The Koh Chang islands of Koh Chang, Koh Kood, Koh Mak, and Koh Wai are located on the eastern side of the Gulf Of Thailand, sharing a maritime border with Cambodia.
Though far less busy and developed than the likes of Phuket and Koh Samui, these islands still offer everything you could need for a perfect beach holiday.
From luxurious resorts to backpacker bungalows, beautiful beaches around each corner, restaurants, nightlife, and a fantastic daily choice of things to do, the Koh Chang islands have it all.
So, whether you are traveling as a couple, a single traveler, with your family, or in a group of friends, you’ll always find something to suit you.
Thailand’s eastern islands offer beautiful unspoiled beaches and a personal touch. The island of Koh Chang and its satellites Islands Koh Mak and Koh Kood is the easternmost islands in Thailand. The contrast with their better-known cousin is obvious: outside the built-up beaches on the west coast of Koh Chang, hotels and guest houses are mostly small and family-run.
However, therein lies their appeal: the quiet beautiful southern and eastern coastlines of Koh Chang, part-hippy, part-hipster Koh Mak, and Koh Kood’s incongruous mix of ramshackle bungalows and luxurious resorts offer a slice of blissfully peaceful paradise. You can island-hop, mix and match pampering with long walks on sandy beaches plus a day of exploring the odd uninhabited island, too.
Koh Chang beaches
The principal area is White Sand Beach, by far the most developed and touristy, though not on the scale of the main spots in Phuket or indeed Koh Samui.
Lonely Beach has become the main draw for the travelers and party crowd, whilst Klong Prao Beach, the longest stretch of sand, attracts a generally older crowd with its large upscale resorts and quiet atmosphere.
Kai Bae Beach is a little bit of everything touristy, backpacker, and family-friendly, a great choice.
Beyond those, there are plenty of other spots to explore among the Koh Chang beaches from the quieter Bailan Beach, the fishing village at Bang Bao, its neighbor, Bang Bao Beach, and the upcoming spots of Chai Chet and Pearl Beach.
Or head across the mountain to the more local Klong Son and then down the rural and undeveloped Koh Chang East Coast. The southeast corner of the island completes the picture at Salak Phet or the remote and wild Long Beach.
Bang Bao Bay and Khlong Koi beach, Koh Chang
Bang Bao and Salak Phet, both in the south, are not that far apart, the plan was for them to be connected by a road that would ring the island. The road was never finished, so the only way to drive from one to the other is to circle the whole island through the north.
In the southwest corner of the island, Bang Bao was once a sleepy village that was the island’s first port. Now there are shops filled with T-shirts and trinkets, and seafood restaurants serving nearly identical, and largely unremarkable, menus. Despite encroaching on mainstream tourism, Bang Bao still has lots to recommend it. It’s the starting point for many of the beach and scuba diving tours to islands such as Koh Wai. More about Koh Chang
Located in the National Marine Park, in between the two larger islands of Koh Chang and Koh Kood, Koh Mak is a perfect island paradise getaway.
The Island, which covers an area of 16 km², has a population of around 1,500. It has a fairly low-lying terrain compared to the surrounding islands, with an interior full of rubber and coconut tree plantations. The coastline of Koh Mak is lined with stunningly long white sand beaches, with the crystal clear waters gently lapping up onto the sand, you can see why the beaches were once voted in the Top 10 in the world, by the British newspaper, The Sunday Times.
Because Koh Mak is privately owned, any development on the island is carefully controlled, meaning it’s not overrun by largely developed resorts. Instead, you will find smaller boutique hotels and elegant beach bungalows, which make the island even more appealing to tourists who are looking to come and relax and escape the stresses of modern life.
The most popular areas on Koh Mak are situated in the northwest and southwest, this is where you will find the majority of accommodation and of course the popular beaches.
The longest beach on the island is Ao Kao in the north, but if you’re wanting to capture the perfect shot of the sun setting then head towards the sheltered Ao Suan Yai beach. Even though the small resorts have been built around the popular beaches, there are still some hidden gems to be found on the island. These are Ao Phra and Laem Sori beaches, which both are located in north of Koh Mak.
The Islands resorts and bungalows are mostly situated around the two main beaches, Ao Kao and Ao Suan Yai, where accommodation can be found for all budgets. There are also a few other resorts dotted along the more remote east coast.
