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 a 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. 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 Kai Mook 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 along the coastline up past White Sand beach. The resort itself is currently being entirely rebuilt. The owners, a local family, have sold some of their land nearby and are now ( late 2018 building new bungalows.
Nearby a group of expats has bandied together and are building ‘The Pearl Luxury Pool Villas‘. The first of which are scheduled to open in late 2018. These will provide spacious accommodation for couples and families who want more for their money than a similarly priced hotel room can offer. Two villas initially with more to follow in 2019.
But before you write off Pearl Beach for lack of 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’ closed permanently in early 2018. But the uniquely styled ‘Keereeta’, family orientated ‘Penny’s Bungalows’ and the good value ‘Paradise Palms’ are all pleasant places to stay. Paradise Palms in particular regularly wins Tripadvisor Awards.
‘TP Hut’ & ‘Macura Resort’, along a paved track on the inland side of the main road. These 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. Likewise, at the entrance to the huts, ‘Alisa Room For Rent’ has rooms for rent. In the form on a handful of bungalows. Another good longstay option.
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 expat hosts who go out of their way to take care of guests and make them feel at home. And in the same area, opposite Tesco, is Rose Garden Resort where you can get a Fan bungalow for under 500 Baht/night and AC for not much more.
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. Unfortunately, it 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. 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. In late 2016 the resort was taken over and I thought that might see a change for the better. But it seems not. You’ll be able to get a room here for under 1,000 Baht if you walk in, pretty much any time of year.
Adjacent to the Resortel lies Privilege Resort. This offers spacious, value for money bungalows. Unlike many resorts these are spread out over a large area and not clustered together. So there’s plenty of open space and also a small pool near the sea. Worth considering providing you realise it’s not on White Sand beach – as booking.com likes to say it is.
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 beachfront 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 long term.
A well known print shop, KCP, is also nearby and is a popular place to get anything printed ,e.g. 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 are. Likewise, the office of Whitesands Publications, who produce the best maps and printed, quarterly guides to the island guide is located adjacent to the Post Office.
A Honda scooter dealership has also opened, to the delight of the locals. And a vegan restaurant also opened, to the delight of vegans.
‘Everflow’ does some delicious vegetarian food, cold pressed juices and smoothies. It’s hidden away, adjacent to a car wash and so isn’t the easiest place to find. Se their Facebook page for info: https://www.facebook.com/everflowkohchang/
Behind the Post Office you’ll also see the main office for the TOT, the Telephone Organisation of Thailand. If you need an unreliable 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.
Nearby, down this and the adjacent side street, you’ll see several large, modern homes. This is one of the few areas on the island where it is still possible to buy a small plot of land with good title deed on which to build a home. It isn’t cheap, figure on 5 Million Baht for a small plot. Which is why many of the houses are rather grand ( for Koh Chang ). And it is a convenient spot to have a house.
One of the ads amused me by claiming this area was the ‘Beverly Hills of Koh Chang’. There’s still a while to go before that is the case.
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 shophouses which 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 is the boutique Keereeta Resort, which was the first boutique resort on Koh Chang and 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. There used to be a handful of budget bungalow resorts down here but they have now closed.
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 doing their jobs. Tesco has an air of desperation about it. Also Big C has a good, inexpensive coffee-shop just inside the entrance.
One reason why you may want to visit Pearl beach is for a cocktail and meal at ‘Saffron On the Sea’ – one of the nicest seafront restaurants on Koh Chang. There are only half a dozen tables, some undercover and some under the stars. Plus, an open kitchen, good 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 elsewhere. 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. Recommended spot for a romantic meal on the island and to escape the crowds on White Sand beach.
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.
Hotels on Pearl beach
These resorts and bungalows are in the Pearl beach area and are all bookable on booking.com. The price shown is a typical high season nightly rate. It may well vary and expect it to be higher at holiday weekends and during peak season.
Macura Resort – Large bungalows in a garden setting on the inland side of the main road – 1,700 Baht
Elephant & Castle – On the hillside with sea views. Fan and aircon bungalows plus popular restaurant. – 600 Baht
Saffron on the Sea – Bungalows in a shady tropical garden by the sea. Good cocktails at the restaurant. – 1,000 Baht
Paradise Palms – Cosy beachfront resort with just a handful of bungalows by the sea. – 1,500 Baht
The Grand Tree Resort – AC cabins in a garden setting roadside between Pearl beach and Klong Prao beach. – 1,200 Baht
Koh Chang Privilege Resort – Spacious aircon bungalows in large garden by the sea. Has a pool. – From 1,000 Baht