50 Best Koh Chang destinations & things to do
Finally, I was able to organise my trip to Koh Chang, on the east coast of Thailand, direction of Cambodia. I was really looking forward to this travel experience, although I was not really about the best Koh Chang destinations, or what I could do or visit once there, besides relaxing with a drink.
After a few visits to the island, I must say that Koh Chang has honestly some of the best beaches in Thailand, not only because they are stunning but also because they are not as busy as other more famous destinations.
In this post, you will find all the best beaches and places to see in Koh Chang. Moreover, you will discover activities and little gems that you can do with your partner or kids.
Best Koh Chang Destinations – The 7 Key Points
- Beach Bliss: Koh Chang is renowned for its stunning beaches, each offering a unique vibe. From the party atmosphere at Lonely Beach to the family-friendly Kai Bae Beach, there’s a sandy stretch for every type of traveller.
- Outdoor Adventures: Whether it’s jungle trekking, snorkelling at Koh Rang, or kayaking in Salak Phet Bay, Koh Chang offers a plethora of exciting activities.
- Hidden Gems: Koh Chang has its share of lesser-known attractions that offer a break from the tourist busy destinations. From the tranquil Than Mayom Waterfall to the weird allure of abandoned resorts, these off-the-beaten-path spots are worth exploring.
- Culinary Delights: From seafood dinners at Bang Bao to authentic Thai cooking classes, Koh Chang offers a culinary journey that’s as diverse as its landscape. Don’t miss the street food for a real taste of local flavours.
- Spiritual and Cultural Sites: The island is rich in history and spirituality. Visiting places like Wat Salak Phet and the Shrine of Chao Po Koh Chang offers a deeper understanding of the local culture and beliefs.
- Family-Friendly Activities: Koh Chang is not just for solo travellers or couples; it’s a family-friendly destination too. With activities like mini-golf in Bailan Bay and the Koh Chang Butterfly Garden, there’s plenty to keep the little ones engaged.
- Art and History: For those interested in the cultural aspects, Koh Chang offers small but intriguing museums like the Naval Battle Memorial and local art galleries that showcase the island’s history and artistic flair.
Best beaches of Koh Chang
I have explored this island upside down. This is what I like to do. Take the scooter and just get around. I loved a few spots and I liked a bit less others (as it usually happens in every place you visit).
I ended up spending most of the nights in the southern part of the island (between Bang Bao and Lonely Beach), I was in three flashpackers/resorts places and although all the places were extremely quiet, you could hear the background noise of a party somewhere in the island. Once in the room, it was okay to sleep 😀
The majority of the beaches and destinations are on the west coast of the island. This is also where most of the travellers usually stay.
Lonely Beach is one of the last beaches south of the island with a small village around 500 metres from it. There is also a mini-market right where you park your car/motorbike.
This is one of my favourite beaches. It can be busy but not crowded. There are few private resorts but you have easy access to the beach, something which is becoming more and more rare.
The beach itself is a little heaven, very long and wide too with a few sheds serving drinks. In fact, it becomes super popular towards the end of the day for sunset drinks.
I love the village, which doesn’t get super busy even on Christmas and New Year time.
In the night, you can easily find some live music, awesome restaurants and cool pubs to have a drink. All with a reggae cool-down style
There is a wide choice of accommodation, for the party animals as well as for the traveller looking more for a quiet night.
Here are 2 of the best accommodations by Lonely Beach:
Paradise Cottage ($): Central location, cozy rooms, friendly staff, and delightful breakfast.
Nest Sense Resort ($$-$$$): Picturesque views, attentive staff, and comfortable rooms. Dining options may be a bit pricey, but overall, a delightful stay with breathtaking surroundings
The Treehouse and Long Beach
Long Beach is just amazing. Very long and with nobody around, just you and a few other people, mostly couples. This is the place to be for a quiet time.
The unsealed road to Long Beach was a real adventure. I had a scooter and it was on the hard side, nothing challenging, but plenty of big stones around to avoid. My guess is that this side of the island is not as well maintained as the west coast.
To arrive in Long Beach from Bang Bao or Lonely Beach you need to drive all around the island. It’s around 50-60km or an almost 2 hours ride.
For this reason, although the sunset is magnificent, avoid it. Driving in the dark on the west coast of Koh Chang is not advisable.
