Koh Chang is Thailand´s second largest island and lies about 6 hours east of Bangkok. The island offers pristine beaches, lush hills and a laid-back atmosphere. Nonetheless, it has all the modern anemities you wish for, including fast internet and a wide range of restaurants and accomodation. Koh Chang is ideal if you love idyllic islands but do not want to be off the grid.
Beaches on Koh Chang
- Klong Prao Beach
This beach is pretty central. Should you stay at the Coconut Beach Resort or the Habitat Hostel, the best ranking budgest hostel on Koh Chang, Klong Prao Beach is just minutes away. The sand is reasonably fine and very clean. The water might not look as clear as on other beaches, but this is just due to the sediment. At tide the beach widens up and you can take long scenic walks. In the afternoon the river that divides two beaches becomes shallow enough to cross, so you can walk for miles on the beach. Klong Prao Beach is frequented mostly by resort guests and families.
2. Kai Bae Beach
In my opinion this is the most beautiful beach on the main island of Koh Chang. If you are heading south, take the right turn just before the steep hill. There is a resort, but it is a public beach nonetheless. Kai Bae Beach offers white, fine sand and turquoise water. It is very clean and sports some pretty palm trees.
My favourite was the small island Ko Mun Nai just off the coast. You can rent a kayak for 100 Baht (3,20 USD) per hour and reach the island in about 15 minutes. That leaves you with enough time to circle the island and admire the rocky coast on the other side.
3. Lonely Beach
The name is a bit misleading as the beach is not that lonely. At least not after dark. Then it turns into the party hotspot of Koh Chang. There are many hostels there, so the visitors are mainly young people. It is an okay beach, but I did not find anything special here. Nothing that would justify the ride down south. At night they turn up the music. Be aware of that if you want to stay here.
4. Long Beach
This beach on the east coast is a double edged sword: On the one hand, the scenery of this crescent shaped beach is one of the most beautiful on Koh Chang. The water is crystal-clear and very shallow. On the other hand, there is a lot of trash lying behind the beach. This should come as no surprise: There is no big resort that could clean the beach, only a small restaurant with bungalows. This is the biggest selling point for many: Noone is bothering you here. There is no WIFI and almost no cellphone signal. You can rent a bungalow for as little as 300 Baht (9,50 USD) a night.
5. White Sand Beach
This beautiful beach lies in the northwest of the island, surrounded by resorts. It offers fine sand and shallow warm waters. What sets this beach apart for me are the magnificent green hills in the background. This beach is fairly big and there are a lot of restaurants and bars. Trees provide shade if you do not want to rent an umbrella.
The best way to get to the beaches is by scooter. You can rent one for 250 Baht (8 USD) a day. Alternatively you can rent a bicycle for 150 Baht (5 USD) a day. However, the steep roads make cycling an exhausting task. There are also public minibusses that run on the west coast. To get from one beach to the next will cost you 50-100 Baht.
No question – the beaches on Koh Chang are beautiful. However, to see the real gems that Koh Chang has to offer you have to take an Island Hopping tour. I can recommend the half-day snorkeling trip that includes 3 islands in the south plus lunch. The trip lasts 4 hours and costs 800 Baht (25 USD) per person.
- Ko Klum
The first island. It looks pretty enough from a distance, but if you look closer you will see a lot of trash on the coast. However, you wont set foot on the island. Instead the boat will anker on a snorkeling spot where you can spend 45 minutes snorkeling. There are more beautiful corral reefs in Southeast Asia, the ones off Ko Klum only have colourless hard corrals. Nonetheless, there are a bunch of colourful fish including big swarms, so snorkeling there is worth your while.
2. Ko Wai
Here you will go on land to enjoy the beautiful scenery. Sand and vegetation are fantastic. The turquoise water looks like water in Thailand is supposed to look. You can also go snorkeling here, but there are not that many fish and visibility is not as good as off the coast of Ko Klum.
3. Ko Laoya
The last island on the trip was my favourite – not only because you get your lunch there. The sand is even more fine-grined and whiter than on Ko Wai and the lush vegetation is a real eye-catcher. You can take long walks underneath the palm tress and go snorkeling at a corral reef. A lot of fish can also be found off the rocky coast on the right side of the island.
More Sights to explore
- Klong Plu Waterfall
This waterfall is situated in between the beaches of Klong Prao and Kai Bea. Just a few minutes off the main road you will find the entrance where you have to pay the fee of 200 Baht (6,40 USD). There is a short, very accessible trail to the Waterfall where you can swim in the cool waters. There is also a fish spa. The small fish nibble the dead skin from your toes while the bigger fish might even bite your toe. But do not very, their teeth are not sharp. You would pay good money for this in Bangkok, here it is free. A plus, because the waterfall itself is not that spectacular.
2. Kiri Phet Waterfall
If you do not want to pay 200 Baht and do not mind driving for an hour, you can visit this waterfall. Kiri Phet lies a bit off the main road on the east coast of Koh Chang. The ride is very scenic and leads through a beautiful coconut plantation. Once at the parking lot you will have to walk for 15 minutes. Take the trail to your left, the other one is fairly difficult and longer. The waterfall is pretty small, at least in the dry season. However, it is free of charge and you can cool off in the surprisingly deep basin. Not many tourists come here, so chances are you will be the only ones at the waterfall.
3. Wat Salak Petch
A small temple close to Kiri Phet that was completed in 1994. The entrance fee is 20 Baht (0,63 USD). The temple has a nice golden Buddha statue and beautiful paintings.
4. Koh Chang Memorial
A small memorial for the 36 sailors that lost their lives in the Battle of Koh Chang, 1941. It is not far from Long Beach. All the information is written in Thai only. There is also a small beach next to the memorial.