Tucked away in the Trat Province of Thailand, the island of Koh Chang is one of the most scenic and laidback islands in the country. The island is shaped like an elephant and hence its name (Chang = elephant) It's the second-largest island in Thailand, one of 52 Trat Islands.
It covers 429 square kilometers, is located not far from the border with Cambodia, and is 310 kilometers southeast of Bangkok.
The island is beautiful, the seawater temperature is warm and clear, and painted in green emerald colors. The beaches are whitish, and inside the island lies a mountainous, rocky, and forested national park, which covers about 70% of the island's area.
The highest mountain on the island, Khao Salak Phet, rises to a height of 744 meters.
Most of the beaches are in the west of the island, each with its character and adaptation to a different type of visitors, and each of them offer accommodation, entertainment, activities, and shopping options.
Ko Chang is suitable for families, honeymoon couples, and backpackers who will find what they are looking for. The beaches have undergone extensive development in recent years, mainly in the center and northwest coast, but it still has more basic bungalows than luxury hotels.
However, Koh Chang Island has not yet reached the order of magnitude of places like Phuket and Koh Samui, and it still offers pristine views and plenty of magical, quiet, and uncrowded beaches to relax on.
Koh Chang beaches
There is no doubt that one of the things to do in Koh Chang enjoys the beach – the island is packed with sandy beaches. While Lonely Beach is perhaps the most famous beach on the west coast of Koh Chang, I prefer Klong Koi Beach, right off Bang Bao.
Despite its name Lonely Beach hardly gets lonely. It is a popular backpackers’ hub, as the village has a lot of budget accommodation options, and there are lots of restaurants, shops, and parties. What makes it worth a visit is the incredible sunset and the young vibe.
Klong Koi Beach is a smaller and way quieter beach. Bang Bao, the nearest village, is the last village at the Southern end of Ko Chang and much smaller than the rest – a few houses, a small market, some seafood restaurants, and a harbor from where boats to nearby islands leave. As a result, Khlong Koi gets significantly fewer people.
The beach isn’t spectacular, to be honest, but it is nice, sandy, and generally clean, lined with palm trees and the shallow waters are incredibly warm.
Another great beach is White Sand Beach. Just picture a long stretch of fine white sand, lined with palm trees, well equipped with anything you may need for your stay. There are several good resorts there.
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, while 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.
HOW TO GET TO KOH CHANG?
Koh Chang Island has no airport, so it can only be reached by ferry from the mainland (Trat Province) - and there are two piers. Trat District and the ferry to Koh Chang can be reached by all types of public transport - buses, vans, taxis, and of course by private car.
The distance from Bangkok is about 300 km.
It's about 7 hours at least from the moment you leave Bangkok until you reach your hotel in Ko Chang.
PIERS AND FERRIES:
Two piers and two companies operate ferry services for people and vehicles between the mainland and Ko Chang. The two piers are about 10 km from each other.
Ao Thammachat Pier - The company that operates the ferries from this pier is called Ferry Koh Chang, and the pier at Koh Chang you will reach is called Sapparot Pier.
(From this pier - the sailing time to the island is the shortest (about 30 minutes). This pier is closer to the main road from Bangkok, so most shuttle buses, taxis, and private cars arrive at this pier. The ferries here are active all year round, from 06:30 until the last departure at 18:30.
Center Point Pier - the operating company is called Centerpoint Ferry. The pier in Koh Chang you will reach is called Center Point Pier (also Dan Kao Pier) and is about 3 km east of Sapparot Pier.
The sailing time from this pier is longer (About 45 minutes)
The frequency of the ferry is once an hour when from the mainland to the non-sailing every hour (08:00, 09:00, and so on), and from the island to the mainland, the sailing is every mid-hour (08:30, 09: And so on). The service starts at 06:00 and ends at 19:30
BEST TIME TO VISIT KOH CHANG
The weather on the island behaves according to the three seasons in the rest of the country, but the amount of precipitation on the island is the highest in Thailand and can reach in the wettest months of June, July, and August an amount of about 1000 mm one month!
The best time to visit Koh Chang is from November to February.
It's the driest and least humid. On the other hand, the beaches will be the busiest.
GETTING AROUND KOH CHANG
Koh Chang is surrounded by a ring road (truncated in the south) that is 80 km long.
