A Short Guide To Koh Chang, Thailand

Koh Chang Thailand is a fantastic place to visit – there are many incredible things to do in Koh Chang and this is easily one of the nicest Thai islands.

There are so many islands in Thailand, all of them beautiful and different from one another, that deciding where to go can be a daunting task. Koh Chang, considered one of the best islands in Thailand, is a must see. After a trip across South East Asia it is the perfect place to relax.

Koh Chang is the second biggest among the islands in Thailand (second only to Phuket). Keep in mind that size is quite a relative concept. I come from Sardinia, a huge island in the centre of the Mediterranean, and to me Koh Chang – where it only takes one hour to drive from top to bottom – is actually quite small.

Though many spend just a few days in Koh Chang, I think this island deserves a bit longer – there are many things to do, and the atmosphere varies a lot depending on where you go and what you do. 

In this post, I highlight all the unmissable things to do in Ko Chang and share a few tips that will help you make the most of it. 

things to do in Koh Chang
One of the harbors in Ko Chang

What To Do In Koh Chang

Enjoy the beaches

There is no doubt that one of the things to do in Koh Chang is enjoying the beach – the island is packed with sandy beaches. While Lonely Beach is perhaps the most famous beach on the west coast of Koh Chang, I suggest spending your time in Klong Koi Beach, right off Bang Bao.

Indeed, despite its name Lonely Beach hardly gets lonely. It is a popular backpackers destination, as the village has a lot of budget accommodation options, there are lots of restaurants, shops and parties go on until late. What makes Lonely Beach worth a visit is the incredible sunset it offers every day and the young, backpackers vibe – that is, if you are one.

GOOD TO KNOW: Next to Lonely Beach, also on the west coast Bailan is just as nice but way quieter and with a great selection of mid-range accommodation.

Klong Koi Beach is a smaller and way quieter beach. Bang Bao, the nearest village, is the last village at the Southern end of Ko Chang and much smaller than the rest – a few houses, a rather quiet market, some seafood restaurants and a harbor from where boats to nearby islands leave. As a result, Khlong Koi gets significantly less people.

The beach isn’t spectacular to be honest, but it is nice, sandy and generally clean, lined with palm trees and the shallow waters are incredibly warm. 

Another great beach is White Sand Beach. As the name says, White Sand Beach is one of the best sandy beaches in Ko Chang. Just picture a long stretch of fine white sand, lined with palm trees, well equipped with anything you may need for your stay (and no matter the language you speak, you will be catered for). Should you decide to stay in this part of the island, you will find several good resorts there.

Other beaches are Kai Bae Beach, which has a fantastic, relaxed atmosphere; and Klong Prao Beach, which is lined with all sorts of accommodation options.

GOOD TO KNOW: Klong Prao Beach is not the place to go if you are a night owl and party animal; Kai Bae Beach is great for families.

Simply chill

What makes Koh Chang a great place to add to your Thailand itinerary is that its pace of life is incredibly relaxed and one of the things to do in Ko Chang is chilling! And although the weather is hot – after all, this is South East Asia – Koh Chang gets a lovely marine breeze that makes it all the more enjoyable (and way more bearable compared to the still heat of inland Cambodia, for example). 

Khlong Ko beach, which I have mentioned before, is perfect to relax. You can go swimming in the shallow waters, cool down by the infinity pool at your hotel, take nap after nap in the shade, have a coconut by the beach during the day and an icy cold beer at sunset and eventually make your way to one of the restaurants on the waterfront to enjoy a lovely meal.

And since it is so quiet you are bound to get some great quality sleep at night – perfect to recharge your batteries. 

Another great place to chill is White Sand Beach.

Thailand beaches
One of the things to do in Koh Chang is taking in all the nature – photo courtesy of Juska Wendland (flickr)

Take in all the nature

If you love wildlife and nature you will be delighted to find out that Ko Chang is great for that – taking in all the nature is one of the things to do in Koh Chang island. This Thai island is populated with various species of birds and the unmissable monkeys. I know some people don’t like monkeys because they have a reputation for being cheeky and stealing stuff, but honestly these aren’t that bad!

Another thing you will find in Ko Chang is waterfalls. There are 7 different waterfalls, which is quite impressive for such a small island. The most visited waterfall in Koh Chang is Klong Plu. You have to pay a small fee to get in  as it is part of the National Park, and then walk along the trail for about 20 minutes to get to the waterfall, which will provide an incredible respite from the heat and from the chaos of the beaches. 

Another nice waterfall Than Mayom – again, there is a fee to visit it as this waterfall is part of the National Park. As it is a bit more difficult to reach (you have to hire a car or rent a scooter to get there) it is less visited, so perfect if you are looking for a quiet day. 

PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The fee to access Than Mayom or Klong Plu waterfall is 200 Thai Baht.

Other waterfalls in Ko Chant include Kai Bae, which is the trickiest waterfall to get to; Klong Neung; Kiripetch; Klong Nonsi and Klong Jao Leuam.

Go for a hike

Among the nicest things to do in Koh Chang there is hiking. You will find several hiking trails around Koh Chang, some of them requiring a multi-day trek and others simpler, half day treks that go through the thick jungle to reach some beautiful waterfalls. The only problem with the hikes is the heat – but the nature, the waterfalls and the wildlife are beautiful. Make sure to set out nice and early if you plan to hike, and your experience will be great. 

best beaches in Thailand
One of the things to do in Koh Chang is going on a day trip to Koh Wai

Spend a day in Koh Wai

Make sure to go to Koh Wai, which is easily accessed. You can get on a 40 minutes slow boat ride from Bang Bao pier, at the south of the island; or just 20 minutes by speed boat. The island is so small that there are no roads – just a trail through the forest that connects the two main beaches – and thus no cars, scooters and the likes.

Bungalows there are quite basics (though they all have a sea view) and free wifi is only available in one of the very few restaurants.

Day trips to Koh Wai are quite common, and guide books say that the beaches get crowded and recommend spending a few nights on the island to fully enjoy it. I agree with that – it’s always better to spend more time than less.

But if you don’t have a few days, worry not. This island is hardly as crowded as you may think – depending on the day you visit, you will find that there are no more than 10 persons at the beach, other than you.

The main beach is a long stretch of white sand, thick vegetation at the back and the most transparent azure waters, full of fish and corals, and no noise around whatsoever. It is a fabulous place to snorkel, relax and disconnect from the stress of daily life. 

PRACTICAL INFORMATION FOR VISITING KOH WAI: The boat ride from Koh Chang to Koh Wai costs between 300 and 400 Bahts depending on whether you opt for a regular one or a fast one.

If you want to do a day trip it costs 500 Bahts (departing from Bang Bao) and you also get a 50 Baht voucher to spend at the local restaurant. It honestly is hardly enough for a main course, but the food is quite cheap anyways, and delicious. Enquire with your hotel for more information and bookings. 

GOOD TO KNOW: For more island-hopping, you may want to consider Koh Kood and Koh Mak. Koh Kood is the second largest island in the archipelago and already quite popular among travelers; Koh Mak is quickly increasing in popularity.

Make sure to read my post How To Lose Yourself In Koh Wai, Thailand.

Best islands in Thailand
Looking for things to do in Koh Chang? Just head out for the sunset!

Admire the sunset

Whether from Lonely Beach, on the ferry that goes to Koh Chang or from Klong Koi beach, admiring the sunset is one of the ultimate things to do in Koh Chang and a great experience. The sun disappears under the ocean or behind the hills, giving it a special aura. 

Make some new friends

Thai people have a reputation for being super kind, and I have to say here they actually go even further. They are very friendly, going above and beyond to help out; they are always ready for a laugh and curious to have a chat with travelers. It makes Koh Chang a great destination for solo travelers. Yes: one of the things to do in Koh Chang is making friends!

Thailand beaches
That gorgeous pool! Among the best things to do in Koh Chang there’s staying at a fantastic resort.

Stay in a fabulous resort

Among the things to do in Koh Chang, there’s staying in a fabulous resort. There is an incredible variety of accommodation options in Koh Chang. From budget to luxury, there is something for all but I really recommend to opt for one of the great Sea View resorts in Koh Chang for extra comfort. It is a great place to get pampered after long days of traveling. 

Gajapuri Resort and Spa is another excellent option, with a selection of bungalows, family rooms and private villas, all immersed in a lush garden.

I can also recommend Chivapuri Beach Resort. The Koh Chang Resort is right on Klong Koi. It is completely surrounded by nature (think palm trees) and the garden is beautifully kept. There are a number of villas, each facing the beach and the pool. Rooms are incredibly spacious and cozy, have all sort of amenities and direct access to the beautiful garden. 

The infinity swimming pool at Chivapuri Beach Resort is lovely, large and surrounded by nature. It faces the beach (which is kept very clean), and the water temperature is much cooler than that of the sea so you will have a chance to cool down.

There also is a bar by the beach and a restaurant – tables are right on the sand! And the food is delicious. Breakfast is incredibly abundant and varied. 

Books and dvds are available for guests, as well as free Wi-Fi. There is a daily shuttle that takes guests to Bang Bao village and back, free of charge. 

Click here to book your stay at Chivapuri Beach Resort

Thailand beaches
Koh Chang has some of the best beaches in Thailand

Snorkel and dive

Koh Chang is one of the best islands in Thailand for beginner divers, thanks to its shallow waters and the easy access it offers to other smaller islands. You can even get a PADI Open Water Certification. It’s pretty obvious that one of the things to do in Koh Chang is snorkeling or diving. 

These are some of the best snorkeling and diving excursions departing from Koh Chang:

Go kayaking

With its calm waters, one of the things to do in Koh Chang is kayaking, There are various place around the island where you can rent a kayak, and you can even opt to join a kayaking expedition to one of the nearby islands. 

Enjoy a SPA

Much like the rest of Thailand and South East Asia, Koh Chang as a great choice of spas where you can get a massage for a real steal. Your hotel will be able to guide you about the best options. 

Eat all the delicious food

Food in Thailand is delicious. Eating options in Koh Chang are many and varied and one of the things to do in Koh Chang is certainly eating. The biggest villages such as Lonely Beach also have international restaurants, but in my opinion Thai food is so good that there is no real reason to look for things such as pizza or steak.

Bang Bao is originally a fishing village and for as small as it is, there are lots of seafood restaurants. There also is a lovely coffee shop right by the Seven Eleven that does amazing fruit smoothies.

You will also find several restaurants by the beach. The best to me remains one right off Klong Koi Beach resort. It is run by a lovely lady called Pekan and her brother, who welcome their guests very warmly. They organize a barbecue every other night, as well as some entertainment with music. The vibe is relaxed and, more importantly, the food is amazing. The curries and soups are mouthwatering.

best islands in Thailand
Food in Koh Chang is delicious

Take a cooking class

One thing is eating Thai food, another one is learning how to prepare it! You will find a good choice of cooking classes in Koh Chang, usually run by local restaurants. This one comes highly recommended – you will only use local ingredients bought from the local market. 

Roam around the island

One of the most fun things to do in Koh Chang is simply roaming around the island. It is fairly easy to get around in Koh Chang. There is one main road that goes all around the island, except from a bit at the bottom south where there only is a dirt road.

Taxis in Koh Chang are usually shared. Once you disembark in one of the harbors that connect it to the mainland, you can hop on the back of a pick up truck that will follow the main road to you to the main villages on the island. The price of the ride is fixed, and obviously cheaper for the villages closer to the harbors (it can be between 50 and 200 Baht). Passengers are dropped off on the main road or at taxi stations.

Some taxis refuse to drive to the further resorts on the South of the island as there only is a dirt road to get there. 

Most visitors in Koh Chang rent a scooter. This is a fun way to explore the island, driving around its hilly road, moving from one beach to the other and visiting one of the parks – there isn’t much traffic so it is fairly easy!

