Koh Chang, known also as ‘Elephant Island’ named because of its elephant shaped headland, is Thailand’s third largest island after Phuket and Samui. It is located around 300 kilometres east of Bangkok in Trat Province, in the Gulf of Thailand near the Cambodian border.
Koh Chang is part of the Mu Ko Chang National Park. Despite its increase in development and tourism in the past decade or so, it has retained its remote and rugged character.
From jungle covered mountain peaks to sweeping bays, great waterfalls to flourishing coral reefs, beach huts to luxury resorts, Koh Chang has plenty to offer for everyone.
With an area covering approximately 212 square kilometres, 70% of Koh Chang is covered in rain-forest, mountains and beaches. The highest peak on the island is Khao Salak Phet, rising from the ground at 743 meters, and given its mountainous terrain there is an abundance of waterfalls with the tallest but not always the most accessible being Klong Neung waterfall, which can be found in the south-eastern corner of the island.
When is the best time to visit Koh Chang?
Koh Chang has three main seasons, the cool season runs from November to the end of February. This is when the island is at it’s busiest, with guaranteed daily sunshine, stunning blue skies and calm seas. If you don’t mind crowds, this is the ideal time to visit. During this time the average temperature is between 27C and 30C.
The hot season follows the cool season and runs for 2 months, March to April. During these months the temperature is over 33C most days and along with the high humidity. You’ll find yourself sweating when standing still. The months of April and May are also the usual holiday months for Thais, so the tourist areas of the island can still be busy.
The last season is the rainy season, starting towards the end of May, the rains carry on until the end of September. During these months tourism on Koh Chang drops off, as do the prices of accommodation, and while the weather is unpredictable it still can be a great time to visit the island. The island is much quieter, the prices are lower and the rain-forest are lush green and full of life. It’s the ideal time to visit for people who just want to chill out and enjoy some peace and quiet.
How to Get Around?
Getting around the island is fairly easy and straightforward. The main mode of transport is by songthaew (pick-up truck taxi) they run from the ferry terminal stopping at all the beaches along the West Coast of the island, but they rarely leave unless full.
Another option is to rent a motorbike, there are literally hundreds of places to rent scooters and all at very reasonable prices. Figure on 200 – 250 Baht / 24 hours. You will have to provide your passport upon rental.
If you’re wanting to escape the tourists and have more of a peaceful experience on Koh Chang, then head to the eastern side of the island. The eastern side is less developed and more isolated than the West. You will get to experience true local life on the island around the fishing villages and get out into the lush green countryside to explore the jungle and majestic waterfalls hidden in its interior. To get around the eastern side of Koh Chang you will need your own transport due to the lack of public transport. Rent a scooter and go and explore, you won’t regret it.
What to Do?
There is more to Koh Chang than just the luxury resorts and stunning beaches. If you’re an adventurous type and don’t particularly enjoy spending all your time on the beach, then this island has a lot to offer. Some of the most popular activities on Koh Chang are kayaking, jungle trekking and diving and snorkelling.
Another highlight is visiting the many waterfalls located throughout the island. For something more laid back why not take a Thai cooking class, ride on the back on an elephant on a jungle trek and then end the day with a relaxing massage in one of the many spa’s on the island.
And if you have time then why not head south to Koh Mak or Koh Kood for a few days chilling on laid back, vehicle free, islands.