Nightlife, Bars, Live Music and Parties on Koh Chang
If you are heading to Koh Chang expecting an island of 24 hour party people or to find streets lined with go-go bars then you will be in for a disappointment. Koh Chang has a burgeoning nightlife scene but it isn’t on the scale that you will find on the more developed islands of Samui or Phuket or in cities such as Pattaya.
You can have a great night out on Phuket, but it won’t feel like you are on an island as you’re surrounded by shopping malls and tower blocks. And you can enjoy a cold beer on the beach on Koh Kood, but if you want a choice of places to go out for the night then you’re going to be disappointed as the island is too quiet for many people.
Koh Chang is a good middle ground between Bacchanalian excess and a snoozefest. There is enough variety and choice to satisfy visitors but not so much that you can’t escape the noise from throbbing base speakers. You can lounge around and enjoy a relaxing chat in a cafe bar, grab a Guinness and watch the live sport on a big screen, nod your head to a live band or down shots on the beach to the accompaniment of dance music. The choice is yours
Nightlife on Koh Chang takes several forms:
- A normal small bar – often with a DJ or live music although it may not be nightly.
- A beach bar – which sells cocktails, the usual Thai dishes and will have the obligatory fire juggling show.
- A themed restaurant / bar – Irish, Scandinavian, German etc – with regular events or entertainment pretty much every night in High Season.
- A beer bar – the cheapest places ( other than the steps of a 7-eleven ) to drink a cold beer. Profits come from you buying the female bar staff drinks at inflated prices.
- A live music bar / restaurant – the main attraction being the house band and guest musicians.
As different areas of the island attract different types of visitors the nightlife in each beach area also reflects this.
If you want DJs, cocktails in buckets and a party until 4am then you’ll go to Lonely beach.
If you want a sunset cocktail followed by good live music then White Sand beach is the best bet.
If you’re looking for reassurance that you are a handsome man with a good heart, then the beer bars on White Sand or in Chai Chet are where you should head to get your ego massaged.
If you want a choice of places that do great cocktails and are also missing imported beers then you’ll find Kai Bae is worth a look.
Or to just chill out by the beach with a bit of reggae, 70s tunes or world music then the hippy hut beach bars on Klong Kloi and Hat Sai Noi – way down in the south of the island might be what you are looking for.
This isn’t a list of the best bars in Koh Chang or specifically a ‘where to party on Koh Chang guide’, it’s simply my suggestions for places for a night out.
The venues and bar areas mentioned in this guide are all on this Googlemap :
As you head from White Sand beach down the west coast of the island you’ll pass the three main beer bar enclaves. During the day time they’ll either be closed or you might see the a handful of patrons propping up a bar. If you’re on a scooter you might get the occasional shout of “Hello Mister” as you go past as the staff try to drum up a bit of daytime custom.
Beer bars all have pretty much the same formula. The winning formula of cheap beer, a pool table, classic rock music and comely maidens who’ll destroy you in a game of Connect 4 or Jenga.
They aren’t limited to horny single dudes. Couples are welcome. They’re mini social melting pots where you’re usually guaranteed some good conversation with fellow patrons and a few laughs with the girls. And there’s no requirement to rent a companion for the night. The staff will more often than not hustle for drinks, for which they receive commission.
Bars will open early afternoon and stay open until around 01:00 or later if customers are still buying. Closing time usually isn’t strictly enforced.
The three main areas for beer bars are:
White Sand Beach – At the far southern end of the beach , about 100 metres past the new Makro Cash and Carry is ‘Little Pattaya’, Koh Chang’s original beer bar area. This hasn’t changed much over the years. A collection of over 30 small bars with loud pounding music. Buy the girls a drink, and all contributions will go to saving the life of a sick buffalo somewhere in Isaan.
Chai Chet – A 200 metre long roadside strip on the sea side of the road, mid-way between the north end of Klong Prao beach and Pearl Beach. These are more laid back, no loud party music, better if you want to actually have a conversation with fellow barflies or the girls.
