Chaweng Beach remains the most beautiful on the island. Wandering down from your coconut palm-shaded hut to the white-dust sand to the crystal clear water is an unforgettable experience. It's just a shame that today you have such a short window of opportunity to enjoy it - between sunrise and 7am, at the most. After that the deckchairs, vendors, masseurs, jet-skis and other noisy stuff begin their parade and within a few hours, it's a mess. Of course, if you like all that hustle and bustle, you'll love Chaweng.
Chaweng has something for everyone, but the bulk of accommodation is aimed at package tours and mid-range travellers looking to spend around 1,500 to 4,000B a night. A few places are priced at under 500B but they are few and far between, and grotty. It's also easy to spend more than 4,000B.
Be aware that theft is on the rise, especially at the cheaper places. When going out for the day, make sure that all your windows and doors are closed and locked. At night, if your windows are not screened - rare now - keep your bags under your bed as crafty thieves have been known to use hooked poles to drag items out while you sleep. Also beware if you check into a room with an open-air bathroom, which have become the latest rage. Make sure that the bathroom door can be locked - and keep it locked - as it's easy for thieves to jump walls and get in. If at night you wake up while being robbed, stay where you are and do not make eye contact with the thief. Do not struggle, as robberies do turn violent.
Development at Chaweng continues on its merry way, with five-star hotels shooting up alongside western junk food outlets luring already-fat tourists inside and an array of international restaurants.Then of course there's the clubs, bars, girlie bars, massage parlours, CD and DVD shops, tailors, and the rest, all designed to peel those hundred baht notes out of your wallet. Fake shoe shops are the latest rage, with shopfront after shopfront selling ripoff Nikes and Adidas runners. Don't you go to the beach to buy shoes?
The most obvious sign of Chaweng's unbridled development is that its main road still horribly floods after even the briefest of rain-storms. Due to the substantial loss of the island's trees, waves diluted red by topsoil wash down to fill the road - Amazing Thailand, indeed.
Trivial matters like urban planning, aside Chaweng is a great place to lay on the beach to get that great tan you can't get at home, eat lots of mid-range priced food from your home country, and head to a club to meet strangers to have sex with. Well, that's what the bulk of Chaweng's visitors seem to be up for, and if that's why you're coming to Thailand, enjoy.