One of the best beaches in Koh Phangan is Chaloklum. It is in the north of the island, accessed by a good road from Thongsala that goes over flatish jungle. The noticeable thing about Chaloklum is that it has kept its character – it’s not been overtaken with expensive luxury resorts, nor has it become solely a party center. It has these elements but it remains very much the same place as it was 15 years ago. As a result Chaloklum is a favorite with regular returnees to Koh Phangan.
Chaloklum consists of a road that runs parallel to the beach. Along this road there are still a few of the traditional wooden Chinese fisherman’s houses. This invites comparisons with Fisherman’s Village in Bophut, Koh Samui. However, unlike in Bophut many of the houses are still used by fishermen instead of being converted into boutique bars, cafes and shops.
The Chaloklum village is an intriguing mix of the old and the new. There are local shops and restaurants next to boutique places like the Mandalai Hotel and Sheesha Bar. There are also backpacker bars, dive shops, book shops, DVD places etc. On the corner next to the main road is a very handy 7-11 where you can buy cheap drinks and snacks.
The main beach at Chaloklum is long – 2.5 km long. Near the center is a pier that the fishermen use. There are good swimming spots to either side of the pier. Being such a long beach it is easy to find an uncrowded part of the beach. Indeed Chaloklum never feels particularly crowded.
The best beach is a sand bank just off the coast. It is accessed via a bridge from Malibu Beach Bungalows. The beach is thus called Malibu Beach. As is so often the case, it is claimed to be a ‘private beach’ but in law it isn’t. The sand is fine white and the sea clear.
From Chaloklum there is a path through a forest to the small beach of Haad Khom. It can be done by motorbike or 4 wheel drive. From March to November some of the bungalow places in Haad Khom shut as it is the lower tidal months. There is an extensive coral reef system at Haad Khom that makes it a great spot for snorkeling.
Haad Khom has no mains electricity. It is a quiet and hippy style beach popular with long stay visitors. Here you can strike a deal to pay for a fan bungalow on a monthly rate. Coconut Beach and Garden Bungalows has bungalows starting at 300 THB a night. Ocean View Resort has bungalows from 450 THB. Often there are no seasonal variations in price at Haad Khom and certainly no minimum stay requirement because of the Full Moon Party.
Activities in Chaloklum
Chaloklum is one of the better places for those who like to do something other than lie on a beach and read a book. Diving is popular. There are a few dive schools at Chaloklum, the best of which is probably Chaloklum Diving.
The wind sometimes gets up in the bay. There is a place on the beach that offers kite boarding and wake boarding.
Near Chaloklum village there is a place that offers elephant treks in the jungle. Opposite is another place that has archery.
From Chaloklum it is possible to walk to Haad Khom and from there you can take a coastal path over to Bottle Beach. For those people intent on a big adventure, the trail continues on to Thong Nai Pan Noi.
Nightlife in Chaloklum
Chaloklum is not a party beach. It is much more laid back and less packed with bars and bodies than Haad Rin. However, it is not a bad place to go out for a few drinks. Drinking spots include the stylish Sheesha Bar where you can get a sea view and suck on a Sheesha pipe. Opposite is Omega Bar. On Wednesday nights Omega Bar has a jam session. They have amps, instruments and a stage. Often ex-pats appear to get some lively jamming going.
In the jungle just off the main village road is Crow Bar. It serves a range of cocktails and snacks and often has a party night. The newest bar in Chaloklum is Zhaba Jazz Bar. It is a converted fisherman’s house on the beach that plays jazz music.
For trance heads in the high seasons there is often an all night party 1 km from Chaloklum. It is the Paradise Waterfall Party, near Paradise Bungalows. The waterfall is not much but there are permanent buildings in the jungle that provide alcohol, food and chill out areas. The party is similar to most of the other parties in Koh Phangan (the Half Moon, Shiva Moon, Black Moon and Jungle Experience) in that it is mostly psy-trance and progressive house beats.
Accommodation in Chaloklum
There are a number of places to stay the beach and nearby. At the west end of the beach is the popular Chaloklum Bay Resort. It has plenty of bungalows both fan and air-con. It also has a small pool. For hotel style rooms there is Viva on the Beach.
A new place is Buri Tara Resort and Spa. It is at the east end of the beach. It has air-con cottages and the resort has an impressive free form pool overlooking the beach.
If you hunt around you can still find some of the original fan bungalows that go for about 300 Thai Baht a night.