Photo: Ko Chang's most popular strip of sand.

Ko Chang is so big, we’ve split it up into areas, select one of the below for detailed accommodation and food listings in that area. Sights and general overviews for Ko Chang as a whole can be found via the icons above. Don’t know where to start? Read an overview of Ko Chang’s different areas.

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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.

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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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