The North has the better beach, the South has better resorts
Sai Khao Beach South, or White Sands Beach, is the narrower and shallower southern end of this long, 'first' beach on Koh Chang. The beach here is completely lined with low-rise beachfront resorts, with those being generally small and budget to the top of our beach map, and getting larger and more luxurious as one goes South. The road runs just 30 metres behind the beach, squeezing all resorts into a relatively narrow strip.
The top end of our South map – the middle of the beach – has a series of smaller bungalows and resorts. These are among the first arrivals on the island and left-overs from the old backpacker days. Some have upgraded, some still offer very basic, cheaper rooms. All of these open right onto the sand under the big beach trees. What they lack in star-rating they make up for in atmosphere. Our photos of this beach at sunset were mostly taken in this zone.
At the south end of Sai Khao where the sand runs out, the shore turns rocky as it rises to a low headland. The last bit of the beach here is not the best, but the resorts are. These larger, more luxurious resorts share both sand and rocks. The two very long hotels here have built walls for protection from the sea and to give guests elevation and a view over the ocean and beach. These larger resorts have gardens, trees and a spacious green atmosphere, a big contrast to the crammed-in feel of the smaller hotels at mid beach.
Koh Chang Grand View Resort has a full 300 metres of oceanfront spanning both the end of the sand and the start of the rocks. After this is Chang Buri Resort, another large, luxury hotel with over 200 meters along the rocky coast, with views looking up the beach. The two hotels beyond these have the word 'cliff' in their name for a good reason.
This website offers info pages about virtually every beach in Thailand with a true beachfront hotel, and a page on every beach here in Koh Chang. Some of these might prove helpful: