A Short Guide To Koh Chang, Thailand

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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. After a trip across South East Asia it is the perfect place to relax, even for (or especially, I should say!) solo female travelers.

The second largest island in Thailand (second only to Phuket), Koh Chang is relatively small. Though most travelers spend just a few days in Koh Chang, I believe this island deserves a bit longer – if anything, just to soak the lovely, peaceful atmosphere. 

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 prefer Klong Koi Beach, right off Bang Bao.

Despite its name Lonely Beach hardly gets lonely. It is a popular backpackers’ hub, as the village has a lot of budget accommodation options, there are lots of restaurants, shops and parties. What makes it worth a visit is the incredible sunset and the young vibe.

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 options.

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 small 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. Just picture a long stretch of fine white sand, lined with palm trees, well equipped with anything you may need for your stay. There are several good resorts there.

Other beaches are Kai Bae Beach, which has a fantastic, relaxed atmosphere; and Klong Prao Beach. 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.

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, you will be treated to an incredible sunset. The sun disappears under the ocean or behind the hills, giving it a special aura. 

Simply chill

The pace of life in Koh Chang is incredibly relaxed. The island 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.

Another thing you will find in Ko Chang is waterfalls. There are 7 different waterfalls – 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 is 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 spot. 

The fee to access Than Mayom or Klong Plu waterfall is 200 Thai Baht (THB) – that’s $6 USD.

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

Go for a hike

Hiking is one of the best things to do in Koh Chang. You will find several hiking trails, some of them requiring a few days and others simpler, half day treks that go through the thick jungle to reach some beautiful waterfalls. The only problem 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

To get to Koh Wai hop on a 40 minutes slow boat ride from Bang Bao pier, at the south of the island; or opt for a 20 minutes ride 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. There are no cars, scooters and the likes.

Bungalows are 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 depending on the day, the beaches can get crowded – though I was lucky to find that there were no more than 10 people at the beach when I visited. To make the most of the island and enjoy the quiet atmosphere spend a few days there.

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. 

The boat ride from Koh Chang to Koh Wai costs between 300 and 400 THB depending on whether you opt for a regular or a fast boat. If you want to do a day trip it costs 500 THB (departing from Bang Bao) and you also get a 50 THB voucher to spend at the local restaurant. It won’t cover a full meal but alas it’s better than nothing. Enquire with your hotel for more information and bookings. 

For more island-hopping, go to 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.

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.

You can book your snorkeling or diving expedition from Koh Chang here or here.

Go kayaking

Take advantage of Koh Chang’s calm waters to go kayaking. There are various places 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 has 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. 

best islands in Thailand
Food in Koh Chang is delicious

Eat all the delicious food

Food in Thailand is delicious. Eating options in Koh Chang are many. The biggest villages such as Lonely Beach also have international restaurants, but Thai food is so good that there is no real reason to look for 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 is right off Klong Koi Beach resort: it’s run by a lovely lady called Pekan and her brother. 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.

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.

Avoid cruel tourist attractions

There are various elephant camps in Koh Chang which still offer elephant safaris. These are cruel tourist attractions and they should honestly be banned. Please don’t take part in any of these activities and don’t contribute to animal cruelty.

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 harbor is about 30 km (18.6 miles) 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 pm offers a great sunset view.

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 8:00 am or from 1:00 pm (the pick up time depends on the location). The ride costs around 850 THB 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.

Bang Bao

How to move around

One of the most fun things to do in Koh Chang is simply roaming around the island. Getting around is easy. There is one main road that goes around the island, except for a bit at the bottom south where there only is a dirt road (some taxis refuse to drive all the way there for this reason).

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

Another option to get around is to rent a scooter. Driving is fairly easy as there isn’t much traffic.

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

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

Where to stay in Koh Chang

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. Here are some options you may want to consider:

  • Gajapuri Resort and Spa has a selection of bungalows, family rooms and private villas, all immersed in a lush garden.
  • Chivapuri Beach Resort, in Klong Koi, 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. There also is a fabulous infinity pool.

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

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

Further Readings

If you are planning a trip to South East Asia, these posts will come in handy:

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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.

  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.

  3. 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…

  4. You’re welcome to link to my site been doing that since 2013 and contains pretty much everything people need to know about the island. 🙂

  5. 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 !

  6. Pingback: What makes Koh Chang one of the best islands in Thailand? – D-Cosystem
  7. 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?

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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

  11. 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 !

  12. Hi Jim, could you please elaborate a bit? I am not sure what you are referring to!

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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!

  16. 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 !

  17. 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.

  18. Do you recommend going to Koh Chang by train from Bangkok? I hate flying the small plane. Thank you

  19. You don’t need to fly. You can take a shuttle from Bangkok to Trat and take the ferry from there. I warn you, it is a 7 hours drive to Trat and it is not comfortable. But it is cheap!

  20. No trains to Koh Chang or anywhere within 200KM. Take a bus or minibus if you don’t want to fly. You can get a bus direct form Ekamai bus station, Bangkok to the mainland pier. Takes under 5 hours.

  21. 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!

  22. Welcome to my world!! 15 minutes to begin writing isn’t bad at all!!!

  23. 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.

  24. 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! =)

  25. 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.

  26. 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.

  27. 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.

  28. Pingback: How To Use The Free Bangkok Airport Shuttle In Thailand
  29. thank you. I’m thinking of going to koh Chang in Thailand in a few weeks time. I’ve heard it’s very beautiful. have you been there?

  30. Pingback: Everybody Loves Koh Chang — Sabaidee Resort in Koh Chang
  31. Pingback: The best beaches in Thailand - Once In A Lifetime Journey
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  33. 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.

  34. 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!

  35. 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.

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