Koh Chang Travel Guide Thailand
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Koh Chang Travel Guide Thailand. Ko Chang (เกาะช้าง) is an island in Trat Province, Eastern Thailand. Koh Chang is Thailand’s second largest island, and the biggest in Eastern Thailand. With about 5,000 permanent residents the island is not heavily populated, but tourism (and development) has increased dramatically over the last few years.
Koh Chang Travel Guide Thailand Information
Koh Chang is one of Thailand’s most beautiful islands with long white sandy beaches. The island is also home to a wide range of wildlife, including a good selection of birds, snakes, deer and a number of elephants. The island and its vicinity are great places for snorkeling, diving and jungle hiking. The “discovery” of the island as a tourist destination since 2000 has brought on a large amount of rapid development, and while still far quieter than places like Phuket or Ko Samui, it is far from quiet in high season. Regarding services and activities specifically aimed at tourists prices have reached such a level that the islanders are pricing themselves out of the market when compared to the other islands.
Koh Chang Travel Guide Thailand History
Prior to World War II, Ko Chang was little known to Westerners and was lightly-populated. The few families there made a living growing coconuts and fruit on the mainland. In January 1941, during the Franco-Thai War, the Thai Navy fought against a French surprise attack in in the waters to the south of Ko Chang.
The first backpacking foreigners started arriving on local fishing boats in the mid-1970s. In 1982, Ko Chang, along with surrounding areas, became part of Mu Ko Chang National Marine Park. Only very recently, in less than ten years, Ko Chang has turned into a major tourist destination, both for foreigners and local Thais.
This sudden tourism boom however, has been fraught with controversy concerning land use, etc. The government is trying to “develop” it from a backpackers’ paradise to a top-level destination, and construction work is going on throughout the island, with basic huts torn down to make way for fancy resorts.
Koh Chang Travel Guide Thailand Geography
Ko Chang is the largest island in the Ko Chang Archipelago. The name means Elephant Island, named for the elephant shape of its headland, although elephants are not indigenous to the island.
Ko Chang has an area of approximately 429 square kilometres. The topography contains high mountains and complex stone cliffs. The highest mount is Khao Salak Phet which is 744 metres high, rich in fertile evergreen forest which is the main water source. Therefore, there are many waterfalls, beaches and splendid reefs in the west of the island.
Most accommodation is located on the western side of the island, where the sandy beaches are. On the eastern side of the island there are few sandy beaches; as such, this side is far less touristy. There are some nice waterfalls though.
70 percent of this undisturbed island is rain forest, steep hills, cliffs, waterfalls, and wildlife, fine beaches, coral reefs and an abundance of marine life. The island also offers tall mountains and rock cliffs.
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Ko Chang has the same seasons as Bangkok. The best season to go is the (comparatively) cool season between November and February. March to May are roasting hot and between June and October it rains, and a lot at that: 4,000 mm in an average year. Many guest houses close during this season, so accommodation is limited.
Koh Chang Travel Guide Thailand Get in
Bangkok Airways flies 3 times a day from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport (the “new” BKK) to Trat Airport . The flights depart at 08:30, 11:40 and 17:05, and take 1 hour exactly. Ticket prices are between 2,000B and 3,800B return trip depending on the time of year.
Direct door-to-door minibus transfers from Trat airport to Ko Chang resorts cost 500 Baht/person one way and 900 Baht/person return including the ferry crossing. The minibuses are air-conditioned.
From Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport, take the free express shuttle bus from outside the arrivals concourse to the airport’s own bus terminal, and from there the next available bus to either Trat or Chanthaburi, then proceed as described below.
Koh Chang Travel Guide Thailand.