Kai Bae – Walking Street. Not to be confused with Pattaya’s Walking Street. The Koh Chang version is much tamer. Located just off the main road at the far northern end of the village. Twenty or so small bars and cheap restaurants
Outside these areas you will find other beer bars dotted roadside in other beach areas but alone rather than clustered together.
There aren’t any indoor nightclubs on the island as of mid-2017. There used to be a couple, which you might see mentioned online, but they have log since closed. Due to problems with the local authorities. Koh Chang’s original nightclub was called Sky Bar, this was built by a Pattaya businessman and back in the early 2000s was the place to be seen on Koh Chang. The building is still standing, 100 metres south of the Tesco Supermarket on Pearl beach, and although it closed over a decade ago, nothing else on this scale has been attempted.
What Koh Chang lacks in nightclubs it makes up for in live music venues. You can enjoy various types of music from Thai, Filipino and western musicians. So of whom really are excellent. Large resorts often have an in-house singer or duo who’ll serenade you with schmaltzy versions of 80s & 90s pop classics. But these are more background music rather than anything you actively want to listen to.
On White Sand beach, there are three venues with house bands. Oodies Place is the oldest, it has been in the same spot for almost 20 years and is a bit of an institution. If you’re only going to choose one place to go and listen to a band then this is probably the best you’ll find on the island. The band, led by owner, singer and guitarist ‘Oodie’ runs the gamut of rock, blues folk, groovy 70s R&B stuff to newer indie tunes. It depends on the mood of the band, the customers and if there are any guest musicians in the house. It’s a restaurant with live music rather than a club atmosphere. Go for dinner and stay for drinks and the band.
Down on the beach, Sabay Bar have a Filipino band that plays an eclectic mix of rock and pop. A bit of Britney followed by Green Day, for example. A younger crowd than Oodies and more single ladies and ladyboys.
Finally, if you just want to rock then the aptly named Rockbar , in the plaza opposite Grand View Resort is the island’s only purely rock venue. It’s a relatively small live music venue but draws a good crowd who come to headbang, reminisce about Deep Purple’s glory days and play air guitar along to Whole Lotta Rosie.
Boom Bar, at the south end of Klong Prao village is a large open plan bar with nightly live band. A good choice if you are staying at one of the nearby resorts and don’t want to go too far to hear some live music.
Down in Kai Bae there’s Filou Cocktail bar, roadside in the centre of the village, well known and highly rated for it’s no frills Thai and western food, cocktails and Filipino band playing all types of music.
If you are more of a purist and are know to comment out loud on chord changes, then you’ll appreciate the real musicians at Stone Free on Lonely beach. It maybe the backpackers’ area but Stone Free provide a haven away from the DJs with their music loaded onto Macbooks. The atmosphere is one of gatecrashing an old skool jam session in a hippy Thai living room. The aroma of peace and love wafting through the air and bluesy-rock filling your ears.
Live reggae can be found at a couple of places in Bangbao. Adjacent to Tranquility Bay Residence you’ll find the Rasta Bar which gets Instagrammed to death during daylight hours due to its striking red, green and yellow decor and awesome views across the bay. Come back at night for the music.
Nearby, on Klong Kloi beach, is the legendary ‘Mr T’s‘. If you look up ‘ mellow Thai reggae dude’ in the dictionary you’ll see a photo of Mr. T. He plays acoustic reggae of his own songs and cover versions nightly. He’s been around long enough to be well known amongst Thai musicians and so often has friends drop by for jam sessions. During the day he also runs boat trips for couples or small groups to nearby islands.
Midway between Rasta bar and Mr t’s lies Hat Sai Noi beach which is home to a handful of rustic beach restaurants and bars. It’s here you’ll find Djembe House, which has regular live music events, often featuring drums and a didgeridoo. It’s a mellow place run by friendly Thai hippies. Look for the hand drawn flyers and posters when they have an event. Anyone who backpacked 20 years ago, in the days before Photoshop, will have fond memories of seeing signs like this. Nowadays they are rare to see.