There are no tuk-tuks or taxis in Koh Chang. To move from one place to another, you can join a Songtau (a kind of service taxi that travels on the main road that surrounds the island) for 20-50 baht. But as mentioned, if you are planning many trips to the island, seeing different beaches and nature sites, a motorcycle is the most recommended means of transportation to save money and time and gain maximum enjoyable experience.
At 5:00 pm, the Songtau starts traveling like much more expensive private taxis, and then the price of the trip along the island can already reach 500 baht.
You can rent a car or motorcycle and get around the island very comfortably, but the roads on the island are problematic, with steep slopes.
Most of the motorcycle rental shops that can be found on the island are located on the most popular beaches among tourists and travelers: White Sand Beach, Lonely Beach, and Long Prao Beach. The price of renting a motorcycle per day is 150 -200 baht + 60-100 baht on fuel for a full-day trip.
WHERE TO STAY IN KOH CHANG?
Ko Chang has a wide range of accommodation options - from good and quality hotels to fairly mediocre resorts to simple and basic lodges.
Although it is a less touristy island compared to other islands, in recent years more accommodations have sprung up.
So whether you are looking for a cheap hostel, a pampering resort, or a luxury hotel, you will find accommodation for your satisfaction, and as you book your rooms in advance and enjoy attractive prices.
If you want to stay close to the beach, you should look for accommodation at Lonely Beach, White Sand Beach, or Klong Prao Beach.
Those beautiful beaches offer cheap accommodations such as hostels and bungalows, along with luxurious resorts with well-kept pools and excellent spa complexes.
This resort surprised us the most during our visit, it's absolutely wonderful and has a beautiful clean soft sandy beach with a turquoise-colored ocean and a great klong and mountains on the backside.
Klong Prao Resort has 126 cottage-style rooms that are comfortably equipped with air-conditioners, television, and hot/cold water.
The breakfast restaurant had an excellent selection of food. The beach was so beautiful and not at all crowded and great for long walks.
The resort is enclosed in stylishly laid out bungalows surroundings by a lagoon and the renowned white-sandy "Klong Prao" Beach where you will enjoy a picturesque seascape and a fabulous sunset and plenty of activities on the island can be arranged, a trail to "Klong Plu Waterfalls", snorkel or scuba diving to scuba diving to discover beautiful corals, colorful fishes and a fishing trip on one of our boat. Book Now
Located on a white sandy beach, surrounded by nature enjoy the atmosphere of the hotel. The rooms are designed in a stylish style with a beautiful sea view, ideal for sea and nature lovers.
Kacha Resort & Spa Koh Chang is in heart of Koh Chang's recreational and commercial centers. With its spectacular views of the Gulf of Siam, powdery beaches, and lush tropical foliage, the resort is a paradise unto itself.
Spoil yourself in bungalows, villas, pool villas, or suite rooms. Sunbath and cool down in the magnificent free-form pools with built-in jacuzzi jets, pool bar, and slider for youngsters, all overlooking White Sand Beach.
Dream your way through a massage with essential oils or feel all cares slip away as you sink into a warm. bubbling bath of The Royal Spa. Enjoy a wide selection of excellent Thai and Western cuisine from freshly grilled. steamed or fried seafood to classic Italian dishes.
Kacha Resort & Spa Koh Chang offers outstanding service and refined Thai hospitality. It is the perfect setting for a truly relaxed and memorable vacation. Book Now
Soak up the sun before being lulled to sleep by the sound of gentle waves.
Set right on Klong Prao Beach along Koh Chang's west coast, swaying palm trees and direct beach access set the scene for a picture-perfect holiday.
With its natural surroundings, the resort is a tranquil one, and along with the oceanfront swimming pool, water sports, and spa, there are nearby attractions such as forest paths, waterfalls, a fishing village
Enveloped in verdant gardens and opening up to the Gulf of Thailand, the tranquil beach resort offers plenty of rest and relaxation as well as adventure and family fun with multiple pools, including one facing the ocean, a children’s pool with waterslides and a Jacuzzi, a spa, supervised Kids’ Club, and beachfront dining options. After a day of discovery, unwind in your island-inspired room or private tropical cabana that completes the island life experience.
Centara Koh Chang Tropicana Resort is one of the most popular resorts on the island. (Centara is a large Thai hotel chain with resorts across the country and elsewhere in S.E. Asia) There are 77 spacious bright cabanas, some featuring outdoor bathrooms and at the rear of the resort are a couple of large blocks of hotel-style rooms.
