Koh Chang is home to some of the nearest beaches to Bangkok. Thailand’s second biggest island, it is located about a 4 to 5 hour journey from the capital.
A quick guide to Koh Chang
Similarly to Koh Samet, the island of Koh Chang has a much more laid back vibe compared to Thailand’s other more famous islands. If you prefer less of a tourist trap vibe, then Koh Chang is a pretty good choice for a beach holiday in Thailand. It’s not quite as ‘Thai’ as Koh Samet though, and attracts mainly foreign tourists rather than local Thai tourists.
Where to stay in Koh Chang
The best area to stay in Koh Chang is along the northern and western coasts – these areas have the most beautiful beaches and the most activity.
To the north is White Sand Beach, the most popular resort in Koh Chang. Although this is often described as overbuilt and over-touristy, for an island in Thailand it’s really rather chilled out and tame. White Sand Beach, as you may have guessed, boasts beautiful, soft white sands and shallow waters with plenty of cool Thai bars along the beachfront. From 2900 baht per night, the Banphu Koh Chang is a great beachfront hotel on White Sand Beach.
To the west, is Lonely Beach. Lonely Beach has much more of a backpacker vibe with some lively bars and characterful, bohemian accommodation and cafes. The beach itself is perhaps equally a beautiful as White Sand Beach, only much more peaceful without any bars along the front. The Siam Beach Resort is well located near Lonely Beach and is at a reasonable price.
If you’re looking for a little more tranquility and romance in Koh Chang, the eastern and southern coasts offer a much more secluded atmosphere. The beaches, however, are not as conventionally beautiful as White Sand and Lonely Beach. Not as white and sandy, obvs.
Getting Around Koh Chang
The island of Koh Chang as a whole is rather big and can be quite a journey to get around. However, in my experience, Koh Chang is one of the easiest islands to get around because of the reasonably priced and regular songtaews.
There seems to be one main road that runs through the main areas of Koh Chang and most hotels are located within easy access to it. You shouldn’t have to wait longer than 5 minutes on the main road before you find a Songtaew – they seem to charge a set price of 100 baht per person during the day (although they get a little greedier at night). Considering the size of the island though, 100 baht per person really isn’t too expensive at all for an 8km journey.
You can also rent scooters to get around on Koh Chang. The terrain is quite easy to get around by visa – unlike some of the other Thai islands, Koh Chang’s main road is in a decent condition and it doesn’t get too jungly in places. Scooters cost from around 150 baht per day.
Things to do in Koh Chang
- Sports – There are plenty of fun activities to keep you busy on Koh Chang: Take an ATV tour, a bike tour or head to the tree top adventure park. There are loads of water sports (scuba diving, wind surfing etc) available on the beaches as well – at much cheaper rates than many of the other Thai islands. Many of the hotels on Koh Chang offer Kayak rental services. If you stay at a river hotel in-land, then you can paddle along the river all the way to the sea.
- Waterfalls – At 200 baht entry, you can go swimming in Klong Plu Waterfall – This is easily accessible via scooter
- Charter your own boat – For larger groups, private fishing boat charters are available for around 7000 baht for the day, or for about 1600 baht per person for a shared boat. Boat trips usually include free pick up, snorkeling, fishing and an on-board lunch and fruit platter. Of course, if you charter your own boat then you’ll have a lot more flexibility to customize your own trip. Just head along to any of the travel agents on the island to book – and don’t be afraid to haggle a little.
- Nightlife – There are two main nightlife areas: White Sand Beach and Lonely Beach. Suitable for younger groups, Lonely beach is a little more lively with plenty of blaring dance music, casual beach clubs and random bars selling happy space cakes. In contrast, White Sand Beach is a little more slow-paced – ride the mechanical bull at the Buffalo Bill Steak House; watch live fire shows and bands at the beach front Sabai bar; or simply chill out on a futon at one of the fairy lit bars along the beach.
An evening on White Sand Beach
How to get from Bangkok to Koh Chang
The cheapest and quickest way to get from Bangkok to Koh Chang is by bus or mini van. You can catch a bus from the Ekkamai bus terminal next to BTS Ekkamai station, or catch a mini van from the Victory Monument. If you get the cheaper bus, it costs around 200 baht, whereas the mini van costs 400 baht per journey. The mini van, however is a little faster than the public bus (you can catch mini vans every 20 minutes or so from 6am in the morning).
Whichever bus you choose to take, you’ll be dropped off in Trat. When you get off at Trat, catch a songtaew to Laem Ngop pier. Ferries run hourly throughout the day to Koh Chang from here.
If a 5 hour bus/ferry journey from Bangkok to Koh Chang sounds a little too much for you, you can always fly to Koh Chang instead.
Shops and hostels at Lonely Beach