UPDATED for 2018-19 Season
At a Glance – Salak Khok, Chek Bae and Long Beach
- Likely to meet: Travelers, maybe some backpackers, couples, badly researched bookings
- The Beach: Long Beach and small strip on the island in the bay
- Accommodation: Thai style resorts mixed with upscale boutique, some backpacker
250bt fan rooms to 17,500bt for deluxe seaview suite.
- Resorts: Parama, Tantawan
Bungalows/Guesthouses: Karang, Vitee, Baan Mae
Backpacker: Treehouse, Journey’s End
- Salak Khok Seafood, Rommai Chailay
At an Island Pace – Salak Khok, Chek Bae and Long Beach
Salak Khok, Chek Bae and Long Beach are accessed with a left turn off the main east coast road, a kilometre or so after The Spa Koh Chang.
Salak Khok is a local fishing community with next to no tourism, built in the mangroves on one side of a large shallow bay, with an outlet to the sea on the east coast.
Chek Bae, meanwhile, lies further south on the eastern shore of Salak Phet bay and consists of a spread out village, dotted with simple Thai resorts and one more upmarket choice.
Long Beach is just that, a beach, remote and undeveloped, located at the end of a long and winding road far down in the south east corner of the island.
The Mangrove Walkway – Salak Khok, Chek Bae and Long Beach
From the left turn off the main road, you first pass the local school on the bend, before reaching the understated entrance to Salak Khok’s mangrove walkway, with the temple on the opposite side.
The walkway, constructed from concrete planks raised on pillars above the water but in need of some considerable renovation, twists and turns its way through the forest with an observation tower about half way along, giving you views above the trees. It is free and takes no more than twenty minutes, emerging further down the road by the little (very good) somtam shack.
Chek Bae – Salak Khok, Chek Bae and Long Beach
Continuing on, you come to a crossroads, where the left fork takes you to Salak Khok and the right fork towards Chek Bae and Long Beach.
Heading off that way, the houses here are widely spread out amongst the rubber tree plantations, orchards and pineapple fields and the actual village of Chek Bae, a few shops, a small fishing community, a local clinic and school is a few kilometres along, with the strange arch of two battleships high above, marking its entrance some way before.
Chek Bae’s resorts and guesthouses, Ban Mae, the luxurious Parama Resort, its offshoot Parama 2, the rental houses of Baan SuanNgaChang and Rommai Chailay with its pretty seafood restaurant, are all situated by the water and have great views across the bay to the uninhabited offshore islands of Koh Phrao Nai and Koh Phrao Nok and to Salak Phet itself on the other side. In amongst them, you’ll find the smart new pier next door to Parama and there’s also ongoing construction of yet another new Parama adjunct, complete with its very deep swimming pool (for diving tuition).
There are no beaches as such, just odds patches of shingle here and there and it is not an area where people tend to swim but kayaking out to explore the bay is most definitely an option – the abandoned resort and beach of Koh Phrao Nok or Koh Sai Khao (white sand island) is about 15 minutes paddle.
Continue onto to the end of the main road and you reach the tiny Journey’s End, just 4 or so bungalows on a grassy spot by the ocean and past them, two rough tracks continue on through the trees.
The straight on option brings you out at Ban Vitee Thai, a curious collection of long term bungalows for rent, while the left fork comes to the end of the line at Karang Bay View Resort. This Thai style resort with a just a few rooms and restaurant is located in its own sheltered part of the bay with a tiny sandy beach, from which you can both swim and snorkel.
Long Beach – Salak Khok, Chek Bae and Long Beach
Along the main road of Chek Bae, just after Parama Resort, another smaller road signed for Ban Aoluk branches off into the interior and this is the one you need for Long Beach. Happy House restaurant is on the corner.
In years gone by, this road was held somewhat in awe on Koh Chang due to its awful state of degradation, landslides and constant closures but as of a year ago, it has been completely repaired and reconstructed into one of the newest roads on the island.
The little National Park station about half way along is well worth a brief stop for its viewpoints as well as the useful maps so you can work you what island is what as you gaze out far into the archipelago.
Long Beach lies towards the end of the road, with the entrance to Treehouse Bungalows clearly signed. This was the offshoot of the former backpacker haven on Lonely Beach, long since gone, and it too fell into disrepair. Happily though, it has been taken over for the last few years by the same caretakers as the never opened or finished Long Beach Resort above and offers very decent, old beach style, traveller accommodation as well as a popular stop for lunch.
The beach is impressive, sitting in a pretty bay, with good sand and clear waters but it does gets filled up with flotsam from the fishing fleets. Behind it, apart from the buildings at the northern end, there is nothing but long grass and coconut trees, which add to the wild atmosphere.
Overall, as a place to stay, Long Beach will only appeal to a certain kind of tourist, especially given how very remote and basic it is – though electricity will arrive in the next year or so. There is no popping out for a change of scene or something from the shops and you have only the company of those around you. As a day trip, on the other hand, the trek out there is most definitely an adventure, with the scenery, at times quite stunning, and the road now so much easier than before.
The road carries on after the entrance to Treehouse, past Long Beach Resort and above the back of the beach itself, until it reaches the entrance road leading down to Tantawan Resort. Opposite, there is a path through the fields to the southern end of Long Beach itself.
Tantawan, boutique bungalows on stilts over the water used almost exclusively by Thai packages, is located in a lovely bay overlooking Koh Ngam, a tiny offshore island with a picturesque white sands beach, so close one almost does not realise it is a separate land mass.
After Tantawans’s entrance, the frigate-shaped naval memorial at Hat Yuttanavy, which sits at the top of a charming little beach, is your final stop. Annually, a small ceremony is conducted here in commemoration of lives lost during the 2nd World War when the French Navy scuttled 3 Thai warships just offshore.
You can actually continue on again still further for a few hundred metres to literally the far tip of the Koh Chang east coast, from where there are fabulous views across to Koh Ngam and back to Tantawan. It is as remote as it gets but even that peace is occasionally broken by a Koh Mak speedboat, which uses this bay as a shortcut on its way from Laem Ngop Pier.
Salak Khok – Salak Khok, Chek Bae and Long Beach
Returning all the way back to the crossroads just after the mangrove walkway, its left fork, or straight on if you are coming back from Chek Bae, leads to Salak Khok.
Centred on a wooden walkway hidden in the mangroves, the village is comprised of traditional houses built on stilts, with the owners’ fishing boats moored up outside the front entrances. Pretty much undisturbed by tourism and a sense that it will stay that way, the local community is tight knit and wary of outsiders, quietly going about their business, more than a tad disinterested in life outside in the rest of the island.
About half way along the narrow road, after the boat yard, Salak Khok Seafood sits at the end of a track joined to the wooden walkway. Primarily a seafood restaurant, and a good one at that, it also has kayaks and rents out gondolas with cute white parasols, paddled by local gondoliers, which make a tour of Salak Khok bay.
The road continues on to another small scrappy pier, where the locally caught shrimp and squid are unloaded, with the outlet to the sea just a hundred metres away.
There is nowhere to stay in Salak Khok and with that, maybe a nagging feeling that it is the one part of Koh Chang, where tourists could allow themselves to be excluded and leave the locals to it.