At a Glance – Bailan Beach
- Likely to meet: Travellers, couples and tourists
- The Beach: Not its strong point, small beach at southern end, tiny one at northern end, very tidal, rocks underfoot
- Accommodation: Large hotel, 2 star resorts, traveller and backpacker
From 350bt up to 5,800bt for the pool villas
- Hotel/Resorts: Mercure Hideaway, Bailan Beach Resort, Harley Moon, White House
Bungalows: Mangrove, Bailan Bay, Lazy Republique, Saint Tropez, Kamrai, Green Resort, Sanook, Green Cottage, Lucky Gecko Garden
Traveller: Blue Garden, Elephant Bay, Jungle Garden, Tarzan, Bailan View
- Seafood: Sea Terrace, No Name Seafood
All Cuisines Tamarin, J & K, Lisca Beach (Italian), Mangrove, Coconut Cafe
Coffee Shops: Bailan Cafe, Kachapura
- Live Music: Tarzan
Bars: 3 Trees (sports)
At an Island Pace – Bailan Beach
Bailan Beach or Bailan Bay as some call it was for many years the sleepy neighbour to Lonely Beach. Known for its local quiet atmosphere and its lack of obvious tourism, it attracted a steady, if not spectacular stream of loyal visitors and was itself seemingly oblivious to the development taking place elsewhere on the island. All has now changed, however, and at a pace, the village has been transformed.
The building of a large hotel at the southern end has brought in a different kind of tourist, whilst more people have begun to see it as a viable option to the noise of Lonely Beach. This rise in numbers has prompted the need for more rooms, mostly mid-range, which in turn has created a building boom.
Other new entrepreneurs seeing the boom have moved in behind, putting up restaurants, opening motorbike rentals, bars and massage and so filling up the roadside plots. In short, Bailan Beach is a microcosm of how tourism has changed Koh Chang.
The locals, meanwhile, remain in the middle of the development quite happy at their new prosperity, with the women in particular doing very nicely indeed. As in the island’s other villages, the land is mostly owned by just a few families and was passed from the head to the son or to the daughter.
Traditionally, the best plots, inland, where the soil is good for fruit farming or growing rubber trees, went to the male, whilst the less useful stuff by the ocean was handed to the women. The perhaps unintended result of this practice is that, today, those women sit on prime tourist location real estate, smiling quietly at how the worm has turned.
Bailan Beach at the northern end
Coming from Lonely Beach, the road sweeps round a couple of corners before reaching Bailan Bay Resort, with The Mangrove and its hippy chic bungalows by the sea, just a few hundred metres further along.
Next up, the two resorts of Lazy Republique and St Tropez, both French owned, are on the mountain-side, immediately followed by the cheap Thai diner Coconut Cafe and the rooms of Green Resort and Baan Sanook. The live music venue and cheap huts of Tarzan Island complete the row.
Opposite Coconut Cafe, a small soi leads to the large mid-range Bailan Beach Resort, bungalows on the seafront, swimming pool and a small hotel block behind. There is a sweet little beach here, which runs northwards past the front of The Mangrove but, due to the rocks underfoot, you can only swim if the tide is up. When the tide is out, it does tend to go a long way and at certain times of the year, it makes a perfect spot for the locals to gather a specific type of clam.
You can walk right to the end of the beach and through Bailan Bay to reach the abandoned buildings on the little peninsula.
The central area down to the sea – Bailan Beach
Back at the road, on the ocean side, Kwaimaipar Orchid Resort, 3 Trees Guesthouse, Kamrai Resort and Jungle Garden, with its bar, bungalows and hammock shop, run in a line to the bridge. From there, small minimarts, a noodle shop, little cheap Thai diners, motorbike rental and a laundry are all tightly packed together in the next section leading into the middle of the village.
The highly rated boutique resort Harley Moon Hideaway sits at the top of the small street which leads down to the sea, with Bailan View, cheap wooden bungalows on stilts in a garden setting, next door. The Russian owned Muay Thai Boxing Club, complete with high roofed ring and basic rooms, is across the way. Lisca Beach has a small pizza outlet here also.
Green Cottage Resort and Sea Terrace restaurant face the ocean at the bottom, with Bai Yard Bungalows offering a handful of rooms alongside. Following the curve, the ever popular Elephant Bay Resort has cheap and mid-range huts as well as a swimming pool.
At the very end, Kohchang 7 Guesthouse, seafront cabanas and a restaurant on stilts over the water, finishes the accommodation off, with No Name Seafood its neighbour. The coastline here is rocky, with clumps of mangroves, little local fishing dinghies and no beach.
Bailan Beach – The southern end
Across the main road from Harley Moon, you’ll find Tamarin, a long running Thai restaurant with a Khmer slant and then a further couple of cheap diners alongside, J & K and Kachapura, an offshoot cafe from the Lonely Beach resort. Opposite them is one of Koh Chang’s many building merchants. The Happy Turtle has now closed.
Running down the side of The Happy Turtle, the street leads to the Lucky Gecko Garden, six or so bungalows and The White House, a mid range resort and swimming pool. You can walk straight through the resort and drop down to the sea at this southern end, with the headland in the distance giving a most impressive overall panorama.
The Mercure Hideaway, with its villas, discreet hotel block, swimming pool and loungers, fronts onto the beach, a beach they actually created by importing sand, dredging rocks and building the long stone breakwater.
At the far end, Lisca Beach, a chilled out bar and restaurant on the sand, has reopened under a new Italian and Thai couple. The headland has been wired off as private property, a pity as from its tip, there is a fabulous view looking back at the bay itself or across to Lonely Beach in the distance.
Back at the road, opposite The Happy Turtle, the inland street leads past Bailan Cafe on the corner to the few bungalows of Blue Garden Resort, local and long stay houses, with other houses for rent in the garden area behind the massage units on the road.
Down towards the Mercure Hideaway, you’ll find a laundry and minimart as well other good local food stands all opposite the old Bailan Herbal Sauna, which has now been razed to the ground after 16 years.
Heading south from here, the road passes the main entrance to Mercure Hideaway, with the police box and ATM opposite, Preecha Seafood restaurant behind that and the bungalows and restaurant of Rock Inn next door.
Just before the hill, a track leading to the ocean is clearly marked for Treetop Adventure Park, a fun time swinging through the trees. The end of the track brings you out at the southern end of the bay once more at the old Lisca Beach.
All in all, Bailan Beach makes a good base for those not too fussed about lying on the beach, with a good range of accommodation, cheap eats and chill-out bars that do not rave into the wee hours. It is easy enough to hop over to Lonely Beach by songthaew, your own bike or even a 15 minute walk and as an alternative, Bang Bao Beach, 6 kilometres further south, is a very popular option for a day on the sand.