Long Beach was also famous for the TreeHouse (see photo below), an awesome backpacker place where you could sleep and eat as well. The land owner decided to close it a few years ago to develop a few villas on the back.
Unfortunately, there are no accommodations around, which means you should plan just a day trip to Long Beach.
Kai Bae Beach
In my opinion, this is the place to be for sunset, there are few bars at the beach to enjoy your cocktail, and an incredible view of the small Koh Man Nai island on the left side. Really a great spot.
You can also rent a canoe and paddle down to Koh Man Nai for your private Thai spot. I had gorgeous days there and the water is usually so calm that you can paddle and come back in no time.
Most definitely a lovely beach to spend a day in. Plenty of things to do, including the inevitable soccer game with the locals 😀
Here are 2 of the best accommodations near Kai Bae Beach:
Mam Kaibae Hotel ($$): Right in front of the beach, with a lovely pool overlooking the sunset, cosy rooms and awesome breakfast
Kaibae Beach Resort ($$$-$$$$): Comfortable rooms, stunning views, and attentive staff. Overall, a delightful stay with excellent service and breathtaking scenery.
Ploy Talay Beach
This beach actually belongs to a private restaurant but they are ok for you to access, provided you buy lunch or drinks from them (similar prices to most of the places on the island).
Ploy Talay is located half an hour before Long Beach and the access is all on a sealed road, which is great.
There is a nice small pier for some jumps in the water or to be used as a great subject for your photos.
Fantastic spot for a sunset session. Another super quiet location to relax.
Also in this case, there are no hotels around and you should plan a day trip here
Klong Prao Beach
Another lovely quiet place to spend a day reading a book. It is quite shallow which makes it great for families with kids.
There are bars along the beach that become barbecue places during the night. An almost 24/7 business
If you love swimming I would probably go to Kai Bae Beach. Klong Prao can be really shallow with low tide.
Here are 2 of the best accommodations at Klong Prao Beach:
Watercolours ($): Stunning views from rooms. A great location along the river with the possibility to take a kayak for a small adventure
Santhiya Tree Resort ($$$): Amazing views into the water, great for sunset. A fantastic pool and direct access to the beach, all designed in characteristic Thai style.
Other interesting sites to visit
Bang Bao is known as a fishing village and most probably it was, but not anymore. I believe the real economy now is based on day trips to the nearby islands, scuba diving courses and fishing restaurants.
The village is mostly based on stilted houses, very picturesque I must say, with a main wide lane going down to the harbour and a few tine side lanes going to the accommodations.
Bang Bao usually gets very busy in the early morning with all the travellers arriving for a boat trip. By 10 am the village vibe is very easygoing, perfect timing for breakfast and some shopping.
Then, in the late afternoon, it gets busy once again, with the Scuba Divers coming back around 4-5 pm, almost at the same time as day trip boats. That’s when the tiny lanes of the village get so busy that you can hardly walk around. Definitely a time to avoid.
Suddenly, in a matter of minutes, once everyone is on the taxis and minivans back to their own resorts, the village becomes empty once again.
That’s when you enjoy Bang Bao the most.
The restaurants are not overpriced for what they offer and there are a few nice bars to spend the night, but in a chilled-out way, nothing loud.
Bang Bao is a great romantic spot that works so well for couples. It’s very quiet except when the boats leave and come back. Restaurants and bars are literally by the water (or over the water), usually with amazing views into the bay.
There is not really a beach. For that, you better drive 15 minutes north to Lonely Beach.
I personally suggest spending 2-3 nights in Bang Bao if you are after a unique stay, something you can hardly find anywhere in Koh Chang, and save on your budget.
Here are 2 of the best accommodations in Bang Bao:
Jerpordee Residence ($): Stunning views from rooms. A great location along the river with the possibility to take a kayak for a small adventure
Koi Seahouse ($): Amazing views into the water, great for sunset. A fantastic pool and direct access to the beach, all designed in characteristic Thai style.
If you are looking for a real fishing village head to Karang Bay, on the other side of the island (see map below for more details)
Bailan Beach and Bailan Bay
The Bailan Beach can be accessed only through private resorts which is a real pity because the bay itself is really gorgeous.
I spent a few nights there in a flashpacker place, really cool, I enjoyed it so much.