From Bangkok the most economical way to get to Laem Ngop (where the Ko Chang ferry piers are) is to take a 1st class bus #999 from the Eastern (Ekamai) Bus Terminal direct to the Laem Ngop piers. The fare is 275 baht one-way (520 baht return) and takes just over five hours. Departures from Ekamai are at 07:45 & 09:45, and return at 14:00. Subject to seat availability, this bus can also be boarded at Chanthaburi and at Suvarnabhumi Airport. However, as of December 2009 there was a more comfortable way to travel from Bangkok Airport to Ko Chang: the new bus line # 392 starts from the airport bus terminus (make sure to take a free shuttle from main airport to airport bus terminus) at 07:30 and returns from Koh Chang at 12:30. Tickets can be bought online at the Suvarnabhumi Burapha Bus Company . As of 1 Nov. 2010 there are also express shared minibuses running from Suvarnabhumi airport non-stop to Lonely Beach on Ko Chang . Tickets are 308 baht for the big bus and 600 baht (800 baht round trip)for the Lonely Beach Express minibus which includes a ticket for the ferry. However, this service can be unreliable; jammed minivans with unsecure luggage and drivers breaking traffic rules. It is also not guaranteed that your return will be by minivan, but rather with a large bus carrying people for other destinations which requires lengthy stops along the way.
Alternatively, there are 1st class (approx. 5 hours, around 250 baht) and 2nd class services from both the Eastern Bus Terminal (Ekamai) and Northern Bus Terminal (Moh Chit) direct to Trat, and frequent songthaew services from Trat to Laem Ngop (approx. 30 minutes, 50 baht/person). Departures from Ekamai are more frequent than from Moh Chit. If coming by bus from the south, the #511 air-con bus can be used to connect directly between Bangkok’s Southern (Sai Tai Mai) and Eastern (Ekamai) bus terminals.
Departures from Ekamai on the Cherdchai Private Bus company second class bus are 255 Baht to Trat (March 2015), with departures approximately every 2 hours during the day and advertised travel time being 4 hours.
There is a new government bus line 999 that travels between Ekamai station and the ferry to Ao Thammachart Pier. It is properly airconditioned and each traveller receives a refreshment pack. Unfortunately the travel times for bus 999 are limited. There are only 2 departure times per day, both in the morning.
The Cherdchai Private Bus company night sells seats on a first class airconditioned night bus that leaves Ekamai at 11.30pm and arrives in Trat town around 5am the next morning but it cannot be recommended as the bus was crowded, the airconditioning was almost non-existent, the toilet stank of urine and the bus itself was filthy. Be careful too that if the Cherdchai ticket booth at Ekamai charges you for a ferry ticket to Koh Chang as the ferry ticket is overpriced and puts you on a ferry to Centrepoint Pier, which is a 45 minutes trip compared to 25 minutes if you take the ferry to Ao Thammachart Pier.
Connection in Trat can also be used if coming from Pattaya (2nd class bus, 4 hours, around 200 baht).
There are direct minibus services to Laem Ngop from Pattaya, Ban Phe (gateway to Ko Samet), and Bangkok’s Khao San Road and Victory monument (in front of the Payathai hospital). They, however, are less comfortable and spacious than public buses, and you may be charged significantly more by travel agencies selling tickets to these, as often with any tourist-oriented transportation in Thailand.
It may also be possible to proceed directly to Laem Ngop by minibus or songthaew from the Hat Lek / Koh Kong border crossing with southern Cambodia, depending on the time of year, time of day, etc – enquire locally. Price around 120 baht (one way) from the border to Trat bus station.
Most ferries operate from Laem Ngop, which has three piers . The Laem Ngop (Tha Khrom Luang or Tha Laern Ngop) pier is approximately 700 metres west of Laem Ngop. The Centrepoint (Tha Centre Point) pier is located about 3.5 km north-west of Laem Ngop. These piers serve both vehicle and passenger ferries.
Koh Chang vehicle ferry pier is located in Thammachat Bay (Ao Thammachat), around 15 km west of Laem Ngop.
All piers on Ko Chang are situated on the eastern side of the island. The major piers are the two Dan Kao piers, Tha Dan Kao and Tha Ferry Dan Kao, who handles most of the traffic. To take a boat from Laem Ngop to the Dan Kao piers take around 45 minutes. The car ferry from Laem Ngop take around 1 hour and arrives at the Tha Ferry Dan Kao pier, situated 400 metres southeast of the Tha Dan Kao pier. The car ferry from Thammachat Bay stops at the Ko Chang Ferry Pier (Tha Ferry Ko Chang) in the Sapparot Bay (Ao Sapparot), 3 kilometres northwest from the Dan Kao piers.
Light meals, fruit, fruits and beverages are available at all the piers and on the car ferries.
