Welcome to Koh Chang, one of Thailand’s most captivating and picturesque islands. Nestled in the Gulf of Thailand, Koh Chang offers a perfect blend of stunning natural beauty, white sandy beaches, crystal-clear waters, lush rainforests, and a laid-back island atmosphere. This travel guide will help you discover the wonders of Koh Chang, providing valuable information and recommendations for your unforgettable journey.
Known as the “Elephant Island,” Koh Chang gets its name from its shape, resembling an elephant’s head. The island boasts a rich history, once serving as a haven for pirates and later becoming a popular destination for adventurous travelers seeking an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Whether you’re seeking relaxation on pristine beaches, thrilling water activities, lush jungle treks, or simply immersing yourself in the local culture and cuisine, Koh Chang has it all. From tranquil bays and secluded coves to vibrant nightlife spots and lively markets, this island paradise offers something for every type of traveler.
In this guide, you’ll find information on the island’s top attractions, activities, and accommodations, as well as tips for getting around and experiencing the local culture. Discover the island’s beautiful waterfalls, embark on thrilling snorkeling or diving adventures to explore colorful coral reefs, hike through dense rainforests, or simply unwind and bask in the sun on one of the island’s idyllic beaches.
Get ready to immerse yourself in the tropical beauty of Koh Chang, where the warm hospitality of the locals and the island’s natural wonders will leave you with cherished memories. So, pack your bags, put on your sun hat, and get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey through the captivating island of Koh Chang.
Koh Chang Island Travel Guide: A Brief History Of Koh Chang, Thailand
Koh Chang has a rich and intriguing history that dates back centuries. The island’s name, which means “Elephant Island” in Thai, is derived from its unique shape resembling an elephant’s head. Over the years, Koh Chang has witnessed the rise and fall of kingdoms, battles between rival powers, and the transformation from a secluded fishing community to a popular tourist destination.
Originally inhabited by the indigenous Chao Leh (sea gypsies) and the Khmer people, Koh Chang’s history became intertwined with that of the Ayutthaya Kingdom in the 17th century. The island served as a strategic outpost for the Ayutthaya rulers, who used it as a naval base to protect their kingdom from rival powers and pirate attacks.
During the 18th and 19th centuries, Koh Chang and the surrounding islands became a battleground in conflicts between the Thai Kingdom of Siam (formerly Ayutthaya) and the Burmese Kingdom. The island’s dense jungles and rugged terrain provided natural defenses, making it a challenging stronghold for invading forces.
In the late 19th century, during the reign of King Rama V (King Chulalongkorn), Koh Chang was officially incorporated into the Thai Kingdom. The island’s importance as a naval base diminished, and it returned to its traditional fishing and farming activities. The island remained relatively isolated and untouched by tourism until the late 20th century.
With the development of infrastructure and improved transportation, Koh Chang began to attract adventurous travelers seeking an off-the-beaten-path destination. Its pristine beaches, lush forests, and untouched natural beauty drew visitors looking to escape the crowds of more popular Thai islands.
In recent years, Koh Chang has undergone rapid development, with the establishment of resorts, hotels, and tourist infrastructure to accommodate the growing number of visitors. Despite the changes, the island has managed to maintain its charm and laid-back atmosphere.
Today, Koh Chang remains a popular destination for beach lovers, nature enthusiasts, and adventure seekers. Its protected marine park status ensures the preservation of its stunning coral reefs and marine life. The island’s history, combined with its natural beauty, offers travelers a unique opportunity to explore a tropical paradise with a rich cultural and historical heritage.
As you explore Koh Chang, take the time to appreciate the island’s history and the enduring spirit of its local communities. Engage with the locals, visit historical landmarks, and immerse yourself in the island’s vibrant culture to gain a deeper appreciation for this enchanting destination.
Koh Chang Top Attractions and Best Places to Visit in Thailand
The second largest island in Thailand gets less attention than it deserves. Due to its location in the far east of the country rather in the uber-popular south, Koh Chang gets a trickle of the tourist traffic that cousins like Koh Samui and Phuket get.
Perhaps it is for the best, as this mountainous isle has retained a sense a beauty long lost elsewhere in the country. Its thick jungle, voluminous waterfalls, and offshore coral reefs all await visitors. While its beaches aren’t bleach white, their off-white complexion is just as beautiful to those seeking a tropical island experience without feeling crowded by the hordes found in other destinations.
While most come to Koh Chang for its uncrowded beaches, there are a few cultural highlights worth visiting when suntanning and swimming gets old. Rent a scooter and head over to the east side of the island, where Wat Salak Phet awaits.
Built after a visit by King Rama V more than a century ago, it is easily the most significant Buddhist temple on the island. While some of the more hardcore wat lovers might not be impressed by it, it is a beautiful place which fits in well with the surrounding scenery and it adds to the peaceful nature of this corner of Koh Chang.
Culture hounds will also want to take a break from scootering around the island when they come across Chao Por Koh Chang Shrine. Located a short way from the ferry terminal, this Chinese arch is easily missed by most visitors, as walled songthaews often motor past this monument’s entrance on the way to the west coast.
Fishers will often pray at the shrine for safety and for good fortune out on the water, while on-shore farmers ask for a bountiful harvest. Regardless of any wishes you may or may not have, its stylish, brilliant red arches are a stunning sight, so have your camera at the ready.