This is a place you can visit even for drinks and breakfast, one of the coolest places on the island. Try to get a seafront hut for the beautiful view. They have a small swimming pool too. Great base to explore the island
You can check the bay through a secondary street. It will take you down to a Korean restaurant, a great spot to take some photos and enjoy a romantic night at the isolated table at the end of the pier.
Bailan Beach Resort in Bailan Bay. Basic clean and tidy huts with air conditioners. A boutique pool and a great location, right in front of the sea. How awesome is to jump out from bed and go for a swim!
Are you still wondering if Thailand or Vietnam is a better choice for you? Here is my full comparison based on 25 points.
White Sand Beach
This is the first beach you will see when your taxi/minivan will drive to the south of the island.
It is probably the longest beach on the island.
This is the part of Koh Chang I liked the least. It’s busy with buildings and nightclubs. If you are after a party week, this is probably the place to be. For anything else move on.
It’s probably a good place for a night at the local street market, you can buy some gifts to bring back home, although I had this feeling they were mostly Chinese-made.
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4 Outdoor Activities to do in Koh Chang
Koh Chang’s jungles are a hiker’s paradise, offering trails that range from easy to challenging. The dense foliage is home to a variety of flora and fauna, making each trek a nature lover’s dream.
Don’t forget to pack some bug spray and water, and perhaps hire a local guide to show you the hidden gems. Whether it’s a half-day excursion or a full-day adventure, jungle trekking is a must-do.
Snorkelling at Koh Rang
Imagine floating in crystal-clear waters while colourful fish dart around you. Koh Rang is a snorkeler’s utopia, boasting vibrant coral reefs and an array of marine life.
It’s an underwater spectacle that’s perfect for both beginners and experienced snorkelers. Most boat tours offer snorkelling gear, but bringing your own ensures a perfect fit.
For those who crave a bird’s-eye view of Koh Chang’s lush landscape, zip-lining is the answer. Glide through the treetops and feel the rush of adrenaline as you soar over valleys and rivers.
It’s an exhilarating way to appreciate the island’s natural beauty, and it’s suitable for all ages. Safety is a top priority, so you’re in good hands as you zip from platform to platform.
Kayaking in Salak Phet Bay
The calm waters of Salak Phet Bay are ideal for kayaking. Paddle at your own pace, exploring mangrove forests and secluded coves. It’s a peaceful activity that allows you to connect with nature, and it’s also a great workout.
Rentals are available throughout the bay, and guided tours offer insights into the area’s ecology.
4 Off the Beaten Path things to do in Koh Chang
Visit the Than Mayom Waterfall
This hidden gem is a nature lover’s paradise. Tucked away from the usual tourist spots, Mayom Waterfall offers a tranquil setting for a refreshing swim. The hike to the waterfall is relatively easy, making it accessible for most fitness levels.
Explore the Mangrove Forests
If you’re looking to escape the crowds, a boat tour through Koh Chang’s mangrove forests is a serene experience. The intricate root systems of the mangroves are a haven for various species of fish and birds.
It’s a unique ecosystem that’s often overlooked but offers a different perspective on the island’s natural beauty.
Fishing in Local Waters
For a truly local experience, join a fishing trip in the waters around Koh Chang. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a complete novice, the thrill of the catch is universal.
Plus, you’ll learn some local fishing techniques. Even if you don’t catch anything, the experience itself is rewarding, offering a glimpse into the island’s fishing culture.
Discover Abandoned Resorts
Exploring Koh Chang’s abandoned resorts offers a weird yet fascinating experience. These once-bustling places now stand still in time, making for some compelling photography.
It’s a unique way to see a different side of the island, but exercise caution and preferably go with a local guide.
4 experiences in Koh Chang For the Kids
Visit the Koh Chang Butterfly Garden
This magical place is a wonderland for kids, filled with colourful butterflies fluttering around. It’s not just a visual treat; it’s also educational. Children can learn about the life cycle of butterflies and the importance of conservation. It’s a perfect blend of fun and learning.
Banana Boat Rides
Hold on tight for a thrilling water adventure that’s perfect for kids and adults alike! Banana boat rides are a popular beach activity in Koh Chang, offering a bumpy but exhilarating experience.
Life jackets are provided, and a guide accompanies you to ensure safety. It’s a surefire way to get those giggles and screams of excitement going!
Mini Golf at Bailan Bay
Who doesn’t love a game of mini-golf? The course at Bailan Bay is well-designed, offering varying levels of difficulty that make it engaging for both kids and adults.
