Thailand’s largest, and one of its loveliest, islands, Koh Chang was a backpackers’ paradise until a decade ago when its popularity as a mainstream tourism destination took off.
For now, it is quieter and more laid-back than Phuket, and it is still possible to find deserted white-sand beaches off the beaten track. The mountainous interior of the island is lush, green and holds a variety of wildlife as well as walking and hiking trails through unspoiled forests past waterfalls and rushing streams.
Although development is mostly concerned with luxury resorts, there is already a good choice of accommodation, mainly backing the wide bays along the sandy beaches on the western side of the island. The eastern beaches are rocky and far less touristy as a result, but the region’s spectacular waterfalls, rushing rivers and jungles attract eco-tourists and outdoor activity buffs, as do the coral reefs surrounding the island.
The western coast road is home to most of the spas, hotels and guest houses, with beach side locations the most expensive. Hat Sai Khao, located on White Sand Beach, offers well-equipped bungalows, small hotels and luxury resorts, as well as a selection of beach side eateries serving seafood dishes.
Hat Tha Nam is Koh Chang’s version of party central, set on LonelyBeach, a misnomer these days but great for nightlife. Of the 10 beach villages, Klong Prao offers the most luxurious accommodation and is the most peaceful.
Access by air involves a flight from Bangkok to TratAirport and a minibus and ferry trip to the island. By bus from Bangkok’s Ekamai terminal to Laem Ngop ferry port is an alternative, taking around five hours, and shared minibuses run from SuvarnabhumiAirport directly to LonelyBeach.
Koh Chang’s weather is sub-tropical, with the least hot weather between November and February, scorching heat in April and May, and a rainy season between June and October.