The best and worst of Ko Chang Island Thailand

Khoa Chang Thailand Ko Chang Ko Chang, located off the coast of Trat is one of the largest Thai islands in the Gulf of Thailand, with it’s dense jungles, steep terrain and crystal clear white sandy beaches. Sound too good to be true? Well if you have the time to explore Ko Chang as I did you will be have the opportunity to see some of the more spectacular areas around.

Getting yourself to Ko Chang can be a challenge in itself but for me as the self sustained adventurer, it was a matter of jumping on the steel horse for a 6 hr ride from Ban Pong Ratchaburi to the vehicle ferry at Trat, near the village of Laem Ngop. You can get buses from Bangkok to Laem Ngop, and they will drop passengers off at both the ferry piers.

Once at the ferry it was a matter of paying the 200thb for the bike and two passengers, then waiting a short time to board. With the ferry’s running every 45minutes, 365 days a year in all weather, your wait time if you miss one ferry is minimal.

Khoa Chang Thailand Ko Chang Being my first time on Ko Chang, I had pre-booked accommodation at The Stage Kai Bae Beach, which is about a 30 minute ride from where the ferry docks.

The terrain on Ko Chang is nothing short of mountainous, with some of the steep climbs on the roads requiring 1st gear on the bike and with the added weight of a pillion and gear, the front of the bike does get a little light.

Generally the roads on the island are in good shape, though between the villages you will see a large amount of rubbish on the sides of the road which is always a huge disappointment on such a beautiful island.

Most of the accessible beaches are on the eastern side of the island, with the main beach being White Sand Beach. You will find gaining access to some of the beaches a matter of trial and error, with a large number of resorts taking sudo ownership of their patch of beach and not letting non paying visitors access through their properties.

Khoa Chang Thailand Ko Chang Long BeachOne beach worthy of a visit if you decide to hire a motorcycle and your capable enough to ride on a rocky dirt road is Long Beach on the peninsula where the Naval Battle Memorial is located. It will take approximately 30 minutes to ride there but well worth the time.

If you venture down the road to get there, keep going past all the signs for the beach and bungalows, right to the end where the trail stops.

Here you will find a beach that is approximately 80 meters long, fine white sand and not many tourists due to the difficulty in getting there.

Aside from the stunning beaches, the island has a great deal on offer. One of the things I suggest avoiding is the elephant rides, yes they can seem appealing but if you read my story on how these animals are treated you will think twice.

Khoa Chang Thailand Ko Chang Klong Phlu WaterfallThe island is littered with waterfalls due to the amount of elevation it has. The most popular waterfall due to it’s size and accessibility is Klong Phlu Waterfall. Khlong Phlu waterfall is the highest waterfall on Koh Chang towering above at over 20 meters.

The waterfall is situated on the western side of the island in the national park about 2 kilometers from the main road. There is a small fee to enter the waterfall, but it is well worth it. You walk 500 meters along a rough dirt pathway to gain access, which depending on the time of year can be slippery if wet.

My adventure there was after an evening of high winds coming across from China, so the morning was rather cool, so the opportunity for a swim in the water didn’t seem overly appealing, though finding a rock ledge to take my hiking boots off and cool my feet while fish swam around my ankles was an exciting must do.

Khoa Chang Thailand Ko Chang Klong Phlu WaterfallBang Bao is another area on the island which in my opinion is worth checking out. It is littered with rasta inspired bars and accommodation, and has a very authentic alternative vibe to it.

Once you pass the Mecure Hotel on the way to Bang Bao, nothing is upper class, it is all gritty and cheap but has an vibrant feel set within the rain forest.

Typical of the Thai Style, there is no safety concerns here, with makeshift beachfront restaurants and accommodation built from whatever materials can be found either cheap or free. For me personally this actually adds to the appeal of the place, with that deserted island feel of grungyness.

Khoa Chang Thailand Ko Chang Bang BaoPrices for food and drinks down this end of the island are considerably cheaper also, and really are superior to some of the higher traveled beaches on the island.

Sitting out on a makeshift deck right on the waters edge, with the sound of small waves crashing while enjoying a fresh coffee and devouring a club sandwich was my definition of peaceful bliss.

As many tourists do, hiring a scooter on Ko Chang is the easiest way to get around. Read my story on the Bodybagged Tourist first before venturing out on one of these bikes.

Khoa Chang Thailand Ko Chang If your thinking its cool to ride around on the island without a helmet, aside from taking your life in your hands you will potentially also face fines with road blocks set up by police regularly to nab farang tourists not wearing them.

Another worthy thing to note is watch your speed, the amount of people I saw racing around the island like they were qualifying for the next Indy race was staggering.

When your sitting for dinner at night and witness someone on a scooter getting pealed off the pavement, covered in blood after being hit by a taxi, it makes you realise how bad the epidemic is and how you need to be vigilant with your own safety.

Given my short stint on the island this time around, booking one of the day trips over to the smaller island for a chance to snorkel didn’t happen, but investigating after availability, you should be able to spend the day out on a speedboat with some lunch and snorkeling on a couple of islands for about 800thb each which isn’t a bad deal.

Khoa Chang Thailand Ko Chang Long Beach Look Out ViewpointThere are plenty of viewpoints / look outs on the island, but be wary when stopping at them as there will potentially be angry monkeys about which from what I have seen can become quite aggressive for no real reason.

Need to make mention of one great restaurant at Kai Bae Beach called Moo4 Bistro, if your looking for high class dinning at a reasonable price with fantastic food at either breakfast or dinner then this is the place for you.

Generally my rating on the island has to be a 4 out of 5, with the general appeal of the place being quite high.

As with most places like this in Thailand, the attention to detail and ability or want to keep clean and tidy seems on the low side and less of a priority, but there are still some gem areas there to visit.

One final point is remember your the visitor, and these people live here so show some respect and don’t be that annoying self righteous tourist that thinks just because your paying money you can be a prick.


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