In a nutshell
Unlike many of Thailand's islands, Koh Chang is yet to succumb to overdevelopment, despite rising in popularity over the last few years.
Why go to Koh Chang
The wonderful resorts here make it a great destination for families, but some parts still maintain their rugged charm and offer enough adventure for backpackers and budget travellers. The island really does have something to suit everyone, whether you want to laze around at an all-inclusive resort all day, or hike through mountainous jungles and stay in a beachside bungalow. It's also the perfect island choice if you are visiting Cambodia, too, as you can get to the border from the nearby town of Trat.
How to get to Koh Chang
Attr: WALDEMAR MERGER | fotografie & design (cc by)
Before choosing where to stay on the island, the first challenge is deciding on the best way to get there! This really depends on your budget, and how quickly you want to arrive on the island.
The first way is to fly from Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport to Trat Airport with Bangkok Airways. There are at least two flights a day (flight time is one hour) and the cost is around THB3000-THB4000one-way.
From Trat, a songthaew will take you the last 20km (THB50) to either Ao Thammachat or Dan Kao pier in Laem Ngop, to catch a ferry to Koh Chang.
The cheaper option is to take a bus from Bangkok to the ferry pier, but the journey will take around five hours.
Where you are staying in Bangkok will determine the best place to catch a bus. There is a bus from Ekkamai (Eastern) bus terminal to Thammachat pier that runs every morning at 7.45 and 9.45 (275 baht).
There are also [buses from Suvarnabhumi Airport](/en/travel/suvarnabhumi-airport/koh-Chang every three hours till 6pm. These ones can bring you to the pier for THB400 baht or there is an option to buy a combination bus+ferry or bus+ferry+bus ticket to get to the island (up to THB700).
Note There are no more vans from Victory Monument; rely on minivans from Ekkamai or Morchit instead. Minivans from both stations leave throughout the day and cost between THB300 and THB350. All of these buses are available on Koh Chang for a return journey back to Bangkok.
It's also possible to catch a minibus from Pattaya, with the most popular operator being 35 Group.
Once at Ao Thammachat pier, the ferries leave once full, and take 30 minutes to reach Koh Chang (THB120 round trip). There will then be songthaews awaiting your arrival at the pier to take you to any west coast destination.
Where to eat on Koh Chang
As with anywhere in Thailand, the food on Koh Chang is fantastic, and you will be spoilt for choice!
There are plenty of budget places to eat around the island, but there are also a lot of upmarket options, too. For cheap food, there are lots of street stalls and restaurants selling local Thai dishes. If you want international cuisine, you'll probably pay a bit more, but there is a lot of choice - there's even a Greek restaurant!
The island is also well known for its delicious and super fresh seafood, and there are lots of great BBQ venues along many of the beachfronts. If you choose to stay in a resort, you'll also be well fed, as most of them have their own in-house restaurant.
Where to stay on Koh Chang
Accommodation is pretty similar to the food, in that there is something for everyone regardless of budget and taste.
For budget travellers, there are lots of beach bungalows and guesthouses on the island, and Lonely Beach is fast becoming known as a backpacker haven. If you want something more luxurious or you have a family, there are plenty of fairly priced resorts on the island. Choosing where to stay will probably depend on what part of the island suits your needs, and the type of holiday you are looking for.
How to get around on Koh Chang
There's a pretty good reason why it's called Elephant Island – because it's absolutely ginormous! This means it's unlikely you are going to get to see everything the island has to offer, although the island is easily explorable by motorbike.
Choosing a suitable base is really important, and each part of the island has its own unique personality. Most people choose to stay somewhere along the west coast, but there are several areas in the southeast that are worth considering.
Starting with the nearest area to the ferry piers, Khlong Son is situated on the northwest tip and is the most peaceful village on the island. There isn't much going on here, and there's only a couple of accommodation options, so it might not be the best choice for a base. That said, it is conveniently located and very peaceful, with beautiful scenic surroundings. It's definitely worth stopping by for a day trip if you choose not to stay here.
Next along the coast is White Sand Beach, the largest and most popular beach on the island. There has been a lot of development here, so it wouldn't be suited to anyone who wants to embrace the islands natural beauty. It's a great area if you want to stay in a resort, have plenty of entertainment in the form of restaurants and bars, and you don't mind sharing the beach with lots of people! That said, the northern end of the beach is still a lot like paradise, and there are some cheap bungalows here perfect for backpackers. It may even be a better choice than Lonely Beach, thanks to the chilled out vibe and nearby nightlife.
Just south of White Sand Beach is Pearl Beach, a much more peaceful area and the ultimate choice for snorkelling fans. However, the reason the snorkelling is good is thanks to the rocky beach, so this isn't really a good spot for sunbathers. Accommodation wise, the resorts tend to be less touristic and a lot more stylish. If you stay here, you'll probably want to rent a scooter to explore, as there isn't much here apart from resorts and a supermarket.
The central part of the west coast is where you can find Khlong Prao and Kai Bae beach. Khlong Prao is well known as an upscale resort destination, and the nearby village of Chai Chet is home to the island's most stunning beach. The estuaries here are also rather impressive, complete with stilted houses and mangroves. It's a fairly quiet area that would be enjoyed by both couples and families, but backpackers might find it a bit boring in the evening. The main attractions in the area are the Khlong Phu Waterfall and several cooking schools.
Kai Bae Beach is also very popular with couples and families, but it is much more tourist-oriented than Khlong Prao. There are lots of international restaurants here, and it tends to be popular with Europeans. It's a good choice if you want to sunbath, eat great food, and enjoy some nightlife.
Further south, Lonely Beach is the main backpacker area on the island, and where we chose more than once to use as our base to explore the island. It's the best area for budget accommodation, cheap food, and a lively nightlife. Luckily, it's still managed to maintain some of its natural beauty, and the beach itself is a gorgeous stretch of white, sparkling sand. This is the perfect place for you if you want to be a beach bum by day, eat cheap delicious Thai food, and then party till dawn!
At the bottom of the western coast is the beautiful Bang Bao bay, the top destination on Koh Chang for diving trips. It is a bit developed, but still relaxed and less touristic than most places on the west coast. It's also home to some great seafood restaurants that benefit from excellent ocean views. The accommodation on offer is a mixture of bungalows and good value resorts.
Finally, on the southeast there is the peaceful and isolated Salakphet Bay. Although it's not easy to get to, those who venture here will be rewarded with mangroves, orchards, waterfalls and jungles.
In addition to its natural beauty, it also offers a lot of fun activities to keep you entertained. These include kayaking, hiking, cycling and motorbiking. The accommodation here is mostly in the form of eco-friendly bungalows, but there are a couple of resorts on the western side. Food wise, it's all about seafood, which is apparently some of the best on the whole island. Of course, if you've made it this far, the adventurers among you should try to make it to Long Beach. If the treacherous journey doesn't put you off, you'll be rewarded with the closest thing to paradise that Koh Chang has to offer.
Is Koh Chang safe to visit?
Koh Chang is generally considered to be a very safe island, with the biggest danger to tourists being motorbike accidents. You should be extremely careful when riding a motorbike and scooter, especially when navigating the many twists and turns of the island's roads. It's advisable not to ride after heavy rainfall, and wear protective clothing and a helmet at all times.
Although Koh Chang is a low risk malarial zone, it's still advisable to wear plenty of mosquito repellent, as there is still dengue fever to worry about. For medical attention, there is Koh Chang Clinic located on White Sand Beach, which is part of the Bangkok Hospital Group. For anything serious, it's probably best to head back to the mainland to
either Trat or Bangkok.