Thailand Center's

KO CHANG

Global Mark : 11.71

Ratings by criteria : 

Charm Scenery Parks Culture Minor. Market Relax Fiesta 

Cost

AVER.
4 5 1 2 1 1 5 3 2 10.67

Ratings by backpackers :

Surveyed Liked  Comeback  Recommend  Range AVER.
20 85% (17) 55% (11) 80% (16) 4 to 19 12.75


Description :
A huge mountainous tropical island, part of a National Park, with all the characteristics of a huge mountainous tropical island : jungle, peaks (the highest at 743m), waterfalls & beaches

Comments : Being the second largest island in Thailand after Phuket (30km long & 14km wide), very few people visit it thoroughly : most visitors relax themselves in one area only. 

What to do ? In Laem Ngop, visit the National Park Info Center for the latest news. A few colonial buildings are also worth a look / Once on Ko Chang, ride the back of the songthaew / Become a specialist on bungalows : the size, the mosquito net, the fan, the shower, the terrace, the cleanliness, the cost,... / Relax on a hammock / Change color / See huge butterflies, frogs, lizards or, if lucky or unlucky, wilder animals like macaque or king cobra ! / Degust coconuts or pineapples / Walk a fishing village on stilts / Treat yourself with seafood (big fish for around B100) / Dive & swim by waterfalls / Walk the sea toward an island and snorkel toward corals (equipment for B50) / Tour other islands : in all, over 40 to test ! / Get a tank and explore the water (about B1800 for two dives) / If courageous & adventurer, walk the jungle across the island / Learn some Muay Thai Boxing / Party with new friends

What you may not like ? The new entrance fee as this is a National Park ! / The size of it, the lack of transport on it and the cost of it / The rather unpleasant walks around as it is hilly and the main road offer little shade / Visiting too late as some areas are clearly over-developed : Khao San Road by the beach ! (I exaggerate a bit of course) / The crazy accommodations costs & the crowd during HS / The lack of cheap food stalls / The rather unimpressive beaches with tiny waves & little fish activities / The strong current during the LS which makes swimming a perilous activity / Some motorbikes on some beaches  / The not so great dives / Some sand flies vicious attacks / Some jellyfish in the off season / Seeing those huge mosquitoes possibly carrying malaria / 

How long ? A couple of days to justify the trip, a few weeks if you fall in love...

Latest info ?  As Ko Chang is a National Park, it is likely that there is a B200 entry fee to the area as well. This dual pricing system was apparently implemented in July 2000 but there are conflicting reports about whether or not it is still used or already abandoned. Not surprisingly, a lot of backpackers were angry about this new kind of discrimination...

Backpacker's Tips : Marcus (Jan 01)
My cousin was there in nov-dec 2000, and there still was this B200 entry fee, you pay for a piece of paper, a permit. Although she got it for B20, by charming someone.


Where to stay ? 

Again, I visited only the south-west of the island, where most backpackers are now oriented. Feel free to contribute if you stayed on other parts. Most beaches now house some kind of accommodations and new places are opening every couple of days. Selecting a place to stay may be tricky in the HS (Oct to April) and you may end up staying where it is not full or renting a tent if scared by the cost : around B150-200 for a basic bungalow, B300-400 for one with shower, even more if in concrete. During the LS, prices are slashed a bit as finding a place is easy (except when notified, below prices are LS). Negotiating the price down should be possible but only if you stay a long time. From North to South :

- White Sand Beach : did not stop. Looked over-developed and expensive as popular with local tourists. Beside, the sand isn't apparently white at all... 

- Khlong Phrao Beach : This long wild beach offer relative peace & isolation plus a couple of good resorts. It is also close to Khlong Phlu Waterfall. This is the place I would personally recommend. 

  • KP Bungalows, 5mn walk from the main road / Bungalows 80, w. shower 200 / Go there for the very nice setting with space between the bungalows & a private large section of beach and to meet local people / What you may not like : the electricity from 6pm to 6am only, the very basic cheapies, the barking dogs and the probable noise from locals. 
  • Just before reaching the above from the main road, Hobby Hut has a few bungalows in a relaxed garden, worth checking if you do not mind being well off the beach...
  • Blue Lagoon Bungalow, 5mn walk south on the beach from the above / Bungalows HS 350, LS 200 / Go there for the beautiful setting by a small lagoon a bit off the beach, the relaxed atmosphere or to try to get a discount / What you may not like : not being on the beach, the color of the lagoon, acceptably clean but definitively not blue and not getting a bungalow on it
  • Magic Resort, another 5 mn walk south on the beach / Triangle bungalows w. fan 100, w. shower 200-250, in concrete 300 up / During HS, prices x2 ! / Go there for the correct setting with acceptable space between the bungalows, the clean atmosphere, the good restaurant over the bay and the nice section of beach / What you may not like : the lack of terrace for the cheapies, the size of the resort and the crazy prices in HS (but this won't be an exclusivity of this place I am afraid)
  • Chokdee GH (919052), just south of the above / Tiny basic bungalow 50(1) or 80(2), concrete ones w. shower & fan 300 / Go there for what is probably the cheapest price on the island if Sgl & the clean atmosphere / What you may not like : the number of bungalows per square centimeter. 

