Translating as ‘Elephant Island’, Koh Chang is the second largest of the Andaman Sea group belonging to Thailand and is located 225kms southeast of Bangkok. It is also the largest of the 47 separate land masses that make up the Koh Chang National Marine Park, but is still home to only around 5,000 permanent residents, although that figure is increasing steadily with the onset of tourism.
The new millennium saw Koh Chang begin its transformation from what was previously a sleepy backpacker retreat to the burgeoning holiday centre that it is today. Despite selling itself as an ‘eco-tourist’ island, there has been some unchecked development in the popular beach areas but since most of the island is steep terrain, it remains an unspoilt destination. Large upmarket resorts are characteristic of the island’s most developed areas although there is still a market for backpackers and shoestring tourists, with mid-price and budget accommodation still available at the quieter, less developed beaches. Check out our comprehensive Koh Chang tourist guide at 1stop Koh Chang.
Visit gorgeous waterfalls, go snorkelling and island cruising, or take a trip atop an elephant in the Koh Chang wilderness. This is an island to do as much or little as you like…more
Watersports are popular on Koh Chang and there are plenty of opportunities to get out on the sea here with kayaking excursions. Inland is also worth exploring with a host of hikes on offer…more
Upmarket hotels and resorts, comfortable and affordable guesthouses, or no-frills beachfront bungalows, Koh Chang has them all and caters both to backpackers and moneyed tourists…more
Restaurants and bars
Posh nosh at the quality resorts, or cheap and cheerful Thai and Western food at the budget guesthouses and bungalows on the beachfront, there are Koh Chang restaurants for all…more
Koh Chang guide
Almost all development is on the west coast and on beaches such as White Sand and Klong Prao, where visitors looking for comfort and luxury at an extra cost generally reside.
Of these two areas, White Sand Beach is the most developed and the place to find not only quality accommodation, but also great restaurants and pleasant spots to enjoy a drink in the evening. The beach itself is suitably stunning, with soft sand and scenic views out to sea. Wander along the waters edge at sunset and choose from a number of well located restaurants and dine with the sand between your toes.
For less development and purse-friendly accommodation and restaurants, the Lonely Beacharea is still the place to be with its no-frills bamboo huts and bohemian atmosphere. Kai Bae Beach meanwhile is somewhere between sleepy and wide awake and offers a good balance of quality accommodation and tranquillity.
Koh Chang’s tourist infrastructure is still developing and despite classy resorts, some basics such as a viable road network and transportation are still somewhat primitive. There’s no airport on the island and it’s unlikely that there will be one since development is restricted by the Forestry Department of Thailand. It’s only a five-hour drive from Bangkok, but you can fly to Trat and catch a shuttle over if you are in a hurry. Essentials such as telephone, internet and ATMs are all present as well as shopping outlets selling basics and souvenirs.