Also keep an eye out for appearances by Stephane and the JuJu Pirates Band. They’re a a roving band of talented expat and guest musicians who play a mix of latin, blues. rock and reggae.
If your taste in music is limited to anything made on a computer within the past 12 months and you know the difference between House, Techno and Trance, then Lonely Beach is the place to be. It’s the centre of Koh Chang’s party scene.
There are numerous bars and restaurants with live DJs and all night parties are held regularly. These rotate between the biggest bars so as to share the party scene between the main players. During High Season, there’s a party somewhere every night of the week. Great if you’re here to dance the night away, not so good if you plan on catching up with your reading at night.
There’s always a reason for the party. The downside with a Full Moon party is that it can only be held once a month. So nowadays you’ll also find Half Moon, Quarter Moon and Dark Moon parties. You’ll be invited to celebrate a birthday; anniversary; opening celebration or leaving party. To be honest, we’re nearing the stage when The National Day of Venezuela or Queen of Sweden’s birthday are marked by a bucket of booze in their name and DJ fresh from Ibiza.
A few times a year much larger beach parties are also held and DJs, who you might actually of heard of, will play. Apart from Christmas and New year parties, ‘Winter Sensation‘ which has been held for the past few years in February, is a big Barardi sponsored all night rave. Keep an eye out for posters and flyers when you are on the island.
Ground zero for the late night ravers are Himmel and Tingtong Bar. Two bars located a stone’s throw from each other down ‘Soi 1’ on Lonely beach. ( Follow signs for Sunflower bungalows or Sunset Huts) Both are very well known. These aren’t nightclubs but rather open bars with large dance floors and DJs. Tingtong bar also has live music from time to time with guest bands from Bangkok and elsewhere making appearances.
Other venues worth checking out include Siam Hut and Nature Rocks ( at Nature Beach Resort ) – both on the beach at Lonely beach. 10 minutes walk from the main bar area. Nature Beach is moving more upmarket now and so has tamer, family friendly parties. But Siam Hut is still going strong. You can be assured of an ear splitting party there every Friday. Close by, on the sea is Cancun Bar, this opened in 2016 and quickly established itself as a popular spot for a sunset chillout, followed by fireshow and DJ.
There are also occasional party nights, with local and international DJs, at YuYu Golden Beach on Klong Kloi beach, Bangbao during High Season. Again, check flyers or their Facebook page for announcements.
Koh Chang has one rooftop, sky bar. Unlike in Bangkok, where you can dance and drink 60 floors up under the stars, Koh Chang’s sole rooftop bar is a little closer to earth. Atop the 4 floor, Gallery Hotel in Klong Prao. However, the owners have done a good job of making it an attraction in it’s own right. It isn’t simply a few tables and chairs in an empty roof space. It’s a very modern design with sea views, making it a good spot for sunset cocktail at Happy Hour. There’s also regular live music and DJs. If you aren’t sure of the location, just follow the beams from the searchlights that light up the sky during High Season. You can see them from miles around.
It’s pretty much obligatory to partake of a sunset cocktail whilst on holiday on an island in Thailand. Unfortunately, most aren’t that good. Cocktails at beach restaurants often look the part but then fail the taste test. A combination of being oversweet and using the cheapest alcohol possible in order to maximise profits. An ethanol infused sugar rush guaranteed to give you a thumping headache the next morning. Try simpler cocktails that are idiot proof to make when you are in a random beach bar.
On White Sand beach the longstanding Tapas Bar, on the beach near Tantawan Resort has been serving up all your favourite cocktails for over a decade. It’s just a semicircular bar with a handful of wooden tables and chairs under the trees. If you need a bit more sophistication then Sabay Bar, Sun n’ Soul ( at Cookies Resort ) and 15 Palms all have those big beach bean bags to lounge on whilst enjoying your Happy hour sunset drink.
Klong Prao is the longest beach on the island, but isn’t known for being a place to party. But there are a couple of good spots to try for a cocktail or two. Hidden away in the roadside Coconut Plaza behind the large Marin Coffee shop is the cosy Malibu bar. A laid back reggae bar with friendly owners, patrons who return yearly and well priced drinks. Not the best view on the island but better quality cocktails than most hotel bars and for a far lower price.