While it has become a bit of a tourist trap, the Bang Bao pier is home to a variety of vendors who deal in local crafts and seafood. There are also a number of restaurants which serve up the day’s catch, making it a great place to get a taste of the island.
Be sure to walk out to the end of the concrete pier, as you will find a small white tower resembling a lighthouse. It is slightly run down within (so take care), but from the top, views of the pier and beaches behind will make the trip to the bottom of Koh Chang worthwhile.
During your time on Koh Chang, you’ll have the opportunity to take a number of cooking classes, which are offered in most parts of the island. By attending these day-long courses, you’ll get to see where chefs on the island go to obtain the ingredients for their restaurants, how to prepare them before cooking, and how to make several common Thai dishes.
Doing this won’t just get you away from the beach for a day – it’ll allow you to impress friends and family with a new array of meals when you get home.
Other Cultural Attractions: Trip to Koh Chang, Thailand
Looking for a break from the beach while in Koh Chang? Head inland to Klong Plu Waterfall. At its best just after the conclusion of the rainy season in late October to early November, the waters of this cataract tumble down from central highlands which rise up as high as 700 metres above sea level. Be sure to bring flip flops if you plan on taking a dip in its gorge, as the rocks lining its bottom can be sharp.
If you plan on renting a scooter during your stay on the island, be sure to drive out to the Mu Koh Chang National Park View Point once to take in the sunset. Situated on a hill between Lonely Beach and Kai Bae Beach, it has an elevated view of several small offshore islands and the Gulf of Thailand beyond.
When you aren’t watching the sun sink into the horizon, there is a giant red post box which you can take advantage of for your selfie needs and an on-site convenience store where you can buy ice cream and postcards.
If you have made your way out to Koh Chang, chances are good you are looking forward to lounging on one of its many beaches. Most are located on its west coast – the first you’ll come across is Klong Son Beach.
Located off the main road on a quiet bay, this off-white sand beach is home to one of the island’s most exclusive resorts, Siam Royal View. While it is in the process of being developed, it is still a very peaceful place.
White Sand Beach is on the other end of the scale – as the most developed stretch of sand on Koh Chang, those looking for a wide range of shops, services, and restaurants will be well served here. The southern part can get a bit claustrophobic, but those looking for peace and beauty only need to head north of town, where you’ll find nothing but fine white sand and backpacker bungalows.
Klong Prao Beach is next in line as you go south – divided in half by an estuary, it has a nice mix of tourist services, quality sand, great accommodation options, and excellent mountain views.
Next, you’ll come to Kai Bae Beach – smaller than its counterparts to the north, it nonetheless is home to a number of nice resorts. Close by to several offshore islands, paddling kayaks out to them is a popular activity for tourists here.
Want to be where the party is at? Lonely Beach where you’ll want to go. Except for a pair of 3-star resorts at its northern end, the scene here is dominated by backpacker resorts, bungalows, hostels, and affordable boutique developments. With a collection of bars which pump out the latest hits well into the night, this is a wonderful place for the young and young at heart – not so much for families and those looking for sleep.
Bailan Bay is a few kilometres further south – while the beach here is tiny, it is a haven for those old enough to remember the way Lonely Beach used to be.
Located near Bang Bao, Kong Koi Beach is the spot of the moment on the island of Koh Chang. While it is far from the ferry docks in the north, this beautiful place makes up for its distance with its droopy palms, aquamarine waters, and tight-knit village.
The east coast of Koh Chang is mostly dominated by mangroves, but isolated Long Beach is a notable exception to this rule. A thin but empty sliver of sand at the end of a long and bumpy road, it is known for drawing those sick of development and society to its quiet shores. If you feel the same way, a few days here will do you good.
source: Paddy Doyle on YouTube
Top 33 Things To Do on Koh Chang, Thailand For Visitors
Here is a list of the top 33 things to do on Koh Chang, Thailand:
- Relax on White Sand Beach: Spend a day unwinding on the beautiful White Sand Beach, one of the island’s most popular stretches of shoreline. Lounge on the soft sand, swim in the crystal-clear waters, and enjoy the stunning views.
- Snorkel at Koh Rang National Marine Park: Explore the vibrant underwater world of Koh Rang National Marine Park. Take a snorkeling trip to discover colorful coral reefs, tropical fish, and other marine life. Don’t miss the famous Koh Yak snorkeling spot.
- Trek to Klong Plu Waterfall: Embark on a trek through lush rainforest to reach Klong Plu Waterfall. Enjoy the refreshing cascades and take a dip in the natural pools. The surrounding jungle adds to the serene atmosphere.
- Visit the Fishing Village of Bang Bao: Explore the traditional fishing village of Bang Bao, built on stilts over the water. Stroll along the wooden walkways, visit the quaint shops, and savor fresh seafood at the village’s restaurants.
- Discover Kai Bae Viewpoint: Hike up to Kai Bae Viewpoint for breathtaking panoramic views of the island’s coastline and surrounding islands. It’s a perfect spot to watch the sunrise or sunset.
- Dive at Hin Luk Bat: For experienced divers, venture to Hin Luk Bat, a popular dive site known for its impressive rock formations, caves, and diverse marine life. Explore underwater caverns and swim alongside schools of colorful fish.