The majority of visitors come to the island for the beaches, to relax, and enjoy the calm atmosphere of the island. However, for the more adventurous types, kayaks and mountain bikes are available to hire, to allow you to get out and explore the island. There are also three diving schools ready to whisk you away to the nearby coral reefs.
To reach Koh Mak from Koh Chang you have two options. You can either catch the daily boat from Bang Bao pier or a speedboat from Kai Bae Hut, which also runs daily.
Speedboats run twice a morning from Bang Bao Koh Chang to Koh Mak (November to April only). The speedboat from Koh Chang will arrive at Koh Mak Resort pier on Ao Suan Yai, which has one of the nicest beaches on the island.
Compact and relatively flat, Koh Mak is well suited for cycling. Much of the island is still covered in plantations of rubber trees and Areca palms that produce betel nuts.
Popular, eco-friendly Kohmak Seafood in Ao Nid serves fish from the surrounding waters and grows much of its own produce, as do many places on this green-minded island. Try the raw prawn salad or a fiery clear curry.
Take a kayak or a long-tail boat to Koh Kham in Ao Suan Yai. A luxury resort project ground to a halt recently, leaving a haunting, nearly completed, construction site to explore. The (imported) pristine white sand beach is yours to enjoy for a small fee including a cold drink served by the beach attendants. The views looking back at Mak from your own private island are worth every penny. Sail over to Koh Kradat to see wild deer or dive in the coral reef of the Marine Park around Koh Rang. Go night fishing with a local fisherman. All activities can be booked through your resort.
The resort construction on Koh Kham is still not finished and stopped several years ago. The good news is: The scenery, the two beaches, and the crystal clear water are still breathtaking. A longtail board from Koh Mak resort is running a daily shuttle to the island.
What is left of this former pearl of the island, is not much. There is still a really beautiful beach with blue, crystal clear water like you know from the Maldives. It is still recommended to enjoy a day trip and swim at the white powder sandy beach.
Koh Kood is the fourth largest island in Thailand and the second largest in the Koh Chang archipelago. But despite its size, the island is sparsely populated with around 2,000 permanent residents. Similar to Koh Chang, the island's terrain is very mountainous and covered in jungle. One of Koh Kood’s prominent features is the Klong Chao waterfall, and while the waterfall's height is nothing spectacular waterfall descends into a massive plunge pool surrounded by lush green jungle, making it a very pretty setting.
The waters surrounding the island are crystal clear, with some vibrant coral reefs just off the beaches along the West coast. While on the subject of beaches, Koh Kood plays host to some amazing white sand beaches found along the western and southern coasts.
The biggest place on the island is the fishing village of Ao Salat, in the Northeast. If you can, it’s definitely worth the visit to experience local life and to witness the daily fresh catch of seafood being landed on the pier.
In the past, Koh Kood was mainly visited by tour groups, but the last few years have seen an increase in independent travelers reaching the island. Despite this, public transport is non-existent on the island. You will either need to hire a Songthaew or rent a motorbike to get around and explore the island, which although some hassle, you will be rewarded with some stunning views and lovely beaches. The infrastructure is improving and eventually, public transport will be introduced to the island.
A lot of the resorts on the island are high-end developments aimed toward tour package groups, but more accommodation is appearing on the island to suit all types of travelers with different budgets.
Klong Chao is the main tourist area in Koh Kood, this is where you will find a range of varying accommodations. The majority of the island's restaurants, bars, and touristy shops are also situated in the Klong Chao area. If you’re wanting nightlife, this isn’t the place to be, only a few bars stay open late, and usually, you won’t have much company.
Koh Kood is the place to come to relax on beautiful sandy beaches and swim in the turquoise waters.
Tourism at Koh Kood is affected by the seasons, during the rainy season, some of the accommodation and local amenities close. This is due to the very heavy and unrelenting rain the island receives.
In contrast, if you’re visiting during the high season around Christmas, New Year, and Songkran, reserving accommodation is highly recommended.
The speedboat from Koh Mak Resort Pier can drop you at your closest beach but arrange to be met by someone from your hotel or guesthouse. No drivers will be waiting, particularly at the smaller piers. Koh Kood is the second biggest island in the region after Koh Chang and the fourth (or sixth, depending on whom you listen to) largest in Thailand. Yet huge chunks of it remain undeveloped. The entire east side has just two quaint fishing villages: Ao Salad and Ao Yai. Ao Salad has recently added a few restaurants but that’s the extent of development.
