Ko Chang island

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Ko Chang  is an island in Trat Province, Eastern Thailand. Ko Chang is Thailand’s second largest island, and the biggest in Eastern Thailand. With about 5,000 permanent residents the island is not heavily populated, but tourism (and development) has increased dramatically over the last few years.

Understand : Ko Chang is one of Thailand’s most beautiful islands with long white sandy beaches. The island is also home to a wide range of wildlife, including a good selection of birds, snakes, deer and a number of elephants. The island and its vicinity are great places for snorkeling, diving and jungle hiking. The “discovery” of the island as a tourist destination since 2000 has brought on a large amount of rapid development, and while still far quieter than places like Phuket or Ko Samui, it is far from quiet in high season. Regarding services and activities specifically aimed at tourists prices have reached such a level that the islanders are pricing themselves out of the market when compared to the other islands.

History :  Prior to World War II, Ko Chang was little known to Westerners and was lightly-populated. The few families there made a living growing coconuts and fruit on the mainland. In January 1941, during the Franco-Thai War, the Thai Navy fought against a French surprise attack in in the waters to the south of Ko Chang. The first backpacking foreigners started arriving on local fishing boats in the mid-1970s. In 1982, Ko Chang, along with surrounding areas, became part of Mu Ko Chang National Marine Park. Only very recently, in less than ten years, Ko Chang has turned into a major tourist destination, both for foreigners and local Thais. This sudden tourism boom however, has been fraught with controversy concerning land use, etc. The government is trying to “develop” it from a backpackers’ paradise to a top-level destination, and construction work is going on throughout the island, with basic huts torn down to make way for fancy resorts.

Access : Coordinates: 12.103611, 102.351944 / The only way onto the island is by Ferry. All vehicle transfers from anywhere else will use one of these two ferry ports. See “By Boat” section for details. By plane :
There is no airport on Koh Chang, the nearest airport is in Trat city, on the mainland. A road transfer is necessary from Trat, either to one of the two ferry piers or direct to your accomodation on Koh Chang. Bangkok Airways  flies 3 times a day from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport (the “new” BKK) to Trat Airport . The flights depart at 08:30, 11:40 and 17:05, and take 1 hour exactly. Ticket prices are between 2,000B and 3,800B return trip depending on the time of year. Direct door-to-door minibus transfers from Trat airport to Ko Chang resorts cost 500 Baht/person one way and 900 Baht/person return including the ferry crossing. The minibuses are air-conditioned.

From Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport, take the free express shuttle bus from outside the arrivals concourse to the airport’s own bus terminal, and from there the next available bus to either Trat or Chanthaburi, then proceed as described below.

By bus :
From Bangkok the most economical way to get to Laem Ngop (where the Ko Chang ferry piers are) is to take a 1st class bus #999 from the Eastern (Ekamai) Bus Terminal direct to the Laem Ngop piers. The fare is 275 baht one-way (520 baht return) and takes just over five hours. Departures from Ekamai are at 07:45 & 09:45, and return at 14:00. Subject to seat availability, this bus can also be boarded at Chanthaburi and at Suvarnabhumi Airport. However, as of December 2009 there was a more comfortable way to travel from Bangkok Airport to Ko Chang: the new bus line # 392 starts from the airport bus terminus (make sure to take a free shuttle from main airport to airport bus terminus) at 07:30 and returns from Koh Chang at 12:30. Tickets can be bought online at the Suvarnabhumi Burapha Bus Company . As of 1 Nov. 2010 there are also express shared minibuses running from Suvarnabhumi airport non-stop to Lonely Beach on Ko Chang . Tickets are 308 baht for the big bus and 600 baht (800 baht round trip)for the Lonely Beach Express minibus which includes a ticket for the ferry. However, this service can be unreliable  jammed minivans with unsecure luggage and drivers breaking traffic rules. It is also not guaranteed that your return will be by minivan, but rather with a large bus carrying people for other destinations which requires lengthy stops along the way.