- Explore Khlong Prao Beach: Enjoy the tranquil vibes of Khlong Prao Beach, a long stretch of sandy coastline lined with palm trees. Take a leisurely stroll, go swimming, or simply relax under the shade of a beach umbrella.
- Kayak in Salak Phet Mangrove Forest: Paddle through the enchanting Salak Phet Mangrove Forest in a kayak. Discover the mangrove ecosystem, spot wildlife such as monkeys and birds, and learn about the importance of mangroves in preserving coastal ecosystems.
- Take a Boat Trip to Koh Wai: Hop on a boat and visit the neighboring island of Koh Wai. Relax on its pristine beaches, go snorkeling or diving in its clear waters, and enjoy a peaceful getaway surrounded by natural beauty.
- Experience Muay Thai Boxing: Watch an exhilarating Muay Thai boxing match at a local stadium. Witness the skill, agility, and cultural significance of this traditional Thai martial art.
- Explore the Underwater Sculpture Park: Dive or snorkel at the Underwater Sculpture Park near Koh Chang. Marvel at the unique sculptures submerged underwater, which serve as an artificial reef and encourage marine life to flourish.
- Visit Mu Ko Chang National Park: Discover the diverse ecosystems of Mu Ko Chang National Park, covering various islands and parts of Koh Chang. Hike through dense rainforests, spot wildlife, and enjoy panoramic views from the park’s viewpoints.
- Experience Elephant Trekking: Join an ethical elephant trekking tour that focuses on the well-being and conservation of these gentle giants. Enjoy a memorable elephant ride through the jungle, learn about their conservation efforts, and interact with these majestic creatures.
- Explore Chai Chet Beach: Relax on the tranquil shores of Chai Chet Beach, a quieter beach known for its laid-back atmosphere. Enjoy swimming, sunbathing, and beachside massages.
- Discover Than Mayom Waterfall: Venture into the lush jungle to discover Than Mayom Waterfall. Marvel at the multi-tiered cascades, take a refreshing swim, and enjoy a picnic in the picturesque surroundings.
- Kayak to Koh Man Nai: Embark on a kayaking adventure to the small island of Koh Man Nai. Paddle through the calm waters, explore hidden coves, and enjoy the secluded beaches. It’s a perfect spot for a peaceful retreat and snorkeling.
- Take a Cooking Class: Learn to prepare traditional Thai dishes by joining a cooking class. Visit local markets to select fresh ingredients, learn cooking techniques, and savor the flavors of authentic Thai cuisine.
- Visit Klong Son Temple: Explore the serene Klong Son Temple, a beautiful Buddhist temple nestled in the hills. Admire the intricate architecture, take part in a meditation session, and soak in the peaceful ambiance.
- Explore the Coral Island: Take a boat trip to the nearby Coral Island (Koh Lao Ya). Snorkel or dive in the clear waters, marvel at the vibrant coral reefs, and enjoy a beachside barbecue on this secluded island.
- Go Fishing: Join a fishing excursion and experience the thrill of catching your own dinner. Whether it’s deep-sea fishing or traditional Thai-style fishing, it’s an opportunity to enjoy the ocean and perhaps even cook up your fresh catch.
- Visit the Animal Welfare Center: Support ethical tourism by visiting the Koh Chang Animal Welfare Center. Interact with rescued animals, learn about their rehabilitation, and contribute to their well-being through donations or volunteer work.
- Relax at Lonely Beach: Unwind at Lonely Beach, a popular spot among backpackers and those seeking a vibrant nightlife scene. Enjoy beachside bars, live music, and a laid-back atmosphere.
- Explore the Mangrove Boardwalk: Take a stroll along the Mangrove Boardwalk in Salak Khok Bay. Observe the unique mangrove ecosystem up close, spot various bird species, and enjoy the tranquility of this natural wonder.
- Visit the Shrine of Chao Por Koh Chang: Pay a visit to the Shrine of Chao Por Koh Chang, a sacred place where locals come to pay respects and make offerings. Experience the spiritual ambiance and learn about the island’s cultural beliefs.
- Go on a Jungle Safari: Join a guided jungle safari to explore the island’s lush rainforests. Trek through nature trails, encounter exotic flora and fauna, and learn about the diverse ecosystems that make up Koh Chang’s natural heritage.
- Enjoy a Sunset Cruise: Set sail on a sunset cruise around the island. Relax on the boat, soak in the breathtaking views as the sun dips below the horizon, and indulge in a romantic dinner on board.
- Discover the Temple of Wat Salak Phet: Visit the Temple of Wat Salak Phet, a Buddhist temple located in the southern part of Koh Chang. Admire the traditional architecture, intricate decorations, and serene surroundings.
- Try Water Sports: Engage in a variety of water sports, such as jet skiing, paddleboarding, or parasailing. Enjoy an adrenaline rush as you explore the island’s waters and take in the scenic coastal views.
- Attend a Thai Massage Workshop: Learn the art of Thai massage by attending a workshop. Discover the techniques and therapeutic benefits of this ancient healing practice and experience relaxation and rejuvenation.
- Go on a Night Safari: Embark on a unique night safari to observe the island’s nocturnal wildlife. Spot various creatures, such as owls, bats, and civets, as they come to life in their natural habitat.
