Koh Chang Island Thailand
'True Paradise'

Koh Chang Island (or Elephant Island as it is also known) is one of Thailand's best holiday destinations and has been described by many visitors as 'paradise'.

This large island which has been designated as a National Marine Park (due partly to its beautiful coral formations) is located approximately 8 kilometres off the coast from Laem Ngop district, in the Trat province of eastern Thailand.  While the island is situated within an archipelago that includes around 51 other islands (several of which are simply large rock formations), Chang Island is in my view the best.

BACKGROUND

Located in the Gulf of Thailand, Chang Island has a mountainous landscape which is vegetated with dense tropical rainforests.  The interior of the island includes a number of lovely waterfalls which provide fresh cool water to swim in while the coastline incorporates a a number of lovely white pristine sandy beaches. 

This is Thailand's third largest island and it measures 30 kilometres in length, 14 kilometres in width or approximately 217 square kilometres.

Despite its natural beauty and the feeling of isolation that you can feel while on this island, it is located a mere 30 kilometres from the Trat airport.

The tallest mountain on Chang Island is Khao Jom Prasat which is approximately 800 metres in height and like the other mountains on the Island provide refuge to a variety of flora and fauna including elephants, deer, snakes and birds.

ACTIVITIES

The coral reefs that surround this Island are also home to a variety of marine life, hence scuba diving and snorkeling are popular activities for tourists on Chang Island as is surfing.  

However, other activities include fishing, cooking, yoga, bicycle riding while an elephant trek into the Ban Kwan Chang jungle is a must do activity while you are visiting this this island. 

The elephant trek (see image below) takes you into the interior of the island where you can experience the dense jungle environment which includes mountains and streams which are rich with native flora and fauna (which includes birds monkeys and lizards). 

KOH CHANG NIGHTLIFE

The nightlife on Koh Chang may not be as rowdy as say Phuket or Koh Samui but it caters to the tastes of most people meaning there are both lively and quiet areas where you can either relax or party after a day out at the beach.


The most lively night venues are probably found along White Sand Beach and Lonely Beach where you can find a good selection of  dance venues, beer bars, pool bars and live music.  White Sand Beach has been tagged as 'Little Pattaya' by some visitors so if you are into the party scene this is probably the better venue or you.

While Koh Chang Island may not be as busy as Koh Samui or Phuket it still one of the best places to visit from eastern Thailand and includes quality restaurants and holiday resorts.


THE BEACHES

Although, the main reason many visitors come to this island is to take advantage of its pristine beaches which include: 

  • Pearl Beach
  • Kai Bae Beach
  • Brailan Beach
  • North White Sand Beach
  • South White Sand Beach
  • Lonely Beach
  • Klong Prao Beach

SHOPPING AND OTHER SERVICES

There are a number of shops scattered across the island but the shopping here is more about finding the basic items that you might need. 

However, after saying this you can find most things you need and there are small boutiques, a wine gallery, small plaza's, a book store, souvenir shops, art stores, swimwear and clothing stores, handicrafts and jewelery stores, and of course convenience or grocery stores.

Besides the shopping on Koh Chang Island there are also massage shops, internet cafes, motor cycle rental outlets, dive shops, restaurants, bars (which play live music in the evening), and a couple of tattoo shops.  The island also has a dental clinic.   

ACCOMMODATION

The majority of the accommodation on Koh Chang Island is located along the western side of the island as the beaches here are more accessible for tourists.

Accommodation on the island varies between bungalows and beach huts to luxury resort villa's that include luxuries such as day spa's. Not all hotels on the island are air-conditioned so check first before booking your room.

For history buffs, there is also an historical dive site located south of the island where Thai and French navies fought each other during 1941 (i.e. as part of the Indochina war) for control of Chang Island and Trat.

History recounts that while men and ships were lost on both sides, Thailand was victorious and this area remained under the control of Thailand. Other islands that are located near Chang Island include Koh Mak Island, Koh Kood Island, Koh Kam Island and Koh Sai Island.

GETTING THERE

The best way to travel to Koh Chang Island is by taking a ferry from Laem Ngop Pier in Trat in eastern Thailand. You can get a minibus from Trat airport to the pier (approximately 18 kilometres and costs about 450 baht per person) and then transfer to a ferry service (which operate every 30 minutes during peak times) and costs 120 baht for the round trip.

From Bangkok, the best way to Trat is by plane, bus or taxi. The one runway Trat airport with its open-air terminal was built back in 2002 by Bangkok Airways. This company usually has around 4 flights a day to Trat with the flight time being around 45 minutes. The first flight is at 9 AM and the last is at 5.30 PM.

If traveling by bus bus, air-conditioned buses depart from the Bangkok Ekkamai Terminal. Buses almost every hour between the hours of 7 AM and 5.30 PM. The journey to Trat takes approximately six hours.

Return buses travel during similar times except there are night time buses which depart Trat at 11 PM and 11.30 PM. These buses arrive at Bangkok around 5 AM and 6 AM the following morning.

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