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Haad Sai Khao

Travel Guide

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Stretching for some two kilometres along the west coast, Haad Sai Khao, or White Sand Beach, is the largest, most popular and most developed beach on Ko Chang. The countless souvenir and tailor shops will no doubt be a turn-off for some, but those seeking a lively nightlife scene and comfortable resort holiday will be well cared for. A backpacker village at the beach's laid-back northern end also comes as a welcome surprise.

The main drag through Haad Sai Khao has been so developed with concrete shops and hotel blocks that you could drive straight through without ever knowing that the ocean is less than 50 metres away. Reminiscent of Ao Nang in Krabi or Phuket's Kata beach, the area first appears as a tacky strip that's been overrun by package tourists.

While this is true for the main drag, which hosts no shortage of beer bars and has a seedy vibe in places, the far northern end of Haad Sai Khao feels like an entirely different destination. Here the powdery off-white sand is sheltered by steep jungle-clad hills that rise up dramatically behind a cluster of cheap and funky bungalow joints. Anchored by the eccentric Independent Bo, this area is arguably the best choice on Ko Chang for backpackers and long-term beach bums.

The central and southern parts of Haad Sai Khao are occupied by midrange to upscale resorts that we found bland and overpriced when compared to Khlong Prao, Kai Bae and Bang Bao. Though the beach here is good, it gets crowded with short-term holidaymakers and roving vendors trying to sell tie-dyed sarongs and the like. Still, it's not a bad choice if comfort is your main concern.

The southern portion of what's generally considered Haad Sai Khao doesn't actually have a beach. Instead, a few quiet resorts are perched on a hill overlooking the sea, and a clutch of quality international restaurants are found along the main road. This is also where you'll find the international-grade medical clinic run by Bangkok Hospital.

The main drag through Haad Sai Khao has the island's largest selection of banks, ATMs, travel offices and motorbike rental shops.

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Text and/or map last updated on 22nd November, 2015.

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Usually found exploring Bangkok's side streets or south Thailand's islands, David Luekens is an American freelance writer & photographer who finds everyday life in Asia to be extraordinary. You can follow his travails here.

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