Thailand over recent years has turned into a well-trodden destination. Long gone are the days for discovering the unknown in the land of smiles, and many of the islands and beach paradises are open to visitors. With the famous southern Thai islands setting the trend for waves of travellers to come visit, there are still parts of Thailand that haven’t hit them meteoric heights yet. In the east of Thailand, Koh Chang is arguably one of them.
Located six-hours by bus and a short ferry ride away from the consuming capital of Bangkok, Koh Chang’s variety is what appeals most. It isn’t a secret destination, but it’s certainly an alternative one, especially from the masses. From holiday beaches to authentic spots to partygoer’s paradise, Koh Chang for an island has it all.
Bang Bao on Koh Chang
Let’s take a step back for a minute because Thailand is home to the most wonderful, laid back and soothing cultures on the planet. Take Bang Bao, a small authentic fishing village on Koh Chang that really allows you to relax. With fresh seafood available beneath your feet as you walk across the wooden planks, Bang Bao is perfect for a short stop.
For a great view and almost like a setting on a ship out to sea, eat out at Barracuda Restaurant. For more upbeat vibes and the odd live bit of music, El Greco is number one.
If you’re researching Koh Chang in a brochure, no doubt White Beach will be the one that springs out first. White Beach is exciting and is suitable for all kinds of travellers. Crowds are mid-range but often make up of mostly people on holiday with a small backpacker quarter. Split up into three sections; north, central and south, you might not find much serenity here but that’s not why people visit. From resorts, hotels, guesthouses, restaurants, bars, shops, viewpoints and beach and ocean in abundance, White Beach caters to all visitors.
Check out the viewpoint from the Northern end of White Beach – where the sand is white and powdery – by the National Park Office. The view is quite a shot.
On the main street you’ll find BBQ restaurants, ATM’s, dive shops, travel agents and even a Tesco’s Lotus. The street has all you’d want from a small town and caters to both western and local preferences. Check out the White Sand Beach Night Market, full of bargain buys on food and snacks.
Whether you stay here throughout or dip your toe into this tantalising party town, Lonely Beach has a real buzz about the place. From booming nightclubs to a plethora of shops and restaurants all aligned next to each other, the place is alive. Typically it attracts party-loving backpackers Lonely Beach has been going through change of late, with more modern styled facilities being put in place. Throw in fire-shows, yoga and tattoo studios, you’ve got a very modern backpacking bay.
For real in the thick of it hotspots, head to both Himmel Bar and Cancun Bar!
Mu Ko National Park
Thick in dense jungle, Mu Ko is one for the intrepid type of traveller. With lush trails, crawling with insect wildlife and as humid as a small Amazon, you will find adventure here. If you find the heat is getting too much, and no doubt it will, Khlong Phlu Waterfall is the perfect spot for a cool down.
Past Bang Bao at the southern part of the island is Khlong Koi. Although only a short ride by vehicle from Bang Bao – and with several roadside monkeys for company – Khlong Koi does have an eerie sense of separation from the rest of the beach destinations. Filled with cottage styled accommodation and a couple of restaurants, Khlong Koi feels more rustic than not. Paths are made up of sand or wooden planks crossing the swamps whilst the tide meets during wet seasons. Khlong Koi is for travellers who warm to a simpler stay on Koh Chang.
For lush views and tropical surroundings, Tree House Cottages adds to your laidback experience in Khlong Koi.
More suitable for couples than solo’s, although each to their own, Kai Bae is a nice little spot along the west coast of Koh Chang. It has a handful of hotels, cool bars and a bit of a strip to explore. That being said, you won’t experience the same frantic noise that echoes around White Beach and Lonely Beach. Kai Bae is somewhere inbetween, whilst if you get bored of island life, you can always hike an hour inland to Kai Bae Waterfall.
Where After Koh Chang?
For quiet islands that make Koh Chang look like Khao San Road, head to Koh Mak, Koh Kood or Koh Wei.
Koh Mak is around 30km by boat from Koh Chang and has beaches, viewpoints, Buddhist temples and a handful of bars and restaurants. A good place to stay is at Monkey Island Resort.
Koh Kood has the lowest population in Thailand so don’t expect anything less than that tells you. If you want to take ‘a holiday from a holiday’ then peace and quiet is what Kood is known for.
Koh Wei is around 45 minutes from Koh Chang and is even more native to its surroundings. Power is ran by a generator so there is no electricity, nevermind ATM’s, shops or hardly any WIFI.