Koh Chang, also known as the ‘Elephant Island’ named because of its elephant shaped headland, is Thailand’s second largest island after Phuket. It is located around 300 kilometres east of Bangkok in the Gulf of Thailand near the Cambodian border. Koh Chang has experienced a large increase in tourism and development over the past decade; however, many areas have still retained their remote and genuine character. The island is a unique combination of white sandy beaches, turquoise waters, windy hill roads, countless waterfalls and lush rainforests. These unique features provide activities for both young and old; Koh Chang has plenty to offer. This multifaceted island attracts people from all over, from lonesome backpackers heading to Cambodia to families with children. While the beach bars provide entertainment in the evenings, those more adventurous can find plenty of excitement hiking up Khao Salak Phet, the tallest peak, or bathing in the cool jungle waterfalls.
Before World War II, Koh Chang was little known and home to few families who lived off the island growing coconuts and other fruit. It was a truly remote and unoccupied island. In 1941, amidst World War II, the island was occupied by Japanese forces and was scene to the Battle of Koh Chang between the Vichy French naval unit and the Royal Thai Navy. The French won a determined victory. The province of Trat was later regained by King Rama from the French in exchange for the then Thai governed Siem Reap, Sri Sophon and Prataborg. This triumph is still celebrated to this day and the 23rd March is known as Independence day to it’s locals. In the mid 1970’s, the first backpackers appeared on the beaches of Koh Chang and a few years later the island and it’s surrounding area was granted national park status under the name of Mu Koh Chang National Marine Park.
Koh Chang is part of an archipelago of 51 islands belonging to the Mu Koh Chang Marine Park. These islands are considered to be some of the most picturesque in Thailand.
This remote island is a part of the Koh Mak islands and is the perfect destination for a relaxing day trip or romantic evening. The island has only one resort with an open-air restaurant. The peaceful, clear waters are ideal for snorkeling and the unique beach features black volcano rock.
The island is the farthest from the coast of Trat but well worth visiting. The highlights of Koh Kood are the rolling, green mountains and the many streams, some of which become waterfalls. Nam Tok Klong Chao is the famous 3-tier waterfall ending in a pond. Koh Kood also has an abundance of white sandy beaches and small sand banks for the ideal day spent relaxing in the sun.
Koh Mak is a larger island located between Koh Chang and Koh Kood. The inland is filled with coconut plantations while the greatest attractions are the long beaches and crystal sea. The most popular activities for tourist include tracking, fishing, kayaking, diving, bicycle or motorcycle riding. Accommodation is available along the beaches and island bays.
This island is comprised of two mountains connected by rocks and large sand bar in the middle. The lines of the mountains, combined with the rock and sand bar, create a stunning little bay, which is well worth seeing. The mountains also allow for a stunning viewpoint to the surrounding islands. The structure of this island has earned it the title ‘little koh Phi Phi in the Gulf of Thailand’.
Accommodations are easy to find in and around Koh Chang, and there are budgets and amenities for all types of travellers. Check out some of our top recommendations:
Located a few kilometers from the busy beaches, Pajams Hostel is highly recommended for backpackers who are looking for a good balance of fun, relaxation and comfort – all at an affordable price. The hostel offers all amenities including free Wi-Fi, a swimming pool, a restaurant with an all day menu, tours etc.
Conveniently located close to Lonely Beach and Klong Plu Waterfull. There’s a range of different rooms with a garden view, sea view or beachfront bungalows. All rooms have air conditioning and free Wi-Fi while the resort also offers a swimming pool, beach bar and a restaurant. Kai Bae resort is the ideal place for peaceful relaxation, just a stone-throw away from other resorts and beaches.
Treat yourself to a stay at this magnificent resort that offers everything you need in one place. The Emerald Cove has a stunning outdoor garden area with cabanas and stunning pool long enough for swimming laps. The rooms are stunningly decorated, clean and comfortable with free Wi-Fi and you can enjoy your time at the resorts spa, coffee shop, hair salon or health club.
At the very north point of Lonely Beach, which means it simultaneously offers peace and quiet and easy access to the local bars and nightlife. The design and architecture of this resort are built for comfort and grandeur. Enjoy the infinity pool, poolside café and dinning and the private bungalows with individual pools, free Wi-Fi and stunning sea view.
Koh Chang is accessible via plane, bus and boat. Once you are on the island, transport is fairly easy.
