Koh Chang & Lonely Beach — Thailand’s hippie getaway

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koh-chang-beach

koh-chang-mapJust over two years ago I was spending my days backpacking around Southeast Asia. It’s crazy to think about how much time has passed, but with the news about some close friends and family who are about to embark on what I once did, I can’t help but look back on my travels. Then I realize what a lazy blogger I once was and how I missed so many opportunities to share some of the most amazing things I discovered: one of those being Koh Chang—an island in Thailand.

It just so happens that while I spent a week on this Thai island, I also spent much of that time writing in my Moleskine notebook. Koh Chang was the perfect place at the time for contemplation and some serious mind-wandering.

Located far and away from Thailand’s heavily trafficked islands in the south, Koh Chang was relatively easy to get to from Bangkok. If I was smart, I would’ve planned my itinerary so I would continue from the island into Cambodia, but I wasn’t and I didn’t. Instead I just used the island as an escape from loud (but lively) Bankgok.

Plus, as luck would have it, my friend Kate was on the island at the same time. She covered what makes Koh Chang such a great hippie island in her post, so be sure to read that here.

I spent my time at the hippie getaway, Lonely Beach. I specifically remember my Lonely Planet guide having a sort of heavy affection with the beach. The book described it as a backpacker-friendly area, so I was keen to visit for myself. Especially because of the horror stories I’d heard about Thailand’s southern islands (too crowded, too expensive). Of course, I’d just arrived in Thailand via some of the world’s most beautiful (and cheapest) beaches in India, so I was looking for “cheap but beautiful.” Lonely Beach was pretty much exactly what I needed.

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My days at Lonely Beach were spent enjoying fresh food either on the beach, or from one of a handful street food vendors in the town. Afternoons on the beach and then evenings in the town. Several of the tourist restaurants showed films or had happy hours—basic backpacker necessities. I did what I tend to do when on a tropical island: read a lot of novels.

For me, the beach’s name lived up to what I was looking for. I wasn’t lonely on Koh Chang, but the break away from reality was exactly what I needed. And it’s something I’m thinking about more and more these days.

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A note: I’m sorry for publishing content in a seemingly random order. But sometimes you just start to look through old photos and suddenly you realize: hey—this was a spectacular place, it’s stuck with me in my memory and while I may have written my experiences down in my journal, it’s also something I want to share with others. So there you have it.

Blogs published by Adam Groffman • Please note some posts do make me some money, but I never sacrifice my integrity in exchange for a favorable review. Read the full disclosure policy.

38 total comments on this postSubmit yours
  1. WoW! Absolutely a place to visit indeed. Best place to relax and unwind a bit from stress. =D

  2. Adam, just found this post today. Great rec. I wonder if the past year has proven to have a lot of development and changed much. Hoping not. Was curious about your comment “If I was smart, I would’ve planned my itinerary so I would continue from the island into Cambodia.” Is that doable? How does one travel from one island to the next?

    • Hey Rob, As I remember it was possible to take a boat back from Koh Chang to the Thailand mainland and then a bus from there onward to Cambodia. I’m sure the area has changed quite a bit over the years, though – so definitely double-check!

  3. Heading there tomorrow. Anyone got any tips on yoga studios on Lonely Beach?

    • Hey Neville – Did you find any great yoga studios on Lonely Beach? I’ve heard it’s quite developed these days so I hope you were able to find something!

      Feel free to share a recommendation here :)

  4. I’m off to Thailand in September- my first solo backpacking trip. I think Koh Chang sounds wonderful and peaceful, I’d love to go but I find myself with a few reservations:

    Do you think traveling here alone segues into lonesome? I can keep myself entertained and look forward to spending time getting to know myself but to an extent.

    How long do you think one could stay in one place like this? A couple weeks or a couple months?

    Lastly, any more places you recommend visiting?

    Thanks for your post! I’m eager to hear what you’ve got to say!

  5. Adam, I really dig what you’re doing on you site. And thanks for digging out the photos to post here. I’ve been wanting to get to Thailand for a while now, but my girl’s astrologer recently said she couldn’t go because there were “too many ghosts.” A vacation ruined by Chinese astrology? Check.

    But this place looks amazing. Chilled out beach time is exactly what I’m looking for, so if the stars ever align properly for me to make it to Thailand (alone is necessary) I’m definitely going to check Koh Chang out. Lonely Beach sounds awesome. Thanks again for sharing. Better late than never!