- Kai Bae Beach : with plenty of bungalows packed on a narrow line, this isn't the quietest nor nicest place on the island. It is however popular with backpackers. The large choice of so-called cheap accomodation, the fair number of restaurants & bars, the scenic opposite island (accessible by foot at low tide) and the proximity of Lonely Beach in the south might be part of the answer. If you like to keep in touch with other travelers base yourself here ! Otherwise, you have nicer beaches & resorts a bit north...

  • Kai Bae Hut Bungalows, where you are usually dropped / One big concrete room w. fan & shower but no mosquito net 100, bungalows w. shower but no fan B150, better concrete ones at B300 / Go there for the cheapest attached shower in the area or to save on your dinner as the shower of the concrete room was full of cockroaches / What you may not like : the basic look, the rocky beach or the taste of the insects...
  • Comfort House, north of the above / Bungalows w. shower & fan 150 / Interesting psychedelic bar worth a look / Go there for the correct bungalows at good price or to smoke with the owner / What you may not like : the unprofessional & rather unclean atmosphere (during LS only ?)
  • Kai Bae Beach (01 8628103), south of the dropping point / Bungalows w. shower & fan 300 (HS 500), bigger for 4 people 500-600 (HS 1000) / Nice setting & bungalows but rather expensive
  • Kai Bae Beach, the longest resort with lots of different bungalows / Sgl 80, Dbl 150, w. shower 200-400, more expensive HS / Go there for the cheapest bungalow in the area & for a few relaxing ones (at B150) right on the beach / What you may not like : the size of the resort, the lack of cleanliness & the poor English of the unhelpful staff. 
  • Paul's Bungalow / Two parts with a relaxed but busy lobby in between : before is acceptably clean & nice, after is unacceptably dirty & basic / Bungalows without shower in both part 150 / Go there for the hippie atmosphere & to check the bungalows, if possible / What you may not like : the nice part is often full !
  • Sea View Resort is beautifully set up on a slope but the cheapest bungalows cost B900 !
  • Siam Bay Resort, the last one of the area / Not so clean bungalows w. shower 200 (HS 250), better ones overlooking the beach 500 (HS 800) / Limited English
  • Two more places to check, just north of Kai Bae Hut or by the main road : bungalows also start at B150...

- On lonely Beach : a wilder & more remote area with a nice beach boosting small waves. When taxi are available (in HS), it should cost B30 from Kai Bae. 

  • No name, on the first sandy part of the beach, 15mn walk from Siam Bay Resort / Bungalows w. shower & fan 300 / Go there to check the place as it was still in construction when we visited and therefore unclean
  • Tree House Lodge, 10mn further, on the rocky part of the beach / Sgl 80 (HS 100-120), Dbl 100 (HS 150) / German "hippie" management / Go there for the natural, green, relaxed & clean atmosphere (check out the stone toilets !) in LS / What you may not like : the number of bungalows which would not make the place so quiet when full in the HS, the lack of light in the basic bungalows, the relative remoteness, the impossibility to reserve in advance, the poor English of the staff & the lack of nice beach

- On the way to the fishermen village of Bang Bao :

  • Happy Hut, 10mn walk further from the above, just before snacks shops / Go there to check it out when it open in the HS and clean itself up...
  • Khun Pa Bungalow, a bit further on a rocky part of beach / Same as for the above but did not look as "good"
  • Bai Lan Beach Resort, 5mn further, also on an unattractive beach / Bungalows 100, w. shower 250

- Near Bang Bao Village : 8 km away, this fishermen village on stilts is very charming and the food is abundant & cheap. The nearby beaches are however tame & nothing special.

  • Bang Bao GH or Oray GH, before the village / Two correct sized rooms in a small house for as low as B50 in LS / Fiesta & friendly atmosphere
  • Another place, right in the village offer very basic rooms w. slim mattress for B150. Expensive and no charm ! Other places should also be able to welcome you if in need.
  • Blue Wave, 5mn further south on the way to the sandy beach (10mn more) / Bungalow w. shower 80(1) or 120 (2), HS 150 or 180 / Go there for the correct setting, the quietness in LS and the good prices / What you may not like : the rocky beach

Backpacker's Tips : Stefan Westerheide, Germany (Jan 05)
 
Ko Chang Lonely Beach: Nature Beach Resort bungalow br cw mosquito net clean friendly 450 B very good value. Much nicer than run-down bungalows at neighbouring Siam Beach Resort. Good food very nice bar open-air movies. Every evening lonely beach is quite crowded but the beach is still wonderful. Main drawback is that music is not turned down before 2 am, in the low season it plays even till early morning. Tree house still open but may be closed now, nice place to chill-out but 200 m to the beach. Pickup to ao sapparod 0.5 h 40 B. Ferry to mainland 0.5 h 30 B. Pickup to Trat 0.5 h 30 B. Ac-bus to bangkok-ekamai 5.5 h 189 B