It’s a fantastic way to spend a family afternoon, and the lush surroundings add to the experience. Plus, it’s a fun way to introduce kids to the game of golf.
Klong Plu Waterfall
If your kids love the great outdoors, then a trip to Klong Plu Waterfall is a must. A relatively easy hike leads you to this stunning waterfall, where you can take a refreshing dip in the natural pool.
It’s a family-friendly adventure that combines nature, exercise, and plenty of fun.
Museums and Galleries
Koh Chang Naval Battle Memorial
This museum is a hidden gem that offers a deep dive into the naval history of Koh Chang. It’s a small but well-curated space that features artifacts, photographs, and interactive displays.
It’s a great way to understand the island’s strategic importance and the battles that took place in its waters.
Local Art Gallery
If you’re an art enthusiast, don’t miss the chance to visit a local art gallery in Koh Chang. These galleries often feature works from local artists, showcasing a blend of traditional Thai and modern art. It’s a quiet escape from the bustling beaches and offers a glimpse into the island’s evolving cultural scene.
The small village by Lonely Beach seems to have the most genuine galleries
While Koh Chang may not have a plethora of museums and galleries, new spaces do pop up from time to time. Keep an eye out for any new openings that offer a fresh perspective on the island’s history, culture, or natural beauty.
I usually ask my host when I arrive at the accommodation. Accommodation owners have a great knowledge of what’s happening on the island.
4 great Culinary Experiences
Seafood Dinner at Bang Bao
Imagine dining in a stilted house over the water as the sun sets. Bang Bao Fishing Village is the place to be for a memorable seafood dinner.
From freshly caught fish to succulent prawns, the menu is a seafood lover’s dream. It’s not just a meal; it’s an experience.
Thai Cooking Class
Ever wanted to recreate the flavours of Thailand in your own kitchen? A Thai cooking class in Koh Chang is your chance. Learn from local chefs who will guide you through the intricacies of Thai cuisine, from the spicy curries to the sweet desserts.
Plus, it’s a fun activity that the whole family can enjoy.
Street Food Tour
If you’re a foodie at heart, a street food tour in Koh Chang is a must. Wander through local markets and roadside stalls, sampling everything from spicy Som Tum (papaya salad) to sweet Mango Sticky Rice.
It’s a culinary adventure that takes you through the very soul of Thai cuisine.
Tropical fruits like Durian, Mangosteen, and Rambutan are abundant in Koh Chang. Visit a local market or even a fruit farm to sample these exotic flavours.
It’s not just about tasting; it’s about understanding the variety and richness of the island’s produce.
7 Temples and Historical Sites that can be visited on a long stay
Wat Salak Phet
This ancient temple is more than just a spiritual sanctuary; it’s a window into Koh Chang’s history. Nestled in the village of Salak Phet, the temple offers a tranquil atmosphere for meditation and reflection.
The intricate architecture and religious artifacts make it a must-visit for anyone interested in Thai Buddhism.
The Shrine of Chao Po Koh Chang
This shrine holds a special place in the hearts of locals. Dedicated to the protective spirit of Koh Chang, it’s a vibrant site filled with offerings and incense. It’s not just a religious spot; it’s a cultural experience that offers insights into local beliefs and practices.
Khlong Nonsi Waterfall
While not a temple, this waterfall is considered sacred by locals. Nestled in a lush forest, it’s a tranquil spot for some quiet reflection.
The natural beauty of the area adds to its spiritual significance, making it a unique addition to your temple-hopping itinerary.
Wat Klong Prao
Situated in the Klong Prao area, this temple offers an elevated location that provides panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, making it a popular spot for both meditation and photography.
Historical Village Tour
Take a step back in time with a guided tour of one of Koh Chang’s historical villages. Learn about the island’s history, from its fishing traditions to its role in naval battles.
It’s a fascinating journey that enriches your understanding of this diverse island.
Battle of Koh Chang Memorial
This memorial pays tribute to the Thai and French naval forces that clashed in the waters around Koh Chang. It’s a reminder of the island’s strategic importance and offers a different perspective on its history.
Explore the Ruins
Koh Chang is home to several lesser-known ruins that offer a glimpse into its past. Whether it’s an old fortress or a forgotten temple, these ruins make for an intriguing exploration. It’s advisable to hire a local guide to fully appreciate the historical context.
