The 217 square-kilometres big island, which means translated "Elephant Island" is more than just an alternative to the islands further south. Compared to the well-known islands of the Andaman Sea around Phuket and Krabi, the island is in its development still very young. However, everything that is needed can be found on Koh Chang. Overall, the environment is a bit quieter, so we recommend the island for rest-seeking people. Koh Chang is surrounded by some 50 other smaller islands which offer amazing landscapes with many beautiful beaches. The underwater world is perfect for diving and snorkelling nearly all year around whereas the dense jungle in the inner part invite for hiking trips. Sometimes it is even possible to walk over on a neighboring island at low tide and for the other islands further away, there are boats available.
Koh Chang is after Phuket the second largest island of Thailand, with only about 5,000 inhabitants and many beaches. Significantly however, the mountains that rise up to 700 m are often shrouded in clouds. Only on the coast there are small villages and the people incomes come mainly from fishing and the cultivation of coconut and rubber trees.
As Koh Chang is a marine national park, it has retained much of its original charm and naturalness. The marine national park is located near the Cambodian border and comprises about 50 islands. This guarantees kilometres of picturesque beaches, spectacular sunsets, lovely waterfalls and unique mangrove forests. A total of 75% of the island is still tropical jungle. Koh Chang and its neighbouring islands are perfect snorkel and diving areas with exotic marine life and well-preserved coral reefs. To reach the beaches on the west coast it goes over switchbacks through the mountains. The first beach after passing the mountains is the White Sand Beach that is also the biggest settlement of the island.
The actually attraction of the big island are the many beautiful beaches. Those looking for a little variety should try elephant riding, snorkelling or diving.
The easiest solution is to travel by plane from Bangkok to Koh Chang. The nearest airport to Koh Chang is the one at the city of Trang and belongs to Bangkok Airways which operates this route. It continues with a land transfer to Ao Thammachart Pier that takes 15 minute by car. The journey from Bangkok (300 km) is also possible. We offer private transfers of about 4 hours to the pier. Journeys from Pattaya (3 hours) or Ban Phe in Koh Samed (just over 2 hours) can also be arranged. All arrivals by car lead to a pier on the mainland, it continues then by ferry and the last part on the island by car. Also, regular buses run several times daily from Bangkok Ekkamai terminal to Trat (6 hours). The ferries operate from 7:00 to 18:30 and the voyage takes about 30 minutes.
On the island there are songthaews driving from the hotel to the various beaches.
Up to three hour tours can be organized with the elephants on the island. The tour includes among others a bath with the elephants as well as feeding them. The tour leads through rivers and mountainous jungle areas, where the elephants can show their skills.
Snorkelling and diving
The best time to admire the underwater world surrounding Koh Chang is from November to April. A particularly beautiful spot is located between Koh Chang and Koh Kood, where you can admire soft coral and colourful fishes. Not far from the island is in just 15 meters depth a Thai warship, which was sunk by the French navy. A sunken oil tanker is located between Koh Chang and Koh Samed in about 35 meters depth.
On the east side are a few waterfalls. They are outside the national park and visotors don't have to pay an entrance fee. From Dezember till July they are mostly dried up.
The Klong Nonsi waterfall is placed near Kan Mai and consits of multi level tiers.
Near Salak Phet are the Klong Neung and Khiri Phet falls.
The beautiful Klong Plu waterfall is near Klong Prao Beach on the westside of Koh Chang. This one falls into a big pool which is perfekt for swimm. Visitors need to pay an entrance fee since it is located inside the national park.
Treetop adventure park
This treetop park is situated on the small Bailan beach, between Klong Prao and Kai Bae beach. It has two different routes and adventure seeking guests can swing, tightrope or just walk from tree to tree. Except adrenalin it offers spectacular views of the surroundings.
Besides relaxing on the photogenic beaches, jungle, islands and under water excursions guests can get an culinary experience. On Klong Prao and Bailin Beach you can learn to cook authentic Thai dishes in 1/2 day courses.
