Where the Sky is Blue, the Air is Crisp and
the Beaches are simply Beautiful
People travel to faraway places to watch in fascination, the kind of people they ignore at homeDagobert D. Runes
Ko Chang Island is the perfect getaway where the sky is a lot bluer and the air is a lot cleaner. Take a dive in the cool, clear waters of a number of the island’s stunning waterfalls, or simply relax on one of the numerous pristine beaches. Ko Chang is the second largest island in Thailand and the principal island of a national marine park archipelago of some 52 islands scattered around these waters.
The island measures some 30 kilometres (18 miles) from its northernmost point to its southernmost tip and some 8 kilometres or 5 miles at its widest. It is blessed with exceptionally beautiful white sandy beaches and lush vegetation. It’s highest peak at Khao Salak Pet reaches over 700 metres above the sea level.
Koh Chang is a far less touristic escape route from the most popular islands of Phuket and Koh Samui. It is no longer the sleepy fishing village that it once was, although it has kept some of its community charm despite having become a hotspot for tourists and locals alike!
Pro Tip – The western shore of the island is the best spot to be as it’s where you’ll discover some of the finest and pristine beaches on the entire island.
Getting to Ko Chang Island
The island of Ko Chang is located along the southeastern Gulf of Thailand in the province of Chanthaburi and extremely close to the border of Cambodia (map).
From Bangkok, head to the small fishing village of Trat where you’ll find easy access to the island.
From Trat, you’ll need to drive a little further south for about 20 kilometres (12 miles) before reaching the port of Laem Ngop where various ferry and speedboat services will take you directly to the island.
Trat (map) is 320 kilometres (200 miles) from Bangkok. A road trip could take you between four and five hours depending on the traffic and how many other rest-stops you might want or need to make along the way.
An alternative would be to sleep over at the seaside resort town of Pattaya (map) before proceeding to Koh Chang. This will allow you a more scenic passage along the coast as opposed to the drive inland from Bangkok to Chon Buri and then on through Chanthaburi before reaching Trat.
Although the drive from Bangkok to Pattaya is only 100 kilometres or 60 miles, it will take at least 2 hours to arrive due to the heavy traffic out of the greater city area of the capital. Pattaya is approximately one-third of the total distance.
There is considerably less traffic as you exit Pattaya. I have done this trip myself by road as there is far more to see and experience than with air transport. You could, of course, choose to fly directly from Suvarnabhumi Airport to the airport at Trat. Alternatively, use the regular bus service from Bangkok.
White Sand Beach
Hat Sai Khao or its English name, White Sand Beach is the most popular destination on the island attracting more and more tourists every year than any of its closest rivals. Situated on the very northwestern point, Hat Sai Khao is by far the longest shoreline at over two and a half kilometres in length.
Apart from its super wide white sandy beach and its ample shade from a fringe of casuarinas and palm trees, it also sports an impressive hilly backdrop of lush forested vegetation. Dozens of luxurious hotels and resorts, scores of shops and stalls as well as bars and restaurants, line the coastline between road and sea.
Hat Khlong Phrae Beach
Hat Khlong Phrae is a stunning long stretch of sloping shoreline where all good things are possible for total relaxation. The northern end of the beach connects with Laem Chaichet, a rather splendid scenic rocky outcrop and popular for sunset spotting due to its natural surroundings. Not the best place for swimming, though. But the southern end of the beach near Hat Kai Bae offers every kind of water sports from snorkelling, kayaking, fishing and swimming.
Hat Kai Bae Beach
Hat Kai Bae is also a pretty and popular beach destination situated not far from Hat Khlong Phrao. During high season it can get congested.
Hat Tha Nam or Lonely Beach as is its other known name is one of the smaller beaches on the western shore. Due to fairly inexpensive lodgings in the form of bungalows and beach huts, the area is frequently overrun by mostly backpacking tourists who love to revel in the already established party scene.
Ao Bai Lan Beach
Ao Bai Lan is the beach of choice should you be wanting to spend some quiet time. This very laid-back beach is situated a little further south of Hat Tha Nam.
Best time to visit
During the peak season between November and March, the island can get pretty much congested and it would be advisable to book accommodation well in advance. Beach lodgings tend to fill up very quickly.
Although prices for accommodation and restaurants are a hell of a lot cheaper from May through to October, the island is known for its fierce storms and rough seas that tend to lash the shores and beach huts making it impossible for any water sports or safe swimming.
The upside is that you won’t be bumping into any of your neighbours allowing you some quality time to relax and reflect.