Koh Chang is one of the most authentic Thai islands. It seems that tourism has little or no influence on daily life here (yet). But that does not mean there is nothing to do! Although it is tempting to lie on the beach all day, Koh Chang is much more than that. So besides relaxing on the beach, what are the things to do on this super relaxed Thai island? In alphabetical order.
Have you ever driven an ATV (short for All-Terrain Vehicle)? Get your adrenaline pumping rough ride through the lush green jungle. 60 or 90 min, the longer ride includes a waterfall visit.
Koh Chang definitely has lovely beaches that will make you wish you could stay longer. The east coast of Koh Chang lacks development and traffic with only a few beaches and waterfalls. The most popular and busiest sand beaches are located on the west coast of Koh Chang, which has numerous amazing beaches with swaying palm trees and each its own character, interspersed with small local villages. Alternate sunbathing with long beach walks and beach swings.
There are a few beaches I wanted to highlight here specifically. For more options see map below.
- White Sand Beach is the most well-known, closest to the pier, with several pricey resorts.
- Lonely Beach is popular among backpackers as this is the place to be for beach parties.
- Bang Bao Beach & Klong Kloi Beach is a personal favorite, tranquil with beach houses and few eateries, great for couples.
- Khlong Prao Beach, Bailan Beach & Kai Bae Beach are three other well-known beaches.
In addition, Koh Chang has one Christian-Orthodox church and a few Buddhist temples. After seeing the bigger temples in Bangkok and Chiang Mai these are likely to disappoint a bit on aesthetics.
BB Divers is a reliable, local company that organizes diving trips from Koh Chang. They offer for example a great day trip for beginners that includes a boat trip, professional instruction and two dives. The best time to go diving here is between October and May, when there is good visibility because the sea is calmer. If you want, get your PADI license here in about 4 days (costs around EUR 400). Most dive and snorkeling trips depart from Bang Bao Pier.
Eat Thai food
Like elsewhere in Thailand, a few villages on Koh Chang’s west coast have a small night market. The most well-known is the White Sand Beach Night Food Market, where you can get cheap and tasty street food. In addition, there are a lot of many good restaurants throughout the island, often family run or started by an expat. In my next article about Koh Chang I will write more about the restaurants on Koh Chang. We really enjoyed the Bamboo Hut restaurant right next to Bang Bao Beach Resort, for breakfast, lunch and dinner LOL Most food in Thailand is reasonably adapted to tourists, but the papaya salad and curry soup were pretty spicy here. And almost everywhere cash only!
Garbage clean up
The lucky ones who have the opportunity to stay on Koh Chang for months may want to consider doing some volunteer work. Please make sure you have the right visa in advance. The regular tourist visa does not allow volunteer work on Thailand! If you ignore this rule, you risk a penalty or even prison time. Trash Hero has certain days when you can help to clean the garbage from the beaches. Happy Dogs dog shelter needs volunteers who can stay for more than a few weeks. I would suggest to get your Rabies vaccinations beforehand.
The dense green jungle in the center of the island provides some great opportunities to go for an adventurous hike. It is great to walk around in the shade of the trees, especially in the morning of a hot day. Good to clear your mind and for blood circulation. Bring water and in some cases cash for entrance (see Waterfalls). For locations see map below.
- Visit Mu Koh Chang National Park and its panoramic view point (also with sunset)
- Hike from Than Mayom waterfall to Klong Plu waterfall (or the other way around)
- Check out the two mangrove walk ways on the island
- Do a guided mountain trekking on one of Koh Chang’s peaks (listed below)
- Check out Kai Bae View Point and the hidden waterfall there
- Spot wild animals like monkeys, lizards, exotic birds and if unlucky a snake.
The three main peaks to climb on Koh Chang are:
- Khao Salek Phet a.k.a. Khao Laem in the southeast (744m)
- Khao Jom Prasat (630m) north of White Sand Beach
- Khao Salak Khok (313m)
The highest mountain of Koh Chang is not easy to reach. To make your life easier, hire a guide. Thomas Koch and Tan Trekking are the two best and well-known trekking guides on Koh Chang. You can ask your accommodation whether they can arrange the guide with pick up for you. In high season, I suggest to do this well in time.
