Koh Chang is promoted as an eco-tourism destination and has so far managed to largely retain that character. This is due to the limited beaches and steep hilly interiors, which leaves the island with some great hiking possibilities. There are also several offshore islands and even reefs close to the beaches. You may not be spoilt for choice with every manner of watersports but that’s part of the attraction, as you snorkel, kayaking, bike or explore a seemingly pristine tourism environment.
Cycling in Koh Chang
The terrain of the island isn’t very conducive to casual cycling, and even experienced and fit mountain bikers will struggle to find suitable trails in the steep hills. There are bikes for rent to get around the beach areas, but be warned that there are some harsh gradients between one beach and the next. The road along the east coast is very manageable, however, making it possible to cycle to Salak Phet and back for lunch.
Hiking and beach walking
Hiking on Koh Chang is very rewarding although much of the interior consists of sharp topography, so you need to be fit. Very little organised walking is offered (Thais aren’t into hiking much), but trails do exist and it’s possible to trek over the hills to the other side. Hiring a guide is recommended.
In addition, there are shorter hikes to and from the waterfalls. Then there is the more practical option of an early morning stroll or jog along an endless sweep of deserted beach, and for this Klong Praow is probably your best choice.
Elephant trekking in Koh Chang
Currently two companies provide visitors to Koh Chang with the opportunity to climb astride a pachyderm and head off into the jungle. Take your pick depending on the resort you are staying at. If you’re close to Klong Prao Beach, then the Chang Chutiman Tour (Moo 4, Klong Prao Beach, hotline 083 989 6455) is your best bet and, at only 900 baht for a two-hour trip (500 baht for one hour), it’s a value for money outing. Taking in the tropical forests, Wang Nam Kiew Waterfall and pomelo orchards, trips are varied experiences offering a mix of relaxation and thrills in the elephant saddle.
Canoeing and kayaking in Koh Chang
Most of the island’s popular beaches have canoes and kayaks available for hire at hourly rates. Experience is not necessary, although it is an advantage, while the ability to swim competently is a must. Some of the larger resorts offer free kayaking for guests on the understanding that they are liable for expenses incurred from loss or damage of equipment.
Spas in Koh Chang
With the island having opened up considerably to tourism over the last five years, opportunities to get a little pampering during your Koh Chang stay are now plentiful, with many of the popular hotels offering spa facilities as well as a number of dedicated spa centres at the larger resorts. Among the better known centres are the Koh Chang Grand Orchid Resort and Spa, Aana Resort and Spa, VJ Hotel and Health Spa and Koh Chang Resort and Spa. All spas offer a variation of treatments however Thai massage, foot massage, facials and herbal steam baths are typical procedures that are available. More on Koh Chang spas and massage.
Snorkelling and diving
Koh Chang offers excellent scuba diving opportunities during the main season, which runs from late October through April. The western and southernmost points of the island offer the best diving areas, with the waters known for their diverse sealife specimens including various corals, anemones and countless reef fish species. Trips can be arranged with tour operators across the island’s main resorts, while those with their own snorkelling equipment may prefer to venture out and find suitable spots. More on Koh Chang diving and snorkelling.
Speedboat trips in Koh Chang
Local operators provide visitors with the opportunity to visit neighbouring islands such as Koh Yak, Koh Kra, Koh Rang and Koh Wai via speedboat. Trips are invariably for the duration of the day and include lunch, drinks and the provision of snorkelling equipment.
Thai cooking schools in Koh Chang
Should you feel suitably enamoured by the local cuisine, then you may want to add a few signature dishes to your cooking repertoire or simply enjoy the opportunity of getting a greater insight into the ingredients and techniques used in such popular creations as kaeng keaw wan (green curry), tom yum goong (hot and sour soup) and som tum (spicy papaya salad). Several of the island’s more popular resorts are home to hotels where Thai cookery classes are available for half or full-day periods. Budding Thai chefs need not bring anything save their enthusiasm. More on Koh Chang adventure activities.