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Once a hard-to-reach slice of paradise and now a not-so-lonely backpacker magnet, Lonely Beach is Ko Chang's version of Ko Pha Ngan's Haad Rin or even Bangkok's Khao San Road. Think raging parties, travellers passed out on the beach at dawn and more than enough tattoo shops and reggae bars to go around.
Yet there's still something genuinely enchanting about Lonely Beach, which is known as Haad Tha Nam to the Thais. The narrow main road is lined with airy thatch-roofed houses. Concrete hotel blocks have not replaced the venerable trees that still hang over the main road. Some outstanding yet dirt-cheap accommodation can be scored in the "village," and on the lush hillside that runs inland and affords great views over the Gulf.
Though the term "Lonely Beach" is used for the whole area, including the inland village, the beach itself is a 10-minute walk north of where most of the restaurants and services are located. It's a short but excellent stretch of powder-white sand where a couple of mid- to high-end resorts rub shoulders with long-running budget haunts. Siam Hut continues its raucous beach parties, but the far northern side of the beach retains a quiet air.
Further south, the main road, or a dirt-path shortcut from Siam Hut, connects the actual Lonely Beach to a rocky coastline where budget spots and a few flashpacker resorts taper into the village. The area's legendary old backpacker favourite, Treehouse, has now officially ceased to exist after an apparently unsuccessful move to the far, and we mean far, southeastern point of Ko Chang.
By David Luekens.