Chaweng Beach Road is the busiest part of Koh Samui, bustling and lively with hundreds of street stalls, shops, restaurants and resorts. But the town of ‘Chaweng’ itself is actually much bigger than this, spreading up to the Ring Road on a broad front.
Most people are surprised when they see it for the first time. In reality Chaweng still has a rustic feel, with temporary shop-stalls side by side with mini malls and small cafes and bars nestled between 5-Star resorts. And there’s no high-rise developments or congested road junctions, either!
Chaweng is situated on the East Coast of Samui, northwards above the neighbouring bay of Lamai and only a ten minute drive from Samui Airport. It’s a six kilometer stretch of beach with ribbon-development on either side of the Beach Road and with three side roads spurring-off to join the Beach Road with the Ring Road. The town of Chaweng itself covers quite a lot that's not on the beach, including the big superstores of Tesco-Lotus, Makro and Big C.
The area around Chaweng Lake is developing rapidly and is home to the local market (Laem Din) and such institutions as the Thai boxing stadium and The Reggae Pub, although you'll find mostly bars in this strip.
It’s cheerful, crowded and busy but still nothing like the sardines on Italian Riviera! There is lots of space everywhere - it’s a broad beach of up to 35 metres before you get to paddle...For more information go to the Chaweng Beach page.
Chaweng Entertainment & Nightlife
Not all entertainment goes on after dark, and you can some fun away from the swimming pool playing crazy golf, taking a jet ski out, or even blasting off a few live rounds on the Samui Shooting Range.
Chaweng is probably even busier after dark than it is in the day. As the night draws in, so the atmosphere changes and a thousand spotlights and glowing neon highlights wink on along the length of the Beach Road.
There’s a variety of different distractions here, not the least of which are the many resorts that offer quality dining and a show to complement this. But the dual hubs of Chaweng’s nightlife centre around the Soi green Mango and the area near the Reggae Pub.
The Soi Green Mango is a Chaweng landmark and located right in the centre of the Beach Road. It forms a U-shape with the Beach Road, with the Green Mango disco at the head and a nest of beer bars and sports bars all around. And, dotted in with this you’ll also find a couple of up-market chill-out lounges with visiting DJs and Koh Samui’s only two go-go lounges.
Soi Reggae Pub runs parallel to Chaweng Beach Road (on the other side of Chaweng Lake) and is a single street that leads from Laem Din Market to the Reggae Pub. It’s end-to-end beer bars, with the single exception of the Chaweng Thai Boxing Stadium, and you’ll find more sports bars here than elsewhere.
There are one or two exceptions to these two areas, the main attraction here being Q-Bar, a very smooth and up-market club on the hill above Chaweng Lake. In the same area you’ll also find the regular Chaweng lake parties and the interesting Bar Ice.
There are three very entertaining lady-boy cabaret shows dotted around (look for the glam self-promotion outside on the Beach Road), plus several bars and pubs feature live bands most nights of the week. Of note here is Tropical Murphy’s and the nearby (Mexican) Coyote Bar. And a little to the south is Zico’s Brazilian Bar & grill with their exotic Samba dancers.
And there’s something out of the ordinary towards the rear of the Green Mango Disco, where you’ll come across Baan Boran. This luxurious dinner-and-a-show restaurant features a combination of life-size Thai classical puppets and different forms of Thai dance.
There’s also the Chaweng Muay Thai Boxing Stadium to distract you, with their promotions of Thai boxing several times a week – located in the Soi Reggae Pub.
And, finally, don’t dismiss the time-honoured tradition of sitting outside one of the 7-11s with a bottle of beer and bag of crisps. (Some 7-11s even have chairs and tables outside for this purpose!) It’s not exactly 5-Star but it’s cheap and, boy, do you get to see some sights!
There are a lot of 5-Star restaurants, but the best are tucked away and not in full view of the road. The ones that you can see are sometimes not the best bet, as they are all in active competition with each other and sometimes this means dropping prices, with service standards falling to match.
There's lots of Thai restaurants, Italian, Chinese and Indian – you name it! - plus numerous English and Irish-style pubs, too, with McDonalds, Pizza Hut and Swenson's, all visible as you take the Beach Road Stroll.
Several top resorts hold spectacular 5-Star all-you-can-eat buffets on different themes and nights, and most have a show to go with this. But check in some of the free magazines too find the ones that are not so obvious – plus details of what’s on offer - it will be worth it!
Chaweng is a shoppers’ paradise, with a wider variety of items all in one area than anywhere else on the island. There’s local handicrafts – batiks, soap carving, paintings and sliver jewelry – and more than enough souvenirs to fill a suitcase.
And when it comes to clothing then there’s a choice between inexpensive local goods or some very convincing designer copies and look-alikes. Clothes, handbags, shoes, video and music DVDs, watches, sunglasses – it’s impressive what you’ll come across in just a ten minute walk.
One point worth mentioning is that the prices in Chaweng are significantly higher than elsewhere (Nathon, for example). Yes, there’s a much wider variety of offerings, but rents are high and so are the asking prices.
And the ‘asking prices’ are most definitely not the selling prices! It is expected that you will haggle and bargain the prices down – but your success here depends on several things. Firstly, take of any expensive jewelry or your gold Rolex before you go. Secondly, don’t be afraid to walk away, no matter how nice or obliging the seller is being. Third, you’ll have more success towards the end of the day than at the beginning. Finally, keep it all light and humerous and don’t become irritated or stern – that never ever works in your favour. As a general rule, aim towards around 50% of the first asking price. it’s unlikely that you get that, but you can negotiate from there!
Chaweng is no longer a hippie haven with huts on the beach, although there are still one or two small resorts like this towards the southern parts. Mostly the accommodation swings between high-end 4 and 5-Star beach resorts and smaller, family-owned bungalow resorts. And, in between these two you’ll also find several ‘boutique’ resorts, too. These are the best of both worlds, blending quality and luxury with personal attention and service. The Global Financial situation has forced many of the bigger establishments to cut prices and offer substantial discounts and promotions, so look out for bargains in this area!
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