Over the past twenty years, Chaweng Beach has been transformed from a near deserted tropical bay, inhabited by a handful of fishermen and visited by a few adventurous backpackers, into a vibrant, busy, cosmopolitan resort town.
This is undoubtedly the most popular tourist area on Koh Samui, and with its 5-kilometere white-sand beach, water sports, entertainment venues and shopping facilities, as well as a fabulous range of dining options, it is easy to see the attraction.
Chaweng by Areas
Chaweng's development has naturally centred on the beach, the main road runs parallel to it, and the beach itself is lined with resorts and hotels along its entire length. At the northern and southern ends there is a calmer, more family orientated atmosphere, whilst around the central nightlife zone near the famous Soi Green Mango, budget beach resorts attract a younger crowd.
The seedier side of Thai tourism is in evidence but not dominant in Chaweng, and can be easily avoided. The overall atmosphere will appeal to anyone who likes people watching, and to those who enjoy staying where every service and amenity is conveniently close to hand.
Chaweng beach road is lined with shops, restaurants and bars of every size and description. International chains such as Starbucks, and Burger King sit alongside rickety canvas-covered market stalls.
Long stretches of the main road are occupied by small local business selling many different souvenirs, handicrafts while money changing booths and ATMS, internet cafes, laundry services, travel agents, car and motorbike rentals and international-style pharmacies fill the spaces in between. (Read more about Chaweng shopping...)
Over the years, Chaweng Beach has developed at an incredible pace and because of this the infrastructure does not always keep up with demand. The beach road suffers from inadequate drainage in the monsoon season, as well as traffic congestion, although a recently instigated one-way system has reduced traffic jams. This one-way system also takes tourists through some of the more "Thai" areas off the main beach road, which could be of interest to more adventurous souls.
The Thai market area of Laem Din is located directly behind the main tourist strip with a covered fresh produce market, as well as local cooked delicacies, and bargain clothes. These backstreets are also where many Thai people that work in Chaweng live.
Chaweng Beach Road
On the Beach road, the streets can seem deserted during the hottest hours of the day, when the tourists are all on the beach, so most business is conducted after 5pm, when the hustle and bustle begins, with people cruising for pre-dinner drinks, souvenir shopping at the little street-side stalls, and choosing where to dine.
The scene as the sun goes down is a colourful, noisy melting pot of pedestrians strolling the sidewalks, with motorbikes, taxis crawling along the road n search of a fare. While down in the clubbing zone, the vibrant atmosphere continues way into the night and the crowds don't disperse until the sun comes up.
There are also two hospitals in the area that provide international standard services. The Samui International Hospital is located at the far northern end of the beach road and has a drop-in clinic for minor illnesses, and a good dentist: 077422272.
The Bangkok Samui Hospital is a little further from the beach on the island's ring road and offers very sophisticated facilities.