Only a handful of bungalows have sea views but unless you want to also overlook the busy pool area and restaurant you may as well go for a quieter garden bungalow. Note that the hotel-style rooms ( both Superior & Deluxe) are all well back from the beach and have their own pool area. This pool is much larger than the beachfront pool and is usually quiet, as the majority of guests head to the beach.
A large number of rooms means the beach area can get crowded during the high season. But the staff arrange a lot of activities for guests to keep them busy and away from lazing around doing nothing all day. There’s aerobics, beach football, volleyball, and Muay Thai. Book Now
Top Things to do
See the waterfalls
There are seven main waterfalls to visit in Ko Chang, the most popular being Klong Plu. It is easily accessible and has a large swimming area. Kai Bae, Klong Jao Leuam, Than Mayom, and Klong Nonsi are other noteworthy waterfalls. For Than Mayom and Klong Plu, you’ll have to pay the national park entrance fee, which is 200 THB.
Visit Hat Sai Khao Beach (White Sand Beach)
White Sand Beach is where most of the resorts and high-end accommodations are, as well as the expensive restaurants. It’s definitely the most developed part of Ko Chang, but you can’t deny that it’s a really beautiful beach. The town itself is lively and full of shops, restaurants, and nightlife, including nightly live music at Oodie’s Place. If your aim is to avoid touristy areas, this isn’t the place for you. If you just want to have fun and meet people, come here.
Visit the Bang Bao floating village
Ko Chang has a floating village at Bang Bao pier (it’s a bunch of buildings on stilts over the water). It’s here where many of the snorkeling and diving tours depart. The village hasn’t retained much of its original fishing village charm — it’s now essentially a souvenir shopping hub for tourists. Many of the buildings have been turned into restaurants, shops, or guesthouses, although a few locals still fish here. But if you’re coming here anyway, look around and take some photos. While it’s touristy, it’s nevertheless very beautiful, especially the views from the lighthouse at the end of the pier.
Hike Salak Phet
Ko Chang is big and heavily forested, with quite a few mountains. If you just want to explore the scenic landscapes, there are a few official hiking trails (and a few unofficial ones, though I recommend getting a local guide to go with you). Salek Phet is the highest mountain on the island, and offers incredible panoramic views from the top, though it can be difficult to get to. Ask your hostel about tours or if they have suggestions on the best route to the top.
If you’re not interested in diving, snorkeling is another way to enjoy Ko Chang’s underwater playground. The coral reefs here are full of fish and it’s easy to find snorkeling tours all over the island. You can find half-day tours starting around 600 THB while full-day tours are 1,200-1,500 THB. Day tours usually include a full lunch on the boat as well.
See the Mu Ko Chang National Park Viewpoint
The Mu Ko Chang National Park Viewpoint offers a clear view overlooking Ko Chang’s forests, the surrounding ocean, and the islands off in the distance. It’s easy to get to — the route from the main road is well-marked. Plus, it’s free! Keep an eye out for wildlife here — there are 100 bird species as well as all kinds of animals (including boars and macaques). There’s a nice beach nearby with food kiosks and swings hanging from palm trees, and other hiking trails will take you to waterfalls and mountains. I recommend going to the viewpoint at sunset.
Kayak to Koh Suwan and Koh Rom islands
If you’re spending time on the south end of Klong Prao beach or Kai Bae beach, you’ll notice some islands off the coast. Koh Suwan and Koh Rom are the closest islands, and in a kayak, you can paddle there in about 20-30 minutes. They’re a whole lot quieter than Ko Chang, so pull up your kayak, go for a swim, and enjoy the peace and quiet. If your hostel or hostel doesn’t rent kayaks, you can find rentals on the south end of Klong Prao for about 300 THB for a half-day and 500 THB for a full day. Some places also have stand-up paddleboards.
Hang out at Lonely Beach
Many backpackers end up at Lonely Beach, where most of the guesthouses, bars, clubs, and parties are. You’ll find cheap accommodation, decent shops, and a relatively nice beach here. This place is where you come to recharge after weeks/months of backpacking. Hang out on the beach by day, and party at night!
Go jungle trekking
If you feel like doing more than just one hike, there are several tour companies offering half-day or full-day trekking tours on the island. While you can hike by yourself, it’s much better to go with an experienced guide once you get deeper into the jungle. You’ll get to see the many gorgeous waterfalls, vibrant green trees, rare reptiles, and more. Just make sure to bring lots of water! Half-day tours start at 700 baht and full-day tours start at 1,200-1,500 baht.