- Volunteer for Beach Cleanup: Contribute to environmental conservation by joining a beach cleanup initiative. Help keep Koh Chang’s shores pristine, protect marine life, and promote sustainable tourism.
- Discover the Fisherman’s Village of Bang Bao: Explore the traditional Fisherman’s Village of Bang Bao, known for its traditional wooden houses and vibrant fishing community. Wander through the narrow lanes, visit local shops selling souvenirs and seafood, and enjoy a delicious meal at one of the waterfront restaurants.
- Experience Koh Chang’s Nightlife: End your day by immersing yourself in Koh Chang’s vibrant nightlife. Visit beachfront bars, enjoy live music, dance the night away at lively clubs, or simply relax with a cocktail while listening to the sound of the waves.
These top 33 activities provide a diverse range of experiences to make the most of your time on Koh Chang. Whether you seek relaxation on pristine beaches, underwater adventures, cultural exploration, or thrilling outdoor activities, the island offers something for everyone. Embrace the island’s natural beauty, immerse yourself in its rich culture, and create unforgettable memories during your visit to the enchanting island of Koh Chang.
What To Eat and Drink on Koh Chang, Thailand
Koh Chang, one of Thailand’s hidden gems, is a lush island located in the Gulf of Thailand. Apart from its beautiful beaches, waterfalls, and scenic views, Koh Chang offers a variety of mouth-watering dishes and beverages. When you’re in Koh Chang, immerse yourself in the local culture by indulging in these culinary delights.
Given Koh Chang’s seaside location, it’s no surprise that seafood is abundant.
- Grilled Squid: A popular delicacy, grilled over an open flame and often served with a spicy seafood sauce.
- Shrimp Cakes: Delightful crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and usually served with a sweet plum sauce.
- Fried Fish with Herbs: Typically a whole fish deep-fried to perfection, topped with an assortment of aromatic Thai herbs and spices.
2. Traditional Thai Dishes
- Pad Thai: Perhaps Thailand’s most famous dish. A noodle stir-fry with eggs, tofu or shrimp, bean sprouts, peanuts, lime, and chili pepper.
- Green Curry: Made from green chilies, coconut milk, and a medley of Thai herbs. It’s aromatic and spicy and best enjoyed with steamed jasmine rice.
- Som Tum (Papaya Salad): A spicy salad made from shredded unripe papaya, chili, garlic, lime, fish sauce, and a sprinkle of sugar. It’s both spicy and sweet, a signature taste of Thailand.
- Tom Yum Goong: A hot and sour Thai soup made with shrimp, lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, and chilies.
3. Koh Chang Specialties
- Lon Pu Kem: A local delicacy made of salted crab simmered in coconut milk.
- Kaeng Pa: Also known as jungle curry, it’s a curry without coconut milk. This dish often includes wild meat but can also be made with chicken or pork.
4. Vegetarian and Vegan Options
Many Thai dishes can be made vegetarian or vegan. Make sure to specify “jay” (vegetarian) or ask for “mai sai naam plaa” (no fish sauce).
- Tofu Pad Thai: The traditional Pad Thai made without shrimp or eggs.
- Masaman Curry: A rich and flavorful curry with tofu, potatoes, and peanuts.
- Spring Rolls: Fresh or fried, these rolls are often filled with vegetables and glass noodles.
5. Desserts and Sweets
- Sticky Rice with Mango: A perfect combination of sweet sticky rice, ripe mango, and a drizzle of coconut cream.
- Khanom Krok: Coconut rice pancakes that are crispy on the outside and soft inside.
- Thai Banana Pancake: A roti-style pancake filled with banana and topped with condensed milk.
- Thai Iced Tea: A creamy, sweet tea made from black tea, sugar, and condensed milk.
- Fruit Shakes: Fresh fruit blended with ice and a touch of sugar – mango, coconut, watermelon, and papaya are just a few favorites.
- Chang and Singha: The local beers. Perfect for a sunny day on the beach.
- Local Rum: Koh Chang’s Salakphet Seafood is known for producing a local rum. Give it a try if you’re into spirits.
- When dining in Koh Chang, always ask about the level of spiciness as Thai food can be quite hot.
- Fresh seafood restaurants often display their catch of the day. You can select your choice, and they’ll prepare it as per your liking.
- Street food stalls are a great way to explore authentic Thai flavors. They are often safe, but always ensure you eat from a busy stall as the turnover means the food is fresher.
Koh Chang’s culinary landscape offers a variety of dishes to satisfy any palate. From traditional Thai dishes to fresh seafood and vegan options, there’s something for everyone. So, the next time you’re in Koh Chang, indulge in its gastronomic delights and let your taste buds explore the rich and diverse flavors of this beautiful island.
Top Restaurants on Koh Chang, Thailand
Koh Chang, renowned for its mesmerizing landscapes and serene beaches, also boasts an impressive culinary scene. From beachfront eateries to chic restaurants nestled in the jungle, there’s a plethora of dining options. Here are some of the top restaurants on Koh Chang:
1. Saffron on the Sea
- Location: Pearl Beach
- Cuisine: Thai and International
- Highlights: Set against a romantic beachfront, this restaurant offers an intimate dining experience. The restaurant is famous for its fusion dishes and seafood specialties. The ambiance, lit with fairy lights and complemented with the soft sound of waves, makes it perfect for a quiet evening meal.