For the real summer feeling, of course you will have to get an ice cream while on vacation on Koh Chang. Nothing in particular for this island, just to add some summer vibes 😉
Joyful boat trip
One of the best boat trips I have ever made was from Bang Bao Beach to three remote beaches: Wai Chaek Beach, Long Beach and Koh Wai. We had the secluded Wae Chaek Beach all to ourselves, it was totally deserted! It is pretty tricky to get there by road, by boat it is much easier. Our skipper moored the boat and casted his fishing rod while we jumped out to explore. The beach was not completely cleaned yet after the storm that hit Koh Chang hard in September 2019, there is even a ship wreck now. I guess it is still on the to-do-list of Trash Hero.
The second beach we visited, Long Beach, is considered the best kept secret of the island. Personally I felt it was the least enjoyable beach out of the three. There were a bunch of people and maybe also because there was only a tiny strip of beach left due to high tide so we lay halfway in the mangrove forest with our beach towels. Then we moved to Koh Wai, which is actually another island south of Koh Chang. Expect some day tourists but the snorkeling and the cocktails from the local bar are nice. For locations see map below.
You can arrange this private day trip by boat with Jebbie of Bang Bao Beach Resort for THB 3500 including lunch (you decide which beaches to visit). On Bang Bao Pier you can arrange group boat trips from 1000 THB per person including 5 islands, drinks, lunch and snorkel gear, excluding national park fee (200 THB pp). Bring sunscreen.
On Kai Bae Beach and Klong Prao Beach you can rent a kayak for a day. See map below for locations. Peddle to nearby uninhabited islands or along the Klong Prao River and into mangrove afforestation. Wear a life vest, bring sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, plenty of water and some snacks. Alternatively, S.E.A. Kayaking specializes in guided sea kayak trips, from day trips up to 12 day expeditions for the real die hearts.
Love, Lazy & Laugh
Fall in love with the island, with each other, make love… Koh Chang is a lovely place. Be lazy, rest, chill out, sleep in and relax. And have a laugh, smile like the friendly Thai people.
For those not afraid of a few drops of blood and bruising, Thai-style boxing is a cultural, sporty experience to look into. Thursday evening at 20:30h is the best opportunity to see a Muay Thai match on Koh Chang. In addition, there are a few gyms on the island that offer Muay Thai classes should you have a desire to learn it yourself. Also possible elsewhere.
No elephant riding
Please avoid any activities that involves interaction between humans and animals, like riding, bathing or or feeding the chained elephants at the main street of Klong Prao Beach or Ban Kwan Chang. Koh Chang is also known as ‘Elephant Island’ because of the island’s elephant shaped head. The elephants on Koh Chang are not native. Avoid the Monkey Training Center too please. Apparently there are also crocodile and snake shows on the island. As you can read throughout this article, there are enough other opportunities to keep you busy.
The west coast of Koh Chang is the place to be to watch the sun go down. Especially from a hammock with a chilled Chang beer in your hand. Some of the best spots for sunsets are White Sand Beach (also known as Sai Khao Beach) and Kai Bae Beach. We were pleasantly surprised to find out that we could also see the beautiful orange and pink sunset skies from Bang Bao Beach on the south side of the island. Check here what time the sun is expected to set today. I’d suggest to be ready at least half an hour before sunset.
Where are backpackers, there are parties. Looking at the party scene, fortunately Koh Chang cannot compare with Phuket or Koh Pha Ngan for example. However, Lonely Beach does have the party beach reputation for Koh Chang, with DJs playing music will late. All bars are located on or near the beach. One time we met these local guys who were handing out flyers on another beach to announce an upcoming party on Lonely Beach.
Whether it is with just yourself, your partner, a friend, your kids, it does not matter really, enjoy your quality time. Read a book, play a board game, have a good conversation about the things that really matter in life, reminisce. Koh Chang is the perfect place to shift into a lower gear and take a breath from the rat race at home.
Getting a massage is popular almost anywhere in Thailand, but on an island like Koh Chang you can get a massage on the beach! The ultimate relaxation while listening to the waves. Thai style massage is a bit tough, so feel free to ask the masseuse to take it a bit softer. Massage is beneficial for your muscles, blood flow, stress relief, digestion, etc.
You can walk up there spontaneously to see if they have time now, or make reservation for a certain time on the day, whatever you like. You may want to ask for Aloe Vera, which helps your skin recover from sunbathing. Alternatively, you can make an appointment with Rainforest Spa at Sea View near Kae Bai Beach for a variety of spa treatments, open daily 10:00-20:00h.
Some of the prettiest sites of Koh Chang are below sea level. Koh Chang’s underwater world is worth checking out. The water is pretty clear and there are coral reefs and bright colored fish to see. Please do not touch or take away anything! So better put that snorkeling set in your suit case or rent some on the island. BB Divers organizes fun snorkeling trips to reefs and ship wrecks.