Flora Italay which is predominantly a restaurant but does have a live DJ most nights twiddling knows on a console and churning out family friendly chillout music. Nice place to hang out at sunset and enjoy a Pina Colada or two. And a few hundred metres south, Kokomo Beach Bar, set amongst the beachfront fir trees adjacent to Klong Prao Resort. At the far southern end of the beach, Pilot Bar and nearby beach restaurants also have early evening Happy Hours catering to guests at the large resorts nearby.
In Kai Bae, Mojito Lounge is the go to place for proper cocktails including a wide variety of mojitos. They also have a pool table and usually a DJ late night. 200 metres away Filou lounge, already mentioned in the Live Music section is worth visiting too. Down by the sea, SALT, a modern, vaguely hipster bistro by the pool at Coral Resort has great views across the bay making it ideal for a sunset drink. But, for the best cocktails in Kai Bae and probably Koh Chang, Barrio Bonito Mexican restaurant. Guaranteed they be some of the best you have tried anywhere. Top shelf alcohol and freshly pressed juice mixed by a bartender who knows her stuff.
A ‘must try’ for cocktail fans on Lonely beach is Margaritaville, on the main road near BB Divers. As the name suggests it specialises in Margaritas but also gets rave reviews for the great food and music.
If you’re visiting nearby islands, then you’ve got to try cocktails at Banana Sunset on Koh Mak. I first met Thai mixologist P.K. when he worked on Koh Chang and moved to Koh Mak several years ago. Nice guy and great drinks in a peaceful corner of the island. And on Koh Kood, the beach bar at Peter Pan Resort on Klong Chao beach has cocktails that will turn your plan for a quick sunset drink into a 3 hour long bender where you feel obliged to try pretty much everything on the menu as they’re so good.
The restaurant at Nang Nual Resort in Kai Bae is the location of a nightly ladyboy cabaret show. Expect lipsynched disco favourites, lots of ostrich feathers, way too much blusher and plenty of high pitched laughs. Expect audience participation too, especially if you’re near the stage or appear very unwilling to be embarrassed publicly. You will have fun and will be surprised how beautiful a man can be if he really puts his mind to it, takes hormones and has a bit of plastic surgery here and there.
You know the type of place. Quiz nights, all day breakfast, matey banter, a pool table, TV screens on every wall, homemade pies, cargo shorts, Premier League and F1, beer from home and expat barfly wisdom.
Whilst it might be great to have a neon coloured cocktail by the beach before tucking into your green curry and Pad Thai as the sounds on Thai pop waft through the air, it’s even better to get away from that once in a while. Sports bars allow you to feel at home again. Food you recognise, surrounded by people from your country, with a draught beer – not a bottle and proper Heinz ketchup.
Of course you need a valid reason to justify going to a place like this. And with a sports bar that can be anything from a sudden desire to watch Major League Baseball to wanting to cheer on your favourite Premier league, La Liga or Bundesliga team. There’s always some sporting event being shown on the big screens.
The largest sports bar on Koh Chang is The White Elephant and adjacent is the only theme pub, Paddy’s Palms. They are located at the southern end of White Sand beach. Both offer pretty much the same thing only in a different wrapper. The White Elephant has a more Scandinavian take on things whilst Paddy’s Palms is an Irish pub. ( i.e. it’s green, has leather sofas, stock memorabilia and serves draught Guinness.)
There isn’t one that is obviously better than the other, although The White Elephant prides itself on having the largest selection of beers on the island plus will do their best to show pretty much any sporting event from around the world if requested. Try both see which has the best atmosphere on the night.
If you’re staying in Kai Bae there’s no need to head up to White Sand beach as Morgan’s is located in the centre of the village, near the bridge over the small river. This was totally rebuilt in 2016 and is now a nicely designed, modern two floor bar / restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating on both levels. Smaller that the White Sand beach bars mentioned above but with the same formula and good prices.