2. The Fisherman’s Hut
- Location: Bang Bao
- Cuisine: Seafood
- Highlights: As the name suggests, seafood is the star here. With freshly caught produce displayed for your selection, you can have it cooked to your preference. The wooden huts and sea views add an authentic touch to your dining experience.
- Location: Kai Bae Beach
- Cuisine: Thai
- Highlights: Specializing in traditional Thai dishes, Tonsai offers a comprehensive menu featuring classics like Pad Thai, Green Curry, and Tom Yum. It’s set in a garden atmosphere, offering a peaceful dining environment.
4. El Greco Greek Kitchen & Lounge
- Location: Kai Bae Beach
- Cuisine: Greek
- Highlights: A little slice of Greece in Koh Chang, this place stands out with its authentic Greek dishes. From gyros to moussaka, you get a genuine taste of the Mediterranean. Their ocean-view rooftop lounge is perfect for a sunset cocktail.
5. Blue Lagoon Restaurant
- Location: Klong Prao Beach
- Cuisine: Thai and Western
- Highlights: Nestled amidst a lush setting by the lagoon, this restaurant offers cooking classes alongside dining. They use organic ingredients from their garden, ensuring fresh and flavorful dishes.
6. Buddha View Restaurant
- Location: Bang Bao
- Cuisine: Thai and Seafood
- Highlights: Elevated on stilts over the water, the restaurant offers panoramic views of the bay. Their seafood platters are abundant and flavorful, making it a favorite for both locals and tourists.
7. Barrio Bonito Mexican Kitchen
- Location: Kai Bae Beach
- Cuisine: Mexican
- Highlights: Bringing vibrant Mexican flavors to Koh Chang, this spot is perfect for those craving tacos, burritos, and margaritas. The colorful decor and lively ambiance make it a fun dining destination.
8. Kati Culinary
- Location: Klong Prao
- Cuisine: Thai
- Highlights: Not just a restaurant but an experience, Kati Culinary also offers Thai cooking classes. The food is authentically Thai, with a menu curated to provide an array of flavors from different regions of Thailand.
9. Pura Vida
- Location: Lonely Beach
- Cuisine: Mediterranean and Thai Fusion
- Highlights: This beachfront restaurant, with its relaxed bohemian vibes, offers an eclectic mix of Mediterranean and Thai dishes. Their wood-fired pizzas are a must-try.
10. The Beach Club
- Location: Pearl Beach
- Cuisine: International
- Highlights: An upscale dining option with a broad international menu, The Beach Club is known for its fine dining experience. With professional service and a sophisticated ambiance, it’s a top choice for celebratory dinners.
- While these restaurants offer a great dining experience, also take the time to explore local food stalls and markets in Koh Chang for a more authentic culinary journey.
- Always make reservations in advance, especially during the tourist season, to avoid waiting.
- Considering the tropical environment, many restaurants are open-air. It’s a good idea to carry mosquito repellent when dining outdoors.
In conclusion, Koh Chang’s restaurant scene offers a rich blend of local and international cuisines, set against the backdrop of its stunning landscapes. Whether you’re in the mood for a lavish seafood dinner, a spicy Thai curry, or a casual beachfront meal, Koh Chang has something to tantalize every palate.
Tours For Visitors To Koh Chang, Thailand
Koh Chang, with its pristine beaches, dense jungles, and vibrant marine life, offers a myriad of touring opportunities for visitors. Whether you’re an adventure junkie or someone looking to relax and soak in the natural beauty, there’s something for everyone. Here are some of the top tours available on the island:
1. Jungle Trekking Tours
- Details: Koh Chang’s lush rainforest and challenging terrain make it a prime location for trekking. Guided tours vary in difficulty from short nature walks to full-day jungle treks.
- Highlights: Discover hidden waterfalls, spot diverse wildlife, learn about tropical flora, and enjoy panoramic viewpoints. The Klong Plu waterfall trek is among the most popular.
2. Snorkeling and Diving Tours
- Details: The waters surrounding Koh Chang are home to a rich marine ecosystem. Snorkeling and diving tours offer a chance to explore vibrant coral reefs and observe marine life.
- Highlights: Dive sites like HTMS Chang Wreck and Hin Luk Bat offer unique underwater experiences. For beginners, many operators offer PADI certification courses.
3. Island-Hopping Tours
- Details: Visit the smaller surrounding islands by joining an island-hopping tour. These usually involve a combination of boat rides, snorkeling, and beach relaxation.
- Highlights: Islands like Koh Wai, Koh Mak, and Koh Kood are popular stops. They boast crystal-clear waters, secluded beaches, and excellent snorkeling spots.
4. Mangrove and River Tours
- Details: Experience Koh Chang’s rich mangrove ecosystem by taking a guided kayak or boat tour through the island’s serene estuaries.
- Highlights: Observe unique mangrove-dwelling creatures, learn about the importance of mangroves in the ecosystem, and enjoy the tranquility of the rivers.
5. Elephant Trekking Tours
- Details: While historically popular, these tours have faced criticism for ethical reasons. If interested, choose sanctuaries that treat elephants humanely and focus on rehabilitation and care.
