Are you tired of the cold winter? Then buy quickly a plane ticket to Thailand! It is the perfect month to travel to Thailand. The rainy season is still far away and temperatures are quite moderate from December to February. But honestly I never really cared about the weather on my many trips to Thailand. It is such a wonderful place to be, no matter if it is raining or not.
After sharing some travel tips on Bangkok and the Thai islands in general, I would like to highlight one island in particular: Koh Chang. I fell in love with the third largest island in Thailand because it offers beautiful beaches, lush nature, friendly locals and a good combination of tranquility and activity.
Although it is conveniently near to Bangkok with only about 315 kilometers away you could end up travel the whole day if you book a cheap joint ticket including a bus and ferry ride. Unfortunately there is no train connection to the East of Thailand. If you have enough money in your pocket book a flight with Bangkok Airways to Trat. From this cute little open airport decorated with elephants and palm trees you can book your ferry crossing including the transport to and from the port to your hotel.
Indulge yourself with a private chauffeur to Koh Chang
If you are staying a few days first in Bangkok, there is a perfect alternative for fast and comfortable travelling to Koh Chang. Book a private car from your hotel in Bangkok directly to your resort on Koh Chang. This might sound completely crazy for ordinary mortals who are not used to such luxury of having a private chauffeur but it is affordable in Thailand. The ride will cost you about 100 Euro per car (not per person) including ferry tickets. I had a very positive experience with Koh Chang Minibus, it all went smoothly with a friendly driver.
Most tourists travel to Koh Chang’s West Coast. You have a choice of several beaches but you need to choose wisely where to stay as there is almost no way of walking from one beach to another. Koh Chang is covered mostly in jungle. This can be sometimes a disadvantage but at the same this richness of nature makes the island so special. The busiest and most touristic beach is White Sand Beach. It is better to avoid that place, it is noisy and quite dirty despite its name.
Peace and relaxation at Blue Lagoon
If you are looking for a peaceful retreat with a very unique surrounding check out Blue Lagoon at Klong Prao Beach. The name of the resort speaks for itself, the lovely bungalows are located in a beautiful garden on a lagoon. The water and the insects coming with it do not invite for swimming but the look is fantastic! You can walk a few meters from the resort to Klong Prao Beach where you can spend all day in the soft sand and have a massage at an open spa platform. If you desire a vibrant nightlife this is definitely not the place to stay. Foodies will be satisfied though, Blue Lagoon has its own famous cooking school and therefore its restaurant is superb.
If you walk up to the main road and head to north for about 500 meters you will find the very authentic and very simple Chumnan restaurant. The place is not an eye candy but you will get good food for little money and it is frequented by locals.
Wherever you stay on Koh Chang don’t forget to rent a motorbike (ca. 5 Euro per day). There are beautiful tours you can make on your bike which you would otherwise miss. But be aware of the extremely steep roads near the ferry pier in the North and near Lonely Beach in the South. This can be quite scary if you are not used to motorbikes or very very steep roads.
From Klong Prao there is a nice and short ride to Khlong Phlu Waterfall which is worth the visit. No worries, the hike from the parking lot to the waterfall is easy, manageable in flip-flops. By the way, if you like the jungle and love to hike then you should book a jungle trekking tour on the island. Being a snake phobic myself, I am not a fan of such extensive tours deep inside the jungle. But this is just me.
My favorite place: Paradise Cottage at Lonely Beach
My favorite place to stay on Koh Chang is Paradise Cottage at Lonely Beach. They have a couple of seafront bungalows where you can see and hear the ocean from your bed. Their bungalows are very simple but stylish. The whole resort has a very tropical and relaxing atmosphere on a rocky beach with a great chill-out area and good vibes. Typical guests are single travellers not so much families. Once in a while they organise a big party in their garden with cool DJs. Don’t expect to sleep much on such a night. But this is the exception.
Consider it as your daily exercise to walk up the steep road from Paradise Cottage to the main road where you will find several shops, restaurants and bars. Check out the restaurant of Lonely Beach Resort if you had enough of only Thai food. They offer great pizzas and a good choice of European food and some Danish specialities. Or just have a drink there, the owners and staff are very friendly, you will feel welcomed especially when travelling alone. They also offer nice and spacious bungalows in their garden with a pool (!) for very moderate prices.
The best seafood can be found at Dang Seafood, also located by the main road. A short walk away from there lies the beautiful and white sandy beach of Lonely Beach. If you are lucky, you will meet monkeys near the road just right where you take the turn left down to the beach. My favorite beach spot though is the beach in front of Porn’s Bungalows (by the way this is one of the most common nicknames in Thailand…) located on Kai Bae Beach.
You will find some more monkeys if you go on a trip with your motorbike to the most southern tip you can reach on the West Coast of the island. Ride past Bang Bao pier and head towards the Grand Lagoona Resort. Shortly before you reach this huge and deserted resort (ghost town with a cruise ship and boats transformed to filthy hotel rooms) you will maybe discover some monkeys playing on the road. This is the end of the western main road of Koh Chang. The East and West are not connected on Koh Chang – this means if your are staying quite far down south on the West Coast of the island you will need a day trip to get to the East Coast.
Don’t miss the underestimated East Coast of Koh Chang
Those in search for complete tranquility will discover happiness on the East Coast of Koh Chang, with only a few resorts and restaurants. On this quiet side of the island you can avoid other tourists almost entirely. You can’t really use the beaches, I admit, but the whole East Coast has its own flair where you will meet mostly locals who live there. Make a tour through the Mangrove forest, hike to Than Mayom Waterfall or just enjoy empty roads on your motorbike. A good place to stay on the East Coast is the Privacy Resort which makes up for the lack of beaches with a great swimming pool. This is a good place to finish your holiday and breathe out before heading back to your everyday life. I love Koh Chang.
photo credits: V’s World (Timea)