THAILAND,KOH CHANG *LONELY BEACH*
For Western visitors, Lonely Beach has long been regarded as the best beach to stay on Koh Chang if you’re a true backpacker. For Thais, Lonely Beach has long been regarded as the best beach to visit on Koh Chang if you want to see western girls topless.
Over a decade ago the attraction for foreigners was that this small bay had a beautiful sandy beach, a couple of laid back places to stay and could only be reached by foot via a trail over the hill from Kai Bae. One budget bungalow complex, at the far southern end of the beach — The Tree House, became well-known amongst the backpacker fraternity and the success of this ramshackle resort led to a whole host of imitators being set up nearby. And also to the beginning of the end for ‘Lonely’ beach. Old time travellers would shake their heads in disbelief at the sight of novelty inflatables for sale on the beach which was once a stoner’s paradise.
Lonely Beach is still cheap — in certain parts, it’s also cheerful, but the one thing it isn’t nowadays is lonely. But there again if it was deserted who could you loudly tell your backpacking tales to? How could you enjoy a different party every day of the week? Where could you update your Facebook status whilst enjoying a cappuccino & banana pancake? And who would you get to reconfirm your bus ticket to Koh Pa-Ngan or help you to make an International phone call?
It’s also a little known fact that Lonely Beach actually has a Thai name ‘Hat Tha Nam’ . . . .but it’s unlikely that anyone staying there really cares or is interested, just so long as a resort on Hat Tha Nam can do a good muesli and yoghurt breakfast and has free wi-fi in the restaurant area.
The gentrification of Lonely Beach is now well underway with a swish 3* package tourist hotel — the Bhumiyama Resort occupying a prime location at the southern end of the beach. At the northern end, the quiet end, is Siam Beach Resort which has successfully transformed from a backpacker place to semi-luxury resort within the space of a few short years. It now boasts luxury good value hotel rooms and luxury pool villas for around 6,000 baht / night, a far cry from the 500 baht /night huts that stood in the same spot until 2006. There are however, still some older aircon bungalows on the hillside for around 1,000 baht/night. A good deal when you can also use the same facilities as the resort guests.