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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
If you are planning a trip to South East Asia, these posts will come in handy:
- 20 Incredible Things To Do In Bangkok
- The Best Places To Visit In Thailand
- 19 Incredible Things To Do In Chiang Mai (Plus 3 To Avoid)
- 10 Awesome Things To Do In Koh Samui
- A Guide To Visiting Angkor Wat
- The Best Things To Do In Siem Reap
- 17 Great Things To Do In Hanoi
- 15 Amazing Things To Do In Saigon
- 33 Unmissable Things To Do In Vietnam
- How To Get The Vietnam Visa
- 17 Things To Do In Bali
- Has Bali lost its magic?
- The 23 Best Spa in Bali