Chaweng Beach is divided into 3 distinct zones

The three zones of Chaweng are both very distinct and different from each other, and can give quite different holiday experiences. First-time visitors should thus consider those differences, and the relative benefits and disadvantages of each area, before deciding which end of Chaweng might suit their needs best.
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Chaweng north is a quiet, upmarket zone, with 1,000 metres of curved sand displayed in our two northern maps Chaweng Beach Far North and adjoining that Chaweng Beach North. This quiet area is protected from weather and waves by the little offshore island, Koh Matlang, which created a pretty lagoon 200 – 300 metres wide between island and beach. A sandy bottom extends out into water that is rarely more than waist deep at high tide. On spring low tides (every 14 days after full and black moons), little water remains and wide sand banks are exposed here. This natural, shallow lagoon is invariably calm and thus safe for young children to play in. It can also get quite warm, making a bath that many guests lie or float around in, reading and sleeping. But it's not good for those who wish to really swim; that’s further south.

The beach in this northern area is generally narrow. Most resorts here have big trees along the top of the sand providing excellent shade and creating pleasant beachside atmospheres for relaxing in.
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Chaweng Central is long, with many resorts, covered by two maps in this site. Our Chaweng Central 1 map covers almost 800 metres of sand that is sheltered by an offshore reef some 200 metres out from the beach. The reef, which is exposed at low tide, gives complete protection from the waves, and forms another protected body of water, a second shallow lagoon for Chaweng. This is deeper than the big northern lagoon described above, with water just waist deep at low tide.
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The road runs 200 metres back from the beach in this area, and there are more resorts here than on any other part of the beach. The result is – as our map shows – a series of exceptionally long, narrow hotels jammed sardine-like against each other. Most run the full 200 metres between beach and road, with some as narrow as 10 metres. This is both the budget part of Chaweng, and the most active beach party zone.
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Our Chaweng Central 2 map covers a part of the beach that reaches beyond the protected lagoon. This is the first part of the beach open to the ocean waves – moving from north to south. The water becomes deeper, and from here onwards the beach is straight. The resorts here become significantly bigger, and the further south we move the quieter and more upmarket Chaweng becomes.
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Chaweng South is the quiet zone covered by our final two maps, Chaweng Beach South and reaching the very end of the sand, Chaweng Beach Far South.
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Because this zone also faces the open ocean and waves, the water here is distinctly deeper, and generally cleaner than in the north. The beach is wider here, too.
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The resorts here are generally more up-market too, and include Koh Samui’s biggest beach resort, the Centara Grand Samui. There are usually few or no jet-skis and parasail boats here, and fewer beach bars and less activity in general. The distance back to the nightlife and party areas is not so great however, making this a quieter area well suited for those who want a tranquil beach by day and a little night time entertainment nearby. See more at Chaweng South – the quiet, boutique end of the beach.
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Chaweng by night – it's Samui's beach party zone

It's mid high season and Chaweng Beach is almost deserted. It's nine o'clock in the morning, and one might expect some of yesterday's crowd to be using the beach before it gets too hot. But no, Chaweng is a party beach, and there are way more people on the sand at ten at night than ten in the morning – when the whole beach appears to be recovering from a hang-over.
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The centre-north sector of Chaweng is the younger set's party zone – though not all beach party goers are so young these days. You can meet some in their 50s and 60s who tell stories of how they partied on this beach back in the 1970s and 80s. Some try to keep both the beach party and their youth going, it seems.
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The beach party venues are centred around the famous & fun Ark Bar Beach Resort, and include several neighbours (covered in our Central 1 map). Here they blare music out to their customers in chairs and lounges on the sand. With most of Chaweng's cheap accommodation in the thin, 'strip' hotels that run between the beach and road here, young revellers don't have far to go, making it easy to get home after three drinks too many, a pill or a few puffs.
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Yet for most evening revellers, there is at least one stop between beach and bed. Typically the beach crowd begins to break up around midnight. With plenty of food and drink in their bellies, party-goers move to the bars and discos along the main street, 200 metres away. The famous Green Mango disco is the 20-year standard for dancing the night away, but new places come and go with the seasons.
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The hostess bars that cater to a male audience by offering services beyond closing hours and back in hotels have been moved away from the main road where they originally began. Now over the far side of Chaweng’s big fresh water lake, this removal has helped turn the main beach road into a ‘respectable’ area for couples and families. But even this back area and its low-key commercial sex trade is both small and tame compared to similar areas in Pattaya, near Bangkok, and Phuket’s Patong Beach.
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This remains a secondary level of entertainment for Chaweng, and surprisingly, perhaps, quite a few couples are seen taking in the sights later in the evening when things warm up. Yet in general, Chaweng Beach is relatively safe and quite foreign female-friendly.
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Chaweng: something for everyone... even tranquillity

