffron On the Sea’ – one of my favourite restaurants on Koh Chang. There are only half a dozen tables, some undercover, some under the stars, an open kitchen, cracking food, lovely peaceful setting, friendly owners and no loud music. It’s quiet, you can have a conversation, the food is as good as anything you’ll have anywhere and it’s the kind of place you are happy to wait half an hour for food to arrive as you know it’s being made specially and not pre-prepared.
Grab a table by the sea and listen to the waves lapping against the shore a you sup your cocktail or beer. Probably the best place for a romantic meal on the island.
A 90 second highlight reel video of the sights of Pearl Beach as seen from a scooter. This follows on from the previous video riding through the southern part of White Sand beach.