Alternatively, there are 1st class (approx. 5 hours, around 250 baht) and 2nd class services from both the Eastern Bus Terminal (Ekamai) and Northern Bus Terminal (Moh Chit) direct to Trat, and frequent songthaew services from Trat to Laem Ngop (approx. 30 minutes, 50 baht/person). Departures from Ekamai are more frequent than from Moh Chit. If coming by bus from the south, the #511 air-con bus can be used to connect directly between Bangkok’s Southern (Sai Tai Mai) and Eastern (Ekamai) bus terminals. Departures from Ekamai on the Cherdchai Private Bus company second class bus are 255 Baht to Trat (March 2015), with departures approximately every 2 hours during the day and advertised travel time being 4 hours.

There is a new government bus line 999 that travels between Ekamai station and the ferry to Ao Thammachart Pier. It is properly airconditioned and each traveller receives a refreshment pack. Unfortunately the travel times for bus 999 are limited. There are only 2 departure times per day, both in the morning. The Cherdchai Private Bus company night sells seats on a first class airconditioned night bus that leaves Ekamai at 11.30pm and arrives in Trat town around 5am the next morning but it cannot be recommended as the bus was crowded, the airconditioning was almost non-existent, the toilet stank of urine and the bus itself was filthy. Be careful too that if the Cherdchai ticket booth at Ekamai charges you for a ferry ticket to Koh Chang as the ferry ticket is overpriced and puts you on a ferry to Centrepoint Pier, which is a 45 minutes trip compared to 25 minutes if you take the ferry to Ao Thammachart Pier. Connection in Trat can also be used if coming from Pattaya (2nd class bus, 4 hours, around 200 baht). There are direct minibus services to Laem Ngop from Pattaya, Ban Phe (gateway to Ko Samet), and Bangkok’s Khao San Road and Victory monument (in front of the Payathai hospital). They, however, are less comfortable and spacious than public buses, and you may be charged significantly more by travel agencies selling tickets to these, as often with any tourist-oriented transportation in Thailand.

It may also be possible to proceed directly to Laem Ngop by minibus or songthaew from the Hat Lek / Koh Kong border crossing with southern Cambodia, depending on the time of year, time of day, etc – enquire locally. Price around 120 baht (one way) from the border to Trat bus station

By boat :  The only way onto the island is by Ferry. All vehicle transfers from anywhere else will use one of these two ferry ports. From the mainland, there are two major routes, both to/from relatively similar locations. Both ferry routes have vehicle (motorcycles, cars, minivans, small trucks only) transportation on the bottom, with an upstairs area for foot passengers. The prices for both ferries are pretty much the same, 80 baht per person per direction (–Jan 2018). Drinks, snacks and toilets are available on the ferries from both piers.

From Ao Thammachat on the mainland to Ao Sapparot on Koh Chang (and return). Ao Thammachat on the mainland is sometimes referred to as simply “Ferry Koh Chang”. This is the ‘fast’ ferry, taking roughly 30 mins to cross plus estimated 15 mins for boarding and disembarking. These ferries operate roughly every 45 mins to a schedule that is not posted in English, but sometimes more often during busy periods. A door-to-door minibus service (or private taxi transfer) to/from Bangkok will likely use this pier as it’s closest to the Bangkok highway, and also closer to the western side of the island main road where most tourist areas are.
From Center Point Pier on the mainland to Center Point Ferry on Koh Chang (and return). Center Point Ferry on Koh Chang can also be referred to as Dan Kao. This is the ‘slow’ ferry, taking roughly 45 mins to cross plus estimated 15 mins for boarding and disembarking. These ferries operate hourly, xx:00 from the mainland and xx:30 back from Koh Chang, from 06:00 to 19:00. Public busses and transfers from Trat & Leam Ngop will likely stop at this pier as it’s closer to those cities. The bus #999 from Bangkok Ekkamai also terminates here. If you wish to go from Koh Chang to visit the Visa Office in Leam Ngop village, Center Point is the correct ferry to use, as the mainland pier is less than 5km from the visa office.
When you arrive on the Koh Chang side of both piers (if you have not booked a door-to-door transfer service), there will be a line of Songtheaw taxis waiting to pick you up. There is only one main road on the western side of Koh Chang, so all the Songtheaws will be going in your direction (unless you are staying on the less populated eastern side). Once they are full (8-12 people), you should expect to pay between 100-200 baht per person depending how far down the coast you are going (50 baht to White Sand Beach, 100 baht to Lonely Beach and 150 baht to Bang Bao). There are two operators that provide daily speedboat services from Ko Kood to Ko Chang. One is based in Bang Bao, the other on Kai Bae Beach  Rates are the same but departures times can vary, so make sure to book ahead.

