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We’ve been in Thailand for a year and a half but hadn’t yet visited the beautiful islands. We finally made it official and took a trip to Koh Chang with a small group of friends just before high season rolled around. We only wish we had done it sooner!
Trip to Koh Chang, Thailand
Koh Chang, pronounced Gaw Chahng, is an island in the Gulf of Thailand several hours drive southeast of Bangkok and not too far from Pattaya. We’ve been told that it’s one of the easier islands to travel to (you can now book tickets online to travel by bus, train, and plane). After going there ourselves, we can certainly attest that it was a great first choice.
We vacationed for a full week in Koh Chang. The tan sand was soft, the water warm and absolutely crystal clear, the weather was beautiful, and the seafood was delicious. What more could you want in a vacation at a beach?
We could see for ourselves why many people are attracted to Koh Chang. There are a good variety of places to stay, from high-end resorts to laid back bungalows. Many are tucked within the mountain’s forest and blended into the nearby beaches. This was exactly what we were looking for.
Koh Chang has a small town feel with many eclectic shops and cafés and plenty of seafood restaurants. Lonely Beach, on the southern end, is quite laid back, while White Sand Beach on northern end is a bit more touristy (but not much!) And, surprise surprise, we also saw many Thais vacationing there. A plus in our books!
Koh Chang seems to attract a younger crowd, somewhat similar to the backpackers we saw in Pai, but with fewer solo travelers and more couples. There were fewer families and vacationing older couples like we’ve seen in Hua Hin. We also noticed that the prices in Koh Chang were cheaper than other beach towns, like Ao Nang, which is located far south in the Andaman Sea.
Trekking, kayaking, exploring waterfalls, and visiting nearby islands seemed to be popular outdoor activities during our trip to Koh Chang. Those, plus spending the day sun tanning and swimming at any of the many beaches along the west side of the island. It’s not uncommon to hear reggae music playing from the bars hugged by the sand.
Things to Do in Koh Chang, Thailand
After a week in Koh Chang, here’s a collaboration of our favorite places we visited:
Koh Chang Accommodations: Nature Beach Resort
After spending time at the beach, wandering through town and the little shops, and exploring the mountainside, we were happy to crash at our waterfront bungalow at Nature Beach Resort near Lonely Beach.
We could just make out the sights and sounds of the water from our front steps. We also loved that the resort had a massage shop, restaurant and bar, pool table, and offered kayak rentals. We spent four nights there for only 1100 baht (35 USD) per night. A steal we tell ya!
We chose the air-conditioned bungalow, but Nature Beach Resort also has fan bungalows for around 15 USD a night. Our room was clean, tastefully decorated, and had big windows that let in tons of natural light.
Koh Chang Seafood Restaurant: Lomtalay Seafood
We couldn’t wait to get our fill of seafood during our trip to Koh Chang. Looking back on it, we think we ate shrimp, squid, fish, or crab nearly every meal. One of our favorite restaurants we dined at, recommended by one of our friends, is Lomtalay Seafood. It’s at the southern end of the island, halfway down the pier at Bang Bao Bay.
Steamed lemon fish, sweet and sour fried fish, grilled squid, yellow curry crab, huge garlic prawns, and crab fried rice made for an awesome dinner. After the splurge, with a few big beers and fresh whole coconuts thrown into the mix, we split the bill with our friends; the cost for the two of us was 950 baht (30 USD).
Koh Chang Hangout: Easy House
This cluster of bungalows is exactly the type of place we were looking for to relax. Constructed of rough-cut tree limbs and raised from the forest floor, these bungalows completely immersed us in the nearby jungle.
A group of friends got together, and knowing the owner, had ourselves an afternoon of drinks and Thai food with him and a few others staying at the bungalows.
Koh Chang Activity: Exploring Khlong Phlu Waterfall
Much of Koh Chang’s land is part of the Mu Koh Chang National Park. This park has several waterfalls and we opted to visit one for an easy day trip. Once at the waterfall’s entrance, the hike is a half kilometer through a rocky forest trail. We were greeted by a tall waterfall and a ravine where we could go swimming.
The surrounding rocks are a bit precarious, but once we found a relatively smooth spot, we settled down on our mat, had some snacks, and eventually got into the cool water.
We had just talked about the Thai dual price system, and lo and behold, this waterfall had it. Chris showed his Thai drivers license and got the Thai rate of 40 baht ($1.50 USD). I had left mine back at the hotel. The foreigner price? 200 baht ($6.50 USD). Womp womp.
A Note about Getting Around Koh Chang
Koh Chang, as all islands are, is a mountain. And with mountains come very curvy and steep mountain roads.
Even as experienced motorbike riders, we were discouraged by the overwhelming number of 180 degree turns, 30 degree inclines and declines, lack of shoulder, and drop offs on Koh Chang’s main road. You definitely need absolute control of steering, breaking, and shifting!
Although motorbike rentals can be easily found along the main road (and it’s even possible to rent one at the dock after being dropped off by the ferry) we highly recommend using a taxi instead. They are easy to hail from the main road or request from the front desk at a hotel or bar.
Koh Chang’s taxies are pretty recognizable – big white trucks with a large TAXI sign on them. They have covered beds with benches in the back and are pretty similar to the red songthaews we see in Chiang Mai. Short rides cost about 50 baht per person, long rides will cost closer to 100 baht.
Trip to Koh Chang Total Cost (7 Days and 6 Nights)
To put it into perspective, our week-long trip on a tropical island only cost 65 USD per person per day…including travel costs from Chiang Mai and back!
Is it Worth Taking a Trip to Koh Chang?
If you can spare time to travel there, we say go for it! The island is beautiful, one of the cheaper places we’ve been to, and totally accessible.
We loved the variety of restaurants and easy-going beach vibe. And the beaches are some of the prettiest and cleanest we’ve ever seen. The views of the coastline are certainly picturesque, whether you’re on the mountainside drive or standing with your feet in the sand.
Want to relax at the beach without vendors pestering you or succumbing to high touristy prices? Come here and spend a few days with magnificent views.