Lonely Beach Ain’t Lonely No More
I arrived in Lonely Beach
with an overwhelming desire
to be alone.
Not just to be alone
but to feel uncertain
Perhaps I sound a bit odd.
as much as I loved it
with too many backpackers
and an unexpected love.
I longed to regain my center
who I was.
I needed to do that
I headed to Lonely Beach
on big Koh Chang.
But to my dismay
was not lonely
Resorts lined the shore
with flashing lights
and swimming pools.
Tourists sizzled in the Thai sun
hawkers made laps with counterfeit sunglasses
there was no patch
to call my own.
Trance music pumped unfailingly
morning noon and night
drowned only by the sounds of construction
a forecast for what this town would become.
On the back of a motorbike
seeking the solitude of a fishing village
the jungle, a hidden waterfall
along treacherous curvaceous roads
I took quite a fall.
As locals came to my rescue
cleaned my wounds, shuttled me home
I began to see the real Lonely Beach
that was better than lonely
it was full of kindness and love.
The dusty paths
that wind through the town
lined with tattoo parlors
half Thai half Western cafes
began to feel like home.
Where I first saw tanned bodies
and tourist traps
jungle began to take over
snakes fell from ceilings
monkeys ran through the street.
When I ventured beyond
that crowded stretch of sand
on pebbled beaches and grassy fields
watching the fishermen at sunset
I found my clarity and peace.
In that moment
I remembered that I didn’t have to be alone
to be balanced in my heart and mind
what I needed
like all beings
was the company
of the perfect, magical earth.
How to Get to Lonely Beach
600 baht, $20
Tour offices on and around Khao San Road sell transportation packages to Ko Chang from your hotel in Bangkok. A shuttle van takes about five hours to get from Bangkok to the ferry dock in Trat. From there you will have to negotiate with the driver to go with you on the ferry and take you to Lonely Beach. Most likely this is where everyone in the van will be headed. We paid about 200 baht extra each, however if you go early in the morning you can negotiate for much less.
600 baht, $20
It’s possible to book a shuttle from Siem Reap or Sihanoukville to Koh Chang at any hostel, hotel, or tour desk. However, border crossings between Thailand and Cambodia are notoriously filled with scams, so be prepared. The shuttle will take you from your hotel in Siem Reap or Sihanoukville to the border. You will have to walk across and another shuttle will meet you on the other side. Of course, if you are asked for payment again, insist that you paid for transportation all the way to Ko Chang. The shuttle takes you to the ferry dock where like coming from Bangkok, you will need to negotiate for transportation to your hotel in Lonely Beach.
Where to Sleep on Lonely Beach
Rather than make a reservation, I just turned up at night and didn’t have much trouble finding a place. The neighborhood is pretty small so it’s easy to walk from one place to another. Blog posts I read from two years ago mention $2 huts which I never found; generally it seemed like Lonely Beach had become less of a backpacker destination recently.
500-1250 baht, $16-40, for an ensuite cabin
I came here often to use the free wifi and enjoy the gorgeous view from their hammocks. It was way more chill than the sandy beach nearby. The facilities are beautiful and modern and each hut comes equipped with a private bathroom and hot water. They occasionally host wild electro parties on the weekend. It’s a fifteen minute walk to the sandy beach.
400 baht, $13, for an ensuite bungalow
These bungalows are small and basic but charming set in a garden on the main road about a ten minute walk from the sandy beach. FYI: the website offers all kinds of outdated information. There are no yoga classes available despite the fact that it states they are included in the price of the room. Also, they do not hold fire dancing parties on the beach which it also says on the website. The beach is not accessible from the hotel because there is construction taking place, but it’s not far to just take the main road.
250 baht, $8, for an ensuite hut
These were the cheapest digs I found but extremely basic. I loved the aesthetic and simplicity of the huts right on the beach, but keep in mind the walls are completely unfinished. Expect a bed in a freestanding wood structure, and loud electro music on party nights.
Where to Eat on Lonely Beach
Nearly every restaurant in Lonely Beach has exactly the same menu. Really. Exactly the same. The prices vary, but the menu is exactly. the. same. Breakfast? Fruit, yogurt, and muesli. Thai? Curry, phad thai, fried rice. Western? Burgers or spaghetti. For this reason I chose based on the vibe and the price.
90 baht, $3
My favorite place for dinner in the area. It’s one of the few places I found that had the hippie reggae vibe other bloggers experienced in Lonely Beach. Probably the best thing about the restaurant is a guy named Jackie who hangs out every day in the front. It was unclear whether he was the manager, an owner, or simply a character who they allowed to loiter. Either way, if you’ve always wanted to meet the 60 year old crazy eyed Thai version of Jimi Hendrix, you must go. The red curry is da bomb.
30 baht to 150 baht, $1-5
I thought the atmosphere was cute here so I came in the morning for a smoothie. They have a large brick oven and make pizzas; I never tried one but they smelled amazing.
40 baht, $1.50
On the street I like to call, “the bar street” near Ting Tong there are a few street food stalls with good phad thai and other traditional Thai dishes. They’re fast, cheap, and delicious. My favorite spot was on the corner adjacent to Warapura, but be prepared the service is slooooowwww. At dinner expect to wait an hour. At lunch they may or may not have food and may need to go to the market to buy more.
Many of the bars on the beach, including Siam Huts, and on the street surrounding Ting Tong bar, offer live music or DJ sets with a free buffet BBQ. The only caveat is that you have to buy your own drinks. But hey, it’s free!
What to Do in Lonely Beach
Rent a scooter and explore
Ko Chang still has quaint fishing villages, especially nearby Cai Be, and plenty of undeveloped jungle on the other side of the island. Get a map and head to some of the waterfalls, hike through the jungle, and stop at each of the different beaches for the day. The roads here are incredibly steep and winding, so I recommend this only for people who are very comfortable on a scooter.
Take a daytrip to a nearby island
There are small, undeveloped, jungle covered islands nearby and tour offices on the main street in Lonely Beach offer day trips or overnight transportation. Koh Wai is one of the most beautiful and least developed with three simple resorts on the entire island.
Get a tattoo
Tattoo shops everywhere offer the famous bamboo tattoo, but be sure to head to Blue’s Bamboo Tattoo. Not only is he basically the nicest guy ever, who took great care of me when I fell off the motorbike, but he did a stellar job giving my friend her first bamboo tattoo.
Every night in Lonely Beach it is possible to party your face off. Bars and resorts rotate throwing events and it’s advertised all over town. Ting Tong usually has live music around sunset and often throws dance parties. I drank a bucket, danced like crazy for a couple of hours, but it really wasn’t my scene. Most partygoers appeared to be on a various cocktail of drugs and the music catered to their mental state rather than mine :/
Where to be Alone on Lonely Beach
It’s not easy to find solitude on Lonely Beach, but I did my best to try!
Watch the late sunset or early sunrise
The sandy beach in Ko Chang is stunning… when it’s not crowded with people. If you go early in the morning or stay until the end of the sunset, the crowds clear out and it’s possible to actually enjoy the natural beauty. Either way, be sure to head to the far right side as most people just plop down at the entrance.
Kayak to small nearby islands
A few outfits on the beach rent kayaks. If the current isn’t too strong you can kayak to some of the nearby distant islands. A relaxing way to pass the day Robinson Crusoe style.
Hang out on a rocky beach
The only crowded beach in Lonely Beach is the sandy one. Follow the dirt path away from Siam Huts and a quiet pebbled beach stretches for about a mile. It’s not the greatest place to lay out or swim, but I loved walking this path home from the beach to Magic Garden or sitting to watch the sunset.