There are two operators that provide daily speedboat services from Ko Kood to Ko Chang. One is based in Bang Bao, the other on Kai Bae Beach Rates are the same but departures times can vary, so make sure to book ahead.
By taxi or limousine
From Bangkok or Suvarnabhumi international airport the ride takes a total of about 5-5.5 hours by Limousine or Taxi. Most taxi drivers will decline this journey as the risk of empty return is too high for them. Most (airport) limousines or minibuses will deliver you at the hotel or resort on Koh Chang, especially if they can make it back to the mainland before the last ferry sails.
By Private transfer and Minibus
In addition to limousines and taxis, transfers by private car or minibus, either from the airport or any hotel in Bangkok, can also be arranged easily. There are several companies who provide transfer bookings online. Prices depend on the number of passengers. This is an ideal way to travel for anyone who doesn’t want to pay for flights to Trat on Bangkok Airways. High season plane tickets are around 2,500 – 3,500 Baht per person.
Tickets for the shared minibuses from Suvarnabhumi Airport unfortunately can’t be booked in advance. You’ll need to buy tickets after you land at Suvarnabhumi Airport from the Suvarnabhumi Burupha ticket counter on Level 1 on the main terminal building. One way tickets are 600 Baht per person including ferry ticket.
Tickets for shared minibuses from hotels in central Bangkok to hotels on koh Chang are from 900 – 1,100 Baht per person including ferry ticket. These can be bought from hotels and tour agents in Bangkok or online in advance.
As of October 2015, there are no shared minibus services from Don Meuang Airport to Koh Chang.
Koh Chang Travel Guide Thailand.
Koh Chang Travel Guide Thailand Get Around
These taxis are also waiting at the Dan Kao Pier (50 baht/person to White Sand beach, 100 baht to Lonely Beach). At the Dan Kao Ferry-Pier there may be no taxis available. If you arrive without a vehicle you may have to walk the 400 metres to Dan Kao Pier. The prices have become unofficially fixed and there is little room for bargaining; however, the price you pay to return should be the price you payed to come in the first place (50B White Sands, 100B Lonely, 150B Bang Bao). If they try to add 50B to that, decline (not politely). There will be another taxi and accepting the price increase condones the practice and causes price increases over time.
Small motorcycles can be rented for 150-300B per day. The main road is sealed and almost circles the island and there are plans to complete the circuit in the near future. Cars are also available for rental, most hotels can help with it. 4×4 car recommended, since some roads might be in bad condition, especially near Lonely Beach.
To rent a motorbike at the center point pier is a good option to save money, as you are avoiding the expensive taxi rides. It further gives you the freedom to drive to more remote beaches where you most of the time fine lower rates for accommodation. [Update April 2014: Center Point motorbike rentals charging 250 baht/day daily rentals, 200 baht/day for 5 days, and 150 baht/day for monthly rentals. Price is (apparently) non negotiable. They also only provide you with ~.7L of fuel, so it’s on you to fill the rest of the way up.]
If there are 2 or more people going with you, hiring a songtheaw may cost the same price, or even be cheaper than paying per each person in a “shared” songtheaw (there is no difference, an empty songtheaw can easily be hired). Just do not forget to bargain if their price sounds quite silly when compared, say, to Bangkok taxi-meter (on Ko Chang it can be difficult if not impossible to get the same price, but at least it should not cost double or even more). Generally most people just stay on the beach of their choice and walk to wherever they want to go.
Hitching on Ko Chang is also an alternative if you choose not to pay the often exorbitant fees of the songtheaw. Many islanders are more than willing to pick up a hitchhiker who happens to be going the same way they are. A Coke or cold bottle of green tea for the driver are always appreciated at the end of your journey.
Koh Chang Travel Guide Thailand See
Elephants – There are three or four places offering elephant rides. We checked them out and none of them are ‘elephant friendly’. Please think carefully about wanting to sit on a chair on the back of an elephant. All you can see from the is trees and a long drop to the ground. Elephants for riding are ‘broken’ when they are babies. They are guided by a mahout with an ‘ice pick’. The ice pick is not for show. It is used on the elephant. Perhaps not when you are there… Elephants under stress rock from side to side and actually look distressed. If you see this behaviour, or see that the animals are being chained with little or no shade, or see that they do ‘tricks’, they are being misused. This becomes your choice. Do you perpetuate a cruel practice for a bit of fun, or do you look elsewhere?
