Koh Chang – a paradise-like island for everyone
Koh Chang is the second largest island of Thailand and it definitely should be on your list when you’re around. It’s still not so developed in terms of tourism as neighboring islands, but you will not regret a few-day-escapade to the island. It is big enough to accomodate large number of travelers and satisfy different tastes. On top of that, it offers plenty of attractions that would break your lying-on-the-beach routine.
Koh Chang literally means Elephants Island, which might be kind of surprising as elephants should not be native animals on islands. The name itself probably comes from the elephant-shaped headland, but there is no unambiguous answer where exactly the island got its name from. Elephants do live on Koh Chang, but they are not indigenous and it makes it even more confusing. Anyways, the truth lies somewhere in between.
Koh Chang’s to-dos and to-sees
As I mentioned before the island is quite big with many different beaches that would fit your expectations. Most of them are located in the west. It is important to choose the right place to stay, because all beaches completely differ from each other.
White Sand Beach, which is located on the north, is the most developed and busiest beach on Koh Chang. This one is the most popular and the most touristy one. If you are looking for more genuine Thai paradise experience you sholuld skip this one and head south.
Lonely Beach is a backpackers paradise that we went for. Basic bungalows are mixed with hippie or reggae bars and clubs that will keep you up till morning hours. You can get a room for 200-300 Baht ($6-10) with fan and often own bathroom. Best place to find friends who you can share a Sangson bucket with and party all night long.
Klong Kloi Beach located in the south is completely different from the other beaches. It’s definitely smaller and more quiet.
Between Lonely Beach and White Sand Beach there are also three small beaches that are something in between the mentioned two.
Getting around the island
Koh Chang offers plenty attractions that enrich a stay on the island. And I’m not talking about nice bars and clubs where you can chill out and party because that might get monotonous at some point.
There are a few elephant villages where you can jump on an elephant and take a ride across the jungle. I haven’t try one as I still have mixed feelings towards such attractions. Elephants are still wild animals and I don’t see them as a mean of transportation. However, the ones that have already tried an elephant ride might have better opinion on the case.
You can also take a jungle walk on your own. There are a few waterfalls in the interior. You can also take a bath there to relax after exhausting hike.
Best way to get around the island is to rent a motocycle. It costs 200 baht ($6) per day and gasoline is cheaper than beer. However, if you have never ridden a one before, Koh Chang is not the best place to learn. It is a mountainuous piece of land and bumpy roads have many ups and downs. Each year there are many accidents with unexperienced tourists involved. Other option is to take a pick-up taxi, but comparing to motocycles they are more pricey. Plus you are not that flexible with them.
How to get to Koh Chang from Bangkok
There are a few options to get to Koh Chang from Bangkok and probably the best way is to look it up and choose the best match for your. I recommend Wiki Travel or Lonely Planet guide which both have pretty clear guidelines. However, getting from hotel to your destination on the island should not cost more 600 Baht ($17).
We took a bus from Eastern station (Ekamai) and it goes to Ao Thammachat Pier in Laem Ngop (through the Suvarnabhumi Airport, Trat). The bus is comfortable with air-conditioning, enough space for legs and some snacks are served on a trip. The ride takes approximately 5.5 hours (with 15 minutes break). The ferry (80 baht, $3) leaves regularly, about one in every hour and takes you straight to the island where pick-up cars transformed into taxis are waiting to take you to desired beach. Depending on your destination they will charge you 50-500 baht ($2-$15). White Sand Beach is 100B, Lonely Beach – 150B.
On our way back we decided to take a minivan that picks you up at a set time from your hotel and drops you off at one of spots in Bangkok (e.g. Khao San Road, the Airport, Victory Monument). You should buy a ticket a day before you want to leave as there might not be places if you’re late. We paid 550 baht a person ($17). Good thing about the minivan is that you don’t need to worry about connections. It takes you from door to door and you can just sit comfotably and enjoy your 8-hour trip. However, it is not easy to enjoy it as the tiny bus doesn’t give you much space to sit back and relax. Especially if you are rather high person. Minivan stops a few times on a way where you can get some food or drink and strech your legs.
Need any tips? Visited an island already? Leave a comment!