Koh Chang

  • By Lulu
  • February 19, 2023 - 6 min read

For the first destination in our South East Asian adventure we chose Koh Chang island in Thailand and what a choice it turned out to be. The amazing food, pristine sandy beaches, a mountainous interior made up of protected national parkland and a range of local communities makes this a perfect place to live a chilled but adventurous lifestyle.

Koh Chang is Thailand’s third largest island and it took us about an hour by scooter to drive from top to bottom 1. The island can be reached from Bangkok by bus, car or a short flight, then a ferry from Laem Ngop (From Bangkok to Koh Chang). The climate on Koh Chang is tropical all year round, with rainy season from May to October and dry season which is regarded as the best time to visit between November and February.

Where did we stay?

We spent most of our time in two main areas Klong Son and White Sand Beach.

Our first destination was at a workaway to help stray dogs in Khlong Son which is the first area you pass when heading down the West Coast from the ferry point. We loved the area as it was very local and rarely visited by tourists, the food options were great and there is a very nice beach that is not too busy.

After three weeks at the workaway we decided to stay in White Sand Beach, mainly motivated by the variety of cafe options so we could work on the blog. At first, we thought it was going to be too touristy for us but we actually loved it. We stayed in a cheap and very basic bungalow that was right on the beach and went for a jog along the beach every morning. There are some great cafes here and good live music.

East Coast vs West Coast

It’s important to know when you go to Koh Chang that the island is split into two sides and there is no road connecting them at the bottom. We were told by the people that the Thai government didn’t want the island to turn into a destination for “hairy bikers” to do loops around.

The West coast of the island is the touristic side whilst there are few people living on the East coast, mainly farmers and fishermen. The main reason for the major tourist development on the West coast is that this is where almost all of the beaches are. However, in terms of natural beauty the East coast has lots to offer as well, including waterfalls, mangroves and islands.

We decided to stay on the West coast for all of our time on the island due to the beaches and better development, it was also nowhere near as busy as other major islands on Thailand. However, we ventured round to the East coast several times to check out the mangroves, waterfalls and fishing villages. If you fancy an adventure or to really get away from the crowds we are sure you would enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the East.

Where Should You Stay?

As well as Klong Son and White Sand Beach, we also stayed for a few nights in Klong Prao and Lonely Beach and toured the island quite a lot so we got a pretty good idea of what each place has to offer. Below are some details for our favourite areas on the island.

Note we have not included Kai Bae, this area didn't suit us due to lack of local food options and expensive bars. We have also missed out Bang Bao the main ferry point to the other islands, we only visited here a couple of times, it seems nice enough but there didn't seem to be a lot to do.

Where to Eat

Koh Chang is one of the best places either of us had ever been for food with local places never disappointing and even a very good standard of Western food if you know where to look. Most of our recommendations are local places that we found and never expensive touristy places except a couple of western restaurants for pizza, burgers etc. Note that some of the places had no name, no sign, some didn’t even have an English menu. In that case we will put the type of food in place of the name, you can refer to the pinned location on Google Maps.

Our Favourite Experiences

Koh Chang is a big island and it has a lot to offer in terms of activities. Be aware that a lot of the sightseeing spots which come up on Google charge foreigners five times the price of locals. We tried both Koh Yak and Khlong Plu and were disappointed by the experiences so we will not recommend any of these but in our opinion some better alternatives.

Our Favourite Cafes

Most of our recommendations for cafes are places where you can sit and do work on a laptop since that was usually our main motivation to go. There are a range of nice cafes on the island though, you will not struggle to find whatever you are looking for.

Our Favourite Beaches

The island has some good beaches to choose from, we found that as we went further South the water tended to be a bit less clear. White Sand Beach is probably the nicest natural beach which is the reason for the main tourist development but there are lots of nice alternatives to escape the crowds.

Our Favourite Bars

We didn’t drink in bars often in Koh Chang due to our budget and general preference to drink a beer on the beach at our place. But there were a few that were cool ones

Some Practical Tips

  • To avoid ATM charges and get the best exchange rate go to Bangkok Bank White Sand Beach with your passport.
  • A scooter is the best way to get around the island. If not you can use a shared taxi.
  • The activities and spots which charge tourists 200 baht are often disappointing and there are better cheaper options.
  • There is a massive hill in the middle of Koh Chang, be careful not to drive too fast around the corners!
  • There are no free Elephants on the island, only captive ones, we would advise against giving these people money.

Closing Thoughts

If you want a relaxing holiday, surrounded by beautiful beaches and unspoilt jungle, consider Koh Chang island. If you are looking for a party island you would probably be better choosing somewhere else. We loved it there and it was exactly what we were looking for, a chilled environment with adventurous activities, beautiful nature, great food and the opportunity to soak in some authentic Asian culture.

  1. (2021, April 24). How Big is Koh Chang? Retrieved February 19, 2023, from ↩︎