- The Mu Koh Chang National Park – National Marine Park comprising parts of Koh Chang and 46 other islands
- War memorial monument – in the very south of the island
- Klong Plu – the most popular waterfall, and the only one on the west side of the island
- Klong Nonsi – waterfall on the east side of the island
- Klong Nueng – said to be the most breathtaking waterfall
- Khiri Petch – medium sized waterfall, about 3 kilometres from Salak Petch village
- Kongoi – 5 waterfalls near Bang Bao
- The Thanmayom – near Thanmayom pier
Koh Chang Travel Guide Thailand Do
Scuba diving and fishing are the most popular activities, because there are many beautiful corals and many kinds of fish for fishing. Additionally, a jungle trekking is a great idea. Jungle trekking is divided in 2 parts- north and south. Jungle trekking of north is a nature walk that contains many kinds of fruit, and several of plants. On the other hand, jungle trekking of south includes visiting fishing villagse and offers you to see a variety of animals (monkeys, snakes, birds, lizards) You can also learn how to cook Thai food. The cost for each courses starts form 1200 baht. They will teach popular Thai food such as spicy salad (som-tum), chicken curry (kang keaw wan), spicy soup (tom yum), fried rice noodles (Pad Thai), and so on. Moreover, the main activity in koh chang is the island sightseeing. You can see a famous Chinese temple that everybody should visit and pray.
- Diving is Cool, (situated in the lovely village of Bang Bao), the center of all diving activities on Koh Chang
- Eco-Divers Koh Chang, ☎ (+66) 03 955 72 96 (firstname.lastname@example.org), 9 am to 8 pm. Booking office can be found in White Sand Beach ( near Kacha Hotel ), Kaibae ( just in front Kaibae Resort, on the main street ).The main office is located in front of the 7/11 at the entrance of Klong Prao
- The Dive Adventure, a Five Star Padi IDC diving school that offers Scuba Diving, Padi Courses and Snorkel trips into Koh Chang National Marine Park, so if you looking for a great day out Snorkelling, Diving or Discover Scuba Diving, or you wish to start your Padi Diving Certification.
- Scuba Zone (Scuba Koh Chang), 21/23 moo4 Whitesand, ☎ 0800 974 111, An extensive range of snorkeling and diving equipment focusing more on quality than price, but still cheaper than Western prices.
- BB Divers, Bang Bao 16/2 (Koh Chang), ☎ 0861556212, BB divers is a Belgian diving school, located on Koh Chang and on Koh Kood, Thailand. They have been active on Koh chang since 2003, and opened up their Koh kood branch in 2011. BBdivers is a five star PADI IDC center. They train divers from non diver up to instructor level. BB divers offers daily trips to the best dive sites, daily snorkeltrips with professional guidance and padi courses is many languages.
Walk with a Ranger from the Than Mayom Waterfall to the Khlong-Plu Waterfall. The tour takes 8-10 hours and costs 500 baht per person.
Thai Cooking Classes in one of the 3 thai cooking school located around klong prao: Kati Culinary, Koh Chang Thai cooking, Blue Lagoon.
Kayaking Guided sea kayaking trips. KayakChang.com is run by a British qualified guides. They use imported sea kayaks and equipment. They offer single day expeditions off the west coast and multi day expeditions in the southern islands.
Rope and harness– tree climbing and share the fun activities and amazing views from the top of the trees.
Charter a sailing boat
- Boat Charter Thailand, ☎ +66(0)884907290, Sailing Yachts, Motor Boats, Bareboat or Crewed, Luxury Charters, Fishing Trips, Traditional Boat Tours.
- Gulf Charters Thailand (Yacht Charter Koh Chang), Ao Salakpet (Located on the pier of Island View resort), ☎ +6638237752, Yacht Charter, bareboat and skippered sailing yachts, operating in Koh Chang since 2005.
