Koh Chang: An Authentic Island Getaway Experience


October 17, 2019 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Travel


Koh Chang is an island nestled on the east coast of the Gulf of Thailand. It belongs to the Trat province that borders Cambodia. The island got its name because its shape loosely resembles the head of an elephant. Koh Chang has only recently become a popular destination for tourists seeking an island experience in Thailand. Before the late 1990s, the island was home to little more than a few beachfront huts and small hotels. Now, thanks to the influx of tourists seeking a quiet getaway, five-star hotels and bungalows have sprung up all over. Yet, compared to other islands such as Koh Samui, Koh Phi Phi and Koh Phangan, it is still one of the least developed large islands of the country, which means you’ll still get a relatively authentic Thai experience on your travels.

It’s easy to get there

Getting to Koh Chang isn’t difficult as you have various options for transport. The most convenient method is to fly into Trat Airport. This may save you time as you can get to the island without spending hours on the bus, however, it is also the most expensive method. Flights can easily cost you around $100 – $200 USD, so this option is only recommended if you are really strapped for time and have the budget for it.

Another, much cheaper option to get from Bangkok to Koh Chang is by a six hour long bus ride. Buses aren’t the most comfortable way to go, however ideal for the budget traveler. You can catch buses from the Ekkamai Bus Terminal, the Mo Chit Bus Terminal, and Khao San Road. Prices can vary from around $10 – $20 USD.  These busses will take you to either Trat town or the Koh Chang Ferry Pier. To avoid any uncertainty and add a little more comfort to your journey, you can pre-book a private transfer where you can make the journey on your own time and stretch out as much as you want inside. With a private transfer, you can also make sure you reach your proper destination and have your driver guide you through the ferry ticket booking process.

Once you check-in, explore the island

While in Koh Chang, you can enjoy a combination of emerald-colored ocean, pristine white sandy beaches and lush jungle all in one go. It will be difficult to not immediately get into your swimsuit and head to the beach for some relax time. The beaches here include White Sand Beach, Klong Prao Beach, Kai Bae Beach, Lonely Beach, and Bang Bao Bay. 

White Sand Beach and Lonely Beach are the two most popular beaches, great for the extrovert looking to mingle with backpackers, enjoy some water sports such as snorkeling and diving, and party hard at night.

Klong Prao Beach, Kai Bae Beach and Bang Bao Bay are on the quieter side, ideal for those looking for a peaceful getaway without much crowd. You should keep in mind that while the popular beaches will have more accommodation and dining options, the less popular beaches will have just a few for you to choose from. Watersports on the island include snorkeling, diving, canoeing and more.

Koh Chang is also home to impressive and unspoiled waterfalls, and plenty of lush jungle. The Mu Koh Chang National Park spreads from head to toe of the island, making it perfect for the nature-lover to explore. Entering the park will cost you 200 THB ($5.00 USD) and you’ll be free to explore the park. However, it might be recommended for you to explore the park with a guide who is knowledgeable about the park’s various sights and animals.

The waterfalls can also be a little bit tough to find and will require a bit of hiking, oftentimes not an easy hike. To avoid any potential mishaps, head to Klong Plu waterfall which is easy to get to on foot and a great place to take a dip in the warm, fresh water. Another nameless one is a little hidden. Just south of the 7-11 at the bottom of Kai Bae Beach, there is a road heading inland. Once at the end of this road, take a left and then the first right. You will be on a dirt track leading up to a village, and then from there just follow the signs. The waterfall is as secluded as it can get and chances are you won’t find another person on the trail.

If you’re looking for a bit of a challenging hike, try tackle Salak Phet – the highest point on the island. However, we once more recommend that you do not do this alone. Instead, go with a group of friends, ask your hotel to recommend a tour, or find a tuk-tuk driver to take you up.

Please note that elephant riding is quite a popular activity in Koh Chang. We recommend that you do not partake in such an activity because of the effect it has on their spine and also how poorly treated these animals can be. Unfortunately all the elephant parks in Koh Chang offer riding, so if you really want to see elephants without contributing to animal cruelty, then head over to Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai where you can observe these beautiful animals going about their day and join them for a bath.