Backpacker's Tips : Martin, Switzerland (April 02)
In March 2002 we paid no national park entry fee, for only staying along the beaches. For everybody who likes a bit of movement in the evening the white sand beach is not bad, as there are bars and fire shows on the beach. White sand beach is definitely nicer than Khlong Phrao Beach. In Magic bungalows (Khlong Phrao Beach) we paid B 400 for old fan bungalows with simple bath, a lot for what they offered. - The owner was not able to tell us, that there is only once an hour a taxi to go back to the pier, so we waited for 40 min. in the sun. But the setting of the bungalows is quite nice. Small motorbikes can be rented for B 300.- for going around the island.

Where to eat ? A few snack places along the main (nearly) circular road & lots of restaurants acceptably priced in or near the bungalows / One of the best place to eat seafood & store on cheap snacks & water (B6) is the fishing village of Bang Bao but it can be tricky or expensive to access in LS. 

Internet ? It cost B8 per mn around White Sand Beach so it better be urgent !

When to visit ? Dry season from Nov to May, with a peak activity between Dec & Feb : crowded beaches & expensive accommodations but more transport around, better sea, safer swimming & less risk of malaria or jellyfish stings. The wet season between June & Oct sees less people but more animal, currents & rubbish. 

The beaches ? Truly, the wet season is not the best time to admire the beaches as the wind brings a few rubbish to the coasts. Nothing dramatic however : the water was clean & the sand enjoyable enough for Frisbee. I however did not find the overall setting on Ko Chang that spectacular : it is scenic all right but there are only little waves, no underwater life by the coast and the sand, when not covered by rocks, is nothing special. If coming from a western country, you will off course find it beautiful. If coming from The Philippines, Malaysia or south Thailand, you might be disappointed... But then, you have all the other islands of this huge National Park to explore...

Malaria on Ko Chang ? Local people may swear that malaria is not so much a problem but they also put cream to avoid bites... Truly, the risk do exist, all year round but in particular during the rainy season and on smaller islands. Taking prophylaxis drugs may be a good idea if you plan to stay a long time but keeping your skin away from mosquitoes is even better : long clothes or cream plus a net at night are common tactics.

 << Discover a few sights of the island

 

Backpacker's Tips : Anonymous (August 02)
Returned to Ko Chang, New Year 2002. Getting very over-developed and definitely starting to price itself out of the backpacker's price range. Lots of tourist groups...many taking a bit of time away from Pattaya. Would not recommend and would not go back. A world away from the Island Paradise it was in '94


Going around ?

Regular songthaew ply the pier - Kai Bae route during the HS. It cost B30 whatever the distance. In low season, they leave from Kai Bae Hut at 8, 10, 12 & 14 only, in order to connect with the boat.
Songthaew also go to the east coast from the pier for B30. From the west to the east coast (say to Than Mayom Falls) should therefore cost B60.
Going south of Kai Bae, less frequent songthaew cost another B30 (Lonely Beach) to B70 (Bang Bao)
Motorbike cost a whopping B400 per day or B50-60 per hour ! Mountain bike are only slightly cheaper at B200 per day but very unpractical on this hilly island...
Walking is free but exhausting as the road is steep while offering little shade. It takes around 2 hours from Kai Bae to Bang Bao or 45mn to Khlong Phlu Waterfall. 
Mu Ko Chang National Park regroup over 40 islands. Some resorts offer 2 days tour to some of them (Koh Mak, Koh Rang & Koh Whai) for around B1000, all included. In HS, boat trips to any island should cost B150 minimum. Koh Yuak was recommended as the best snorkeling spot.


Leaving Koh Chang ? During LS, boats leave Ao Sapparot at 7, 9, 11, 13, 15. There should also be a Ferry boat leaving at 17:30 for B30 but you will need your own transport to reach it. More boats are plying more routes during the HS 


The trip back to Trat : SSS / L&R / B30 + B50 + B20 / 45mn + 45mn + 20mn / Songthaew + Boat + Songthaew 
Everything can happen : even a near empty songthaew leaving on time ! A few westerners were going back to White Sand Beach, 30mn away, but I was actually the only one planning to catch the 3pm boat. This gave me an extra 15mn ride & some good panorama free of charge !
The boat wasn't too busy either and it therefore waited an additional 15mn. This brought us to Laem Ngop at 4pm, where songthaews were waiting for the speedy connection to Trat. 

 

Travel guide in 3 languages about Ko Chang, Ko Kood and more islands in the
east of Thailand. With Bungalow-resorts and far more than 100 pictures, maps
and all necessary information about these dream-islands close to the Cambodian border.