Koh Chang is tucked away in the most easterly part of the Thai Gulf close to the border with Cambodia. The island is the largest in an archipelago forming Koh Chang National Marine Park. Koh Chang or ‘Elephant Island’ stretches almost 30 km in length and 15 km at its widest point. The island is 80 percent jungle and the pristine rain-forest interior is a surprise to many and offers excellent trekking/hiking opportunities. The clear waters, reefs, and islands surrounding Koh Chang are a playground for scuba divers, snorkellers, sport fishermen, and kayakers.
Koh Changs Beaches
The west side of Koh Chang has the better beaches, each one has its own distinct personality from the luxury hotels at White Sand Beach and Chai Chet to the backpacker haven of Lonely Beach, which during the peak season is the place to party and is far from lonely.
Koh Chang’s west side has many beaches and resort towns. To single out the best beach is difficult as they all have clean white powder sand and fantastic ocean. Apart from a few hairy sections of road near to Lonley beach, the island is fairly easy to navigate so touring around the island to check out all of the beaches is a popular activity, just make sure you ride slowly and wear a helmet.
Chai Chet beach on Koh Changs busier west side
The east side of the island is far quieter and less developed, there are a few beaches but they are no where near as popular as the west coast. The east side of Koh Chang is well worth a look though, especially the far south area which has a few secret beaches and is arguably the most scenic area of the whole island.
Secret beach on Koh Changs less visited east side
The group of Islands were made into a national park in 1982, and during the last 15 years have become a major tourist destination. Most of the islands making up the marine park are relatively small and uninhabited, however to the south, Koh Mak, and the larger island of Koh Kood have also become popular destinations in the last 10 years.
Koh Mak can be easily reached by speedboat from Koh Chang
How to get to Koh Chang
Koh Chang is located just off the coast in Trat Province which is on the north eastern tip of the gulf of Thailand. The most popular and cost efficient way to get there is by Minivan or bus from Bangkok.
Trat has an airport, so its possible to fly there and then get a taxi to the nearby pier where regular ferry’s depart for Koh Chang. Flights are expensive but convenient as they operate from Suvarnabhumi airport up to 4 times a day.
A passenger and transport ferry service operates every 45 minutes from Laem Ngop pier in Trat. Some taxi/bus services from Bangkok offer direct services, which include the ferry and take you straight to your hotel on Koh Chang. However if you are travelling independently, you can grab a songthaew taxi, which line up by the pier on arrival at Koh Chang. As Koh Chang is so close to the mainland, the ferry journey only takes 30 minutes.
From Bangkok Koh Chang is a 5-6 hour journey by road, and a further 30 minutes by ferry. Minivans go regularly from Khao San Road in Bangkok and other major tourist hubs. Minivans also leave frequently from Pattaya, where the journey time is 4 hours by road. Minivans can be booked in tour agencies in tourist destinations and most will include the ferry ticket and hotel drop off as well.
To reach Koh Chang by bus, you will need to head to Trat first. At Trat bus station, there will be Songthaew taxis to take you to Laem Ngop peir, which is the ferry departure point. If you are travelling from Bangkok, head to Ekamai station which is Bangkok’s eastern bus terminal located next to Ekamai BTS (skytrain) station and ask for the bus to Trat or Koh Chang.
Flights run by Bangkok Airways from Suvarnabhumi to Trat airport run up to 4 times per day depending on the season. There is a minivan service at Trat airport that takes you direct to your hotel in Koh Chang. Flight and taxi fares are high, but it’s great if you’re short on time. Flights from Bangkok to Trat take 45 minutes, followed by 20 minutes by taxi to Laem Ngop pier, the ferry takes 30 minutes to Koh Chang.
Photo Guide – Koh Chang
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