There are threea day from Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport that arrive at the nearest airport of Trat. Flights depart from Bangkok at 8.30, 11.40 and 17.05 and the trip takes one hour. The flights aren’t very cheap (2000 – 3000B) but the trip is convenient and hassle free. Trat Airport is located about a 30-minute drive from the local boat piers and you can easily hop on a minibus that will take you directly from the airport to the boat and then to your accommodation on Koh Chang. You should expect to pay 500B for a ticket that will include your minibus and ferry trip or 900B for a return ticket. The ferry and flight schedule are concurrent, ensuring that each flight has a correlating ferry.
if you want to go straight from the airport to Koh Chang, you can catch a minibus in front of Entrance 8 on Level 1 of Suvarnabhumi Airport. Tickets are 800 baht and the minibus leaves at 7:50 am. You can do the same in reverse, catching a bus or minibus directly to the airport from the Centrepoint pier.
An A1 shuttle bus leaves the airport every 20 minutes to either Mo Chit bus station or Victory Monument. From these locations you can get a bus or minibus to Koh Chang. Alternatively, you can catch a shuttle to Suvarnabhumi Airport and get a minibus straight to Koh Chang.
Public a/c buses leave every few hours from the Ekkamai Bus Station (also known as the Eastern bus terminal). You can catch a bus to either Trat or Laem Ngop; there is no need to buy a ticket in advance. Tickets cost around 300 Baht and once you arrive at Trat bus station, hop on an open back truck or minibus that will take you directly to the pier.
A slightly faster way of getting from Bangkok to the pier. The minibuses are parked at the side of the Ekkamai Bus Station and tickets cost 300B. You can also catch a minibus from Victory Monument. Minibuses will also drop you off outside of Trat and there will be open back trucks and/or taxis waiting to take you to the pier.
There are two ferries; the Koh Chang ferry leaving from Ao Tammachat pier and the Centrepoint ferry leaving from the Centrepoint pier. Once you have made it to either pier, ferries leave every 45 minutes to an hour.
The cheapest and most available form of transport are motorbike rentals. You can rent a motorbike from 200 baht a day, depending on the bike. Always make sure to check the bike for scratches and dents before taking it. Keep in mind that Koh Chang is well known for steep, winding roads that are not always easy to navigate so if you are not an experienced motorbike driver, you might want to opt for the local open back trucks that run up and down the main road every few minutes. Hail a truck and tell him where to take you. Agree on a price with the driver.
The main beaches of Koh Chang are spread out along the west side of the island and you can find everything you need along this shore. Each beach has a few different things to offer.
The main waterfall us Klong Plu, north of Klong Prao Beach. This waterfall is easy to get to and it’s perfectly safe to swim in it or jump of the rocks. Plus the views once you reach the top are absolutely breathtaking
Opening hours: sunrise to sunset, daily
Entrance fee: 200 THB for adults and 100 THB for children.
Probably the most active thing to do on the island is trekking through the jungle. The difficulty of the trek is up to you; an easy trek to some waterfalls or climbing the island’s two tallest peaks – 644 meters and 730 meters. You can hire a guide privately or join a group.
Opening hours: sunrise to sunset
Entrance fee: free, unless you hire at guide, which starts at 600 THB
There are several different companies that offer elephant trekking, most are located in and around Klong Phrao Beach.
Opening hours: most companies open at 9am, and close around 5pm
Entrance fee: The trips are offered every few hours and you can choose a 1-hour trek (starting at 850 baht) or a 2-hour trek (1500 baht). This includes riding an elephant, feeding and bathing.
The diving around Koh Chang is known to be excellent due to the crystal waters, gorgeous coral reefs and wrecks. There are many dive schools to choose from
Opening hours: most dive schools are open from 10am to 7pm, although dives start as early as 7am and as late as 7pm for night dives
Entrance Fees: 2900 THB for 2 fun dives, 14500 THB for an open water course and 4500 THB for a beginners course.
These boat trips are very popular as they allow you to explore all of the small island around Koh Chang and enjoy a day on the water, snorkeling, swimming, fishing and relaxing. You can join a boat trip for half a day, whole day, or charter a private boat if you have a group.
Opening hours: Most day trips start around 8 or 9am and end around sunset.
Entrance Fees: 600THB for a half day, 1200 for a full day