Attractions in Koh Chang
Ban Salak Phet and Ban Rong Than
These fishing villages are located on the southwest of Ko Chang. Secluded Salak Phet has long provided a shelter for storm-lashed fishing boats to batten down their hatches. Nowa-days, the village is popular for its abundance of fresh seafood and home-stay accommodation, where visitors can get a real feel for living (and fishing) like a local. It’s also possible to charter inexpensive boats to go out exploring or snorkelling.
Hat Sai Yao
This scenic spot is situated in the south, not far from Ao Salak Phet. Hat Sai Yao is a long sandy beach ideal for swimming. There’s also a great vantage point which overlooks the Ko Chang Naval Battle and other islands such as Ko Laoya and Ko Wai, as well as the fishing hamlet of Ao Salak Phet.
Namtok Khiri Phet
Located 3 km. through a rubber plantation from the Salak Phet community, this single-tier waterfall is the centrepiece of a ver-dant tableau embroidered with wild orchids and Thai herbs.
Namtok Khlong Phlu
The entrance to this triple-tier waterfall is about 3 km. from Ao Khlong Phrao. From there it’s a 500-metre jaunt through the forest. The most beautiful spot is up at the top, where there’s a large pool for visitors to cool down by taking a dip.
Namtok Khlong Nonsi
Situated in the north of Ko Chang, you have to pass through Ban Dan Mai, rubber plantations and orchards to reach this small waterfall. Visiting this crystalline cascade is not recom-mended during the hot season when it dries up.
Namtok Than Mayom
Among the island’s waterfalls, Than Mayom, which has three separate cascades, is particularly photogenic.
Hat Sai Khao
A long beach with powdery white sand and perfectly safe swimming conditions, the island’s prime piece of real estate and relaxation boasts an incredible range of accommodation. You can have all the luxury and amenities you want, but still enjoy the idyllic, palm-fringed beaches, and serene water.
Hat Khlong Phrao and Laem Chaiyachet
This long beach connects with Hat Kai Bae and Hat Sai Khao and comes well equipped with many bungalows and resorts, and offers swimming and sunbathing opportunities galore. The north of Ao Khlong Phrao is connected to Ao Chaiyachet and Laem Chaiyachet, a rocky cape stretching into the sea, while Laem Chaiyachet is an ideal and romantic spot to watch the sunset, though swimmers should exercise caution.
Hat Kai Bae
Connected with Hat Khlong Phrao, it has a sloping beach suitable for swimming. Visitors should also take note that the cape has an excellent spectrum of bargain bungalows and more expensive resorts.
Ao Bai Lan
Next to Hat Kai Bae, about 1 km. if you take the bike trail winding along under cliffs and mountains, this bay offers some fantastic scenery. Ao Bai Lan is also an ideal place for getting some peace and tranquility. If you’re looking for more afford-able accommodation, this is the place for you.
Hat Tha Nam (Lonely Beach)
In recent years, the name of this beach has become a misnomer. It’s now filled with younger travellers looking to party and stay in some strange accommodation like tree houses. During the rainy season, however, from May through October, it gets a lot more solitary.
Bang Bao Fishing Village
This is an atmospheric village built on wooden stilts jutting up out of the sea. All the houses are connected by wooden walk-ways. The fisher folks’ lifestyle and all the succulent seafood are two lures for tourists. Nowadays, you can really wade in for some cultural immersion by booking a home-stay with the villagers. Another bonus is chartering a vessel to cruise around the archipelago.
Situated on the south of Ko Chang near Ao Salak Phet is the Naval Battleground. On 17 January, 1941, the Thai and French navies battled over a border dispute. Even today, there are buoys showing the position of the sunken Royal Thai Navy’s ships. Each year, during the festival to commemorate the Thai victory, government agencies make religious merit by floating garlands on the sea in honour of those who perished during the battle.
For water sports, snorkelling and scuba-diving reign supreme. Some of the most popular dive sites in the area are off the island’s southern tip. Between here and Ko Kut, the underwater explorer will find much of interest, like seamounts abounding with coral, and a Thai warship sunk by the French during a terri-torial dispute over these waters back in 1941. The ever-growing number of dive shops on the island can also tutor you in scuba-diving, and provide different PADI courses. To get certified as a diver takes around three to four days, and costs 10,000 baht. If you’d prefer not to splash out that kind of money and time, then try one of the all-day snorkelling trips to Ko Rang (renowned for its shallow reefs and diversity of fish); they range from 400 to 600 baht.
Several dive operators located at the island’s famous beaches such as Hat Sai Khao, Hat Kai Bae, Hat Khlong Phrao, and Ban Bang Bao offer a variety of courses and day trips, as well as renting and selling equipment.
Other Islands of Interest
The island may only be 16 square kilometres, but its natu-ral attractions loom large in the eyes of visitors. Indeed, this sand-fringed island makes for a great, romantic hideaway. The majority of the resorts are located on the island’s northwest and southwest bays, where the most breathtaking beaches are located. Since it does not have the mountainous topography of Ko Chang, the island also boasts many coconut and rubber plantations.