- Highlights: Experience walking alongside these gentle giants, learn about their history on the island, and engage in ethical interactions.
6. Thai Cooking Classes
- Details: Immerse yourself in Thai culture by learning to prepare its flavorful dishes. Several establishments in Koh Chang offer half-day to full-day cooking classes.
- Highlights: Learn traditional cooking techniques, visit local markets for fresh ingredients, and savor your self-cooked meals.
7. Fishing Tours
- Details: Join local fishermen on a traditional Thai fishing boat and learn the art of fishing in the Gulf of Thailand.
- Highlights: Experience sunset fishing, try your hand at catching squid, and enjoy a meal made from your catch.
8. Sailing and Yacht Tours
- Details: Explore Koh Chang’s waters in style by chartering a yacht or joining a sailing tour.
- Highlights: Enjoy the serenity of the sea, visit secluded bays, and dive into the azure waters for a swim.
9. Cultural Tours
- Details: Delve into the island’s history and traditions by visiting local villages, temples, and landmarks.
- Highlights: Visit the Wat Salak Petch temple, interact with locals, and understand the island’s customs and traditions.
10. Sunset and Dinner Cruises
- Details: Several operators offer evening cruises that allow guests to witness the breathtaking Koh Chang sunset.
- Highlights: Enjoy a romantic evening, indulge in a sumptuous meal on board, and witness the sky painted in hues of orange and pink.
- Always check tour reviews and ensure that the operators follow ethical and sustainable practices, especially for animal-related tours.
- It’s advisable to book tours in advance during peak tourist seasons.
- Ensure you carry essentials like water, sunscreen, insect repellent, and appropriate footwear, especially for trekking and outdoor activities.
Koh Chang’s diverse landscapes and vibrant culture offer a plethora of touring options for visitors. Whether it’s the depths of the jungle, the beauty of the underwater world, or the tranquility of its rivers and mangroves, there’s a unique experience awaiting every traveler on this enchanting island.
Koh Chang Accommodations Guide: Hotels, Guesthouses and Hostels
Koh Chang, often referred to as “Elephant Island” due to its elephant-shaped headland, is Thailand’s second-largest island. Its natural beauty has made it a popular tourist destination. As a result, a range of accommodations has sprung up to cater to different traveler budgets and tastes. Here’s an in-depth guide to help you find the perfect place to stay.
1. Luxury Hotels & Resorts
- Santhiya Tree Koh Chang Resort:
- Location: Klong Prao Beach.
- Highlights: A beachfront property offering pool villas with panoramic sea views, traditional Thai architecture, and luxurious amenities like a spa and fine dining restaurants.
- Awa Koh Chang:
- Location: Kai Bae Beach.
- Highlights: This chic resort boasts modern design, a beachfront pool, and excellent dining options. The rooms offer sea or garden views.
- The Emerald Cove Koh Chang:
- Location: Klong Prao Beach.
- Highlights: A five-star resort offering a 50-meter beachfront pool, lavish rooms, and a wellness spa.
2. Mid-Range Hotels & Guesthouses
- Bhu Tarn Koh Chang Resort & Spa:
- Location: Klong Prao Beach.
- Highlights: Thai-style rooms, a rejuvenating spa, and a pool with a waterfall feature.
- Keeree Ele Hotel:
- Location: White Sand Beach.
- Highlights: An eco-friendly hotel surrounded by nature. It has a quirky design and offers a relaxed ambiance.
- Gajapuri Resort & Spa:
- Location: Kai Bae Beach.
- Highlights: Beautiful wooden villas, lush surroundings, and a beachfront pool.
3. Budget Accommodations & Guesthouses
- Koh Chang Bailan Beach Resort:
- Location: Bailan Beach.
- Highlights: A value-for-money option offering basic bungalows, a pool, and beach access.
- Nature Beach Resort:
- Location: Lonely Beach.
- Highlights: Beachfront bungalows, a vibrant bar, and a relaxed atmosphere. Ideal for backpackers and solo travelers.
- Kai Bae Hut Resort:
- Location: Kai Bae Beach.
- Highlights: Basic huts with a rustic feel, a beachfront setting, and affordable prices.
4. Hostels & Backpacker Stays
- Pajamas Koh Chang Hostel:
- Location: Klong Prao Beach.
- Highlights: A favorite among backpackers, this modern hostel offers dormitory rooms, a pool, and a lively communal area.
- Sleepy Owl Hostel:
- Location: Lonely Beach.
- Highlights: A budget-friendly option with clean dorm rooms, a communal kitchen, and a chill-out area.
- Oasis Koh Chang:
- Location: Lonely Beach.
- Highlights: A backpacker haven with basic bungalows, a jungle setting, and a relaxed bar area.
Tips for Choosing Accommodations in Koh Chang:
- Location: The west coast of Koh Chang is where most of the action is, with beaches like White Sand, Klong Prao, and Lonely Beach offering a range of accommodations. The east coast is quieter and offers a more authentic Thai experience.
- Booking in Advance: During peak tourist seasons, it’s advisable to book accommodations in advance to secure the best deals and ensure availability.
- Environmentally Conscious: Given Koh Chang’s natural beauty, many establishments emphasize eco-friendliness. Consider staying at eco-resorts or places that adopt sustainable practices.