From Bangkok to Koh Chang
There are three easy ways to travel to Koh Chang and they all take a similar time (assuming you start your trip in the centre of Bangkok).
The first way is to take a public bus at the Bangkok Bus Terminal (Eastern of the city) in Sukhumvit Rd
The bus station is easily reachable using the subway and stopping at the Ekkamai station.
I suggest buying the tickets the day before, at least, especially if travelling in the Christmas or NYE time.
The public bus will take you directly to the ferry station in front of Koh Chang Island, at the ferry station.
It’s really cheap, considering the distance. Time-wise, it is not the quickest means of transportation but it’s stress-free and you can show up just 5 minutes before departure.
Buy the ferry ticket and wait for the ferry, usually very quick. Once on the island just take one of the many vans waiting on arrival, they all have the same price based on the destination you desire to go to. No point in bargaining.
For the way back, from Koh Chang to Bangkok, you need to book the full package (van, ferry and bus) from one of the many agencies.
The frequency of the buses is almost hourly (different operators running it). Again check them the day before at least.
From Bangkok, the private mini-buses leave either from the same bus station as above or from Victory Monument.
The ticket price is similar to the public bus. There are a couple of differences:
- it’s faster, sometimes as fast as scary, you know what I mean. The driver’s main goal is to reach the destination as quickly as possible
- it’s a two-hop trip. From Bangkok to Trat (a few km before the city centre). Then, you will be picked up by a second minibus that will take you to the ferry
Fly to Trat airport and then Koh Chang
This is by far the most expensive way to get to Koh Chang, however, it is also the quickest as well as, most probably, the safest one.
Fly to Trat Airport and from there you can buy directly the tickets to the Koh Chang Ferry station.
Expect a price approximately 10 times higher than the bus (around US$150), although it really depends on the time of the year. There is a bit of a monopoly on this route.
You need to add also the van from Trat airport to the ferry (around 500 Baht one way).
My choice of transportation
I prefer the public bus for the trip from Bangkok to Koh Chang and the private mini-van for the return from Koh Chang to Bangkok (Victory Monument).
The part that takes quite a bit of time is actually the one from the island resort to the mainland.
Of course, it all depends on where you stay in Koh Chang and how far you are from the Ferry station.
Victory Monument is one of the main street bus stations in the city. From there you can also take the subway to wherever you want.
There is also a direct bus from Bangkok Airport to Koh Chang, however, I never used it
Transportation on the island
There are essentially three types of transportation on the island:
The minivans have some sort of fixed-price listing. In saying that you can also try to manage a better price in the “off-peak hours” time, if there is any.
A smile always helps. The prices you get at the ferry station or at Bang Bao (the end station on the south side of the island) are usually fixed.
Where you can bargain a better price is usually on unlisted routes
Although the drivers seem to have too much caffeine in the morning (read they do not drive slow), this is by far the safest way to travel in Koh Chang.
Another safe way is by rented car although parking may be an issue, especially in Bang Bao
The easiest way to tour the island is the scooter although it is also the most dangerous one.
The road between Lonely Beach and Bang Bao is super hilly, with some really steep ascend and dropping descend, not to venture into the dark.
Do not drink and drive. It is never a smart idea, however, in these roads is most definitely a bad idea.
Once you settle on the island you may see a few people with injuries, wrapped or even with plasters…..that may be the result of a bad experience with a scooter.
Do not rent a motorbike here if you do not have enough experience. Definitely not a place to accumulate experience. It is more to use your experience 😀
In saying that the scooter offers the best and greatest freedom you can imagine. I usually rent it and it’s just awesome.
If you are in Koh Chang around Christmas try to book as soon as you are on the island because it is really a busy period.
Map of the best Koh Chang destinations
Here is a useful map with all we talked about in this post.
Tourism is well-developed in Koh Chang and, at the moment, the island is not overbuilt (except maybe at White Sand Beach).
Koh Chang is mostly a National Park which prevents aggressive builders from setting up “massive” businesses.
You add that access to the island is not that easy, as for example in Phuket and Koh Samui, islands that have their own airports. In saying that, it’s not an undiscovered place by any means.
If you are looking for a Robinson Crusoe experience you may try a few days in Koh Mak, a much smaller and isolated island a few hours south. Regular boat transportation runs from Bang Bao.