For accommodation, visitors must book a package tour, usually three days and two nights. Besides the more ritzy options, like Ko Mak Coco-Cape (Tel. (66) 2711 2058) with bungalows in the 3,000-baht-a-night range, there are some places with basic, inexpensive huts and mid-range bungalows, such as TK Huts(Tel. (66) 3952 1631) which has lodgings for 100 to 350 baht. These operations are more amenable to non-package tourists.
This is similar to the former island in that it’s mostly for upscale tourists who have already pre-booked a package deal, though several mid-range bungalow operations opened in 2004. Its geography, however, is much more like Ko Chang: humpbacked with hills covered in lush rainforest. The island also has its fair share of pleasant beaches, and the visually appealing Namtok Khlong Chao, the beautiful waterfall which has a pool at the bottom where you can swim in the midst of verdant jungle to the melodies of birdsong and insect chatter.
The accommodation on this island is largely devoted to package tourists, pre-booking several nights at a time, which also saves you about 30 to 40 percent on the normal walk-in rates. Most of the resorts offer similar facilities for similar rates, around 2,500 per night, if you book in advance. Try Peter Pan Resort and Captain Hook Resort, Tel. (66) 2966 1800; Ko Kut Cabana Tel. (66) 3 952 2955; Kut Island Resort Tel. (66) 2 374 3004; or Khlong Jaew Resort Tel. (66) 3952 0337.
The island beckons for a more castaway kind of beach experience, offering two sun-splashed beaches and basic hut-like accommodation. Most beaches are full of stones. But there is some great snorkelling to be found on the shallow reefs off the beaches. The island is also the best source for fish-ing. And for sheer, easy-going, hassle-free contentment, this enchanting island is hard to beat.
It takes two and a half hours to get to this small island beside Ko Mak. Its allure is based on the tropical trinity of greenery, white sand, and clear water. It also has a wonderful coral reef for fish-spotting. In addition, visitors can rent boats to go to Ko Mak.
The island is situated to the south of Ko Chang and consists of two floating land masses connected by a huge sand knoll. The little bay formed by the two arms of a mountain stretching into the sea is especially picturesque and protects the area from storms. By boat, it takes two hours to get here from Laem Ngop.
Off the southern flank of Ko Chang sits this pretty island, lo-cated some two hours from Laem Ngop. Ko Phrao is notewor-thy for its calm atmosphere and serene seaside, not to mention it’s lush with coconut groves. There is one resort, Long Beach Island Resort, and it only offers full-board packages.
Ko Kra and Ko Rang
Situated to the west of Ko Mak, these islands boast some deep coral reefs, and striking underwater rock formations. Many is-landers also make money from concessions for swallows’ nests, sea turtle eggs, and bat guano. A number of officers from the Mu Ko Chang National Park are stationed here.
Another green gem in the island’s tiara, Kradat has a long beach encircling the island, and water that has a wealth of sunken, sight-seeing pleasures in the form of coral reefs. Its name taken from a plant in the Aracaea family, the island is only such one to have had a land title deed since the period of King Rama V, when the French were colonising Southeast Asia, and attempted to seize Kradat as well, but failed.
Ko Man Nok , Ko Man Nai
These small islands have no accommodation available, but are worth a stopover on a watery day trip. During low tide, beaches appear around the islands, the water is quite shallow, and there’s plenty of golden seaweed. The two islands are located opposite Hat Kai Bae on Ko Chang’s western coast.
Ko Chang Noi
To the north of Ko Chang is its tiny twin, which makes a splendid spot for snorkelling. There is no accommodation on the island as construction is forbidden, but you can still charter a boat to visit here.
How to Get There
Take a share taxi for 20 baht from near Trat’s Bus Station, or hire one on your own (120 baht) for the 20-minute drive to Laem Ngop. From the airport, it’s about the same distance and the same price.
During the dry season, from November through April, ferries depart from the main pier at Laem Ngop every hour, from 8.00 a.m. – 5.00 p.m. In the rainy season, however, the ferries run once every two hours. The hour-long journey to Ko Chang costs between 50-60 baht.
Further up the coast, there are three car ferry services, which also run hourly during the high season. Once you’re on the island, there are share taxis running to all of the main beaches, with prices ranging from 30 baht for Hat Sai Khao up to 70 baht for Hat Tha Nam or Lonely Beach.
Getting To Nearby Islands
Package tourists heading to the islands will already have their travel arrangements sorted out for them. But if you’re going in-dependently, there is a daily ferry from Laem Ngop to Ko Mak, which departs at 3.00 p.m., and takes three hours.
Inter Island Hopper also has a regular boat service from Ko Chang, Ko Mak and Ko Wai to Ko Kut, departing on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. And there’s another boat from Laem Ngop that leaves on Monday, Thursday and Saturday.
To get to Ko Wai catch a daily ferry from Laem Ngop, leaving at 3.00 p.m. and taking around 2.5 hours. Or Inter Island Hopper has a daily boat from Bang Bao on Ko Chang. Check for de-parture times, which tend to change during the monsoon season, when rough seas can mean trips are postponed.