Lots of resorts also provide daily shuttle services to get to the main villages on the island (at fixed times). 

Avoid cruel tourist attractions

There are various elephant camps in Koh Chang which still offer things such as elephant safaris. These are cruel tourist attractions and I truly wish they were stopped and that no tourist went at all. Among the many things to do in Koh Chang, riding elephant is definitely not one and it should be banned.

I strongly recommend to boycott these activities! 

Find out more about the use of animals in tourist attractions on my post “Don’t ride that elephant.”

Koh Chang
There are many easy ways to get around Koh Chang

Practical Tips To Organize Your Trip To Koh Chang

How to get to Koh Chang 

While Phuket has its own airport and other islands as well, there is no airport on Koh Chang – the closest is Trat Airport, in the Trat Province. You can get to the island by ferry from Laem Ngop pier in Trat, but beware the harbor is about 30 km from Trat main town.

If you are arriving from Cambodia, it will take you around 4 of hours to get to Trat harbor from the border. Transportation from either Siem Reap or Battambang costs between 18 and 20 USD and includes the minivan to the Cambodian border, the minivan from the Thai border to the harbor outside of Trat, and the ferry.

There are two companies that operate ferries between the mainland and the island. Koh Chang Ferry leaves from Tha Thammachat and arrives at Tha Sapparot. Centrepoint Ferry leaves from Tha Centrepoint and arrives at another harbor further east. The ferry takes about 45 minutes to one hour. The ferry that leaves at 6:00 offers a great sunset view.

You can book your transfer from Trat to Koh Chang (including the ferry ride) here.

Once landed, you can get on one of the many shared pick-up vans/taxis to reach the main villages and the other side of the island.

There are regular private transfers from Koh Chang to Bangkok – either the city ie to Ekamai bus station (beware it is occasionally spelled Ekkamai), or Suvarnabhumi Airport. There are two pick up times in Koh Chang – from 8 am or from 1 pm (the pick up time depends on the location). The ride costs around 850 Baht in high season and includes the ferry ticket. It takes overall 8 hours to get to Bangkok international airport.

The same companies operate from Bangkok to Koh Chang. The best way to organize the transfer is enquiring at the hotel or the hostel as they usually know the companies that run and the schedule. The good news is that you can now book your transfer from Bangkok to Koh Chang online here.

Have you ever been to Koh Chang? What did you like the most about it?

Further readings about Thailand and South East Asia

For more information and tips on how to plan the perfect trip to Thailand, click here.

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Find out what you must know about Koh Chant - via @clautavani

47 thoughts on “A Short Guide To Koh Chang, Thailand”

  1. Wow, mind blowing post! Beach lovers must like this post and specially Koh Wai island that has nice views over the other islands of archipelago. Have you visited Cox’s Bazar? Which is an unbroken 125 km sandy sea beach with a gentle slope, one of the world’s longest.

    Reply
  2. That’s an extensive write up. Much better than the usual blog posts I see about the island. Only one thing I’d change – the link to Lonely planet. Years ago they messed up their listings and have info for Koh Chang, Trat under info for a smaller island, also called Koh Chang but 1000km away on the Andaman gulf.

    Reply
    • Thank you Ian. I am not sure I understand what Lonely Planet did. I just wanted to link to an even more detailed guide for reference. I had no idea there are two Koh Chang. I surely loved this one. Oh I so miss it…

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  3. Are you sure that Koh chang is one of the best islands in Thailand ?!
    At least Google must know now ! With “best islands in Thailand” being written so many times on your page 🙂
    Good Seo and good post ! Thank you !

    Reply
  4. Pingback: What makes Koh Chang one of the best islands in Thailand? – D-Cosystem
  5. Koh Chang sounds perfect for me and my husband! We’re not into the night clubs but enjoy a drink, a variety of food choices and some laid back activities such as non-motorised water activities and nature/sightseeing walks. Do you think a 4 night would be sufficient?

