Koh Chang

A national park including 40+ other smaller islands, Koh Chang is the second biggest island in Thailand, 30 km x 14 km. One road goes around the island, but not all the way around. There are also some side roads that'd take you to various waterfalls. It took us less than an hour on a motorbike to go from the north tip of the island to the south. In mid-March, it's very hot and it has rained a few times since we got here a week ago - check the best time to visit.

Getting Around

From Bangkok to Koh Chang, it takes about 6 hours by bus followed by ferry.
Get around by renting a motorcycle for 150-200 baht a day plus 40 baht per liter of petro, but note that roads tend to be narrow, steep, and windy between the main beaches. The east coast is much flatter.
There are songthaew, pickup truck taxis, that drive around the island that you can wave down to take you around. There's usually one going by every 5 minutes or so. Keep in mind that sometimes it can feel like a rollercoaster ride, as most drivers don't slow down cruising up and down the narrow bends - hang on!

The minimum fare seems to be 50 baht and longer distances should cost 100 baht per head.


Like a lot of touristy islands in Thailand, it's more expensive and full of tourists, although not nearly as crowded as Phuket. It seems to be a very popular spot for Russians - you will find used books for 150-300 baht in restaurants and shops but mostly in Russian.

There are a lot of Thai and international restaurants but not really any cheap local eateries. While some dishes start at 50 baht, most places serve local food at over 60-150+ baht per plate and non Thai food at 150-250+ baht. Unlike Chiang Mai where you can usually see what you're paying more for, here even hole-in-the-wall restaurants seem to have no problems charging more than 100 baht for a dish that would be half its price elsewhere in Thailand. Expect to spend at least 200-300 baht for any meal for 2. Dinner for 2 with drinks at a nice touristy restaurant often cost 600-900+ baht, regardless of the quality.

As for accommodation, you might be able to find a room with shared bathroom for 200 baht per night. Budget fan room with ensuite bathroom and hot shower starts at 500 baht. If you want some place nicer with air conditioning, expect to pay at least 600 baht to 1000 baht. Mind you it can get very hot, so paying extra for air conditioning might just be worth it.
Like most places, what you pay is usually what you get. Sometimes spending a little more can make your stay much more comfortable while being still very affordable for most Westerners (especially if you're just on a short holiday). As a couple with shared accommodation cost, we are spending about 1000 baht a day per person, all inclusive.

Where to stay

With gorgeous beaches and lush mountains, Koh Chang is a great place to spend a weekend or in our case, more than 2 weeks. It helps to pick up a free map/guide that shows you where the attractions and beaches are so you can decide where to stay - Koh Chang Treasure Map and the Koh Chang Guide are both quite good.
Koh Chang map

Beaches & Attractions
White Sand Beach is in the northwest of the island, lined with shops, restaurants, and a lot of accommodation options. This 3-km long wide stretch of beach with soft pale sand, clear water, and small waves is the perfect place to bathe in the ocean. There are beautiful mountains in the backdrop so there's something nice to look at while you soak in the sea. There are more people here but it still doesn't seem overly crowded.
Kai Bae ViewPoint, just north of Lonely Beach, is a small area on the side of the road where you can stop by to get a view of the bay and a few beautiful small islands - popular place to catch the sunset. Kai Bae Beach's south end is a stretch of quiet beach with pale sand and very shallow water with some rocks whereas the north end has coarser and darker sandy beach. It's peaceful yet convenient, with 7-11, 24-hour Tesco supermarket, a currency exchange booth, and many shops and international restaurants. Seabreeze Bungalows is a decent place to stay.
Lonely Beach, otherwise known as Hat Tha Nam, has more budget accommodation, but there are many bars and parties here so it could be quite noisy with loud music booming until the wee hours of the morning. It's pretty good during the day for swimming though, as the water is quite shallow far into the ocean. Other than part of the shoreline that's lined with small rocks, the beach has fairly soft sand. If you don't mind the noise, you could stay at Sea Flower Resort.
Explore the east coast. The road after the ferry pier, although not completely flat, is a lot less steep and has much less traffic. Beaches are gorgeous with coarse brown sand or rocks and are often completely deserted. There are a few places to stay but there isn't much else around, unlike the beaches on the west coast.
Khong Koi Beach by Bang Bao Pier, in the south of the island by the end of the road, has a darker and coarser sandy beach along with forceful crashing waves. The beach is lined with bungalows and places to have a drinks. It's not so busy. The resort at the end of the beach with nice bungalows costs 1500 baht a night during high season.
Klong Prao Beach is north of Kai Bae Beach and south of White Sand Beach. There are quite a few resorts here, but it has a tranquil atmosphere.
Bailan Beach, with mangroves on one end and jungle on the other, is small and occupied by a few resorts. To access it, you need to walk through the White House, Bailan Inn, or Mercure Hideaway. The sand here is fine but a tan color. The main road has a couple of mini marts, motorcycle rental places, massage parlors, and restaurants. If you want a cheap yet beautiful place to stay, Gu's Bay might be a good option.
Pearl Beach, just south of White Sand Beach, is lined with small pebbles. There is a small multi-language bookstore next to the post office on the main street. Most books are around 250 baht - I only got 120 baht selling 3 books.
Other than sunbathing and swimming in the ocean, there are also a few waterfalls and mountains that you can hike to, after getting to the entrance on a motorbike first, of course.

Whole day island-hopping and snorkeling tours that take you to 4-5 islands south of Koh Chang start at 550-1200+ baht per person, including lunch. There are lots of tour desks around the island advertising numerous other activities, such as diving, fishing, shooting, hiking, elephant trekking, crocodile shows, and more.