Samui Wining & Dining
THE MANY FACES OF CHAWENG
What to do in Samui’s biggest beach town.

Page 20-2

You’ve just arrived, suitcase casually thrown onto the hotel bed, already rummaging through its contents to find your swimming gear. Because let’s face it, you’re in the tropics now, an island getaway and the first thing on your mind is sun, sun and lots of it. Chaweng definitely offers everything you dreamed of for that lazy day on the beach, but take a step inland and it will offer you a whole lot more - and I don’t just mean the shopping. And the night time is a whole other story.

          

Chaweng is a beautiful white sand beach and its shallow waters make it ideal for the whole family. At five kilometres, it is the longest stretch of beach on the east coast of the island and is roughly divided into four areas – north Chaweng, central Chaweng, south Chaweng and Chaweng Noi (meaning little Chaweng), which lies to the very south of the main beach around a small headland. Off the coast of north Chaweng you can see the island of Koh Matlang, and at low tide you can walk across to the island. If you are looking for a good area for swimming, Chaweng Noi has deeper water than the rest of the beach. Taking a stroll along the beach you will see a variety of things to do, there’s jet skiing for the thrill seeker, and in central Chaweng you will see the Aqua Park, large inflatables, bobbing up and down on the waves while people desperately try to climb on or over them.

          

Or for a mellower day on the sands you’ll see many massage and spa places under the coconut trees that line the beach. There is nothing more relaxing than enjoying a massage under the gently swaying palms. Or perhaps you’d prefer a cool drink or cocktail at one of the many beachside restaurants. For some, there really is no need to move from the beach. Take your towel, sunscreen, and sunglasses in the morning and hit the sands. Stay for lunch at a small restaurant, have a massage and work on your tan.

          

But once you are itching for something else to do, where to go and what to see? Walk down Chaweng Beach Road and you’ll be struck by the number of shops and stalls that line the street, well over a thousand, none of which are visible from the beach.

          

But if you’re in the mood for something a little more active, take a look up into the hills in north Chaweng and you will see a gold spire. This is Wat Khao Hua Jook, perched at the top of a very steep hill – you may have to leave your motorbike at the bottom and hike to the top. But the trek is well worth it.Page 20-3The view of Chaweng Beach, the turquoise blue of the sea and Chaweng Lake is spectacular from up here.

          

After your trek you’ll probably be in need of a good massage. Along the main street you’ll be spoilt for choice with the number of possibilities, from simple massage places to the more up-market spas that offer face masks and peels and manicures and pedicures. Most of the hotels have their own spas as well – which, while pricier, are usually in more relaxing surroundings.

          

Some like to take home more than a tan and a bunch of souvenirs, and if cooking is your thing then you’ll be happy to know that there are a couple of cooking schools based right in central Chaweng. All the dishes are made from scratch and usually you’ll get to visit the local market as well, where you pick up the fresh ingredients. And the best of course is that you get to eat what you’ve made when you’re finished.

          

If you’re interested in taking a look at the market on your own, there’s a fresh produce market call Laem Din, which is about a 15 minute walk from central Chaweng. There you can pick up some local fruit while across the road there are street food stalls with cheap meals.

          

Chaweng comes alive at night – the laziness of the day on the sands is all but forgotten. A lot of the beachside restaurants in central Chaweng cater towards the younger, party crowd, offering beach barbeques, blasting out house music, Page 20-4and if you’re lucky enough you’ll get to enjoy a free fire dance show. At the northern and southern end of the town,evenings are more leisurely and quieter affairs and the street is much less crowded.

          

Walking down Chaweng Beach Road at night is a blast of neon from all sides, and you’ll see that more stalls have set up along the road.It’s a great place to pick up souvenirs. There are also food stalls selling local Thai food. But if you’re interested in a meal other than Thai then Chaweng can certainly offer you a whole host of cuisines from around the world, from Indian to Italian, with prices to suit every pocket. There’s no end to the choice of menus.

          

For party goers in the mood for dancing there is Soi Green Mango, a street of bars and nightclubs in central Chaweng. Or if you prefer some reggae music or a live band there’s the Reggae Pub on the other side of Chaweng Lake. On the topic of clubs there is one that’s quite unique on a hot tropical island, Bar Ice, where you are given warm winter clothes to wear. Yes, you read right. The temperature inside is below freezing.

          

So whether you would prefer to laze in the sun, sipping cocktails, or jet-ski and splash about in the water by day, Chaweng has it all. And at night whether thumping music and barbeques on the beach is your thing, or if you’d prefer a candlelit dinner, then you can be sure that Chaweng can accommodate these tastes too.

          

 Natalie Hughes


 


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