While Chaweng is certainly not one of the lonely beaches of Samui (there are many of those), it is really quite easy to find peace and quiet here too. Head for either the far north or south of the beach.
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However, even at mid-beach, close to the party zone, a few larger resorts offer bungalows in deep gardens, quite far from the road. Being shrouded by foliage, rooms here can provide complete silence for a good night's sleep. This provides what many party-lovers want; a peaceful retreat to escape to after the night is over – preferably within easy, late-night staggering distance.
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You can indeed find a quiet resort within walking distance of the nightlife, restaurants shopping, bars and razz-matazz of Chaweng. However, it is critical that first-time visitors do good prior research. Check both beach and resorts carefully before booking into any particular part of this long and diverse beach with its wide array of atmospheres and hotel offerings.
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Families too can find something on Chaweng. We have suggested the far North with its shallow lagoon as ideal for families with young children. The water is the safest playground for toddlers, and the top of the beach offers lots of shade where parents can both relax and watch kids play.
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Despite all its variety, Chaweng is not right for many people. Happily for those not seeking a beach party, Samui has beaches of many different kinds, with a good chance of providing something for every desire. We offer photos and information on every beach on Samui with beachfront accommodation.
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massage, hawkers, and miscellaneous

You won't have to walk far on Chaweng to get a beach massage – surely not more than 100 metres. Almost certainly the resort you stay in will provide massage at their beachfront, and in addition you will find ladies-in-waiting with massage beds under many of the big shady trees along the beach.
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There are quite a few vendors roaming Chaweng Beach, most selling food and drinks, but some with clothing and a few pushing tourist junk. Happily, they are generally rather polite and rarely hustle or annoy sun seekers. Most display the traditional Thai sense of politeness to strangers. Many visitors use the food vendors, for they like the fresh tropical fruit, roasted chicken, 'som tum' and sticky rice that these vendors prepare, at prices way below anything sold by a resort hotel.
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Various attempts have been made to keep hawkers off the beach, but to no long-term avail. We only suggest that you use only vendors for items really needed then and there, like food and drinks, leaving the clothing shopping till later.... off the beach.
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Nightlife, dining & shopping on Chaweng’s back road

Chaweng’s nightlife scene has developed rapidly and changed significantly over the past 10 years. The back road where most of the night time action took place action was once quite infamous as a bawdy area where single men came to drink hard and pick up bar girls. That scene, however, has shrunk and been pushed far back to the other side of the lake. The main road is now a rather up-market zone for couples and families to stroll, shop, eat and seek fun and entertainment. A few semi-outdoors bars offer live music.
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Many new, well designed restaurants and bars are now scattered along the road, with a concentration about mid beach. The new Central Festival shopping plaza has further enhanced this area with its designer brand shops, fast food restaurants, department store and generally classy demeanour.
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As the photos here illustrate, there’s a huge range of goods on sale, including all of the standard tourist fare; souvenirs from around the country, light tropical clothing, hats, bags and etc. Some of the hottest items for foreign visitors are the brand clothing, handbags and shoes produced under license in Thailand, along with a good number of fakes of famous name products. International brands that produce their wares in Thai factories for export, like Nike, Adidas and others, have generally been able to use their Thai presence to work with police and close down the fakes of their goods. But not always, so do take care.
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The girlie bar scene - though somewhat diminished over the years and pushed to the backside of the lake - is still alive and well. It generally picks up steam from 10 PM onwards, with night closing regulations generally forgotten. Many couples, obviously with different things on their minds from the single men hanging out here, also come here to see the sights or look for new experiences.
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... and the hassles of the one-way back road...

Chaweng Beach became a famous destination by default – the product of demand from foreign beach-lovers and the readiness of the local to serve them. Few branches of the Thai government were ever involved – and certainly not the urban planning people. The result is a planning and urban nightmare – repeated in beach resorts all over the country.
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Chaweng's beach road is way too narrow for the volume of traffic that plies it each day. Belatedly, the government turned it into a one-way street for most of its length, causing a different kind of pain.
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Thus, all resorts in this one-way zone can thus be difficult to access by road. Anyone who plans to do a lot of travelling around by bike or car while staying on Chaweng should be aware of this. That's part of the reason we choose to stay in OP Bungalow or Poppies – both provide easy in-out access, while resorts in the middle of the beach can be a pain to get in and out of.
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by John Everingham
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