While planning for our Thailand trip, we wanted to cover an island which was lesser known and more importantly less populated.So after a lot of research, we zoned in on KOH CHANG!
This little island to the South of Bangkok is anything but boring! Filled with beautiful beaches, steep waterfalls and natural greenery this is a must-see for any traveler wanting to explore Thailand. Getting to Koh Chang is an adventure in itself and if you ask us it was well worth the efforts.
EXPLORING THE ISLAND
There are a number of Songtheaws- white pick-up trucks which are local shared taxis plying to and fro in the island and you just need to flag down one in order to hop in.If you have rented a car in the mainland itself, you can get the car on the vehicle ferry to the island.But the easiest way that we would suggest is renting a motorbike there.The roads are absolutely amazing and we could not find even a minor bump/pothole/dug up area wherever we went.The smooth roads really made it a wonderful experience for us.We would stop at any of the beaches/viewpoints/markets/restaurants without having to bother about transportation. Rentals go for around 250-350 baht and a further refundable deposit.There are a lot of rental places in the island and if you check with your Hotel, they may have that facility as well.Some places ask for your passport to be kept with them and we did read a lot of scams happening because of that (if they have your passport they can pretty much take any amount of money from you if there are scratches to the bike). We had only read about them and have not experienced it so would not not want to draw conclusions here. Since we were not comfortable with keeping our passports elsewhere, we asked our resort reception desk to arrange one for us albeit a few baht more than what was available outside.
WHERE WE STAYED
We stayed at the Aana Resort & Spa at Klong Prao beach. It is a gorgeous resort with a varied range of rooms and suites with a lots of amenities.
You can choose to take a dip in one of the two pools they have, have a nice spa session or gorge on some local delicacies at their restaurant.
They have their very own private beach which can be reached through kayaking or on their private shuttle boat through the back waters.The beach was lovely and secluded which was absolutely perfect.Further details can be obtained here.
THINGS TO SEE AND DO
You will get island maps in most of the places the moment you land on the island!
TAKE A RIDE TO THE LESSER KNOWN EAST SIDE OF THE ISLAND!
The western part of Koh Chang is the most visited and popular at all times.So if you do hire a bike or a scooter you can take about half a day to explore the east side which is more secluded and quieter but not any less scenic.You can stop at any time to enjoy the beauty of the island and take a lot of pictures!
We also chanced upon an abandoned pier shown in the picture below which is not located on any of the maps.After we passed the Than Mayom waterfall ,the pier is right next to the Ban Ing Rak Bungalows.
KLONG NONSI WATERFALLS
Also falling on the east side of the island is Klong Nonsi- one of the popular waterfalls in the island.While most of the major waterfalls have an entry charge of 200 baht, this one is free to enter. While reading up on how to get to the waterfalls, most of the sites mentioned a make shift sign of the waterfall, a temporary parking structure and walking through some farms to get to the waterfall. However we found it confusing because
- There was no one at the temporary parking place and we were not sure if our scooters were safe there. However upon our return, a man magically appeared from somewhere to get the money for parking. He took 30 baht for it. We assume the make-shift board is put up by the locals to make some easy money from the tourists.
- The walk through the field was not exactly clear. Luckily we found a fellow traveler and a local lady who helped us get to the waterfall. It was quite a treasure hunting experience finding the waterfalls.
There is alternative way to reach the falls which we discovered on our onward journey and we would suggest taking that route because there was an actual road leading up the waterfalls and a board indicating it was not some make-shift board but a genuine one. Past the make shift sign board,a hospital and you will reach the municipal building all on your right side(if you are riding from the west of the island). You will see a big and permanent board for Klong Nonsi on your right .This clear road will lead you right upto the start of the waterfall.You can just park your motocycle and make your way to the the waterfall.
This waterfall has about 5 or more levels.The first 2 levels are pretty easy to get to and there is a lot of swimming area as well.The path to the other levels starts getting tough and slippery.If you see the picture, there are ropes which you will need, to climb up without slipping.
DON’T MISS THE WESTERN PART OF THE ISLAND!!
WHITE SANDS BEACH
This one is a tourist hot-spot as it has an entire market area around it where you can shop, eat, exchange your money, rent scooters etc.The advantage of staying here is that it has loads of restaurants and street food to choose from and is always bustling with activity. But if you prefer a bit more quite place, then avoid staying here or move a bit further north of the beach where you will find some good stay options for backpackers and budget travelers.
KAI BAE BEACH AND VIEWPOINT
This could probably be the best viewpoint on the island.The picture was taken during sunset and this cannot do justice to how it actually looked.The viewpoint is situated in between Kai Bae and Lonely Beach.
The Kai bae beach is absolutely beautiful and we experienced it early in the morning! We could hardly see a soul around it.
Turns out , its not so lonely at the Lonely Beach!Another beach which is hugely popular among backpackers as it provides for some great nightlife and has some really good budget hotels and guesthouses.The place is buzzing and alive till early hours of morning.
BAILAN BAY & BEACH
Does not have an extensive beachside but long stretches of rocky seabed. A more relaxed atmosphere, it has some good bars and restaurants for a more chilled out time. It also has some good range of accommodation options.
Getting to Koh Chang:
We took a bus from Bangkok to Trat,where the ferry port is located.There are two ferry points in Trat- Centerpoint Ferry Terminal and Ferry Koh Chang Terminal.
The bus journey at night takes somewhere between 4.5 to 5 hours but the same journey during the day can take about 7-8 hours. So plan and book accordingly as to when you would want to reach Trat Bus terminal as ferry service starts only after 6 am. Buses leave from Mo Chit and Ekamai Bus terminal in Bangkok city as well as from Suvarnabhumi airport.We would suggest booking the bus ticket for Bangkok to Trat 1 or 2 days in advance as our bus was completely full when we boarded. For the return journey we booked our ticket on the spot in the Bus terminal and we easily got our tickets.
We boarded from Mo Chit bus station. Our suggestion would be to immediately head to the information counter as it was a bit difficult to figure out which gate our bus is leaving from. Not everyone there speaks English so be a bit patient and ask another person if in doubt.The bus was pretty comfortable and we were provided with a water bottle,some snacks and a blanket.Since we took the late night bus and reached Trat Bus terminal around 2:30 am and had to wait there till about 5am .
There are Songtheaws (white pick-up trucks which are local shared taxis) at the Bus Terminal itself which will take you to the ferry point.
There are 2 ways to reach your hotel in Koh Chang from Trat Ferry Point.
- Take a combined ticket of Centerpoint Ferry point to Koh Chang ferry point + Koh Chang ferry point to your hotel. In this option the full journey is inside a minivan (you can deboard the van once in the ferry and then climb back in when nearing the coast).
- Only take the ferry ticket and then get into a shared Songtheaw to reach your hotel.
We had taken the 1st option since it was pouring heavily and we had our luggage with us.So the cost was 2 way ferry ride 80 baht + 80 baht and hotel transfer 80 baht.The return ferry ticket is an open ticket so you can use it any time.
While returning back, we took a Songtheaw to Koh Chang ferry point (80 baht) ,already had the ticket for the ferry, free shuttle from Center Point ferry point to the exit gate and Songtheaw from gate to Trat Bus station (80 baht).
Koh Chang was truly a trip worth taking and we are sure we are going to take another trip there soon! Leaving you here with a parting shot of the Koh Chang Island while we were leaving in the ferry.