Chaweng Beach is located on the east coast of Koh Samui, just a stone throw away from the airport. It’s one of many beaches on the island and it is the most popular among them. The beach draws big party crowds, seniors and families. This guide will mainly focus on the central part of the beach, the main party hub and a place I don’t really recommend families to go to. So here comes the Chaweng Beach Travel Guide.
Get there and around
You really only have two options to get here, ferry or plane. And the easiest of them is of course by plane. The airport is served both by domestic and international flights so there shouldn’t be a problem flying here directly from where ever you are. Once you land you can get a transfer to anywhere on the island, but it isn’t cheap. All taxi prices are inflated here. A private cab would cost you ฿500 and a shared van runs at ฿130 to Chaweng Beach.
Second option is by ferry, easiest way is to book a combined bus and ferry ticket from the place you are going from. You can also travel independently to Chumphon or Donsak Pier in Surat Thani if you are coming from the mainland. There are a couple of different ferry companies that runs to different piers on the island, think Seatran is one of the closest to Chaweng. You also have Lomprayah that goes to Maenam beach, if you go with them then they have transfer services that you can continue your journey with.
Once on the island there are three main methods to get around unless you rent your own bike.
- Taxi – They are legally obliged to run on taxi meter, but no one will do that so be sure to negotiate the price before leaving. The prices are heavily inflated so make sure to haggle.
- Motorbike taxi – Cheaper option to get around, and same here, negotiate a price beforehand and make sure to haggle.
- Songthaew – The cheapest option, but least flexible as well. The songthaew is like a bus service and you jump on and pay when you jump off. The destinations that the songthaew are going to is written on the side of it and it will go in a loop.
There is a ton of places to choose from and I tested out two of them.
- Behind the Scene Hostel – $ – A hostel smack in the middle that also happens to be one of the cheapest options. They have both private and dorm rooms. This place is built fairly recently and it actually felt pretty fresh and clean. Only odd thing was that the lockers were located in the shared bathroom and many of them were broken so good thing that there were only a few staying here at the same time as me. The shared bathroom isn’t airconned either so be ready to sweet. Dorms from ฿450. Rating – 4 out of 5.
- Ark Bar Beach Resort – $$$ – This beach resort is the main hub on the beach in the area. It is here where the party is, both day and night. Don’t expect to get much sleep here until 2am when the bar close though, the beating baseline reaches most rooms. There are 3 pools and 4 bars and plenty of sun beds. You can use the sun beds even though you aren’t staying at the resort, although they do expect you do order something (drinks/food) but they aren’t pressing you to do so. The parasols are free as well, but tip the guy that fixes it for you a little something. Overall my room was a bit worn, but guess that is expected when you think about the crowd that are the usual guests. I wouldn’t recommend any families to stay here, nor people that aren’t there to party. But for the party crowd this is a great place. Rooms from ฿1700. Rating – 3 out of 5.
Eat and drink
The party scene of Chaweng Beach centres around Ark Bar and Soi Green Mango, the bar street. There is also an abundance of restaurants as well as fast food joints including Pizza Hut, McDonalds and Burger King, along Chaweng Beach Road. Whatever tickles your fancy, there will most likely be a restaurant able to cater you.
- The Coffee Club – $$ – Tired of Starbucks (there is one of those nearby as well)? Why not go to another coffee chain! The Coffee Club is located next door to BTS Hostel and Ark Bar. The difference between them and Starbucks is that they also serve food here. Only had an Espresso Macchiato while waiting for my ferry, but was good enough for me to recommend this place.
- The Islander – $$ – A sports bar that became my standard hang out during my week on Koh Samui. Owned and run by a New Zealander and his wife, and is located opposite Pizza Hut close to Ark Bar. They serve both western and Thai food. The food isn’t the best, but good enough for the price that was fairly cheap (฿100 for Pad Thai and Nasi Goreng). Great place to watch all major sporting events, as well as some New Zealand leagues, on big screen.
- Curry Hut – $$$ – Indian place located shortly after Soi Green Mango down a street on your left hand side if you walk towards CentralFestival. I’ve never had a bad Indian meal in Asia so far, and the food was okay here as well although nothing to write home about. There is another Indian place 10 minutes further up the road (think it was past CentralFestival) that was a bit cheaper and much busier, would probably recommend going there instead.
- Ark Bar – $$$ – The in house food at the resort was pretty okay actually, although a little bit more expensive than the restaurants along the road. The Pad Thai was wonderful and I also tested their Formaggio Raviolis that was really good although expensive coming in on around ฿300. This isn’t the cheapest place to drink but is competitively priced against the other clubs.
- Viking Bar – $ – Lets start with the drinking holes, specifically this one with a name that gets a little smile on all Swedes faces. This bar was the cheapest I could find on Soi Green Mango, where you can buy 3 Changs for ฿180. A good place to start your binge drinking session.
- Henry’s African Bar – $$ – One of the bigger bars on the street with free pool tables. Be aware though, there are a lot of bar girls here (read prostitutes) that will try to chat you up.
- Green Mango Club – $$$ – When it starts drawing nearer midnight head a bit further up the street to this club to shake your booty to some loud music. This place closes at the same time as the rest of the street though, 2am. The music is a mix of general club music, not exclusively electronic.
- Sound Club – $$$$ – The only place in the nearby area that I found that is open after 2am, they close at 4am and this is the place that everyone goes to when everything else has closed. So it is pretty much empty here up until 2am but packed afterwards with music at a deafening level. Quite a lot of people come here before the crowds to chill and smoke a shisha. There are three areas, the first one has a mix of trance/house/club, second one techno and the inner smaller room a mix of techno and local Thai electronic. The inner room is usually packed with locals that is out partying.
I’ve increased the price range of each of the bars/clubs with one each time, but it’s not like Sound Club is really expensive. It does get a little bit more expensive the bigger and better the club is and the difference is ฿180 for 3 Changs at the first one and ฿120 for the cheapest beer at the last one.
This section won’t be long, I didn’t really do much while being here. Eat, beach, eat, drink, sleep, repeat. But there are plenty of activities for those who are easily bored. Below follows a list of things I saw advertised.
- Shooting range
- Fishing trips
- Renting water scooter
- Visiting Big Buddha
There are a lot of general stores that sell the same thing as all the others do. I would recommend to buy any clothes here rather on Koh Tao, if you are traveling onwards, as it is cheaper and the options are better. And haggle! The markup on most things are about 50%. There are also a mall here that sells legit clothing (no knock-offs), CentralFestival.
There are also plenty of tailors around, and people trying to sell you suits. I never asked for the price as I don’t need one, but I do know they can ship it home for you. Looking in the windows, the suits actually looked pretty good.
There are a lot of people walking around on the beach trying to sell stuff, they will leave you alone (for a while) if you just say no or shake your head. There are also a couple of people walking around with monkeys and charge you for a photo with the monkey. Do not do this! What these people are doing are illegal and the monkeys are often protected species. Also worth knowing is that child labor is illegal in Thailand, but you will still see young kids trying to sell stuff specially in the late evening. Do not buy anything from them, or encourage the behaviour.
Disclaimer: Prices were correct as of October of 2015. If anything changes, let me know in the comments. All travel guides are living documents and might be edited.