I written before about Chaweng Beach – Koh Samui’s most famous beach before. And yes its a beautiful beach. Which is why the picture below may shock you. Its one of the main beach access points for Chaweng – and yes the Beach Road area, is an ugly mess. Power lines are strung everywhere, footpaths are uneven, inconsistent and often absent. The step up is large too – a huge inconvenience if you are not agile or are pushing a stroller. If you have rolling luggage you’ll be wanting a cab.
Let’s face it, most of Thailand’s streets aren’t exactly up to first world standards of safety and cleanliness. But Koh Samui, and in particular Chaweng and its neighouring beach Lamai, are particularly good examples of why urban planning is important. Up until the 1970’s Koh Samui had absolutely no tourists at all. Then the backpackers discovered it.
When I first went to Thailand in 1990 I skipped Koh Samui – it was too expensive for my limited budget! That was just as it took off with the package tourist crowd after the Koh Samui airport opened in 1989.
In the 1980’s Koh Samui was basically a few small villages, connected with dirt tracks. Thanks to rapid, uncontrolled development, weak and/or corrupt local development, greedy developers – you get streetscapes like this:
Oh and it floods, a lot, when it rains which is frequently! But its not that bad – its just not the image that many people have coming to Chaweng courtesy of the usual travel book and brochures photos – so I thought I’d give you a heads up before you book your Chaweng accommodation.
Do You Need To Book Accommodation at Chaweng Beach?
Frankly – not really, unless you are particularly fussy about where you want to stay, or you are arriving for the Christmas – New Year period when things do it get busy. Particularly if you are looking for cheap accommodation and aren’t too worried about the decor or the staff/guest ratio, I’d say wing it. Turn up, have a look around, go with a few touts (don’t worry, they’ll find you) and pick what you fancy – it will almost certainly be cheaper than booking a Chaweng guest house or backpacker place online.
Chaweng Cheap Accommodation – Beach Huts
Hmmm looking for the typical rustic, simple, 200B beach hut at Chaweng? Sorry you’re about 25 years too late! Though they do still exist on some of Koh Samui’s other beaches including adjoining Lamai and Mae Nam.
Chaweng Boutique Accommodation
Boutique – as in small, yes. Exclusive – some of the better ones yes. But if you want exclusive look for 5-star resorts which are elevated. Anything that is beach side is going to have a constant stream of foot traffic along beach in front of your balcony or poolside. Remember all beaches in Thailand are public access. The only beaches that are ‘exclusive’ are those that control all the land access to said beach. I don’t know of any of these in Koh Samui – though we stayed in one at Cape Panwa, Phuket
Chaweng Family Accommodation
Now this you might just find! Most visitors agree that the southern end of Chaweng is nicer than the northern areas, and little bit quieter. Not so much pub/bar action – but that probably won’t bother you if you are travelling with kids.