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"Coconut Canal", or Khlong Prao in Thai, is named after the emerald estuary that flows into the sea near a breezy coconut grove. The name is specifically used for the canal itself and a nearby village, but it also covers some five kilometres of coastline from the village of Chai Chet all the way to Kai Bae in the south -- in other words the central portion of Ko Chang's west coast. While a handful of quality budget to midrange spots are available, Khlong Prao is best known for its upscale resorts.
Khlong Prao boasts feathery white sand beaches with clear water and few toe-stubbing rocks to worry about. Though generally quite narrow, especially at high tide, these are undoubtedly some of the best on the island.
In our opinion, the beach up at Chai Chet is the area's most picturesque. Sheltered by a rocky outcrop, the palm-fringed sand is kissed by tepid aquamarine water with stunning views of the mountains that stretch seawards to the south.
Because of the massive resorts and wide swath of terrain that Khlong Prao covers, there's little sense of a centred community like in Kai Bae, Lonely Beach or Haad Sai Khao. A huge expanse of mostly undeveloped seafront separates Chai Chet from central Khlong Prao, and the area is far more conducive to motorbiking than walking. The main drag is rather ugly, though you will find clusters of restaurants, tailor shops and travel offices.
Along with the fantastic beaches, the estuaries (there are more than one) are breathtaking thanks to calmly flowing water, old stilted wood houses and abundant mangroves that twinkle with fireflies in the evening twilight.
Though some claim that Khlong Prao will eventually be developed to the same extent of Haad Sai Khao, for now it remains a quiet area that's perfect for families and couples.
The Khlong Prao area is also home to the refreshing Khlong Plu Waterfall, the excellent Blue Lagoon and Ka-Ti cooking schools, and Study Buddies, a non-profit school that provides free education to children of the many Cambodians who migrate to Ko Chang in search of low-paid work.
By David Luekens.