All the beaches on Koh Kood are public, even in front of the exclusive resorts of Khlong Chao Beach. I prefer to stroll along the waterline, timing it so I can enjoy a sunset gin and tonic from a beachfront resort. Walkers will enjoy the old coastal road now closed to vehicle traffic but that still connects the villages of Ao Phrao, Ao Jak, and Khlong Hin. It’s a pleasant hour-long stroll. There are also three beautiful waterfalls on the island, including Khlong Chao waterfall, famous because of a visit by King Rama VI in 1911 that was interpreted as a stand for national identity in the face of European colonial expansion. Climb to the top tier for a soak in the natural plunge pool in the rocks. More about Koh Kood
This little island is located between Koh Chang and Koh Mak, just about 15-20 minutes away.
The speedboats daily drive to Koh Wai, from Koh Mak, Koh Chang (Salak Phet), and from Laem Ngop (mainland). This island has two really nice beaches and 3 resorts ( Koh Wai Beach Resort, Koh Wai Pakarang Resort, and Koh Wai Good Feeling Resort). On the weekends, many day-trippers come from the islands nearby for snorkeling. But before sunset, it is very lonely again.
This island is very very flat. Flat like paper. Paper means in Thai “Kradat”. Now you know, where the name comes from. Koh Kradat is about 2.000 beers you can visit. Traveling to Koh Kradat takes about 15 minutes from Koh Mak, and you can easily hire a wooden boat from here.
This island has a really beautiful sandy beach, which might be a little steep at high tide. It is just 1,2 km from Koh Mak and easily reached by Kayak.
Island Hopping from Koh Chang to Koh Mak and Koh Kood
It is easy to travel between the islands by either speedboat, high-speed ferry, or wooden boat services. An island hopping holiday has become an increasingly popular option for people who prefer to experience more than one island during their holiday. The good news is that getting from Koh Chang to Koh Mak and Koh Kood by boat is also very easy to do during the High Season.
From 1 October to 31 April, it is possible to take a speedboat from Koh Chang to Koh Wai, Koh Mak, or Koh Kood. In addition, a daily slow boat (wooden boat) runs from Koh Chang to Koh Wai and Koh Mak.
Boat services officially stop at the end of April. Although Bangbao Boat may run a boat into the first week or two of May to Koh Wai and Koh Mak if there is a demand and the weather is good. But this isn’t guaranteed. A new ferry service began on 1 November 2018 from Koh Chang to Koh Mak and Koh Kood. This is run by Boonsiri Ferry, which currently operates services from the mainland to Koh Kood. They added a new boat to their fleet which will be used for the mainland services and the previous high-speed passenger vessel is used for the Koh Chang to Koh Mak to Koh Kood island hopping route.
Ticket prices for the 200-seat high-speed catamaran are cheaper than the speedboat services between the islands. Plus you get air-conditioned comfort and free wifi onboard.
During the Low Season, you can only get to Koh Mak and Koh Kood via the mainland ports at Laem Ngop (for speedboats to Koh Mak) and Laem Sok (for passenger boats to Koh Kood)
These island hopping services are run by three boat companies – Bangbao Boat, Kai Bae Hut Speedboat, and Boonsiri Ferry. As the names suggest, these operate out of Bangbao – in the south of Koh Chang; and Kai Bae – on the west coast of the island. Boonsiri also runs its services from the pier in Bangbao.
Here are some resources to help you get your trip going:
Travel Essentials what's in my bag: To help you get started on packing, here are my essential travel and photography gear
Flights: WayAway to start looking for cheap flights and great deals from your home country.
Accommodation: Hostelworld, Booking.com, and Agoda.com are the ultimate go-to platforms to search for amazing hostels and hotels at affordable prices.
Car Rental: DiscoverCars.com is a great and reliable platform to find rental cars all over the world.
Internet: Airalo is the best way to get a sim card and has reliable internet access for your trip. All you need is an Esim-compatible smartphone, install it on your phone prior to your trip, and you are all set.
Day Trips & Tours: Viator, and GetYourGuide, are great platforms to search for activities to do
Tickets & Deals: Tiqets is always my go-to website when I want to find cheaper deals for entrance tickets to tourist attractions
Klook to find the best deals for trips in Asia, somehow they are 30% cheaper than when you buy them at a local agency
Train, buses, and ferries 12Go to find your travel route for local buses, and ferries, we use them all the time as you can easily see the reviews, and the vouchers are everywhere accepted. tickets are sold for more than 5,000 destinations in 100+ countries worldwide.