By taxi or limousine :
From Bangkok or Suvarnabhumi international airport the ride takes a total of about 5-5.5 hours by Limousine [65] or Taxi. Most taxi drivers will decline this journey as the risk of empty return is too high for them. Most (airport) limousines or minibuses will deliver you at the hotel or resort on Koh Chang, especially if they can make it back to the mainland before the last ferry sails. By Private transfer and Minibus :
In addition to limousines and taxis, transfers by private car or minibus, either from the airport or any hotel in Bangkok, can also be arranged easily. There are several companies who provide transfer bookings online. Prices depend on the number of passengers. This is an ideal way to travel for anyone who doesn’t want to pay for flights to Trat on Bangkok Airways . High season plane tickets are around 2,500 – 3,500 Baht per person.

Tickets for the shared minibuses from Suvarnabhumi Airport unfortunately can’t be booked in advance. You’ll need to buy tickets after you land at Suvarnabhumi Airport from the Suvarnabhumi Burupha ticket counter on Level 1 on the main terminal building. One way tickets are 600 Baht per person including ferry ticket. Tickets for shared minibuses from hotels in central Bangkok to hotels on koh Chang are from 900 – 1,100 Baht per person including ferry ticket. These can be bought from hotels and tour agents in Bangkok or online in advance. As of October 2015, there are no shared minibus services from Don Meuang Airport to Koh Chang.

Highlights :

  • Elephants :There are three or four places offering elephant rides. We checked them out and none of them are ‘elephant friendly’. Please think carefully about wanting to sit on a chair on the back of an elephant. All you can see from the is trees and a long drop to the ground. Elephants for riding are ‘broken’ when they are babies. They are guided by a mahout with an ‘ice pick’. The ice pick is not for show. It is used on the elephant. Perhaps not when you are there… Elephants under stress rock from side to side and actually look distressed. If you see this behavior, or see that the animals are being chained with little or no shade, or see that they do ‘tricks’, they are being misused. This becomes your choice. Do you perpetuate a cruel practice for a bit of fun, or do you look elsewhere

Waterfalls :

  • Klong Plu – the most popular waterfall, and the only one on the west side of the island
  • Klong Nonsi – waterfall on the east side of the island
  • Klong Nueng – said to be the most breathtaking waterfall
  • Khiri Petch – medium sized waterfall, about 3 kilometres from Salak Petch village
  • Kongoi – 5 waterfalls near Bang Bao
  • The Thanmayom – near Thanmayom pier
  • The Mu Ko Chang National Park – National Marine Park comprising parts of Ko Chang and 46 other islands
  • War memorial monument – in the very south of the island
  • beaches : White Sand Beach , Klong Prao Beach , Kai Bae Beach , Lonely Beach , Klong Kloi Beach , Dan Kao Beach , Long Beach , Wai Chaek Beach

Activities : Scuba diving and fishing are the most popular activities /  a jungle trekking , Jungle trekking is divided in 2 parts- north and south. Jungle trekking of north is a nature walk that contains many kinds of fruit, and several of plants. On the other hand, jungle trekking of south includes visiting fishing villagse and offers you to see a variety of animals (monkeys, snakes, birds, lizards) You can also learn how to cook Thai food. The cost for each courses starts form 1200 baht. They will teach popular Thai food such as spicy salad (som-tum), chicken curry (kang keaw wan), spicy soup (tom yum), fried rice noodles (Pad Thai), and so on. Moreover, the main activity in koh chang is the island sightseeing. You can see a famous Chinese temple that everybody should visit and pray.
Walk with a Ranger from the Than Mayom Waterfall to the Khlong-Plu Waterfall. The tour takes 8-10 hours and costs 500 baht per person , Thai Cooking Classes , Kayaking Guided sea kayaking trips[67]. KayakChang.com is run by a British qualified guides. They use imported sea kayaks and equipment. They offer single day expeditions off the west coast and multi day expeditions in the southern islands , Rope and harness- tree climbing and share the fun activities and amazing views from the top of the trees.

Charter a sailing boat , Snorkeling , Photography The island has plenty of incredible sites and awesome locations for street and sunset photography.

Go next : Ko Kut / Ko Mak /

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