KOH CHANG ISLAND THAILAND TRAVEL REPORT
FUN THINGS TO DO IN KOH CHANG
Koh Chang was named for the elephant shape of its headland, although elephants are not indigenous to the island.
Koh Chang is off Thailandís southeastern coast and Koh Chang is Thailandís second-largest island after Phuket. The Koh Chang National Marine Park occupies most of Koh Chang as well as several nearby islands. The island is located 140 mi/225 km southeast of Bangkok. In recent years the island has become more popular with travelers and Thai people alike. Most of the beach resorts are located on the beautiful west coast of the island. Koh Chang has several wonderful waterfalls that allow swimming and diving from rocks. There are elephant trekking tours through the jungle and there are a dozen diving schools that will guide you to the best diving spots that Thailand has to offer. Most Thais like to go squid fishing at night and kayaking or hiking during the day.
There is a local information repository kohchang.guidebook.in.th that hosts maps and tips.
Arriving on Koh Chang by boat, you are greeted by many truck taxis waiting to take you around the island. The roads are steep and winding at times, but these local treks will be memorable.
Most of the beaches are on the western coast, and each has built up with a distinctive atmosphere based on shopping, activities, partying or chilling out. Accommodation offers a style to suit every type of traveler, from independent low budget backpackers to those wanting a touch of luxury. There are plenty of activities to be organized from almost anywhere on the island: snorkeling and diving trips to nearby coral reefs, jungle treks and elephant rides, not to mention various beach sports.
With its long stretches of sandy beaches and bay, the west coast has become the focus of the development boom, and that's where most foreign travelers stay on the island. Beaches such as Had Sai Khao (White Sands Beach), Khlong Prao and Kai Bae have developed more in the past few years than most of Thailand has in the last few decades. If you want to party, swim, dive or do practically anything else you'll find somewhere that's perfect for you. The east coast is home to major Thai villages but few beaches and so attracts far fewer foreign travelers. This side of the island is popular with Thais from cities such as Bangkok and Chiang Mai, who might never have seen the ocean before and want to join in traditional Thai seaside life.
Travel Report Koh Chang
I have been to Koh Chang a dozen times over the past 8 years. Every year I see new building and construction going on but one thing I can say is that for the most part the 3 story rule seems to have taken hold. I have not seen any structures over 3 stories. Getting to Koh Chang from Bangkok or Pattaya is very simple. I ended up taking the van offered by Koh Chang Travel which is about a 3 and a half hours ride from Pattaya and not expensive. More information on Koh Chang Travel is at the bottom of this page. You can buy a round trip ticket as well. They bring you to the dock and you take the boat to the island. Youíre greeted by a Baht Bus which will drop you off at your hotel. Try to get a seat as they really pack these little buses up and the ride up and down the winding mountain can get to some people. We had reservations at Kacha Spa and Resort which was right on the White Sands beach at a cost of about 1,500 baht per night. I brought my Thai Girl Friend with me and this was her first trip to the island. She loved every moment of it and wants to return very soon. We spent a lot of time walking the excellent beaches and stopping from time to time to buy a small seafood meals and drinks. At one point during our walk we came across a group of Thai university girls having some fun on the beach. Take a look at the photo below and see what they were doing. They were a great bunch of girls and my GF joined the action. We also rented a motor bike for 400 baht for two days and traveled the mountains of Koh Chang. When you rent a motorbike make sure the breaks are working very well as you will need them as the ride down the mountain gets kind of exciting at times. There are many places of interest to stop along the way and you can even travel off into the jungle and be alone. Another thing we did was to hire a speed boat to take us around many of the small islands near Koh Chang. We had a wonderful time doing this as we would stop and get off and swim on a few of the islands. Fish are everywhere and easy to catch so just take them to the beach, build a fire and enjoy. I found a few beer bar places along my travels with some nice looking girls working in them and dozens of massages places. The beach is very nice at night as many of the small hotels offer beach side dining by torch light. It is just a wonderful place for a small vacation of 3-4 nights and not very expensive.