Klong Son Beach
Coming from the pier, the first bay with a beach is Klong Son Beach. Unfortunately, the water pulls back far at low tide. The landscape however is beautiful. In the bay are the elegant and expensive Aiyapura Resort and the romantic Koh Chang Grand Orchid Resort, which was built in Bali- Lanna style.
White Sand Beach
Behind Klong Son it goes on switchbacks through the tropical rain forest into the mountains. After reaching the highest point of the road you look down on the 2.5 kilometre long White Sand Beach or Hat Sai Khao as the locals call it. This beach was first discovered and developed into a small tourist centre, but there is absolutely no comparison to Phuket or Koh Samui. Nevertheless, there is the possibility in one of the little plaza's to look for souvenirs, browse in the internet café, to stock up yourself in the supermarket with everyday items and to sit in cosy little restaurant bars with other tourists and locals and eat Thai food. The beach itself has white sand, palm trees, deciduous trees and rock formations going from the beach into the sea. The entire beach slopes gently down and when the tide pulls the water a long way back swimming is still possible without restriction. The long beach is also ideal for a beach walk, where you can stop off in small cosy restaurants and enjoy a cool drink. For travellers who like to have some entertainment and a range of restaurants to choose from the White Sand Beach is the ideal spot on the island. Also on this stretch of beach are most accommodations on the island.
Klong Prao Beach
The next beach, located south of White Sand Beach, is with about three kilometres quite long. Many estimate the Klong Prao Beach one of the best beaches on Koh Chang. Here it is calmer, the resorts and hotels are more generous and more expensive with the street not running so close to the beach anymore. A channel and an estuary of Klong Prao separate the beach in three parts. Like most beaches on the west coast, the beach is very shallow but swimming is still possible.
Kai Bae Beach
South of Klong Prao follows the beautiful Kai Bae Beach. This about two kilometres long beach is divided into three sections. The southern section lies in a beautiful little bay and is about 300 m long. Jungle-covered mountains reach up close to the beach. Overhanging palms and tropical deciduous trees dominated the landscape of Kai Bae Beach. There are four offshore islands which fit perfectly into the South Seas atmosphere. Koh Man Nai can be reached on foot at low tide. At Kai Bae the sea falls flat but swimming is possible. Kai Bae offers as well as White Sand much entertainment, although it is still quieter. The small restaurants and bars are serving food and cocktails in a nice and quiet atmosphere.
Lonely Beach (Hat Ta Nam)
This beach is located next to Kai Bae Beach and is about one kilometre long. To reach this stretch you have to take a small road that leads through dense rain forest, on the way there are always beautiful views of the sea and islands. The beach itself is also fantastic and very good to relax. Here are some small, simple bungalows that cannot be booked in advance available.
Ban Bang Bao
Here is the fishing village built on stilts in the bay with a few seafood restaurants that have fresh seafood on their menus. We recommend this place as nice trip to the far southwest of the island.
The east coast of the island
The east coast of the island is inhabited only sparsely. Small villages alternate with rubber plantations, shrimp farms and rainforest. In the southern region of the east coast, at Salak Khok, there is a mangrove area which can be explored on foot. Here are also kayaks for rent and offer a good and interesting way to see the less touristic highlights of the island. Those who continue further to Salak Phet get rewarded with one of the best seafood restaurants on the island. Always fresh seafood is served in traditional Thai style. Unfortunately, the road does not continue around the southern end of the island. But instead of going back down the direct route, a detour to the southern peninsula should be taken. From Khao Kong Mountain you will have a great view of the sea, the rain forest and islands in the bay.
The best time to visit the island is between November and May when it is usually dry and comfortable. Many tourists come between December and March when temperature are around 30 degrees Celsius. During this time it can be a bit cold in the evenings and at night because of the wind. Therefore we recommend bringing a sweater or light jacket with you.
Generally, it should be mentioned that the weather during the low season, from about May to October is better than that at the Andaman Sea, therefore as a travel destination a good alternative. During the month of July and August the island gets many tourists mainly from Europe. In the remaining months of the season, it is peaceful and there are secluded beaches and idyllic bays available.