Travel to Koh Chang, a beautiful and picturesque island
If you’re looking for paradise you may have just found it on the island of Koh Chang! Filled with dense jungles rising steeply from the picturesque coastline, Koh Chang remains a relatively undeveloped and unspoiled island destination for Thailand, even though its popularity is on the rise. The third largest Thai island, Koh Chang is situated in the east of the Gulf of Thailand, close to the border with Cambodia and about 310 kilometers (194 miles) from Thailand’s bustling capital city, Bangkok.
Meaning Elephant Island (because of its elephant shaped headland), Koh Chang is dotted with beaches, both sand and pebble, framed by lush and dense jungle and occasional villages. Despite it not being the easiest place to get to, the island is growing in popularity as more resorts and hotels are being constructed and, even though it is still a tropical paradise, Koh Chang does have a vibrant nightlife and party scene too.
We could argue that you should visit Koh Chang today before it becomes the next Phuket, but development on the island has been relatively slow thanks in part to it being located within the Mu Ko Chang National Park which covers the island’s interior as well as the beautiful coral reefs set just offshore. Mu Ko Chang National Park covers about 85% of the island and was designated a national park back in 1982. Definitely the western coast of Koh Chang has seen plenty of development including within the once tiny villages that are not growing to accommodate tourists and all their needs, but if you still want to experience the sleepy Koh Chang with its more traditional way of life, head to the southeastern coast and spend time in its little villages and jungles.
Beaches, parties and scenery are among the top things to do when you visit Koh Chang, but there’s also culture in the shape of temples, and plenty of outdoor activities to try including trekking through the jungles, scuba diving and snorkeling, riding or even swimming with elephants, kayaking and boating to name a few, or you could just spend some time relaxing in a luxurious spa.
There are plenty of elephants on Koh Chang but despite the island’s name they’re not actually indigenous. Elephant trekking is a popular activity anyway, and being that there’s such dense jungle and mangrove forest covering the interior of the island, seeing it on the back of an elephant is quite an experience.
Tourists have been coming here since the 1970s but back then it was just a destination for mostly European backpackers who would arrive on fishing boats and stay in very rustic accommodations. Today you still get here by boat as there’s no airport, but the boats are a little more sophisticated – there are two ferry companies who transport both passengers and vehicles to the island from the mainland, running throughout the day. You can also take a passenger-only ferry during the high season (November to May) to some of the outlying islands to the south of Koh Chang for a change of pace and scenery.