- Transport: While Koh Chang is relatively easy to navigate, consider your transport options when booking. Some resorts offer shuttle services, while in other areas, you might rely on songthaews (shared taxis) or rent a motorbike.
Koh Chang’s diverse range of accommodations ensures that every traveler, whether a luxury seeker, a budget backpacker, or a family vacationer, finds a comfortable place to stay. Coupled with the island’s natural allure and vibrant local culture, it’s a destination that promises an unforgettable experience.
Koh Chang 3-4 Days Travel Itinerary
Day 1: Discovering the Beaches and Sunsets
- White Sand Beach: Start your day at the most popular beach on Koh Chang. It’s a great spot for a morning swim or a beachfront breakfast. Many beachside cafes and restaurants offer traditional Thai food as well as international options.
- Klong Prao Beach: Head here for a more relaxed vibe and fewer crowds. The 3km sandy beach is perfect for sunbathing or trying out water sports. Nearby, there are several spas where you can indulge in a traditional Thai massage.
- Lunch: Stop by Tonsai at Kai Bae Beach for some authentic Thai dishes.
- Lonely Beach: Known for its backpacker and party scene, it’s a fantastic spot to watch the sunset. As dusk approaches, beach bars light up, and you can enjoy fresh seafood BBQs.
- Dinner: Dine at Nature Beach Resort’s restaurant, where you can eat with your toes in the sand.
Day 2: Jungle Adventures and Waterfalls
- Jungle Trek: Start early with a guided trek in Koh Chang’s lush rainforest. You’ll encounter various flora and fauna and maybe spot some of the island’s wildlife.
- Klong Plu Waterfall: A 30-minute hike will lead you to this beautiful waterfall, perfect for a refreshing dip.
- Lunch: Have a packed lunch during your trek or grab some local Thai food near the waterfall entrance.
- Kai Bae Viewpoint: After freshening up, head to this viewpoint for a panoramic view of the western coast of Koh Chang. It’s an ideal place to relax after an adventurous day.
- Dinner: Try out El Greco Greek Kitchen & Lounge in Kai Bae for a Mediterranean twist.
Day 3: Island Hopping and Snorkeling
- Morning to Afternoon:
- Island-Hopping Tour: Book a tour that includes snorkeling and visits to neighboring islands like Koh Wai, Koh Mak, or Koh Kood. These tours often provide lunch onboard or on one of the islands.
- Snorkeling: Dive into the clear waters to explore vibrant coral reefs and marine life around these smaller islands.
- Bang Bao Village: This quaint fishing village built on stilts is the perfect place to stroll, shop for souvenirs, and watch the sunset.
- Dinner: Enjoy seafood at The Fisherman’s Hut in Bang Bao.
Day 4: Relaxation and Local Culture
- Local Thai Cooking Class: Engage in a half-day cooking class to learn traditional Thai recipes. This hands-on experience is not just about cooking but also understanding the culture.
- Visit Temples: Head to Wat Salak Petch or Wat Klong Prao to experience the spiritual side of Koh Chang.
- Lunch: Enjoy some local cuisine at Kati Culinary in Klong Prao.
- Shopping at Local Markets: Visit local markets to buy souvenirs, fresh fruits, or local handicrafts. It’s a great way to interact with locals and understand their daily lives.
- Dinner: For your last dinner, make it special at The Beach Club in Pearl Beach, known for its fine dining and serene setting.
- Transportation: Rent a motorbike or use songthaews (shared taxis) to get around. Ensure you have an international driving license if renting.
- Stay Hydrated: Always carry water, especially when trekking or exploring outdoors.
- Protect Yourself: Don’t forget sunscreen, mosquito repellent, and hats.
This 3-4 day itinerary provides a mix of beach relaxation, jungle adventure, cultural experiences, and marine explorations. Koh Chang’s varied landscapes and activities ensure an enriching travel experience. Enjoy your trip!
Where To Visit After Your Trip To Koh Chang?
If you’ve thoroughly enjoyed your time in Koh Chang and are looking for more places to explore in Thailand and nearby countries, here’s a comprehensive guide to destinations that seamlessly fit into a larger Southeast Asian itinerary:
1. Within Thailand:
- Details: As the capital city, Bangkok provides a stark contrast to the tranquility of Koh Chang. It’s a bustling metropolis with a mix of traditional temples and modern skyscrapers.
- Highlights: Visit the Grand Palace, explore Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha), shop at Chatuchak Weekend Market, and experience the nightlife on Khao San Road.
- Chiang Mai:
- Details: Located in the mountainous regions of Northern Thailand, Chiang Mai is known for its temples and rich history.
- Highlights: Attend a traditional Thai cooking class, explore the historic Doi Suthep Temple, and visit an ethical elephant sanctuary.
- Details: Situated on the eastern Gulf coast, Pattaya is a resort city known for its beaches and nightlife.
- Highlights: Explore the Sanctuary of Truth, relax on Jomtien Beach, and visit the lively Walking Street for entertainment.
- Details: A UNESCO World Heritage site, Ayutthaya is a historical city located north of Bangkok.
- Highlights: Discover the ancient ruins of temples, palaces, and Buddha statues, and enjoy a boat tour along the river.
