Koh Chang, Thailand’s second largest island, isn’t on many first time visitors’ bucket lists. While tourists flock to Phuket for their package holidays and backpackers do the obligatory island hopping on the “Banana Pancake Trail”, Koh Chang’s white sandy beaches are still relatively unspoilt.
While the “Elephant Island” is relatively new on the tourist radar, it has seen a lot of development in recent years and is also a popular weekend getaway destination for visitors from Bangkok. The island’s scenic beaches, hidden waterfalls and undisturbed rainforest are just some of the reasons to visit.
There is plenty to do if lazying on the beach gets boring. Koh Chang has a good trekking scene, with trips into the heart of the island where you can spot wildlife or climb peaks to get a bird’s eye view. Renting a bike is a cheap option and a good way to get around, with natural wonders such as Khlong Phlu waterfall a short ride away from most resorts.
Diving schools offer trips to explore coral reefs around the island while snorkelling day tours around the Koh Chang Archipelago are a highlight.
There is wide range of accommodation on the island from hostels to 5-star resorts so there is something to suit most budgets. There are plenty of good bars and restaurants and many can be accessed directly from the beach.
Lonely Beach area is where the parties are at with a few busy bars, including some right by the shore.
I really enjoyed Koh Chang and now would be a great time to visit before its popularity increases. Which, with that scenery, will happen sooner rather than later
KOH CHANG – THE DETAILS
Getting there: Koh Chang can be reached from Bangkok in about 5-6 hours by minibus or bus. I recommend the 999 government bus service (273 baht) which leaves from Ekkamai Bus Terminal at 07:45 and 09:45 daily. It drops you off right at the ferry terminal (one way ferry 80 baht). Once you are on Koh Chang, you will pay around 60 baht to share a taxi to your accommodation.
It is possible to fly to nearby Trat and get a minibus/ferry to the island. However, flights are expensive and are not really worth the hassle.
Accommodation: As mentioned above, there are loads of accommodation options. I stayed at Pajamas Koh Chang hostel with dorm rooms from around £12/$17. It has its own pool, direct access to the beach and is one of the nicest hostels I’ve stayed at in South East Asia. Most resorts/hostels will be positioned close to convenience stores and restaurants and most places will be able to help you book tours and activities.
Getting Around: Renting a motorbike is a great option with daily hire costing around 200 baht. Alternatively taxis can be flagged down easily. Tour companies will generally pick you up if you are booked on a tour.