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    • Well…. it really depends on how much you need a vacation! I stayed for 4 nights and I could have stayed much longer. I stayed in Klong Koi, which is really close to Bang Bao, at Chivapuri Beach Resort and ate all my meals at Pecan’s Kitchen, a lovely restaurant on the beach. It was nice and quiet. If you need even more quiet, go to Koh Wai – you can take a boat there from Bang Bao pier. There are no cars there, no internet, limited electricity, no nightlife… it is very very simple and the place is PARADISE.

      Reply
    • Don’t go there then. Or if you do, you had better try really hard to get away from that which is every where. Dec. 2016

      Reply
  6. Looks like you have done a pretty good job describing the basics of Koh Chang. I have to disagree that it is one of the best islands in Thailand. Or at least then say, if this is Thailand’s best, why bother?
    15 years ago I went to the South and visited Koh Samui, Koh Surin, Koh Taratau, Lipe and Adang. They all have what Chang does not. Quiet. Though I do remember the many candy wrappers littered on Surin I was appalled at all the garbage all over the place on Chang. I just spent 5 nights near Lonely Beach Dec 2016 and was really disappointed in this island. I had chosen it for my family as it was relatively close to BKK. But still that means a good 7 hours or so.
    The place we stayed had a good vibe and was a great bargain – The Oasis. Lovely people running the place. But everywhere around the island there is garbage and unkept places and streets. I was appalled to see this, as it is a National park. Too bad, but this will not change until people stop going there.
    The road skirting the island almost all the way around is one 7-11 after another after another small town of tourist shops, Tesco and oh yeah, garbage laying around. Having lived in Thailand for a couple of years I got used to this, but it is expressly the reason I want to go to an island.
    There are the typical overbuilt little beach towns are so very predictable, yet there is some charm in them. But why does every beach and island devolve into a bar culture where dreds and Bob Marley is the thing? I love Bob Marley just fine, but this is a Thai island. What about some Luuk Thuung music? What about some great Brazilian music? Or just quiet?
    The disco thumped loud and proud all night up into the hills from 10pm to 5am. Ear plugs helped a little.
    In my opinion, don’t waste the time or money to get to Koh Chang. It is way over-built. Many places (not unlike everywhere in Thailand) have partially running, partially closed or not yet opened for business spaces. It’s like they once basked in former glory, but now are partially open for business or half going out of it. I did not find Koh Chang all that enchanting or worth the effort to go there. If I had never been to another Thai island, it may have had some redeeming value, but then maybe not much.
    Hate to seem like a downer, but it really depends on what your are expecting. I think, sadly that most Thai islands have seen their glory years and are far from the special places that would make them uniquely Thai tropical paradise. It definitely would not fall into that type of descrition.

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    • True that it’s far to be the best island for anyone who knows what is a good island !
      Even Koh Panghan is better outside of full moon party !

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    • What you say about Koh Chang being past its glory days, being too built all over, and littered is true of pretty much anywhere in Asia. Coming from Vietnam and Cambodia on the same trip, though, Koh Chang was significantly cleaner to me (so yes, it is a matter of where you are coming from). If I compared it to my very own Sardinia, the island in the Mediterranean where I was born, raised and currently live, I could tell you there is no comparison: Sardinia is pristine, the beaches still have clean sand, the water is crystal clear. However, I spent most of my time in Koh Chang in Klong Koi beach, and it was nice and quiet, and significantly cleaner than the rest of the beaches on the island. No loud Bob Marley music – in fact, no music at all (I think we can both appreciate the sound of waves breaking on the shore!); few people; no parties. I enjoyed it.

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    • I’m currently on the last night of seven at Ploy Inn in Lonely Beach. Jim is so on point with his remarks, it’s startling. This place is a dump, literally. Trash-lined roads, ladyboy-filled “discos”, tourist-weary shopkeepers and burnt-out backpackers rule this pit. I am so disappointed. I recommend boots for the walk to the cigarette butt-littered beach, as you’ll need to navigate broken glass, sharp stones and a hodgepodge of various construction-related debris. Want to go trekking? You’d better hire a 1000-baht per day guide as this island has no marked trails into the jungle. Want to rent a motorbike? Say your prayers, because the roads are treacherous and the locals drive WAY too fast. Want to work from your “hotel” room? Better smoke a joint first to relax, because the unreliable service will really test your patience. Koh Phangan is a far superior island, for all its problems. Too bad about the weather this year, though.