Thai cooking class
As your visit to Koh Chang is unlikely to include a lot of sightseeing, it is a perfect opportunity to take a Thai cooking class. Bunny of Napalai Thai Cooking School is a super nice, excellent teacher who will make sure you leave her lovely place with a full stomach and a head full of great new recipes. Learn how to make your own Spring Rolls, Tom Kha Gai, Mango Sticky Rice and numerous other dishes.
No worries if you don’t know how to get there; Bunny’s husband can pick you up and drop you off anywhere on the island for a small fee (THB 150 per person from Klong Koi Bridge). There are three possible times to take the class, the morning class is usually the quietest. I would highly recommend this memorable Thai cooking class!
Well, you better upload your favorite series before you head out to Koh Chang, because there are a few things that are sometimes slightly problematic on Koh Chang: internet, electricity and water. Wi-Fi comes up once and awhile, so you don’t need to be offline the entire time, but in case you are a digital nomad or internet addict this can become quite an issue. Be smart and get a Thai SIM card on your phone, the 7-Eleven staff will help you install it. It is not really difficult but trust me, this 4G on your phone will be a life saver once and awhile. In a moment of insanity I decided to switch hosting company during my holidays on Koh Chang, which was a bit of a drama with the Wi-Fi connection disappearing every 5 min or so.
Obviously, an island like Koh Chang cannot measure up to big cities for sightseeing. It’s different here, more laid-back, charming and rustic. What you can do for example is visit some of the villages on the island, like Salakkok fishing village or Bang Bao ‘floating village’. Walk around there to see the daily life of the friendly local people. Check out the light house, watch the local fisher men and tourist boats come and go, eat fresh fish on the pier, etc. I like it a lot.
There are at least seven waterfalls on Koh Chang that I know of. Great for a refreshing dip. Some are high enough to jump off from. You might see some turtles swim! Waterfalls in Thailand are most spectacular during rainy season (Jun-Oct). For locations see map below.
- Klong Plu waterfall (open daily 08:00-17:00h, 200 THB)
- Than Mayom waterfall (open daily 08:00-17:00h, 200 THB)
- Kai Bae waterfall
- Khlong Neung waterfall
- Khiri Phet waterfall
- Khlong Nonsi waterfall
- Khlong Chao Lueam waterfall
Xmas @ Koh Chang
Should you prefer sunshine over family obligations, it is a great idea to spend Christmas on Koh Chang. Just don’t count on any Christmas atmosphere in the sense of trees or decoration really. Maybe Mariah Carey over the speakers and a Christmas dinner offer at restaurants, but no more than that. Perfect for those who seek peace instead of hassle around the holidays at home. The weather is usually great!
Although by far not as developed as on several other Thai islands, there are several options to take yoga classes on Koh Chang.
- Blue Lagoon Yoga (Klong Prao Beach) at the lagoon, daily 08:00h (high season), 300 THB
- One Earth Yoga @ roof top of DuTalay Hotel (White Sand Beach), daily 18:00h, 300 THB
- Koh Chang Gym (Lonely Beach) Mon-Sat 10:00h and 18:30h, 300 THB
- Resorts like Marina Sands Resort and The Spa Koh Chang Resort offer yoga classes too
In addition, there is the option to go for a Weekend Health Retreat on Koh Chang, which includes hatha yoga and meditation class, massage and spa treatments, sauna, etc. and 2 nights.
Are you ready for some action? Not afraid of heights? Visit Tree Top Adventure Park for zip lining, rope and harness tree climbing, rope bridges and swings, flying skateboards, etc. The track should take about 2 hours, starts 3x a day, EUR 35 per person with pick up.
This mobile friendly map includes most things mentioned in this article and more! It is smartphone friendly; you can use it easily via Google Maps. Click on the top left icon to open the menu. To customize the map to your interests, simply (un)select categories. Via Google Drive you can copy it to your folder of My Google Maps.
More Koh Chang
Soon I will post another article about Koh Chang that will include more practical information about:
- Bang Bao Beach
- Where to stay
- How to get to Koh Chang
- How to get around
- Beyond Koh Chang
- When to visit Koh Chang
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Have you ever been to Koh Chang? Or do you plan to visit Koh Chang any time soon? I hope this article was useful for you. Should you have any questions or comments after reading this article, please feel free to post below.
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