- Kon Tiki snorkeling cruise (Kon Tiki Island hooping), 98/7 Moo4 Kai Bae Beach, Koh Chang, Thailand. With Kon Tiki you can enjoy your snorkeling cruise on Koh Chang National Marine Park. Experience Koh Maak, Koh Rang and the Monkey Rock. Include Free Soft drinks and free Snorkel and Mask, Fins for rent.
Learn Thai massage
- Ni’s school of medical massage, Klong Prao beach (near the turn to Blue Lagoon resort), ☎ +668 1278 4590, +669 1817 4669. Tareetip Narapong (Ni) teaches medical, balance and foot massage. Basic course takes about 1,5-2 weeks. Price is quite reasonable for individual classes. Ni is very experienced masseur. Try her traditional Thai or back massage.
Photography The island has plenty of incredible sites and awesome locations for street and sunset photography.
Koh Chang Travel Guide Thailand Eat
Menus are similar to the rest of Thailand, but an island-surcharge is high not so much due to higher transportation cost but because of tourist development. There are many restaurants on any given beach open both daytime and evening with a strong concentration of tourist-minded facilities in White Sand Beach.
The beaches of Ko Chang are all dotted with restaurants dishing up some delicious seafood as well as offering romantic evening views. And don’t forget to try Ko Chang’s very own wine which comes in a variety of fruity flavours including: mangosteen, pineapple and grape.
White Sand Beach
Sunsets can be watched in style from the terrace at the Top Resort in south White Sand Beach from the advantage of a cliff top, bring appetite and your camera, no reservations needed.
- Apple (แอปเปิ้ล บังกะโล), 7/4 Moo 4, ☎ +66 39 551-228. Su-F 08:00-24:00, Sa 08:00-01:00. Probably the cheapest restaurant/bar along White Sand Beach. It has a good location in the middle of the beach. Don’t expect anything special, just the usual Thai and Italian dishes common at these tourist spots. Upstairs there is a small hut where you can chill out with a beer on pillows. Closing times are early, but if you order before closing time you can keep sitting there as long as you want. They also have 21 small wooden bungalows available for 800-4,000 baht/night.
- Rock Sand Restaurant, North White Sand Beach (turn right on the beach by the 7-11 and KC), 07:00-22:00. Thai and Western food. Speciality: Taste of Thailand and finger licking good.
- Nong Bua Seafood (White Sand Beach), (opposite BanPu Resort), ☎ +66 39 551595, 07:00-22:00. You might wonder why this place got busy every night if you pass by. A family owned restaurant where has opened more than 30 years. They offer varieties of Thai, Chinese, European and especially fresh seafood.
Klong Prao Beach
- Ton Sai restaurant. Relaxed atmosphere, creative Thai cuisine, friendly staff.
- Sea Breeze Restaurant (Klong Prao Beach), ☎ +66 (0) 3955 7122. Beachfront restaurant. Thai and International Cuisine.
- THE CAFÉ, 24/1/1 Klong Prao Beach, Koh Chang, Trat 23170 Thailand, ☎ +6639557341, 01:00-20:00. At our stylish café, skilled baristas offer a menu of freshly brewed coffees, teas and smoothies. You can also grab a tasty sandwich or treat yourself to a delicious cake, pastry or our signature ice cream.
- BB World of Tapas, Lonely Beach 13/17 Moo 1 (Koh Chang), ☎ 089 504 0543. The world of tapas is in lonely beach, it is a very relaxed place surrounded by green lush jungle. There is a swimming pool to cool down, nice sun terrace to sip a glass of wine and enjoy some tapas. The Bb world of tapas offers the largest selection of Belgian Beers on Koh Chang. For customers there is wifi free for use. They offer breakfast starting 8 am, the guesthouse has 5 rooms price 400 and 500 baht a night
Bang Bao Pier
- Asia Backpackers Bang Bao, Bang Bao (Koh Chang), ☎ 0874406060. Fantastic restaurant offering european and western food at great prices, terrace area with bbq every night. For customers there is wifi free for use.
- Big Chef, after the small bridge on the road to Bang Bao pier (in front of Scuba Dawgs). Good and tasty thai food. Good price. Friendly owner.
Koh Chang Travel Guide Thailand Get Out
The last ferry leaves the island around 7.30pm, but it might be a good idea to leave before 5 as the prices for taxis can be very high afterwards.