2. Neighboring Countries:
- Siem Reap:
- Details: Known for the Angkor Wat temple complex, Siem Reap is a must-visit for history and archaeology enthusiasts.
- Highlights: Explore the various temples of Angkor, visit the floating villages on Tonle Sap, and shop at the night markets.
- Siem Reap:
- Luang Prabang:
- Details: A UNESCO World Heritage city, Luang Prabang is known for its colonial architecture and Buddhist temples.
- Highlights: Watch the morning alms ceremony, visit Kuang Si Falls, and climb Mount Phousi for a panoramic view of the city.
- Luang Prabang:
- Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon):
- Details: A dynamic city in the south of Vietnam, it’s known for its French colonial landmarks and history.
- Highlights: Explore the Cu Chi Tunnels, visit the War Remnants Museum, and shop at the Ben Thanh Market.
- Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon):
- Details: Myanmar’s largest city, it’s a blend of British colonial architecture, modern high-rises, and gilded Buddhist pagodas.
- Highlights: Visit the Shwedagon Pagoda, explore Kandawgyi Lake, and shop at Bogyoke Aung San Market.
3. Islands and Beach Destinations:
- Details: Thailand’s largest island, known for its beaches, vibrant nightlife, and water activities.
- Highlights: Visit Patong Beach, tour the Phang Nga Bay with its limestone cliffs, and explore the historic Old Phuket Town.
- Koh Phi Phi:
- Details: An archipelago known for its stunning beauty and vibrant party scene.
- Highlights: Snorkel in the azure waters, visit Maya Bay (where the movie “The Beach” was filmed), and hike to Phi Phi Viewpoint for breathtaking vistas.
- Details: A famous island paradise known for its surf beaches, lush landscapes, and unique Hindu culture.
- Highlights: Explore the terraced rice paddies in Ubud, visit Uluwatu Temple on the cliff, and party in the beach clubs of Seminyak.
- Gili Islands:
- Details: A group of three small islands, they are car-free and known for their relaxed atmosphere.
- Highlights: Dive with turtles, swing on the iconic beach swings during sunset, and cycle around Gili Trawangan.
4. Cultural Immersion:
- Details: The capital city, rich in history and culture, with French colonial influence.
- Highlights: Stroll around the Old Quarter, watch a traditional Water Puppet show, and taste the famous pho soup.
- Hoi An:
- Details: A UNESCO World Heritage site known for its preserved Ancient Town and lantern-lit evenings.
- Highlights: Walk the historic streets, take a boat ride on the Thu Bon River, and get a custom-tailored outfit from the numerous tailors.
- Phnom Penh:
- Details: The capital city with a mix of modern life and historic sites.
- Highlights: Visit the Royal Palace, learn about the country’s tragic history at the Killing Fields, and walk along the Mekong Riverfront.
- Phnom Penh:
5. Nature and Adventure:
- Details: An island known for its ancient rainforests and diverse wildlife.
- Highlights: Go on a jungle trek in Gunung Mulu National Park, spot orangutans in the wild, and dive in the waters of Sipadan Island.
- Cameron Highlands:
- Details: Malaysia’s most extensive hill station, known for its tea plantations and cool climate.
- Highlights: Visit a tea factory, explore the Mossy Forest, and browse fresh produce at the local markets.
- Visa Requirements: Check visa requirements before entering any new country. Requirements may vary based on your nationality.
- Local Currencies: Each country has its own currency. Make sure to exchange some upon arrival or withdraw from local ATMs.
- Cultural Sensitivity: Southeast Asia is diverse with varied customs and traditions. Always be respectful and take the time to understand local etiquette, especially when visiting religious sites.
- Transportation: Between countries, consider budget airlines like AirAsia, VietJet, or Nok Air. Within cities, apps like Grab can be invaluable for transportation.
Whether you choose to continue exploring the rich tapestry of Thailand or branch out to neighboring countries, Southeast Asia offers a wealth of experiences, from bustling urban centers to serene temples and unparalleled natural beauty. Whatever path you choose, each destination promises a unique and enriching experience. Safe travels!
Koh Chang Travel Guide: Final Thoughts
Koh Chang is a true gem among Thailand’s islands, offering a perfect blend of natural beauty, adventure, relaxation, and cultural experiences. With its pristine beaches, lush rainforests, crystal-clear waters, and warm hospitality, Koh Chang provides a memorable destination for all types of travelers.
This travel guide has provided you with a comprehensive overview of the top things to do on the island, from relaxing on beautiful beaches and snorkeling in marine parks to exploring waterfalls, embarking on jungle treks, and immersing yourself in the local culture. Whether you’re seeking outdoor adventures, wellness retreats, or simply a peaceful escape, Koh Chang has it all.
Take the time to explore the island’s diverse landscapes, interact with the friendly locals, and savor the mouthwatering flavors of Thai cuisine. Immerse yourself in the island’s unique blend of tranquility and excitement, and let the natural wonders of Koh Chang leave you in awe.
As you plan your visit to Koh Chang, use this guide as a valuable resource to navigate the island’s attractions, plan your itineraries, and make the most of your time in this tropical paradise. Embrace the island’s laid-back vibes, indulge in unforgettable experiences, and create lifelong memories during your journey through the captivating island of Koh Chang.