    • Glad to hear it Dan! Hope you make it eventually. By the way, some of the beach islands in Cambodia were much more remote and interesting than what I found in Thailand :)

  6. Thanks for your article about Koh Chang, I confirm, it’s a fantastic place to live (I do live here 365 days a year!). While most other villages have tended to change quite a bit over the past years with serious development (Klong Prao, white sands), lonely beach has managed to keep its backpacker atmosphere and the prices are still very reasonable comparing to Kai Bae or Klong Prao. The village is owned by just one thai owner who has refused numerous times 7/11 and tescos.. so most shops are still owned by locals..cheers

  7. I have been to Thailand many times but I have been to Koh Chang! If you like the desert island kind of place try out Koh Libong next time! It’s down south near Trang province. A true wild adventure!

    • Cool thanks for the tip!

  8. I have been to Koh Chang Lonely Beach and it is as perfect as you describe. I am planning to return there very soon. As one of the best places I can recommend to eat is the Art Cafe in the next village. Just 7-10 walking minutes away. They serve very good food and a killer Mojito.

    • Hey Alexander! Thanks for the tip. I think I remember the Art Cafe. I had some good meals there, too. Plus it was just down the street from another place that showed a movie every night!

  9. I haven’t had that much beach time in SE Asia, but I’m really looking forward to changing that once I hit southern Thailand! This place looks pretty great. ;)

    • Best beaches in SEA in my opinion are the ones in Cambodia, though I didn’t spend too much time in southern Thailand. It was just too expensive and touristic for my tastes, though I’m sure there are some great gems in the southern Thai islands.

  10. Definitely checking this out when I get back to Thailand.

    • Woot! Glad to hear it Flip. Enjoy!

  11. Heading to Koh Chang next month. Will check the Lonely beach. Thanx Adam.

    • Glad to hear it Raghava! Would love it if you shared a photo of Lonely Beach when you visit – would be really curious to see how it compares to my last visit!

      • Sure…by the way…my leave was approved for 2nd week of June 2013 for a 10 day vacation (to be spent in Thailand with my wife). I plan to go to Ayutthaya for a couple of days and then head to Koh Chang for 4 – 5 days and then to Bangkok for a couple of days and catch my return flight to Hyderabad, India.

        @Adam – Do you recommend a different itinerary? FYI..I have already been to Phuket, Kanchanaburi and Bangkok earlier.

        Cheers !!
        Raghav
        Hyderabad, India

  12. Loved this. Your bungalow is so “Thai”! Haven’t been to KC in a while so it’s good to hear it’s still paradise :)

    • Yep – this was one of my favorite Thai bungalows as well… though I also became quite fond of the ones in India

  13. Looks like a dream! Dying to get back to Southeast Asia soon. These photos will have to suffice for now. Great post.

    • Cheers Tonly. Hope you make it back there soon!

  14. My most favourite place in all of Thailand … a world away from the tourist zoo that is the South, yet developed enough to meet most of your wants and all of your needs.

    Definitely heading there on my winter break next year when the Korean winter starts biting hard!

    • Yes James! KC meets all my requirements too :)

  15. I quite like the random posting! maybe that’s because i’ve done it as well, going through old photographs:)

    • Thanks for the feedback Sofie! I’ll probably do more random/out-of-order posting in the future :)

  16. Koh Chang is one of my favourite places in Thailand. I definitely think it’s seen an increase in development over the past few years – when I was there a few months ago, there were dozens of guesthouses in mid-construction. That said, there’s still significantly less tourism happening compared to the southern Thai islands – it’s so much more relaxed.

    • Thanks for the update Jessica! Glad to hear it’s still not completely crowded/over-run. There’s such a special, quiet charm to the island.

  17. Another reason for me to head to Koh Chang. I’ve heard many, many good things and a hippy(ish) friend of mine living there for years I guess is a tell tale sign! :)

    • Hey Chris, Cool to hear you’ve got a hippie friend already living on KC. Enjoy the beach :)

  18. I am totally down with a Thai hippie island. I think if Felip and I ever make it to Asia we should start here.

    • Scott – this island would definitely be right up your alley!

  19. love the coconut drink, looks like a beautiful place

    • Nothing like a bit of fresh fruit juice on a Thai beach! Thanks for the comment Tracy :)

  20. This is exactly what I needed to read! We are heading to Thailand later in the year and Im looking for a nice beach, not to crowded with great street food – Sounds like this is the spot! We will definitely head there! Thanks for the tip!

    • Finding a not-too-crowded beach in Thailand can be a real challenge sometimes! KC was the perfect mix of backpackers and peaceful time…though I suspect it’s fairly more developed recently.

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