White Sands - Koh Chang's 'first' beach – from a mountain view!

Note that this website offers many pages of info and photos about all beaches in Koh Chang, and elsewhere in Thailand. Some of these might be helpful:

The first view of a Koh Chang beach for most visitors comes from the steep mountain that must be crossed right after getting off the ferries. As the road crosses to give first view of the west coast, Sai Khao Beach lies directly below... and it's a fabulous view of both this beach and the mountainous coastline down the island. Sai Khao translates directly as 'White Sands' beach.
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Sai Kao is Koh Chang's first beach in other ways, too. Sai Khao has more accommodations that any other beach, by far. It has the biggest commercial centre with more banks, ATMs, travel businesses, traffic and just about everything else here, even including the first small entertainment and bar scene with hostesses.
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Sai Khao's location – the fastest place weekenders from Bangkok can get to and from – has made it the busiest beach here. More Thais come here in the off-peak seasons, missing the crowds of foreign tourists and the higher prices.
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Visitors with more time than a weekend should look at all beaches carefully, to find the atmosphere they want in a beach holiday. Sai Khao is Koh Chang's most active beach by far, with more people, restaurants and beach bars than any other. Many visitors love the beach scene here, most of it under the many huge trees that push their shade-giving branches way out over the sands. Sai Khao is not for those seeking a tranquil beach and chill out on an isolated patch of sand.
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White Sands Beach - sand, water, rocks & mountain

Sai Khao translates as 'White Sand', and it is definitely appropriate. The north end of this beach has the finest and whitest sand on the island. Wave action during the Southwest Monsoon pushes sand gently northwards, such that the north end of most beaches along the island's west coast is wider and sandier. This far north stretch of Sai Khao also has the deepest water, one of the few places in Koh Chang where one can swim at low tide.
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As one moves down the beach the water gets progressively shallower, and way down near the bottom, the sand gets narrower and harder. At the beach's south end it turns rocky, and resorts begin to build seawalls. Beyond that two hotels are looking over cliffs. Beach umbrellas are quite rare here, for most of the beach has big trees providing excellent shade that visitors prefer when it gets too hot – and on a Thai beach that's the longest part of the day.
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There are a few hawkers on the beach – more than on other parts of Koh Chang – but they are neither numerous nor aggressive and cause little disturbance. There are no jet skis, and hardly any boats or water sports here at all.
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White Sands' beach bars, restaurants in the sand, life under the trees

The central part of Sai Khao is completely lined by small beach hotels, each with its own restaurant or bar. These spill out onto the sand and under the large shady trees. With the beach so hot through the middle of the day, the focus of Sai Khao's beach life is right here under the trees.
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Guests take a massage below the trees. They have lunch in the shade of the trees. They sit around to stay cool through the heat of the day, breaking occasionally for a splash in the water. Come sunset life ventures out from under the trees as restaurants move their tables, chairs, mats and cushions out onto the sand in readiness for the highlight of the day, the setting of the sun into the ocean.
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no sports, entertainment & few attractions – just the setting sun

Koh Chang offers relatively few sports, organized activities or attractions. This beach,like all others here, has no jet-skis, few sailing boats, no parasail speedboats and few boats at all save the occasional dive vessel. Volleyball is sometimes played at the north end, the only organized sport one is likely to find here.
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There are just a few non-beach activities on Koh Chang; visiting waterfalls, riding elephants, diving and perhaps touring the island. A visti to Koh Chang is all about the beach, being comfortable on the sand and relaxing. Especially relaxing.
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Big and little resorts here have made an art of creating relaxing environments for their guests on the beachfront under the huge beach trees, setting up massage beds, beach bars, restaurants and both sitting and lying areas. Here the special atmosphere of Sai Khao Beach works its relaxing wonders on stressed out guests. there are quite a few people here in the high season, but they are all doing the same thing, sleeping and reading through the day. There are few disturbances.
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Only late in the day when the sun drops and the sand cools people and furniture emerge from under the trees, spreading out across the sand. Guests emerge and take their chairs in the best locations, with fee in the sand. When sunset is the major entertainment of the day, you know, you're in a low-key, do-nothing and chill-out environment.

beware non-beachfront hotels on Sai Khao Beach

Sai Khao also has more non-beachfront hotels than anywhere else on the island, so beware, i fyou want to sleep by the beach. Their advertising might not tell you about that big, busy road you have to cross to get to the beach. Others have rooms on both sides of the road. We have included 3 or 4 such divided hotels on our maps, where we show them clearly and tell users to check which side of the street they are booked into. Beach is best, of course, but across the road is always cheaper.
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The mini metropolis here is entirely oriented to the tourism business, for prior the arrival of the hotels there was no local community at all in this area – there is no nearby anchorage for fishing boats.
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The large resorts that we have included in our North map that have rooms across the road are Koh Chang Lagoon Resort and KC Grande Resort & Spa. In most cases the major parts of the hotels, including reception, pools and restaurants, are on the beach, with these wings holding additional rooms only. But if booking into these resorts, do check which side of the road your room will be.
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those funky, old-time beach bars .....

A slice of Koh Chang's backpacker past is alive and thriving at the north end of the beach – a kind of blast from the past. Five small bungalow and beach bar establishments have survived the redevelopment that has transformed the rest of the island into a 3- and 4-star international destination. Here the old hippie-influenced, funky beach life of young backpackers and alternate life-stylers lingers. It's worth dropping by the beach bars here around sunset.
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These little places have survived because they cling to the base of the mountain where it falls right to the sand. Each is quite tiny, with rooms built into the hillside. There is no space here to redevelop bigger or better resorts.
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Independent Bo's is the colourful king of super funk, a reggae beach bar vying for the title of Thailand's most outstanding monument to Bob Marley and his ganga-smoking era. Most people would be surprised at just how many reggae beach bars there are on the beaches of Thailand. We have compiled photos of some of the better examples here at Remembering Bob Marley; Thailand's best beach reggae bars .
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hotel, bungalows, resorts, 1, 2 and 3 stars

As our beach map shows, Sai Khao Beach is completely lined with beachfront bungalows and hotels, mostly 2- and 3-star. A few resorts dream they have attained 4-star status, though very few are really quite that good. One should take a star off the rating claimed by many resorts on Koh Chang.
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However, there is an excellent choice of beach accommodations here from cheap little bungalows right on the sand to luxurious resorts of high standard. We give an overview of the varied beachfront accommodations available here on another page: Sai Khao Beach North accommodations.
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by John Everingham