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      • I am sorry your experience in Koh Chang was not amazing. I can’t really compare it with Koh Phangan as I haven’t been there. But in my time there, I was based at Klong Koi beach and it was nice and quiet – no parties, no cigarette butts in the sand, clean beach. The reliable wifi is an issue in most of that part of the world, I am afraid!

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      • I agree, this is so clear and so true ! And even the weed is cheaper and better at Koh Phangan ! Only people who don’t know what is a good island like KC ! And they are really ridiculous to pretend to know what is good or not !

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        • I wouldn’t know about the weed as I am not a smoker at all… Koh Chang was nice, to me. Again, I can’t compare it to Koh Phangan as I haven’t been. But I can compare it to Koh Wai which definitely is my kind of place.

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    • Thank you. This person is a travel writer doing a piece on the island with perks from the hotel they stayed at no doubt so it’s jaded. The garbage problem is everywhere that I look. Thailand is done as is most of SE Asia until they can fix this and stop the dumping. There is no point in cleaning it up while people still get away with dumping into the ocean. Every country is doing it. I’m not sure I am ever going to another beach in SE Asia. Sticking to the hills now.

      Reply
  7. First of all I want to say excellent blog!
    I had a quick question in which I’d like to ask if you don’t mind.

    I was interested to know how you center yourself and
    clear your thoughts prior to writing. I have had difficulty clearing my thoughts in getting my thoughts out.
    I do enjoy writing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are usually lost simply just trying to figure out how to
    begin. Any recommendations or hints? Thanks!

    Reply
  8. I will be visiting Koh Chang next month…. been living in (and blogging about) Asia for over a decade now, and for some reason have still never been to Thailand before! Your post has been really informative, and I cant wait for my trip.

    Reply
  9. Wow! This just make me want to go to Koh Chang sooner rather than later. I am looking for islands that I can visit in Thailand two weeks from now and I haven’t been to Koh Chang yet. People I know said that they enjoyed their trip there. Thanks for all the information. Can’t wait to see it myself! =)

    Reply
  10. If you do not know what is a really nice beach and sea, you can think that Koh Chang is the best island in Thailand, yes !

    Or maybe beaches and sea are not important when searching the best island ? Please explain me.

    ALL Koh Chang beaches are ugly and look like shiiite, how can somebody not totally insane think that KohChang is the best island is beyong understanding.

    Reply
    • I appreciate your comment and your point of view. However, first of all, I’d like to ask you to avoid using this kind of language on my platform. Let’s all keep a respectful and polite tone, please. Secondly, I do know what beautiful islands are meant to look like. I am from Sardinia – feel free to browse this blog to see what it looks like. Third, remember I only spoke about my experience, which was nothing short of great.

      Reply
      • Thank you, it’s great that you confirm that you know nothing. And second, I use the language that I want, because if you are not happy or delete my comment, in less than 5 minutes I delete all your blog and every single file found in your hosting. Hope you have backup or understand that it’s not good to play with fire.

        Reply
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  15. Problem on ko chang is the so-called music that can start as early as 5pm and go on until midnight in most places. When the resort you’re staying at is not playing loud music, another resort not far away is. When I say loud I mean a nuisance against which earplugs are not enough. You fly halfway round the world to relax listening to the surf and the sounds of Nature and this is what you get. WTF. P.S. Was staying at Klong Prao beach at 95 euro/night.

    Reply
    • WOW! I haven’t had that issue but I was really far away from everything, off Bang Bao. I guess it all depends on where you stay, but I totally believe you. I am sorry you’ve had that experience! I think for more peace, it’s better to go to Koh Wai!

      Reply

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