We made a return trip to Koh Chang March of 2009. We hired a car to take us to the Ferry dock and it was about a 4 hour trip from Pattaya. We found the Ferry boats leaving about every 30 minutes. If I remember correctly the Round Trip Ferry ride was about 120 baht each. It was a short trip over to the island where we were met my many baht buses. Our seats were 100 baht each because our resort was deep into the island. Normal price to White Sands beach is only 30 baht. White Sands beach is where we stayed last time. We went up and down the winding mountain roads until we arrived at the Sea View Resort which is on a cliff with a wonderful view of the sea and the small islands. This resort is kind of out of the way but still off the main road. We checked in with no problems and after sorting out our rooms we were off to rent motor bikes. We requested the 125 -135 CC bikes as the roads are quite steep and you need the extra power to make some of the hills. The bike rental for 3 nights was about 600 baht. When you rent a motor bike make sure your bike has excellent breaks as you will need them. We enjoyed exploring the island and we stopped at many places along the way including the huge fishermanís wharf which is really a retail shopping outlet with many seafood restaurants to choose from. We stopped at many other resorts and explored them as well. We found many beer bars along the way much more then I remembered from last year. I noticed quite a few cute girls in them but they were mostly empty with no customers. There was a lot of massages shops and a large selection of girls to choose from. We drove to the shooting range so I could teach my new wife how to shoot but found that they only had toys guns. We then went to see the water fall but it had not rained in a long time so it was dry. We decided to play with the elephants and the monkeys while my friend who was traveling with us took his girl friend for an elephant ride. The roads have improved since our last trip so we enjoyed our motor bike rides a lot. There are cars and 4 wheelers for rent on the island also. If you like seafood then you will be in heaven. Good food and inexpensive also. Just walk the beaches and make a selection from the many beach side restaurants or resorts. The scenery is wonderful and 90 percent of the island is still jungle covered mountains. We found everyone very friendly and plan to make another trip next year. There is a lot to see on the island but three nights were enough for me. I recommend this destination as it is fun and not too expensive.
Click here to visit the Koh Chang Sea View and Spa Resorts website
Click here for more information on the Kacha Spa and Resort
Koh-Chang Pattaya Travel Company
Click logo for more information
Koh-Chang Pattaya Travel Company offers pick up van service from your condo or hotel everyday of the week at 500 baht one way and leaves at 8 am every morning. Return trip to Pattaya leaves Koh Chang at 1330 hours every day. Koh Chang Travel also offers package tours but it is less expensive to book your own. Their office is located on Soi Post Office between Second and Beach Road. You can reach them by phone at 038-710145
Fun things to do on your vacation to Koh Chang
Elephant Riding & Trekking
There are two main elephant trekking operators on Koh Chang. Ban Kwan Chang, supported by the Asian Elephant Foundation, offers half-day tours from 8:30 to 11:30. This normally includes elephant bathing, feeding, performances, and a one-hour trek into the forest. Another operator is The Chang Chutiman Tour (Klong Prao Beach). This takes you into the tropical rainforest, pomelo orchards and the secluded Wang Nam Kiew Waterfall. Elephant-handling lessons by experienced mahouts are available. If you don't have all day, a short one-hour trek (without the waterfall) is also a nice alternative. The tour can be had anytime from 08:00 to 17:00.
Home to many species of birds, Koh Changís unspoiled forests are home to various species of birds such as parrots, sunbirds and hornbills. Bird watching activities are usually organized year-round by Koh Chang and the Nok and Nature Club. A one-day tour starts from 1,000 baht
Koh Chang is an ideal place for hiking due to its mountainous geography. The best hiking routes can be found in the southern part of the island. More adventurous and challenging routes are located inland filled with forest-clad steep hills. If you want to take a hike in one of these routes, itís advisable to go with an experienced local guide.
Stunning sunsets almost every night. Enjoy while sitting on just sitting on the sand or enjoy on the beach sand restaurants that can be found almost everywhere.
Canoeing & Kayaking
Canoeing and kayaking offers great workout and a cheap alternative to reach a nearby island. Canoe and kayak rental usually costs 100 an hour, and 500 baht for a full day. Some resorts offer these free of charge for their guests.
Snorkeling & Diving
The best time to dive is during the cool season from around October/November to April. The west and the south of the island, between Koh Chang and Koh Kood, is an excellent spot to dive. Snorkeling on other small islands off Koh Chang like Koh Kham, Koh Rayang, Koh Wai and Koh Laoya are also worth checking out.
One of the most famous and reliable diving operators includes Ploy Scuba Diving, which provides free transfer to and from the island's main resorts as well as instructions in major languages
The best dive sites are on the west and southern tip of the island, between Koh Chang and Koh Kood. There you can see soft corals, anemones, myriad reef fish, and sometimes eel. Hin Luk Bat and Hin Lap both have coral seamounts. Further south, white-tip reef sharks can be found near Hin Phrai Nam.
In addition, there are two wreck dive sites. The Koh Chang Wreck is a Thai warship sunk by the French navy in 1941. The wreck is only 15 metres deep in the Salakphet Bay on the southern tip of the island. The other wreck is the Pak One Wreck which sank after hitting a coral reef in August 1996 on its way to Vietnam. It resurfaced almost 8 years later. The 900-ton sunken tanker posed a danger to ships on international waters. The Royal Thai Navy drained off its 600 tonnes of liquefied petroleum gas and resank it between Koh Chang and Koh Samet. It now lies horizontally in 35-meter deep waters.
There are a few diving centres on Koh Chang such as the Ploy Scuba Diving in Bang Bao. Following the standards of the sister centre in Koh Samet, this is the premier diving operator in Eastern Thailand. The Dolphin Divers at the Amari Emerald Cove Resort offers free trial in the resort's swimming pool. For those who prefer fun dives without a long boat trip Dolphin Divers operate speed boats from the resort's beach to the nearest dive sites in only 15 minutes. Others include the Koh Chang Dive Centre on Kai Bae Beach, Paradise Scuba Divers at the Klong Prao Resort and Koh Chang Divers on Had Sai Khao (White Sand Beach), which offers PADI certification for beginners.
The Dive Adventure Koh Chang provides a diving experience that combines professionalism and fun, being the only PADI 5 Star IDC center in Koh Chang. With 10 years of experience under its belt, expect only the best from its multilingual instructors and divemasters. It is advantageously located at Bang Bao fishing village with its own resort, and their everyday trips range from snorkeling to professional dive trips. For the non divers, they can also arrange other activities such as elephant trekking, jungle trekking, quad driving, kayaking and fishing.
A few dive centres operate out of Koh Mak. Boat trips to various dive sites range from 1,800 to 3,000 Baht depending on distances, and typically include two dives, full equipment, transportation, food, drinks and a divemaster.
Miniature Gold located in the northern end of Kai Bea Beach, mini golf provides a great entertainment for everyone in the family. You will not find an 18 hole course on this island.
Massage and Spa Treatments
You will find the massage shops located almost everywhere in Koh Chang. Thai massage, oil massage, foot massage just about every type of massage is found somewhere in Koh Chang including happy ending massages.
Koh Chang Bungalows
You can just walk just about any beach and find a nice Bungalow to stay in. They range from small fan rooms to luxury A/C rooms. The waves will break close to your balcony and you can view the sunsets while enjoying your favorite tropical drink from your balcony. A very romantic way to spend part of your holiday in Koh Chang
Driving and Sightseeing Koh Chang
If you want to see the best of the island then ideally rent a motor bike or car for a day or two and drive around. Public transportation doesn't run down the east coast and that side of the island is well worth seeing. Also in July/august there aren't many tourists on the island so the 'songtaews', the white pick up truck taxis that run along the west coast are infrequent, catching one can involve long waits by the roadside. Before you rent a motor bike make sure the breaks are in excellent condition as the roads are very steep. You might also consider renting an automatic bike with a little more power like the 125 - 135 CC. You will find this type of bike very helpful when climbing some of the steep hills on Koh Chang. Most of the island is still jungle so you will have a very scenic drive.
Butterflies and Fire flies
Go on a fotosafari for butterflies or watch fire flies in the evenings, quite impressive.
The Shrine of Chao Po Koh Chang
Leading up a steep road on the west coast to Ao Sapparos, not too far from the pier, you will see the shrine of Chao Po (literally the Deity of Koh Chang) and Chao Mae Koh Chang on the right. This is a highly revered shrine especially for local people. Fishermen struck by monsoon or lost their directions in the sea put their faith on Chao Po Koh Chang.
Legend has it that many prayers have been answered, and the locals have been praying to Chao Po Koh Chang concerning various hardships, from low yield harvests to sickness or other miseries.
Koh Chang Boat Trips
A variety of boat trips are available around the islands. These can be used as a means of travel between the islands or simply to go for a day trip of sightseeing or snorkelling.
Puma Group in Bang Bao village offer day and night fishing cruises on board a large boat with full facilities. They provide all ocean fishing equipment, and meals and drinks are provided on board.
Sea Adventures have a large 13m catamaran. Day trips, sunset dinner cruises, party trips and corporate charters are all available on this large sailing boat.
Inter-Island Hopper operate regular boat trips from Bang Bao in the south of Koh Chang to some of the other islands
Bang Bao boat run a regular ferry service between Koh Chang, Koh Wai and Koh Maak.
Island View resort in Salak Phet offer snorkelling trips, sea kayaking, sailing trips and island cruises on their range of different boats. They are also the Koh Chang base for Gulf Charters Thailand who offer 8 Yachts for charter from 32ft to 52ft, Cats and Keelboats for Bareboat or Skippered Charter.
Thai Fun based on White Sand Beach offer day trips aboard a large and well-furnished vessel. They provide free buffet lunch and snacks and provide snorkelling gear.
Keen anglers should also look out for the new Fish and Trips who offer day and night fishing trips.
Kon Tiki is another new boat tour operator who have a full day boat trip visiting several of the other islands. They will also offer overnight deep sea fishing trips on their Kon Tiki 3 boat.
Several of the resorts in White Sands Beach, Klong Prao and Kai Bae offer snorkelling trips to the corals off nearby islands such as Koh Yuak. The cost is around 200B. Enquire at the resorts for more information.
You can organise a fishing trip from Paradise Palms Resort in Pearl Beach
Sailing in Thailand offer live-aboard sailing holidays amongst the islands. They have attractive yachts and experienced captains